The 12 Hours of Reims

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The Formula Two Race

It is said that “after the Lord Mayor’s Show…”, and in this case there were swarms of the little things. Anyone who was anyone in Formula Two racing had a Cosworth SCA engine and as the maximum speed of these cars was about the same as the average speed of a Prototype GT, it seemed absurd before the start to let them loose on such a circuit. For any of the top twelve or fifteen drivers it was a case of full throttle all the way, except for two maximum braking efforts at Muizon and Thillois hairpins, and the whole thing seemed fraught with disaster. After the Pau G.P. I expressed my disapproval of F.2 .other than as a nursery on small home-based circuits, and here were half a dozen valuable top-flight Grand Prix drivers on a full-blooded Grand Prix circuit in cars with engines the size of decent motorcycles. Presumably they were doing it for the money, but I should have thought that common sense and logic was stronger than pounds sterling. At the end of the opening lap there were ten or more cars so close that it was not exciting, nor was it skilful, it was plain “bloody stupid.” In the 12 hours’ race, in the dark, Ginther, Hill and Surtees had been-equally close at speeds 50 m.p.h. higher, but that had made sense, for no matter what the cars, they are in the top category, but in this Formula Two race there were drivers of all categories wheel-to-wheel simply because all the cars had equal performance, and low performance at that, relative to the circuit.

By sheer good fortune, due to lapping a slower car at a crucial point of the Circuit. Brabham and Rees broke away from the main pack, and then the inevitable happened. First Hegbourne spun off without collecting anyone, but then Arundell got into an accident and involved Ginther and Rindt, and Arundell was very badly hurt. If a Grand Prix driver crashes and hurts himself while trying to win a Grande Epreuve, then that is part of the risk of his profession, but to injure himself in a “Go-Kart” race is needless waste. Like a test-pilot crashing in a Piper-Cub, or an International football player breaking a leg in a village match. Alan Rees beat Brabham to the line by a few feet, both in Brabham cars powered by Cosworth SCA engines, of which engines there can be no criticism for they withstood peak revs for the whole 37 laps.

The Formula Three Race

Of this the less said the better, but Jackie Stewart had the good sense to cross his fingers, over-rev his engine, and get well away in the early stages, out of harm’s way. – D.S.J.

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