Letters, August 2007

Clark unmatched


Thank you as ever for keeping the memory of Jim Clark so alive. I read John Surtees’ candid appreciation of Clark which so succinctly exemplifies the man that Clark was.

It is quite remarkable that such a competitive and skilful protagonist of his sport has never had a critical or unkind word either written or said about him during his lifetime or after his tragic and untimely death.

I feel exceptionally privileged to have seen him race; his fluency and balance have never been matched.

Paul Normand, Thankerton, Lanarkshire

Mirage through the mist 


Your article in July on the Gulf Mirage was an entertaining treat, and your timing impeccable as usual. 

Two days before reading Paul Fearnley’s absorbing piece, I’d been standing next to the real thing (the Mirage, that is, not Mr Fearnley!), in the pits at the inaugural Brands Hatch Historic Festival. The 1972 incarnation of the car still wows all who see her. Well done Marc Devis and your Belgian crew. 

By coincidence, Derek Bell had posed for a couple of snaps just five minutes before I chanced on the Mirage in its pit garage. Sadly, the two-day deluge at Brands didn’t suit the Mirage, which appeared for qualifying, but didn’t run on race day – at least, I didn’t see it through the murk and spray! 

Perhaps this is an opportunity to say that, dreadful weather notwithstanding, the Brands Historic Festival was a great event. A sincere ‘well done’ to those who entertained us punters with some real racing. 100mph laps in Group C in that weather? Big respect!

Tom Phillips, Maidstone, Kent

Aintree inspiration 


As I read your revitalised magazine, I come to a shocking thought. It is now 50 years since I attended my first ever motor race meeting. And what a meeting. The 1957 British Grand Prix at Aintree, where I saw Moss beat those “bloody red cars”. Why was I there? Because I was lucky enough to sing in Manchester Cathedral Choir, and our Master of Choristers was a motor racing fan. Alan Wicks organised a trip for 20 choir members to pay a visit to that momentous meeting. I shamefully must admit that I did spend a fair amount of time collecting Coke bottles to return at 3d each. Had I only realised the historic nature of the unfolding events I would have paid more attention. Still I was struck by the wondrous noise, it was ‘mechanical Mozart’. Where are those 20 young men now? Did any of them go on to enjoy a modest amount of racing, as I did?

We have the greatest sport in the world to enjoy, and the most wonderful soundtrack. How I do wish that I could convey my thanks to the man who lit the fuse of my unending affair with motorsport. So we should all nurture the young enthusiasts, and show them that there is a tremendous world out there to enjoy. If we don’t, then they may just think that the world is Formula 1 and ‘nowt else’. 

Keep up the great work – and surely ‘Sir William Boddy, MBE’ has a ring to it. 

Patrick Smith, via e-mail 

Boddy changes


Your latest issue has caused me to completely change my Motor Sport habits. For a number of years now I have had a routine when the magazine is delivered. I sit down with a cup of coffee and start to read in a set format. First of all I read the Editorial and Matters of Moment. I then read the letters and then glance through the magazine reading the picture and article captions to get a flavour of the articles I will be reading over the next few weeks.

However, today my routine has been shattered by the superb ‘Lunch with Bill Boddy’. It was like meeting up with an old friend I had not seen for years. I read the article immediately, in fact twice. This prompted me to go staight to WB’s articles and read them. I was so absorbed in the articles that before I knew it I had read three-quarters of the magazine. This has completely ruined my reading plan for the rest of the month and I will now have to delve into my collection to read some previous issues. (I have subscribed to Motor Sport since 1973 and my collection goes back to 1950.)

I know you went through some difficult times, especially during the ‘red top’ era, but I have to say that Motor Sport is now an outstanding publication that stands head and shoulders above the rest.

Ron Wood, Dodleston, Cheshire

Luncheon voucher 


Thank you for ‘Lunch with Bill Boddy’ (July 2007). Simon Taylor’s and WB’s columns are invariably the first items I read in each issue, and to have the two combined in one, so to speak, was a true delight. What an amazing recall WB has, and what memories! He founded a great magazine, the standard of which still excels.

Charles Shildrick, Normandy, France

Design kid named 


Reading your article about Vic Elford in the June issue, I was astonished to see the comment made about “The sucker car idea came from a 12-year-old kid who sent him a little drawing…” 

Over 20 years ago a very dear friend of mine told me that when he was a child in San Antonio, Texas, he’d mailed a drawing to Jim Hall suggesting a powered fan or rotor blade of some kind mounted in a Chaparral might help him beat the McLarens by sucking the car to the ground. As he was an honourable and trustworthy sort not given to telling tall tales, I believed him. His name was Patrick Landrum, now sadly deceased six years ago at the age of 46. 

On a number of occasions as an adult he had tried to contact Mr Hall, to no avail. Imagine my surprise and joy to read your lovely article and come across this bit of information! Patrick would have gotten some immense satisfaction from it.

As far as I can remember Hall never acknowledged Landrum’s idea to him personally. The fact that he still has the drawings is testament enough. I’ve been an avid reader of Motor Sport for many years and will continue to do so. Please commend the art director for the new design – it’s superb.

Jeff Jackson, Houston, Texas

Ferrari thanks 


I can think of just one word to describe how much I liked your 60 Years of Ferrari issue: gracias!

Abel Cruz, Barcelona, Spain

Fuellish rules 


How can a rule be justified which means a car must either run out of fuel or pick up a penalty?

As I understand it, a rule which means just that clobbered Fernando Alonso and Nico Rosberg during the recent Canadian Grand Prix, and I can’t for the life of me understand how that is fair, or in the interests of good racing. 

In the June 1972 issue of Motor Sport DSJ wrote: “The job of writing rules and regulations to control something as complex as motor racing is an unenviable task… The people who volunteer to take on this job for the FIA have my greatest sympathy.”

I’m not sure that I feel quite as generous as Jenks on this one.

Mervyn Gott, Chichester, Sussex

Respect due 


I was delighted to see the wonderful pictures of Brooklands in its hey-day (July issue). However, they also served to remind me that it took a German company, Mercedes, to treat the site with the respect it is due.

Something as unique as Brooklands should be a heritage monument and a source of national pride. In my view it is a disgrace that much of the site is now essentially a bland trading estate with access to the remaining track limited to the Members Banking.

This is not to denigrate the trustees of the Spirit of Brooklands – the Museum does a wonderful job.

V Belvedere, Plymouth