I can still remember the excitement that I felt in June 1966 when I first witnessed the start of a Le Mans 24 Hours race, so it is inevitable that most present-day spectators would like to see the many historic series continuing to use this iconic procedure. However, drivers wear a multi-point seat harness for reasons
too obvious to restate here… So, may I suggest a way in which both schools of thought could be satisfied?
After the cars have been positioned on the side of the start/finish straight the driver would install himself safely in the car with his harness in place, the external isolator switch fitted to most racing cars turned to the ‘off’ position. The other driver, or one of the mechanics, would then take part in the dash across the track and turn the switch to the ‘on’ position, allowing the engine to be started by the driver and the race to begin. It’s so simple that someone, somewhere, must have already thought of it?
In a similar vein, I remember my first visit to the Goodwood Revival when I found Phil Hill and his son Derek busy fitting a series of bungee straps to the harness on their Shelby Cobra due to take part in the RAC Tourist Trophy. After Derek had explained their purpose – to assist with the driver change – Phil growled that he thought that the organisers should make all competitors stop for a minimum period of time that would allow those wishing to race in harnesses to do so without being penalised for wishing to preserve their lives.
He had a point, but I do not know whether the organisers heeded his plea. Perhaps, being the gentleman that he was, he chose to remain silent on the matter for fear of offending his gracious host Lord March.
Nicholas Milton, Wellington, Somerset