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Editorial F1 History 49

Stewart vs Jenkinson: safety in motor sport

Safety? It’s an old argument.

Delving through back issues of Motor Sport is always a dangerous business. Even if you know exactly what you’re looking for, time can fly by, and before you know it a whole afternoon has gone. Those old magazines just seem to suck you in.

I’d taken the plunge this month, vowing only to spend 20 minutes as I searched for some suitable words from Denis Jenkinson on Emerson Fittipaldi to run alongside Rob Widdows’ excellent cover story interview in the September issue. A bit of Jenks always adds weight and perspective to an article, and I thought I’d scroll through 1972, the young Brazilian’s first championship year.

For no real reason, I started at the end of the year and worked my way back, scanning through the pages of the computer archive disc (it saves the well-thumbed bound volumes from further wear and tear), trying not to stop and browse when I spotted something interesting or odd – or both. That would be every page, then.

I clicked into the July issue and began to read the Belgian GP report, smiling to myself at DSJ’s derision of the modern Nivelles ‘autodrome’ that had replaced the grand old Spa-Franchorchamps road circuit as the Formula 1 venue for this year. Ah, here was a nice bit where Jenks drew comparison between the young Emmo and the still much-missed Jimmy Clark. Yes, that would work well for the magazine.

history from the editor  Stewart vs Jenkinson: safety in motor sport

But curses, I was ensnared. DSJ’s lack of enthusiasm for Nivelles made me think. Of course. This was the year when the spat between Jenks and Jackie Stewart spilled over juicily into the pages of Motor Sport, wasn’t it? I couldn’t resist, and flicked through to the letters pages. In the August issue, there it was: ‘STEWART ANSWERS HIS CRITICS’.

“Sir, I feel compelled to write in response to Jenkinson’s outburst in attacking me personally in your June issue,” the letter began. No endearing, familiar use of ‘DSJ’ or ‘Jenks’ here. Jackie was clearly wound up.

He was answering our Continental Correspondent’s stinging criticism of his role in convincing sports car drivers not to race in the 1000Kms at Spa, the track that had lost its GP to Nivelles because it was now considered too dangerous for F1. How ironic then, that Stewart had missed Belgian GP on the characterless new circuit because of the ulcer that had ruined his troubled season.

“I try terribly hard devoting considerable time and effort to make motor racing as a whole for as many people as possible – officials, spectators, drivers and even journalists – safer than it has been in the past,” writes Jackie.

“…It is very easy to sit on the fence and criticise – notoriously easy,” he goes on. “You can always find faults in what the other people are doing, but at least they are doing something. All Mr Jenkinson seems to do is lament the past and the drivers who have served their time in it. Few of them, however, are alive to read his writings.”

The letter, inevitably, continues. Jackie repeats his “fence-sitter” accusation to our man, having claimed unconvincingly that he didn’t care what Jenks thought or said about him.

“There is nothing more tragically sad than mourning a man who has died under circumstances which could have been avoided had someone done something beforehand,” he writes. “It therefore always angers me to hear people who oppose an effort to make our sport safer… Such men to me are hypocrites, the only consolation being that in years to come they will probably be looked back on as cranks.

“Whatever Mr Jenkinson thinks, I am a racing driver who loves his sport. The sadness that I have seen and experienced, which could have been avoided, only makes it more detestable to me that your magazine is prepared to project within its pages the sort of thinking that is negative to efforts of others to make motor racing claim fewer lives.”

Crikey. Remember that ulcer, Jackie…

history from the editor  Stewart vs Jenkinson: safety in motor sport

So what had Jenks written to provoke such ire? As the afternoon slipped further away, I turned to Continental Notes in the June issue.

“John Young Stewart – World Champion”, reads the headline in bold type. In the first line Jenks describes his subject as “a certain beady-eyed little Scot” – and the rant begins.

“…his pious whinings have brain-washed and undermined the natural instincts of some young and inexperienced newcomers to Grand Prix racing and removed the Belgian Grand Prix from Spa-Francorchamps,” writes Jenks about half way through. He ends with this: “Can you really ask me in all honesty to admire, or even tolerate, our current reigning World Champion Driver?”

No wonder JYS felt a little aggrieved. Can you imagine such correspondence between a journalist and a driver today, in print for all to see? No, me neither.

In following years, a mutual respect and admiration grew between Jackie and Jenks. But their trenchant disagreements 40 years ago stand as the prime example of changing attitudes in motor racing, spearheaded by Mr Stewart and parried by Mr Jenkinson.

Now, 40 years later, it’s easy to judge. Jackie was, of course, right. But we have to remember the context of the times. Life was as valued as it is today, but the acceptance that death was a price racing drivers should almost expect to pay was a deep-rooted attitude that divided a tough sporting world. To some extent, it always will.

The argument came back to me as I re-read Fittipaldi’s words to Rob on our latest pages. Emerson tells us he almost quit three times in the early 1970s because of the danger and death that surrounded him. He loved motor racing, but it scared him, just as it did his friends and rivals.

Except he didn’t know it then, because to admit it would have risked ridicule. In some ways, that made men like Jackie Stewart the bravest of the lot.

There’s more food for thought in the September issue provided by Pat Symonds, the latest racing figure to enjoy lunch with Simon Taylor. As you read Pat’s story, you might ask yourself how we should judge a man found guilty of cheating. The stark account of his “serious error of judgement in the heat of competition” at the Singapore GP of 2008 makes for a riveting read. This likeable and very brilliant man knows he made a terrible mistake and has paid a heavy price. Now he is preparing to return to the sport he loves.

history from the editor  Stewart vs Jenkinson: safety in motor sport

You’ll also find details in the September issue of our poll results from last month. We asked you to vote for your favourite British World Champion – and this was another lights to flag (or to be truly accurate, flag to flag) victory for the fastest sheep farmer we’ve ever seen: Jimmy Clark. The adulation for him clearly remains undimmed.

We’re running a another poll this month: who do you think will win the 2012 F1 World Championship? Get involved, cast your vote and we’ll let you know the results next time. Until then, enjoy the issue.

Add your comments

49 comments on Stewart vs Jenkinson: safety in motor sport

  1. Ian Howard, 25 July 2012 10:03

    Oh course Jackie Stewart was right. For anyone who has seen the awful film footage of Lorenzo Bandini’s fatal crash at Monaco or the vile way that the marshals behaved when David Purley tried in vain to free Roger Williamson from his burning car at Zandvoort, there is nothing “noble” or “daring” about a man losing his life in circumstances that could have been avoided.

    It’s an obscenity that we have lost such talent over the years. Can you imagine how wonderful it would be to have Jim Clark, Jochen Rindt, Francois Cevert, Pedro Rodriguez, Jo Siffert, Mike Spence, Jo Schlesser, Tom Pryce etc alive and well and telling us their amazing stories in the pages of your magazine today?

    They can’t. Why? Because men who should have acted out of conscience alone to make their circuits and their cars safer did nothing. They will always have the blood of brave and talented men on their hands and the stain can never be washed away.

    You can argue that it was a different time, an era when death was an acceptable by-product – the collateral damage – of a sport which is always inherently dangerous. It doesn’t hold water and whenever any modern day Grand Prix driver comes into contact with Jackie Stewart the first words out of their mouths should be “Thanks for everything that you’ve done”, because countless drivers are alive today because of him and all the GPDA did in the 1960/70s.

    Not a “pious beady eyed man” as Jenkinson might have said . . . . but “a brave and principled man that never gave up on what was the right thing to do”.

  2. Andrew McKenzie, 25 July 2012 10:09

    Now that it is mentioned again I remember the spat between JYS & DSJ quite well. At the time it was almost fashionable to knock Stewart for his stance on safety. He did and said the right things and many didnt like it! There is many a soul out there who must be grateful for his actions. Just as there are many that stil lament the loss of much great talent when it was, as JYS said, so unneccessary.
    Regards, Andrew McKenzie

  3. Chris Wright, 25 July 2012 10:35

    One can only applaud improved F1 driver safety. An unfortunate side-effect was the progressive abandonment of some of the sport’s most spectacular circuits, to a point where I, for one, can barely recognise today’s grand prix circus from the one I fell in love with as a teenager in the very early 1970′s. I often ask was this completely necessary? Surely it would have been less expensive to make significant safety upgrades to the Nordschleife than build what was in effect an entirely new circuit? And so on, and so forth. To think that, however, is also to ignore the more sweeping move the sport has made from its traditional stronghold of the European season to a more global and, alas, vastly more corporate offering. The drivers still love the challenge of Spa and it would have been be nice if that iconic circuit had become the blueprint for track development, rather than that grotesque race around a car park in Las Vegas…

  4. joseph winslett, 25 July 2012 11:05

    Stewart campaign for safety was the capstone for motor sport driver longevity as we know it today

  5. Peter Geran, 25 July 2012 11:07

    Look forward to receive my copy in Australia.

    I can remember how Jenks used to dislike Jackie Stewarts’ stand on safety.

  6. John Aley, 25 July 2012 11:13

    I am 82 and have been closely involved with racing since I was 17 and can well remember the days when every Monday morning we read of some one, some where in the world who we knew or knew of, being killed or seriously hurt that weekend. Yet I firmly believe that racing should have a “Penalty clause” – if you make a mistake you suffer. Racing on the old Nurburgring or Spa or up Mont Ventoux made me a better driver in all ways.. But I was brought up in the war and learnt my Latin verbs in the air raid shelter with odd bangs going on all round! Do not get the idea that I do not value safety – did I not introduce rollover bars to English racing.

  7. Johan, 25 July 2012 11:19

    trying not to stop and browse when I spotted something interesting or odd – or both. That would be every page, then. (…)

  8. Jeremy Cogman, 25 July 2012 11:54

    A recent reading of Adam Cooper’s excellent Piers Courage bio. really bought home to me (more than the bare stats can do) how wretched the middle of 1970 was, McLaren, Courage and Rindt all gone in barely three months. I also recall reading in Jackie’s autobiography that Paul (I think) asked Helen Stewart when daddy was going to die. I love Jenks and his writing but Jackie was absolutely right and very brave to do what he did.

    How many of our currently living heroes (Mansell, Prost, Hill jr, Warwick, Tambay, Arnoux etc etc) owe their lives to JYS.

  9. dave cubbedge, 25 July 2012 12:00

    ….perusing the Motorsport archives….I often soon forget what it was I was looking for as I find so much else to read….

  10. Len Chapman, 25 July 2012 12:07

    Used to avidly read Jenk’s GP accounts in MS way back when.
    Perhaps part of Jenk’s attitude to safety stemmed from his background as a Motorcycle Sidecar Racer.

  11. John S Patterson, USA, 25 July 2012 12:37

    No disrespect to DSJ as he is an important part of Motorsport lore, but his attack on Jackie Stewart went beyond the pale. Such attacks in the U.S. are usually reserved for our political contests.

  12. Magnus H, 25 July 2012 16:16

    Jackie Stewart’s three world championships makes him one of the greatest drivers in formula one history.

    His safety campaign makes him the greatest human being in formula one history.

  13. George Boyter, 25 July 2012 16:21

    Aye, you should never under-estimate a driver’s opinion – especially a World Champion.
    Of course Jackie was right and Mosley and Ecclestone have likewise lost the respect of race fans for trying to ridicule a driver who is a ‘living legend’ if ever there was one.

  14. Andrew Muggeridge, 25 July 2012 16:56

    Jenkinson was plain wrong. His rant about JYS a disgrace. A dinosaur whose support for safety may well have helped the measures JYS was advocating being implemented even earlier.

    PS Should the magazine be giving Pat Symonds so much airtime ? First the podcast, now a Lunch with…
    Found guilty of cheating in the shameful affair of Singapore 2008 and (though never proved) heavily involved with the traction control Benetton in 94/95. I’m sure there’s more worthy candidates to grace your pages..

  15. Peter Eccles, 25 July 2012 19:00

    Of course Sir Jackie Stewart was correct in his safety campaign. DSJ and Stirling Moss were very wrong and even Moss with his skill and experience is very lucky to be alive today.
    For all his reservations about safety Jackie Stewart always gave his all and didn’t drive around at the back of the field, no matter how dangerous he knew the circuit to be, he would win putting two fingers up to his critics. A great and very brave man.

  16. Douglas Kent, 25 July 2012 19:17

    Jackie Stewart was swimming against the tide but history since that time has proved that fatal accidents are not an essential part of motor racing. The only downside is that drivers today indulge in disgraceful behaviour secure in the knowledge that the worst consequence is likely to be a drive through penalty rather than causing the death of another driver.
    DSJ was right on many things, but completely wrong on his attitude to safety. What is curious is that he felt it necessary to resort to personal insult instead of letting the force of his argument carry his case. As well as ‘the beady eyed little Scot’, I have a recollection that Jenks also called him Jock McArmco. Is this correct?
    (How on earth could the vertically challenged DSJ call anyone else ‘little’?)

  17. Justin Frost, 25 July 2012 19:49

    Hello Mr Ian Howard, well said; you’ve stated everything that I would have expressed.
    I think if we could get Jenks back for a chat with Sir Jackie he’d probably retreat a little,shake hands, and admit that he was over the top, maybe even – on the day – a bit flippant.
    He was, of course, a great writer, and his articles were read and ‘very’ appreciated by motorsport fans all over the world. But here, on this subject, I have to utterly agree with you.

  18. hamfan, 25 July 2012 20:41

    Some 40-year-old and well-trodden ground is being tilled here. Jenks was wrong – in hindsight, very wrong – but we must remember that his generation experienced the war first hand and had a very different attitude to life and death to those of us growing up in later times. That generation clearly thought life should be lived in a thrilling way with no regard to wanting to grow old.

    PS. Re the comment about Pat Symonds – I made a similar one at the time of the podcast – it disappeared, censored. Let’s just say that his going to a public school probably helped with Taylor and Roebuck. No doubt were he the product of a comp he’d be persona non grata for some time yet… (He does paint rather a more human portrait of Schumacher, though, which makes a nice change in these parts…)

  19. hamfan, 25 July 2012 20:45

    What’s happened to the special subscriber covers?

    My last two issues have been the normal ones. Doesn’t bother me too much, but I’d like to know what’s going on – have they been discontinued?

  20. John R. Wright, 25 July 2012 20:55

    HI Damien:
    Of course Jackie Stewart was right and he said what others were thinking but were afraid to admit it because they probably thought that would make some think of them as unmanly. When I think of how even amateur drivers went through, I blanch. I sat in my little monoposto car on a sheet metal fuel tank with the filler at my right shoulder. I still remember the furor that went up in Canadian racing in 1970 when we had to re-engineer our cars with stronger roll bars. “I just had my car painted and I will damage the new paint job.” Right, you punter… I have the utmost respect for Jackie Stewart and his epic fight to have safety paramount on the tracks, in the cars and in the minds of the drivers.
    John Wright Old Fart racer

  21. chris b, 25 July 2012 21:31

    you know i really miss so many drivers that needlessly died, and that was the point JYS was making, needlessly, but for the price of an Armco barrier, Jimmy would have won his 3rd world championship and retired to New Zealand, only to return in 1978 to win his 4th,

    motor racing is extremely dangerous and there will always be an accident or a tragedy irrespective of safety and I, along with what I read and hear understand that – I don’t want these sanitised autodrones – and yes that is what i mean, i would love to be back at Austria or Holland but what i detest with a passion are the number of drivers who i would have loved to have met and heard their views – people like de Angelis – why is that man dead? so thank you Sir Jackie for saving so many and Jenks, you are without doubt the very best of journo’s but I’d rather a live and kicking motor racing hero than a pretty epitaph

    DS- this month’s magazine is excellent and have read it twice already, yes i know i was supposed to do the dishes but – its MOTOR SPORT time

  22. d. macnab, 25 July 2012 22:20

    I supported Jenks at the time and still do. Motor racing is an intrinsically dangerous activity. Drivers are not forced to take part (sadly money talks nowadays) and so if they felt a circuit or a car was unsafe they were free to walk away.
    Drivers had to make up their own minds on whether they were prepared to cope with the risks and back off at the really hazardous spots if necessary. Those who accepted the risks and succeeded deserved the enormous respect and adulation they received.
    Take away or reduce the risks and the achievement is diminished. This is the everlasting paradox of motor racing – is it worth the risk?
    JYS was the first campaigner for ‘elf and safety, which is the bane of our lives nowadays, and his efforts have seen many of the most exciting/dangerous circuits emasculated or abandoned.
    I cannot deny that many talented, brave and
    admirable drivers died in sad and horrible accidents, some of which might have been avoided, given 20:20 hindsight, but I consider that was the nature of the sport at the time. There were also a (larger?) number of drivers who survived.
    In my view motor racing has now become a pale and dismal shadow of itself mainly because the risks have been greatly reduced.

  23. Anthony Mullen, 25 July 2012 22:35

    I first started watching racing in 1986. Since then, I can think of six – just six – top-level drivers who perished in action: Elio de Angelis, Roland Ratzenberger, Ayrton Senna, Michele Alboreto, Dale Earnhart and Dan Wheldon. Many others I didn’t know about also died, mostly in rallying.
    Had I been born twenty years earlier, I would have seen forty die in just seven years, as opposed to 6 in 26. No-one will ever tell me that motor racing isn’t better off for being safe. It will never be completely safe – as it says on the tickets, motorsport is dangerous – but at least now people will not die through stubbort short-sightedness, stupidity and sheer cowardice, as happened between 1966 and 1973.
    Denis Jenkinson was motorsport’s greatest chronicler. His work is beyond price; worth more than all the sunken treasure in history. Yet on this issue, this crucial issue, he was wrong: utterly, completely, inexcusably wrong.
    Some still impugne Sir Jacke’s bravery over his stance. Yet anyone who can drive the way he did round the Nürburgring in 1968 is no coward. In fact, I’d say he was one of the bravest men I’ve ever been priveieged to briefly meet.

  24. Andrew Glaess, 25 July 2012 23:25

    The effects of the safety crusade of 40-45 years ago have filtered down to every level of motorsport. Roll bars, fuel cells, proper fire and head protection–the list goes on and on.

    I’m certain that these efforts kept me from harm at the jr. levels I participated in and am thankful for them. Its for this reason alone that for me, Jackie Stewart is the greatest of all World Champions. What he gave back to the sport is enormous–far, far more than any other driver.

  25. Alex Milligan, 26 July 2012 03:47

    Andrew Muggeridge – I also am disgusted by the cheating expose whereby Pat Symonds was excluded from F1, but let’s read the article and judge the man by what he has learned from this experience.
    We are all human, we all err in life and make regrettable choices, the mark of a man is how he faces up to his wrongdoings when confronted by his past.
    I very much look forward to the article.

  26. Alan Young, 26 July 2012 06:53

    My bet is the wily Alonso will take it, despite his steed not really being up to the mark!!

  27. Marty Harris, 26 July 2012 06:59

    Jenks was a fine writer and nobody can argue with the fact that he carved out his own place in the history of grand prix motor racing. But let’s face it, he was the world’s oldest schoolboy. It’s no coincidence surely that his “top five” drivers – Ascari, Moss, Clark, Villeneuve and Senna were, apart from Moss, killed. And it was only luck that allowed Moss to survive the Goodwood shunt.

    Clark was the only one of the five that deserve to be in anyone’s top 5, though I’ll grant Senna fans have good grounds to include their man.

    Jenks loved to have heroes and seemed incapable of mature reflection and figuring out that Fangio, Prost and Schumacher demonstrated they understood the purpose of sport – to win. But then Jenks was a Brit and we all know the fondness Brits have for noble losers…

    We can look back at history through rose-tinted spectacles but the simple fact is that were it not for Stewart, Formula 1 as we know it would not exist.

  28. Carlos Sanchez, 26 July 2012 09:54

    Oh’?… Errr excuse me?
    You ‘grant us’ Senna fans to include our man in the top 5 greatest driver’s list??? is that so…

    Not only is your point a bit arrogant and wrong and absolutely out of context but also demonstrates to be a load of pure nonsense.
    Doesn’t really belong in this Magazine’s public…

  29. Andrew Scoley, 26 July 2012 13:23

    It’s a pity that Jackie’s crusade isn’t rewarded by some better standards of driving from F1 down.

    I sometimes wonder if no seatbelt and a big spike in the middle of the steering wheel might improve things for a while on public roads!

    The article in a sister magazine recently on front rolls hoops or enclosed cockpits had one major flaw-there wasn’t sufficient room for all the cotton wool. However, you look back and realise that many drivers died not as a result of inadequate car or circuit safety in terms of run-off areas and decent walls etc, but as a result of dire facilities or marshalling: Roger Williamson, Elio de Angelis, Lorenzo Bandini, Tom Pryce and Patrick Depailler all come to mind.Thankfully things have improved for the better, but I agree with Chris B, how on earth was Elio allowed to die in 1986?

  30. hamfan, 26 July 2012 14:38

    Two more points from this month’s mag.

    First, great article on Gordon Murray and his thoughts on what kind of cars we should be watching in F1 – clearly still a great man, esp in his desire to see a return to F1 being a sprint formula with fewer wings and aero baubles. (Although that sketch of an ideal car with its low snout does look suspiciously like an ’80s machine…) Please put this man in charge of FIA tech rules.

    Second, good pics from the FoS, and a nice short piece on Lord March by Rob Widdows. I’ve been to most FoS over the past decade, and it’s getting worse. Too many people now, for sure. I really am not at all interested in gimmicks – cars driving backwards and Red Bull stunt bikes etc – ditto for everyone else I know. But worst of all, the timed runs are getting tired – same old faces (eg one rhymes with ‘Flaw’, another with ‘Peed’) going berserk yet again. Guys, we just want to see and hear the cars moving – it is not a meaningful hill-climb – you might never have hit the heights you dreamed of in your front-line careers, but please understand you really can’t ever make up for that by trying to be ‘best on the hill’ at FoS. Took the kids this year, first time, and with only straw bales between them and the oldies going flat out in their old machines I realised there’s a real tragedy waiting to happen (and if it does it’ll wipe out this event forever). RW, please ask your mate LM to have a word and get these guys to reel it in a bit (they can always go race at the Silverstone Classic or Revival, can’t they?)

  31. Joseph Joncas, 26 July 2012 16:50

    Salut et bonjour! with a little effort it is possible to actually begin to lift the veil of errors behind what has been a circus since 1979 sir/madam. When will you have the courage to admit to your readers that they are enriching the pockets of a promoter with the continued publication of the farce brand known as F1.
    Ciao bella!

  32. Andrew Muggeridge, 26 July 2012 19:10

    hamfan – completely agree with you about the Goodwood FoS. I decided sometime ago to attend every 3 years as many of the cars and stars were the same year in year out and it was getting more and more corporate.
    This year I was staggered how the event had grown since the last visit in 2009. The “gimmicks” and enormous car manufacturer stands seem to be taking over the event. I also felt the crowd contained many more posers, there because it was a place to be seen at rather than for the motorsport.
    Still an enjoyable day but could be 5 years before I go again…

  33. Michael Kavanagh, 26 July 2012 19:13

    Like many others, I remember this spat. With the benefit of hindsight (and with the benefit of having had children), I realise now that this was a generational thing. Fathers and sons have arguments like this and while the concept of DSJ and JYS as father and son appalls and amuses me in equal measure, it was one generation talking at (but not to) another. Neither of them was entirely right or entirely wrong and like all elder statesmen, Jenks tended to the view he was right about everything; just like I do with regard to my children.

  34. Justin Frost, 26 July 2012 19:56

    Hello hamfan,
    I take on board the war experience that Jenks and his contemporaries had to endure, and therefore the influence and shaping of someone from that era. It’s a fair comment. I also understand, that JYS and Jenks were not at odds in the end, but had mutual respect for each other, which is the best news of all!.

  35. Tony Geran, 27 July 2012 01:29

    Yes looking forward to reading this and the August issue which still hasn’t reachrd my Sydney letterbox. I suspect I’ll have to invest in an ipad….

    Ian Howard’s opinion is spot on, far too many of my heros failed to survive their sport.

  36. IM, 27 July 2012 09:44

    Jenkinson’s point of view was obviously completely deranged but anyone who has read Stewart’s autobiography will know why he inspired strong negative responses.

  37. Matt Wills, 27 July 2012 22:50

    It’s interesting now looking back how two so much admired characters from our sport had such differing perspectives. I so much lament the classic tracks missing or emasculated from our sport such as the old spa , old nurburgring , montjuich park and the osteriechring but also understand how ridiculous it would be to race cars with foot boxes in front of the front wheels and with little or no Armco. Personally I look back and wish a happy medium had been struck between fantastic tracks and safer cars. Times have changed and I don’t want to see anyone hurt but … How long i wish to see fast cars on fast tracks that make the hairs on my neck stand up and think to myself that’s real grand prix road racing and relate to driving my road car fast over a fine A road

  38. Colin McArthur, 28 July 2012 02:10

    JYS has always been counted to provide candid, albeit occasionally unpopular, opinion particularly on the safety issue. Simply stated Jackie was 100% correct and Jenks was wrong. Today, however, we have some of the most benign and boring tracks imaginable which begs a question. Have we completely eliminated bravery as a factor in determining the best driver? If so maybe we should eliminate the tracks and race on simulators. Duh!

  39. Don Larsen, 28 July 2012 04:18

    Actually, racing is for the most part, no longer ‘extremely’ dangerous at all. It is kind of dangerous, unless one is extremely unlucky. Horrendous wrecks occur that leave drivers talking about it as they leave the track’s medical center a few minutes later. These are the people who’s fatal wreck we would read about on Monday morning 30 years ago. But among the size of run-offs with kitty litter, the strength of the car structure, the quality of helmet design and construction, and the pretty much instant arrival of top level trauma response, the danger of it all has been largely removed.
    The odds of Massa getting hit in the face by a spring falling off of the car in front him are microscopic, yet we are now hearing the first talk of canopies on formula cars because of that incident. Really?
    At every point in a driver’s career there is the opportunity to stop,and go get a job in store or a factory, for a ton less than what they receive now, if they don’t wish to continue racing cars.
    By all means take that leap, if racing is too much of a worry.

  40. Rich Ambroson, 28 July 2012 04:33

    hamfan and I don’t often agree, but on this one

    “I really am not at all interested in gimmicks – cars driving backwards and Red Bull stunt bikes etc”

    I am wholeheartedly in agreement with hamfan. Completely, 100%. DRS in F1 hold more interest than the stunt bikes, etc. quite frankly, and I’m with Nigel Roebuck regarding DRS…

  41. Rich Ambroson, 28 July 2012 04:35

    Another point on which hamfan and I are in total agreement, the subscriber covers. Those were very nice, and I hope they continue.

  42. hamfan, 28 July 2012 08:05


    I don’t think the majority of drivers would particularly care, even now. The safety measures, I believe, are to protect the more squeamish spectators (probably the majority nowadays, unfortunately), and to protect the ‘sport’, its commercial future etc, from sponsors that wouldn’t want to be associated with too much ‘negative’ stuff and politicians out to make a name for themselves by banning things (like motorsports and boxing, but never equestrian pursuits or rugby) they decide are ‘dangerous’ (ie unhealthy).

    I would not argue for a return to pre-70s mass carnage. But a bit more real danger wouldn’t go amiss. Young testosterone-fuelled men, the drivers, could certainly handle it…

  43. chris b, 28 July 2012 19:42

    you know Jenks was probably the finest motor sport journalist – altough our Nigel is getting ever closer – idiosyncratic to eccentric were bywords but prejudices aside this guy knew his stuff, but then so did JYS and going to funerals weekly would have been gut-wrenching- when so many died so needlessly – i think of Bob Anderson, of Bruce of Piers – Lorenzo, gosh the list would be enormous of needless deaths,

    Motor racing is dangerous made worse by stupid driving over the past 15 years and that i guess is the negative legacy of both Jackie’s and sadly Jochen’s campaigns – because i think we forget Jochen was a staunch advocate of safety [Rindt] and together they challenged the stupidity that cost lives

    I wonder what JYS thinks when he looks back at the amazing but tragic time – and anyone who doesn’t think its was tragic watch the Quiet Champion and Jimmy’s funeral – and what Jenks advocated – war or no bxxxxy war -who wanted to die?

  44. David F, 1 August 2012 22:00

    Jackie was a very brave man, he fought for what he believed in whilst always delivering on the track. DSJ and JYS maybe represented the end of old era and the beginning of a new one. I’m firmly on the side of the triple world champ! Name me one other driver that has made such a positive and long lasting contribution to the sport. As for Pat Symonds, I consider him very welcome in Motorsport. A proper racer.

  45. Mark Taylor, 2 August 2012 16:14

    How eloquently put Mr. Howard. I completely agree with you. Also, I think one should consider the ripples of suffering and pain spreading out through all of their families from their loss. So needless. Can you imagine Goodwood with that lot racing! Blimey!
    I must also add that at first I wasn’t prepared to read the interview with Pat Symonds on “principle” (yes..whatever that might be) I’m pleased that I did read it. As they say, never judge a man until you have walked in his shoes. I hope that Mr. Symonds receives a warm welcome back into F1.

  46. Steve W, 7 August 2012 11:05

    At the time, I remember thinking, Stewart was actually out there risking his life while Jenks was sitting on the sidelines watching…

  47. Terry Jacob, 13 March 2013 15:56

    Hm, ultimately Jenks was right .

  48. Terry Jacob, 31 March 2013 15:00

    I thought Jenks was right at the time . More than forty years later I am even more convinced of his arguments . Stewart should have stuck to cly pigeon shooting .

  49. Thane Bruckland, 11 September 2013 20:26

    I feel there has to be a balance between the danger and making things as safe as possible. No one wants a return to the days when we saw such terrible loss. you only need to read the Piers Courage biography amongst many other to see how sad needless was the loss of so much young talent, and also not so young (as in Elio). I also think that there is an over reaction when accidents happen – such as calling for caged cockpits after the Grosjean, Hamilton, Alonso crash last year. Serious and scary it was, yes but surely no need for rule changes.

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