All-time greats?


Just as a bit of fun, as it serves no purpose, I have listed in order, who I consider the best drivers since the 1930s. It might be of interest and may even spark off a barrage of objections and further debate so here goes (I would prefer not to have put the top three in any order, but if pushed I would put them in this order): 1. Nuvolari; 2. Fangio; 3. Clark; 4. Ascari; 5. Rosemeyer; 6. Moss; 7. Caracciola; 8. Senna: 9. Stewart; 10. Wimille; 11. Villeneuve; 12. Peterson; 13. Rindt; 14. Varzi; 15. Piquet; 16. Hawthorn; 17. Brooks; 18. G.Hill; 19. Pryce; 20. Andretti; 21. Ickx; 22. Mansell; 23. Farina; 24. Villoresi; 25. Surtees.

Honorable mention: Campari because of his great smile and ample character.

In no order: Ireland (fantastic on his day!); Brabham; Collins (being a nice guy isn't enough); Gurney (ditto): Musso.

John Olliver, Ashford, Kent.

Rover 8 Register


Since the 1960s an informal register of Rover 8s and their owners has been maintained. We are aware that many changes have taken place in recent years, and I am now attempting to contact every owner of a Rover 8, and parts thereof. We need to confirm all details in order to eliminate anomalies and to benefit from the shared knowledge thus obtained. I have sent questionnaires to all known contacts and to those who have responded, or will respond, I intend to send a copy of my findings.

Inevitably there are some of whom I have absolutely no knowledge and I wonder whether I may prevail upon you to enter a small plea for information in your publication. I can assure anybody who responds of total confidentiality if this is so required.

Kent Robinson, Wedmans Farm, Basingstoke, Hampshire RG27 9BX.

Treading Carefully


On the TV programme Top Gear on March 5, they were showing the effect of tyre tread on braking distances on a flooded road, and showed that, on a road with a layer of water on it (about half an inch deep), 1.6mm of tread gave better stopping power. Their tests also showed that, on a dry road, stopping power was proportional to the amount of rubber on the road, and they actually said that, on a dry road, a smooth tyre gave the most grip.

The people who accelerate dragsters at Santa Pod have known this for a long time, as have the makers of aircraft tyres, whose tests show that the tendency to aquaplane depends upon the square root of the pressure in the tyre, not the tyre tread. I remember being shown round the first Concorde in England at Fairoaks, and remarking that its treadless tyres with canvas showing all round, would be illegal on my motor car. I was told that these tyres were specified by competent engineers, to gain the best braking. They were not ordered by ignorant politicians with a vested interest in the tyre manufacturers.

My annual mileage is now about 10,000 miles, in vehicles ranging from a Mini to a vintage Rolls-Royce. At least two thirds of this is done on dry roads. Very occasionally I might meet a yard or two of flooded road, but my total mileage when there is half an inch of water on the road is less than one mile per year. Under these conditions, I drive carefully.

Why is it that the law requires me to use tyres suitable for this one mile per year situation? Surely tyres suitable for the generally prevailing conditions would be logical choice? The village where I live is approached by a downhill section of 1 in 10, followed by a series of 'difficult' bends. We have nearly one accident per week, due to cars going too fast. Most of these are on dry roads, and involve cars with good tread on their tyres. Is it possible that a few of these accidents could have been avoided if the cars had the extra grip of smooth tyres?

One cannot expect a motorist to change his tyres according to whether the road is wet or dry, as racing cars do, but would it not be possible to design a tyre, for example, with tread on the edges and smooth in the middle as a compromise? In any case, it is time to dispel the myth that a tyre with less than 1.6mm of tread is dangerous. The tests done for the Top Gear programme show that it is the safest for the greater part of normal driving.

John Linegar, Lincoln.

Latin lesson


With regard to Boddy Language in the June issue of MOTOR SPORT, you are in trouble! 'Verbum sapient est' should be 'verbum sapienti sat'.

On the subject of Latin tags, when a friend and I both owned 1936 Triumphs some time ago we reckoned that 'sic transit gloria mundi' roughly translated as 'shouldn't have drunk so much on Sunday night'.

After 30 years of reading MOTOR SPORT, may I take this opportunity to thank you for such a literate and intelligent publication, a constant delight.

John Eden, Sutton Coldfield.

The price is wrong


I was most interested in the article A time for change (MOTOR SPORT, June, Arrant Nonsense), much of which I agree with. Perhaps I can give a view from club level. Over the last 20 years I have raced in Mini 850s, Sports 2000, production sports cars, production saloons, historic GTs, historic F3, F2, Formula Libre, Group C sports cars, Thundersports, Group 6 and five Willhires. But I have not driven for over a year and, at present, have no plans to do so this year. It has become a question of value for money and the feeling now of being ripped off by circuit owners, clubs and the RAC.

Race entry fees and RAC charges have gone up far and away ahead of inflation. Take the ARP two-litre F3 series, for 1981-87 F3 cars. Last year, entries were £100; this year, they are £120. There's no start money, no bonuses and no prize money unless you finish in the top six. By definition, at least 70 per cent of competitors will never get any prize money.

I have a car for this series, but £120 for 15-20 minutes track time is outrageous and I will not do it. Add this to the costs of just getting on to the grid, with travelling and minimal consumables, and you're up to £250 before you turn a lap. All organisers should realise that competitors provide the spectacle that enables them to have a business, and thus make a profit. No competitors, no racing, no business. You do not make up the shortfall caused by a drop in entries by charging the hardy few a great deal more. This is a recipe for going out of business.

Racing administration is poor, drivers are not welcomed, are made to wait and every effort is made to trip them up on the smallest trivial detail. Pass checkers behave like Gestapo. Competitors are generally treated badly; no one smiles. The whole atmosphere is wrong and heeds a completely new approach. A friendly, welcome attitude is needed and it should be made easy to take part. Competitors put their lives and their expensive equipment at risk to provide motor racing. There should be incentives to take part: start money, finish money or abolition of entry fees. This would turn around competitor support and produce full and oversubscribed grids.

Look at the VSCC. They have hugely successful meetings without any publicity. Entry fees are £30 and all the races are oversubscribed. The whole thing gains momentum and crowds go up, club racing becomes what it should be and what it was - not what, in the main, we have now. There is no sponsorship at club level, just rich fathers, family business support or the blackmailing of suppliers into sponsoring your race car. Most people have to pay for it all themselves out of taxed income, with no help at all. Cost should be addressed and acted upon at all levels. There should be drastic reductions at each point, from F1 down to the 750MC; cut out all the frills, and let's get back to grass roots. Frame the regulations across the board with a firm hand to make it cheaper for everyone. This would reflect reality and if our sport is to survive and thrive this has to be done now.

Sensible consideration should be given to what sort of racing takes place. There is a lot of old rubbish being raced these days: tatty, ex-MOT failure saloons which look unprofessional; too many races for one make hatchbacks which all look much the same. I find one-make racing not to be interesting because racing is a technical sport, and a large part of it is competition between different car makers. If you don't have that, you lose a lot. The same for one make single-seaters. I agree with you about F2. Get it back to the F2 of 1970-1980: the engines in F3000 are just way too expensive at £50,000 plus for a competitive unit, and pure racing engines get little manufacturer support. I would suggest F2 cars with chassis much as F3/F3000/Formula Atlantic, but without all the expensive materials. A plywood floor costs £10, a carbon fibre floor £4000. Rules should be framed to make the chassis as cheap as possible to buy, maintain and repair, using simple and cheap materials but maintaining present safety levels. For engines, use the BTCC two-litre formula, with 8500 rpm limiters, catalysts and standard unleaded fuel. Get the price down to £10,000 and attract manufacturer support at a stroke. All the development has already been done for the BTCC, and 300 bhp would yield exciting racing with no venturis and minimal, low wings which would produce no more than balance adjustment.

Please write many more articles on this subject. Expose competitor disquiet, and encourage clubs to offer more competitive packages which might appeal to drivers. Publish the costs and benefits of all the different formulae and use the powerful weapon of publicity to get British racing back on to the right track. Quality with quantity could be achieved.

At the moment it's in a slow decline and needs some pleasure brought back into it.

It was a good article. We need much more of it, in greater detail.

Richard Hinton, Ware, Herts.

Power cut


Due to the inherent nature of top level racing such as Formula One, place changes between the leading cars will always be relatively infrequent. This doesn't mean the duelling isn't close or the competition fierce, but is more a reflection of the advanced technology now gained and the resulting higher speeds achieved. This suggests that overtaking is more difficult than in the past (after all, most circuits were designed years ago for much slower cars than those of today), but does not mean the sport is devoid of drama.

The Monaco and Montreal GPs stand proof to that and render the proposal to introduce the previously banned and dangerous procedure of refuelling as preposterous. Even compulsory tyre stops could work to the detriment of the sport by reducing some of the suspense of pit stop tactics. The most obvious idea would be to limit the amount of horsepower the engines produce and thus counter the glaring power discrepency between the leading teams and those further down the field. If Formula One racing needs spicing up then the governing bodies should produce something which makes a difference on the track rather than trying to make it happen in the pits.

MG Baldwin, Cricklewood, London NW2.

Still the best

I have recently returned from my 10th consecutive visit to the world's greatest motor race. Although I was sceptical beforehand, I must say that it was again a great event. The 3.5litre cars lasted better than anyone expected, and were most impressive from the trackside - particularly the number five Mazda.

Although the number of entries was low and the number of spectators greatly reduced, I enjoyed every minute. In terms of value for money, the 24 Heures du Mans is a real bargain.

I congratulate the ACO in its ability to organise such an event (Silverstone please note, there are no traffic jams at Le Mans).

Whatever happens in the next year, I am sure that the Le Mans 24 Hours will always be the world's greatest motor race. Let us hope that in 1993 the glorious sounding BRM will be competitive and that the race will attract a larger entry.

John Hickman, Dudley, W Midlands.

PS: To all Sprites, beware of Tertre Rouge rabbits.