Letters, August 2010

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My wait to see Indy winner

Sir,

Congratulations to Motor Sport and Gordon Cruickshank on his story of the Lotus-Ford 38 in your July issue. It was in 1965, not ’66, that one of them was driven by Jim Clark in the two Swiss hillclimbs and I am disappointed to learn some 45 years later that it was not apparently the Indianapolis-winning car that I photographed on both occasions.

The wealthy Automobile Club of Switzerland funded its appearance at St Ursanne-les Rangiers, then at 011on-Villars a week later. At the latter event Clark completed only one climb in 4min 45.3 sec, but he was not, of course, entered in the competition. It will be good to see the car once again at the Goodwood Festival of Speed and to thank all those at Classic Team Lotus who have brought it back to active life. How we all wish Jim Clark was still around to drive it.

Brian Joscelyne, Braintree, Essex

Could you do any better?

Sir,

Horace Richards was on the right and proper side of the fence in 1954 ( Should there be room for the little guy in F1? , Roebuck’s Reflections , July issue). His car hadn’t quite the pace of a 250F, but he got a splendid view of Stirling Moss at work every time ‘The Man’ came past, and all the braying oafs had was their ignorance.

In a similar vein some time ago, fun was poked at Jack Fairman. Apparently he used to turn up with his helmet and gloves in the hope that someone would need a driver. Definitely the man was exhibiting enthusiasm, and without that life is surely over for any of us. Jack pounded round Monza’s bankings to bring his Connaught home in fifth place in the 1956 Italian GP, and perhaps scoffing at the man should be restricted to those who have finished fourth or higher at this level.

Jack Hoey, Monaghan, Ireland

In praise of a “good bloke”

Sir,

June 2, 2010 sadly marked the 40th anniversary of the passing of Bruce Leslie McLaren. It is a date that I am sure will not be forgotten, and I would like to share some memories of Bruce.

As an impressionable teenager, I met Bruce on the wharves in Auckland as his BRM cars were being unloaded for the 1967 Tasman Series, in a simpler time when one could do such things. The very dapper Bruce was there supervising the unloading along with Bill Bryce and Eoin Young. I fondly recall how approachable Bruce was and he did not hesitate to have a chat and to sign our New Zealand Grand Prix programmes for my brother and me, an autograph I cherish to this day.

I recall the morning when my mother-in-law called me to say she had just heard of Bruce’s fatal accident.

In later years I came to know Bruce’s parents, and spent many hours reminiscing with Mum and Pop McLaren. The corner of their lounge was a shrine to Bruce’s memory, with his framed Can-Am medals and the Lady Wigram Trophy (among others) proudly on display. After one visit, Pop took me to the door of his garage and asked me to wait while he went inside. He returned with the steering wheel centre badge from Bruce’s own M6GT and one of the Bruce McLaren Motor Racing decals, now framed with the autograph in my study. Such generosity was typical of Bruce’s parents and I am honoured to have met their son, and known them.

In recent times there has been a move in New Zealand to have Bruce posthumously knighted for his services to motor sport in this country which, sadly, won’t succeed. I often wonder what Bruce would have achieved had that awful Goodwood day not happened, and what he would think of F1 as we know it now. I have spoken with many who worked with him and knew him, and each has been generous in their praise of a “good bloke”. On return trips to my Auckland home, I make a point of visiting Bruce’s grave and leaving a single orange flower in his memory. We will never know what further impact this great engineer, innovator and driver would have achieved. Much, I suggest. Rest easy, Bruce.

Stewart Garmey, Tullamarine, Victoria, Australia

Mario’s first Ferrari

Sir,

I very much enjoyed your Andretti/Ickx interview (June issue), as I do all your conversations with people from that era and before. I suppose it is my age, but I do remember the racing from those days more fondly than recent events.

One minor nit-pick, though. I think you’ll find Andretti’s first Ferrari drive was in September 1965 at the Double 500 at Bridgehampton, then a WSC event. He drove a 275P for Chinetti/ NART and retired with gearbox woes. I was flagging/marshalling at the event, and for practice was on a station where you could look down into the cars. Mario was having obvious difficulties with the gearbox; much crunching of gears and a fair number of outright missed shifts. Whether he caused the problems or the gearbox was bad to start with, only he knows. As experienced flaggers and ‘sports car people’ the consensus on station was that Mario was at fault and that he’d never overcome his oval track roots and be successful on the road courses. Shows how smart we were…

David Belden, Woodstock, CT, USA

Lost in motor sport…

Sir,

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have just subscribed to Motor Sport as I cannot seem to get a copy here in faraway Dunedin, New Zealand. Joy of joy, I received my 1970s archive disc and have spent far too much time today reading articles I had clean forgotten about. DSJ had such a fluent, interesting style that is so full of information. A real joy to read again.

On a modern note we get most of the BBC Formula 1 broadcasts, including two or three of the practice sessions, on Sky here in NZ, so I keep well up to date. We also get most of the NASCAR races, so I keep in touch with Montoya and the rest too. I’ve just watched the Monaco Grand Prix again and then for fun some video I recorded in the UK of ’80s races. Boy, how lucky we are! This year’s BBC broadcast is just fantastic. Hardly anything missed on track and Martin Brundle and the team are so well informed. The camera angles work well, the onboard so good too. I can’t wait to see the rest of the season. So, between reminiscing with the Motor Sport archives, watching videos of years gone by, current F1 etc, there’s not much time for work, keeping the house straight, walking the dog…

Tony Pomfret, Dunedin, New Zealand

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