Letters, April 1986

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Archie by Aldington

How nice to see an article on Archie Scott-Brown. I think it is the measure of the man that those who knew him recall the joy of his living rather than the sorrow of his death. Perhaps one of the many MOTOR SPORT readers can verify or disprove a story for me. I have always heard that my uncle, W H. Aldington, who was then on the competitions committee of the SMMT, helped Archie to get his RAC competition licence using the indirect pressure that AFN Limited wanted him as a works driver (DKW). It was said he had used the same tactic to help Sidney Greene (Frazer Nash) obtain his competition licence also.

I fondly recall relaxing in a DKW 3 = 6 Estate while Archie hustled us all down to Lympne airport to collect Porsche cars for the Motor Show — at the last possible moment . . I was allocated a Carrera, Archie the 1600 cc Standard rnodel for the return journey. To say I had to work to keep Archie in sight would be an understatement. When we got into London traffic and he went through gaps which didn’t exist, I was made to realise the difference between our driving capabilities.

That we made it is shown by an archive photograph with the Carrera. Archie and my uncle at the Motor Show with a couple of gentlemen from the German embassy.

AFN Limited, Isleworth, J. T. ALDINGTON

Archie Scott-Brown

In 1957/58 I was serving in the RAF and stationed at Huntingdon. I was a regular customer at Archie Scott-Brown’s service station on the A604 near Fenstanton. When he was not racing, Scott-Brown served the customers with petrol himself and I always found it incongruous and slightly embarrassing to be served by one of the top half-dozen drivers in the country. Worse still, he was extremely punctilious in his manner and Insisted on calling his customers “Sir”. The service station had a small showroom holding about two cars, these were usually sports or good vintage cars and I greatly coveted a nice Type 44 Bugatli which Scott-Brown had for sale just before he was killed. Unfortunately, my finances were fully extended by an Austin Chummy and I could not afford the reasonable price asked.

The Bugatti which Scott-Brown drove was the ex-Whincop Type 57, as this had the standard central gearchange, the right-hand change problem would not have arisen. There is a photograph of ScottBrown driving this car at the Bedwell Hey sprint in Autosport of March 20th 1953. I was surprised to learn that Scott-Brown passed his driving test in 1944 when he was 17, as I believe that all driving tests were suspended during the war so it seems probable that he would have been given a licence automatically at that time without having to take a test.

Hove, Sussex DAVID VENABLES

Memories of Archie

Sir,

Now that I am on the dole it is not always possible to buy MOTOR SPORT, believe It or not, however I lashed out purely to read the article about that lovely driver Archie Scott Brown.

I was privileged to meet him on the DKW stand at the Motor Show of 1956 when he and I were telling people about the merits of the DKW motor car. When I was Introduced to him I very thoughtlessly stuck out my left hand. This gesture has haunted me for all these years, until I read that everyone did the same thing! I can now sleep in peace. Archie took me out in a DKW 3-6 and what a ride it was. We went through gaps in the traffic flat out with a coat of paint on either side, it was wonderful and I have often tried to emulate him but never could!

Also to see Archie going around Goodwood in the Lister-Jaguar was something to behold. I do not think the car was ever going in a straight line not even down Lavant Straight. and who can ever forget that monumental duel with Stirling Moss? I wonder if Senna would give a lift to Johnny Dumfries if he broke down on the circuit?

Anyway thank you so much for writing about a very courageous and fine gentleman, it cheered me up but also brought tears to my eyes. They just are not made like that any more.

London, N7 ROBIN L. JOWERS

Archie

I wish to express my delight at your recent article on Archie Scott-Brown for I too consider that he was truly one of the great drivers in post-war British motor racing history. On many occasions I was fortunate to witness his stirring drives at Brands Hatch in the Lister Maserati, Lister-Jaguar and, of course, in the spectacular Elva-AJB. I particularly remember the latter car for whenever I saw it race it would “take off” from the starting grid in almost a dragster-like manner, build up a commanding lead and then expire after about four or five laps. Unfortunately the commentator would usually announce that retirement was due to “failure of the swing valves” and I was particularly interested to learn from your article that it was the orthodox valves that were at fault. All this was a great shame for the engine sounded marvellous and, I felt, had great potential.

Thank you for an excellent magazine. the arrival of which is eagerly awaited each month.

Bearsted, Kent. M.STARK

The Senna Affair

Sir,

Having followed motor racing for many years, and having been a regular reader of MOTOR SPORT throughout that time, may I offer a few brief thoughts on D.S.J.’s piece “The Senna Saga” in your March issue?

To list points of disagreement would certainly be boring enough to prevent any chance of this letter being published. But many points exist. It is surely unfair to ascribe (rightly) mechanical unreliability to excuse some of Senna’s failures, while not allowing the same to excuse some of Warwick’s.

My sadness at reading the piece was not because D.S.J. was wrong, but he was so dismissive of those of us “both knowledgeable and unknowledgeable”, whose “rantings and ravings” are, in fact, for the most part, expressions of deep sadness at both the conduct and course of the “saga”. Many of us have commitments to both business and family that prevent the sort of race going that took up so much of one’s youth. We now have to rely on television and the press to keep us in touch with the sport we love. Television watching is often the best that many of us can manage, and it is a pity that D.S.J refers to it with such scorn. His ability to spend his working life walking the pit lanes of the world is his good fortune and perhaps it might be better not to seem so dismissive of those of us who cannot.

The British racing fan may nurse some strange passions — for British teams and for British drivers — but they are no less passionate for all that

D.S.J. likes Senna. So do many of us. Many of us also fail to see why Warwick in the second Lotus is such a bad idea. But enough of such ravings.

ANTHONY COLES Weston Longville, Norfolk

Signal Standards

Sir,

Mr Swan in your March issue thinks that I missed the point. I did not — I rejected it for these reasons:

Any driver, however skilled. must accept that he will occasionally make a mistake, and fail to be aware of another vehicle or motorcycle. A moment’s inattention, a hidden driveway or someone pulling out from behind a truck is all it takes. Acceptance of this fact, and therefore taking all reasonable precautions at all times, including signalling one’s intentions even on an apparently clear road must surely be the safest approach.

All accident statistics will surely confirm that far more accidents and injuries are caused by inadequate signalling rather than excessive. For the IAM and Mr Swan to teach that “Good drivers need not signal as much as bad drivers” will not increase driving standards, but merely decrease the already appalling standards of signalling. We all think we are advanced drivers — even if we don’t have diplomas to prove Unless Mr Swan sticks his numerous diplomas on all four sides of his car, how are we mere mortals to know that his car is positioned as it is because of his intelligence, rather than being badly positioned by an idiot? How are we to know that his failure to signal is because he is a highly skilled driver following all the positioning rules, rather than an incompetent, inconsiderate wally who is about to change direction without warning? Lastly, I find Mr Swan’s examples of misleading signals most odd I am sure that most of your readers can recall incidents when it has been essential to give the very signals he cites — though the more skilled amongst us will have appreciated the misunderstandings which might arise and have catered for those too. When I wrote that the IAM should teach people to signal ‘in good time and at all times’ I thought it unecessary to add the words “correctly” and “not misleadingly” but happily append them now if a makes my meaning more clearer.

Alton, Hants IDRIS FRANCIS

Thanks, Jacky

Sir,

May I please through your columns say a personal thank you to the recently retired Jacky Ickx. I was fortunate enough to witness his first GP win at Rouen in 1968 and also his amazing last corner victory in a GT40 at Le Mans the following year. He was a true racer who has given me hours of pleasure, rain or shine; Mustang or Ferrari, a quality performance was always guaranteed from the superb Belgian.

Congratulations on reaching your retirement and sincere wishes for the future.

Orpington I.H. MACKAY