Letters from readers, April 2001

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Full-face the facts

Sir,

I write to refute the remark made in the February 2001 issue, page 62, stating that the Vintage Sports-Car Club has banned open-face helmets. This is not true.

While the VSCC is very determined in its approach to encourage young people to participate in motorsport, this does not extend to any autocratic belief that we are an authority on safety standards.

There are many scientifically-based facts to indicate that a choice must remain and, as such, may depend on the application.

I am, yours etc,
Julian Ghosh, president of the VSCC

Injection interjection

Sir,

As a Lucas worker, I was interested to read the article ‘Lucas Fuel Injection’ in December’s issue.

It is true Lucas were never able to capitalise fully on their motor racing successes with fuel injection. Under the guidance of R H Wood, the Lucas racing manager, they were successful in having the equipment fitted to either the F1 drivers’ or constructors’ championship-winning car for a total of 25 consecutive years (1956-81).

During this period Lucas tried very hard to persuade the motor industry to fit fuel injection as standard equipment, but only Triumph and Maserati did so, though various others, who I cannot remember, tried it out but did not take it up as either standard or optional equipment. It was probably in advance of its time and, as always, cost played a decisive part as far as manufacturers were concerned.

You would only have to check the end-of-season Lucas Success advertising on the back cover of Motor Sport and other motoring journals, to verify the facts. So to say ‘Lucas Prince of Darkness’ may be glib, but it is not entirely true.

I am, yours etc,
H B Homer, Bromyard, Herefordshire

Driving us crazy

Sir,

I must applaud Bill Boddy’s recent article, ‘War on Car Owners’, having fallen victim myself. We moved house recently and I drew up a list of some 25 organisations needing to be notified. Seven of these replied to our new address, saying in effect, ‘Thank you for telling us of your new address’. Every one of these seven was a local or national government department.

Following the instructions on my old driving licence, I filled in the change of address section and waited for my nice new licence. Silly me. I must now apply for a photocard driving licence, like it or not. I have had a mugshot taken at the local Post Office, cost £3, and must now get both this photograph and part of the application form filled in by a person of ‘good standing’ who has known me for two years or more, so good that they will be checked by the DVLA. I do not have a current passport so this option is not open to me. This list of suitable persons to sign my photo makes interesting reading, I am a normal law-abiding citizen so do not know a magistrate or a police officer; I do not attend church so cannot call a local vicar, etc.

Fortunately, we did not move far on this occasion so I can ask our doctor to do the necessary (at a cost of £8 for his trouble). What would happen if I had moved 2-300 miles? The photo must be signed in my presence, so would that have meant a return trip at yet more cost?

I have now sent off my form together with my birth certificate and am waiting to see what I get for my £11 — certainly not a red book licence that was something that seemed worth having.

I have complained to my MP (who also is not trusted by DVLA) but don’t expect a sensible reply. As Bill Boddy says, roll on the next election — but don’t hold your breath.

I am, yours etc,
P Dowler, Bideford, Devon

Cat flop’s top laps

Sir,

Recently, I was pleased to see your features on the career of Tony Brise, (a champion in the making, if ever there was one). Despite the necessarily sad reporting of his unfair ending, along with Graham, I felt the article was fair on all concerned. What could have been mawkish was actually just good reportage, and did justice to all.

The issue on 1976 was a complete joy and, for once, I can definitely say along with Simon Taylor, ‘I was there!’

One feature stands out from recent issues and epitomise my reconciliation with Motor Sport. I firmly believe that The Best Racing Car Ever was the Jaguar XJ5.3C. One finds little on it in current literature, and this is a shame. Even grudgingly allowing that it was maybe only ‘potentially TBRCE’ (for it suffered shamefully from lack of commitment and development money from British Leyland), if you were there at the TT in ’77 when it came round the chicane at Woodcote you would have to agree that nothing has ever looked or sounded so good again. And then, in September 2000, there you are, at grips with the best car in the world. I think that I must now commit myself to you forever, and I am arranging a subscription.

I am, yours etc,
Paul W Hirst, Harewood, Leeds

Lest we forget

Sir,

May I congratulate you on the theme of the editorial of your March issue in which you rightly draw attention to Gordon Cruickshank’s magnificently-constructed feature on Brooklands as it exists today.

Like Gordon and the vast majority of people who write about motor racing, I never witnessed the action on the track and have had to rely on the words of those who did, notably Bill Boddy.

As Mr Cruickshank makes clear, only by actually visiting the site can one obtain a true measure of the grandeur of the place, the magnitude of the engineering achievement, and the skill and bravery of those who competed over the various courses which were created there, so often in cars as notable for their fragility as for their sometimes immense power.

It is important that such a significant part of the history of British motorsport should be firmly implanted in the minds of all racing enthusiasts who, probably through age, were denied the opportunity to witness it at first-hand. This is why, during the summer, Motor Racing Publications will republish Bill Boddy’s long-out-of-print definitive history of Brooklands in an entirely new edition which we intend to restrict to 2000 numbered copies.

May I therefore take this opportunity to express my thanks to the Brooklands Museum and to the Brooklands Society for providing us with access to their respective archives, and to Bill himself, my long-time friend and former colleague (back in 1960 we worked from adjacent offices in City Road) for his continuing industry during the past year in carrying out extensive revision of his original text and adding new material where he has deemed it necessary. It is our hope that the quality of the end product will be judged a fitting and lasting tribute to the famous motor course, the remnants of which so many people these days work so hard to sustain.

I am, yours etc,
John Blunsden, Croydon, Surrey

Candid camera

Sir,

I enjoyed reading your track visit to the Aintree circuit and thought you might be interested in the following story.

In 1962, as a teenager, I decided to go to the British Grand Prix at Aintree with my friend, Peter. We took only our cameras and sleeping bags and, after the practice session, slept under a hoarding out on the circuit so that we would be on the inside on race day.

I was very keen on photography and had recently covered a local scrambling meeting where the organisers gave me an armband printed ‘Official Photographer’.

As the GP was about to start, my friend and I were still on the inside of the circuit (I was wearing the armband) so we decided to stay at Anchor Crossing as there was no-one else around.

After a few laps the Police arrived to evict people not wearing a pass. They escorted my friend back to the paddock and then questioned me. I told them I had applied for a photographer’s pass but the organisers had run out and given me this armband instead. It worked!

With my new-found confidence, I decided to get as close as I could to the action, and took the enclosed picture that has never been published.

I am, yours etc,
Michael Hewett, Caterham, Surrey

Sterling Rover

Sir,

The main reason for my writing is to thank you for the article on the timeless Frank Lockhart and his ‘affair’ with the Rover Special. I met Frank himself at a VSCC meeting at Thruxton and he was at all times charming — something which obviously hasn’t changed.

At the time the Special had the same radiator cowl as today but with a flat grille rather than the current, much more ‘in-keeping’ item.

Having been rather out of touch with the ‘oldie’ scene, it’s great to see that this pair are still together after all this time. Any chance of seeing them mixing it with the rest of the cream at this year’s Goodwood Festival?

I am, yours etc,
Simon Fenwick, Fleet, Surrey

Not at the double

Sir,

I enjoyed Simon Taylor’s Modern Times column in last month’s issue where he comments on how difficult back-to-back F1 titles are to achieve, and that only the four greatest drivers in the last 15 years (Senna, Schumacher, Hakkinen and Prost) have achieved this feat.

One might say that his list of four could have extended to five to include Nigel Mansell if Williams had not instead signed Prost for 1993, sending Nigel off to America where he became a back-to-back champion of sorts.

Likewise, Damon Hill might also have done the double in 1997 had he also stayed at Williams. Still, my money this year is on Schumacher to do the back-to-back feat again, proving that he is now the greatest of the great.

I am, yours etc,
Robert Sinfield, Nailsworth, Gloucs

Rudi remembered

Sir,

I thought all your readers would be enlightened to discover that the Rhein-Zeitung reported that the Karussell will be officially named the ‘Caracciola-Karussell’ after Rudolf Caracciola, who was born 100 years ago in January and won five German GPs on the Nürburgring.

It was Caracciola who first used the banking of the Karussell, before it was paved.

I am, yours etc,
Toby Moody, Worcestershire

More track visits, please!

Sir,

May I say how much I enjoyed the Brooklands track test, and how pleased I am that there will be a new series in the Autumn — great stuff!

Just in case you need any more ideas for track tests, I suggest the following: Pescara, Mille Miglia, Beme, Barcelona (Montjuich Park), Brno, Chimay (Belgium) and Vila Real (Portugal).

All of these are public roads, so would still exist in some shape or form, and would therefore make interesting subjects. Perhaps when you have finally track-tested everywhere, you can do a series on great races at these tracks you have featured — it would also be a good excuse to raid the photographic archives for lots of scenic shots.

One final thought — may I make a request, through your columns, to the powers-that-be at Goodwood: please try to attract Karl Kling, Hans Herrmann and Manfred von Brauchitsch to this year’s Festival of Speed for the Mercedes-Benz feature. Also, they could try bringing Mario Andretti to the Goodwood Revival meeting, bearing in mind he may already be going to the Rockingham ChampCar race the following week!

Well, I think that’s a pretty good wishlist. Many thanks for a superb magazine,

I am, yours etc,
Julian Nowell, Brentford, Middx

Party proper

Sir,

May I, through your pages, express a huge thank you to those responsible for the Grand Prix Party at The Royal Albert Hall on 12 February. The whole event was in aid of the Brain & Spine Foundation headed by Professor Sid Watkins.

The selfless attitudes of those who gave their time and effort, combined with the generosity of the F1 teams, made us feel extremely privileged to have been able to attend, sit in front of Jackie Stewart and lend our support to this worthy cause.

Well done Tony Jardine, we can’t wait for next year’s Party.

I am, yours etc,
Steve Brooker, Hextable, Kent

De Villota in the detail

Sir,

It is not often that I can find errors in your articles, but one that I have noticed, especially as I designed at Team Lotus at the time, is your incorrect captions of Emilio de Villota on page 85 of the March edition. In both photos he is driving a Lotus 78, not a McLaren M23 as quoted.

I am, yours etc,
Martin Ogilvie, Nethergate, Norfolk

That’s your slot!

Sir,

Reading William Boddy’s article on Vauxhall 30/98s at Brooklands, with the great picture of the Birkin Bentley thundering around the top of the banking, I am very pleased to say that this year, at Brooklands, a Birkin Bentley will again be thundering around the track.

The track in question will be in the Chequered Flag room in the Clubhouse. This is the world’s only full-size rail-racing track and was constructed last year to put on the Brooklands Memorial Races, which were held on 20 August at Brooklands. The event was a tremendous success and featured in two television programmes.

Pictures of the cars, track and details of the event are on the Rail Racing website at http://homepage.ntlworld.com/j.davies4

I am, yours etc,
Jeff Davies, Newport, Wales

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