• The New Minister
The recently-convincingly-elected Conservative Government has appointed Mr. John Peyton, who motors in a BMC Mini and a Rover 3500 V8, as Minister of Transport.
We have requested a personal interview with Mr. Peyton which he has been unable to grant, because he is too busy improving British transport. We cannot believe that he is unaware of the good the Press can do his image and that of his party.
What we have to remind Mr. Peyton is that Motor Sport was responsible for a petition containing 280,000 signatures, which asked the Labour Minister of Transport to reconsider the dangerous 70 m.p.h speed limit on our motorways. This petition may well have staved off a lower limit but it was virtually ignored by the power behind Transport House.
We commend to the respected new M.o.T. the idea that good public relations would make his onerous task easier and that the motoring electorate will demand to know how the new Government intends to treat them. We are convinced that speed limits must be reviewed, calmly and sensibly and that if this is done Mr. Peyton’s first thought of an 80 m.p.h. limit will be abandoned in favour of abolition of any speed limit on motorways and raised limits suited to modern vehicles and roads, elsewhere, 40 perhaps in towns, 60 on suburban arterials.
Remember, Mr. Peyton, that 280,000 people thought it worth signing our Petition and that the memory of the summary dismissal of any comment on the contents of this petition probably influenced them on Election Day. Tell the motorist your views, take him into your confidence, abolish foolish and out-dated anti-motoring legislation, and your term of office could be a long and beneficial one. Or must we Petition again ?
• Well done, GPDA, well done
The German Grand Prix which was to have been held on the Nurburgring on August 2nd has been transferred to the flat stadium-like circuit at Hockenheim at the request of the FIA as a direct result of representation from the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, the reason being that the Nurgburgring does not comply with the desired safety precautions in respect of driver safety, fire-fighting equipment and public safety. With good reason people are asking ‘Who or what is the GPDA that can have such an effect on Grand Prix racing ?” This Association of Grand Prix drivers was started some years ago by Stirling Moss and his contemporaries as a well-meaning group of drivers trying to sort out some of the inevitable wrangling that is bound to crop up in any professional activity. Today this body has taken on much more than was originally envisaged, concerning itself with all manner of things connected with Grand Prix racing and issuing requests, both reasonable and unreasonable, backed up by a footnote to the effect that if the requests are not carried out they, the Grand Prix drivers, will boycott the race, and adding a further note to the effect that the manufacturers of Grand Prix racing cars, as represented by the Formula One Constructors’ Association, will also boycott the race. Today, Stirling Moss will tell you in no uncertain manner that he thinks the GPDA has not only got above itself but is out of hand.
If we are honest we will see that the present state of affairs has arisen as backwash from an overall growing state of social security that has grown upon the civilised world from Sweden and America, and it is a state that many people in Great Britain are taking advantage of, rather than helping. Now, if the GPDA and the Formula One Constructors’ Association were unanimous in their findings there could be little argument, but they are not unanimous, and are not even fully representative in membership. The President of the GPDA is Joakim Bonnier, who used to drive in Grand Prix races and who today races a Lola-Chevrolet in long-distance racing and a Lola T210 in 2-litre sports-car races. He it is who usually transmits the findings of the GPDA to whoever is concerned, even though he is seldom at their meetings these days, for they are usually held on a practice day before a Grand Prix. The discussions and decisions made at these meetings are secret and are not divulged to the Press or the public, words leaking out from back-doors, and often being misquoted or misused. The latest requests to the German Automobile Club who run the Grand Prix were made at Clermont-Ferrand, during the French GP, at which John Surtees for one was not present. Stewart is quick to point out that on the question of Nurburgring he abstained from voting as he was beginning to feel that everyone thought he was the ring-leader of all the protests. I am still waiting for a Grand Prix driver to tell me that he personally was the instigator of any suggestion or decision, waiting in vain I am afraid, it is always “The GPDA have decided”, or “The GPDA have suggested”. It really is time someone, somewhere, came out into the open. Incidentally, Ickx is honest enough to admit he disagrees with many of the present findings of the GPDA and he refused to attend their Brands Hatch meeting. He says he would not vvish to involve his team in strikes or boycotts.
I am well aware that motor racing, or any other form of racing is dangerous, bloody dangerous, but that is what makes it exciting for spectators and competitors alike, and I know we have recently had a series of nasty accidents, but, for goodness sake, we must not get hysterical. The song of the GPDA at the moment is “spectator safety”, an entirely new song I might add. Their main objection to the Nurburgring, if Stewart is to be believed, is that there are places where a crashing and blazing car could go into the crowds, and if that happened at the present moment when some Continental newspapers are ticking about motor-racing deaths, it could damage or even stop motor racing in Europe. A very laudable and noble thought, but is it the concern of the GPDA? Race organisers pay enormous insurance premiums to cover all contingencies and are more aware of such matters than any racing driver will ever be, for the drivers do not have to write out the cheque to the insurance company. Rest assured that no insurance company is going to issue cover for a race meeting unless it has looked closely into the matter. Threats of boycott from the GPDA will do nothing to help and will only create a feeling that motor racing is more dangerous than it is.
The GPDA happily put in requests for £10,000 worth of improvements or safety precautions to be made to a circuit and when asked who is going to pay for it, most drivers will tell you that race organisers make plenty of profit and can afford it.
Certain Grand Prix drivers, I cannot say the GPDA as a body, are doing a great job, well done, but if they go on like they are doing we shall finish up as a reader suggests, with the British Grand Prix being held on the main runway at Heathrow Airport, with cars running one at a time, and in the interests of “spectator safety” there will be no spectators allowed.—D. S. J.
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Motor Sport Fixture List For August
* Only clubs whose secretaries furnished the necessary information prior to the 14th of the preceding month are included in this list. *
C = Closed Event. Cl= Closed Invitation Event. R = Restricted Event. NB = National British. NO = National Open. INT = International Event.
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Restrictive practices, and wage increases accepted with no intention of improved productivity, have created an inflatory spiral that leaves us no alternative but to increase the price of Motor Sport.
We are pleased, however, to remind you that Motor Sport now offers an improved colour section whilst rally coverage is by the world’s leading rally journalist, American Comment is by our North American representative and the tuning features every month are by our performance specialist.
These new features, together with international race reports and comments, a veteran and vintage section, book reviews and honest road tests keep Motor Sport, we are sure you will agree, as the best “buy” in motoring journals.
The first 3/- (15 n.p.) edition will appear on Tuesday, September 1st, 1970.