Empire Trophy disappointments
This year’s B.R.D.C. British Empire Trophy Meeting suffered various set-backs that rendered it disappointing. Some explanations seem desirable (although we cannot attempt to explain the title our reporter has chosen to head his report of this meeting!). The non-appearance in the Inter-Continental Race of the Scarab and Vanwall and the brief life of the Ferguson are set-backs any race organiser has to face – Daigh crashed, Vandervell is still Vandervell the Unready, and the Ferguson at least left the line, which is more than the V-16 B.R.M. did for Sommer on a similar occasion.
In the G.T. race Hobbs was permitted to drive his automatic-transmission Lotus Elite but not to qualify for an award or place and as he was honest enough to declare at Nurburg that his car was not homologated as a Grand Tourer and was transferred to the sports class, he could hardly expect the B.R.D.C. to hold any other view in England, although it was a little late in the day to remind him of this on the starting grid.
The ban on Gurney’s Chevrolet and Daigh’s Ford Galaxie in the Touring Car Race was very much less palatable. In May Gurney led all the Jaguars in his huge and powerful saloon until an improvised wheel detached itself. The Silverstone public awaited eagerly for the next round, in July. Gurney has assured us that, apart from stronger wheels, the Chevrolet was exactly the same as on its previous Silverstone appearance.
It was welcomed in May but banned in July. Why? It appears that a very detailed specification was submitted to the C.S.I. by the U.S.A. authorities in order for the car to be homologated ‘but that this was not done on the official C.S.I. forms. Under the circumstances the C.S.I. felt that although morally the Chevrolet complied with its requirements it could hardly shut its eyes, if challenged, to the error of uncompleted forms when its own rules clearly call for these. The B.R.D.C. received a telegram from the R.A.C. ordering Gurney’s disqualification, and had no option but to obey this command from above. In fact, the car would have been a non-starter as an essential spare, a gasket we believe, was held by Customs. The Ford, too, couldn’t have started, as Daigh was in hospital. But if all this was sparked off by “vested interests” here in Britain, it was most unfortunate and unsporting.
Moss’ Ferrari which won the G.T. race had left Modena in the hands of a collection driver who forgot its homologation papers but as it was well-known to be the Le Mans car it was permitted to run with components sealed and will be examined by the B.R.D.C. at Rob Walker’s garage when its papers reach England. This, and the Hobbs’ case, show up the B.R.D.C. in a good light, as anxious to help drivers over difficult paperwork and other oflicial matters. The awkward question remains – what sparked off the telegram that disqualified the Chevrolet, which, like the Ferrari, was a car well-known to the B.R.D.C. scrutineers?
Checking on the cars already road-tested by the Editor of Motor Sport this year, the number embraces ten British, four French, and one each of German and Russian vehicles, which refutes any suggestion that we are anti-British…
In the past any shortage of the British element in the year’s road-test curriculum has been due to apathy on the part of British manufacturers. If published road tests are of any value – and there is plenty of evidence and solid opinion that such reports, when favourable, sell more cars than any other medium, except, perhaps, success in competition, and are worth many hundreds of pounds expressed in terms of bought space – then cars should be freely available to journalists and tech writers. Today, because so many papers have motoring correspondents and because accidents to press cars in modern traffic are frequent, the task of Publicity Departments is a formidible one.
On the whole they cope admirably. Of the British “Big Five,” Ford have provided willingly six of our 1961 test cars, including a rally model. Rootes run an extremely efficient press service, and in the past Standard-Triumph have served us well. Vauxhall tend to the idea that we only test racing cars but provide Motor Sport with their products when requested (and very satisfactory their latest versions have proved). B.M.C. cars are in heavy demand and consequently they tend to be elusive. For instance, we asked for a certain Austin model last October and have been pleading for it, at intervals, ever since. The last letter from Longbridge said “three or four weeks.” That was in May and the car hasn’t turned up yet. Waiting, they say, makes for fondness. On that assumption, when this Austin does arrive it will seem a very fine car indeed!