Continental notes, December 1963

The South African Grand Prix, which takes place at the end of this month, should have seen the end of the present Formula for Grand Prix racing, for the 1 1/2-litre Formula was laid down to run from 1961 to 1963. However, after seeing how it progressed the F.I.A. decided to continue it for another two years, which is to say, for the years 1964 and 1965, and even now they are considering proposals for the new Formula to begin in 1966. It will not do any harm to look back on the beginning of this Formula, or even to the winter of 1958/59 when it was announced, and received with positive antagonism by the British drivers and constructors. Regardless of this the F.I.A. were unmoved and the 1 1/2-litre Formula was with us whether we liked it or not, and the only manufacturer who kept his word and did not climb down was Mr. Vandervell. After cries of “We’ll not support the 1 1/2-litre Formula,” the rest of the racing-car constructors and engine builders got on with the job. Tony Vandervell made it quite clear that he was not interested in 1 1/2-litre engines and played no further part in Grand Prix racing. Likewise a lot of drivers vowed they would not take part in 1 1/2-litre racing, but few of them retired as a result, and Stirling Moss said he hoped he would have retired by the time 1 1/2-litre Grand Prix racing came into being. He missed out by just one year, not by design but by accident!

When all this fuss was going on about the Formula a lot of people had their heads in the sand and seemed unable to look very far ahead. Their idea of a 1 1/2-litre racing car was the then current 1958 Formula Two Cooper which used a 4-cylinder 1 1/2-litre Coventry-Climax engine, and they visualised Grand Prix racing being for this type of car. They seemed quite oblivious of the fact that though the Formula was announced at the end of 1958, it was not until the beginning of 1961 that it was due to begin, and equally they could not appreciate that considerable strides in design and technical features would take place before the new Formula came into being. When you look at a 1958 Cooper-Climax and compare it with a 1963 Grand Prix car it makes you wince, to think that drivers were brave enough to drive such a dreadful thing, and imagine trying to sell such a car today! I am not suggesting that the 1 1/2-litre Formula is the best thing, for personally I think Grand Prix racing received two mortal blows when the supercharger was eased out, and the petrol Barons forced the use of hydrocarbon fuels and did away with alcohol, nitro-benzine, nitro-methane, and who knows what in this year of 1963 had fuel developments continued. The 1 1/2-litre Formula, during the three years it has run, has not been so dull and boring as was prophesied, there have been some very good races, cars have developed, new makes have appeared, and in spite of all the gloomy prognostications it has been sufficiently successful to be continued for another two years without everyone getting hot under the collar. Quite the contrary, in fact, for a number of English people want to continue the 1 1/2-litre Formula beyond 1965, though that suggestion does not sound like clear thinking to me. People who do not like the 1 1/2-litre Formula for Grand Prix racing often cite the fact that the cost has become too great and that some manufacturers may have to withdraw, but they have obviously forgotten that Alta, H.W.M., Connaught, Maserati and Gordini all withdrew from Grand Prix racing because the cost became too great, and that was many years ago. Among the “too expensive” critics have been certain Grand Prix drivers, presumably speaking on behalf of the manufacturers who own the cars they drive, and this is really amusing.

Grand Prix racing has always been expensive and will always be expensive, and a proper 1 1/2-litre Grand Prix car was bound to cost a lot more than a modified 1958 Formula Two car, but drivers seem to have overlooked an important point. When the 1 1/2-litre Grand Prix cars grew up and became more complex they naturally cost more to build and operate, and the constructors asked for higher rates of starting money, to cover the additional costs. Now the majority of Grand Prix drivers employed by teams get 50% of the starting money, so when the manufacturer got more money the driver automatically got a rise, without having any additional expenses, or doing more work, so he was on a good thing. It was not so long ago since a British Grand Prix car was lucky to get £400 starting money, of which the driver got £200. Today a good British Grand Prix car gets £800 starting money, of which the driver takes £400, and while we can appreciate that the manufacturer needs more money to pay for £5,000 engines from Coventry-Climax, for example, it is not so easy to see why the driver should receive more money for doing the same job. In actual fact he is not doing so much work, for Grand Prix races only last two hours today, whereas they used to last for three hours; and think when Grand Prix races lasted for 10 hours! It would be interesting if a manufacturer was brave enough to say to his team drivers, “You will only get 20% of the starting money, as the team needs more money for development and to pay for the cars you crashed.” I can’t help feeling the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association would call for a general strike, but it is an interesting thought and would be a way of reducing the cost of racing.

I have rather wandered away from the original thoughts, which were connected with the fact that the present Formula would have expired at the end of this month, had it not been given two extra years’ lease of life. When the Formula began people could only think in terms of 150 b.h.p. from 1 1/2-litres, and now we have 200-b.h.p. engines, and promise of more to come. At the beginning it was assumed that 5.50 x 15 in. tyres would suffice on the rear wheels, but now most people use 7.00 x 15 in. tyres, in an attempt to get the power to the road, and it is all too easy to provoke violent wheelspin at the start of a Grand Prix even with such large tyres. It will be interesting to look back in December 1966 and view the Grand Prix cars of today, but I will not go so far as to make any predictions, but certainly 200 b.h.p. will not win any races in the last year of the present Formula.

Naturally there are many thoughts and suggestions on the subject of the 1966 Formula, and one that some people advocate is the use of large capacity “standard production” engines. This idea makes me weep, for it shows a lamentable appreciation of the reasons for Grand Prix racing, and I can do no better than to suggest that everyone reads the letter that appeared in the correspondence columns of the weeklies in mid-November. It was written by Walter Hassan, Chief Engineer of Coventry-Climax, and is full of good common sense. I take the liberty of quoting his last paragraph: “If, however, the formula is manipulated to produce cars and engines made from ordinary production units, and the free use of their (the engine manufacturers’) skills and knowledge is precluded, it is unlikely that the challenge will then be worthwhile, and the support from the industries must fade, when G.P. racing will become just another circus act. It is hoped this will not be allowed to occur.” To which I would add “hear, hear.” However, I feel confident that while the F.I.A. are in control of the destiny of Grand Prix racing all will be well, for though they may be a lot of old fuddy-duddys at times, they, as an International body, have not made too many mistakes about Grand Prix Formulae since they started in 1906.

Another aspect of this idea for using proprietary engines is that it might encourage American firms to join in Grand Prix racing, and the Lotus 29 that raced at Indianapolis is quoted as an example of what might be the outcome. The advocates for large woolly engines seem to think that the Lotus used a standard Ford V8 Galaxie engine, or “stock” unit as the Americans call them. The Hot Rod boys sorted this nonsense out years ago with their question “How stock is stock?”. The Ford Motor Company have also sorted out that question with the appearance of their 1964 Lotus-powered-by-Ford for Indianapolis. It was on test recently and seen to have four overhead camshafts, fuel-injection and transistorised ignition. So much for racing standard production units. In the highest realms of motor racing there must be a completely free hand for designers and manufacturers to build whatever they think most suitable for the basic Formula, any other sort of control would only lower the standards and bring about the “circus acts” that Wally Hassan suggests. It is worth remembering that there are no protests in Grand Prix racing, whereas in saloon-car racing, G.T. racing, G.T. Prototype racing, all of which are knee-deep in regulations which require close scrutiny, there are continual protests and bickerings. Save Grand Prix racing from that sort of thing, I say. It has been suggested and statistically proved at Brands Hatch and Mallory Park that “the public” want saloon-car racing; if that is so then I say let’s keep Grand Prix racing away from those circuits and those people, and confine it to places where it is appreciated, such as Spa, Nurburgring, Monza, Solitude, etc.

If Grand Prix racing is going to die, as the gloomy ones tell us (and I think they are wrong), then the only thing for those of us who like Grand Prix racing to do is to retire and read about it. With the winter lull upon Europe I have been reading a most interesting book about motor racing and Grand Prix racing, which has recently been published by William Kimber.* This is called “Design and Behaviour of the Racing Car” and is by Stirling Moss and Laurence Pomeroy, and between them they discuss and analyse all the racing cars that Moss has driven during his career, and by racing cars they refer to single-seaters, mostly Grand Prix cars, but also 500-c.c. cars, Formula Two and so on. The book falls down on only one count and that is that Ferrari cars do not feature in it at all, so that you get the impression that Ferrari never made any Grand Prix or single-seater racing cars. This is brought about by the fact that Moss never raced any Grand Prix Ferraris, so he has no knowledge of them, which is a great pity for it makes the book incomplete as he has driven almost every other successful single-seater racing car, and a lot of unsuccessful ones. This omission in his racing education was caused by Enzo Ferrari not taking kindly to Moss’ refusal to join the Ferrari team in the early days of his career. Moss was prepared to race Grand Prix for Ferrari but insisted on sticking to Jaguar for sports-car races, and Mr. Ferrari did not take kindly to that and held it against Moss ever after and always refused to let him drive his cars, even though he knew that Moss could have been World Champion many times had he been driving Ferrari cars. If you are prepared to accept this omission this new book is first class, and the racing knowledge of Moss is balanced by the technical knowledge of Pomeroy, and greatly added to by the wit of Pomeroy, while they each take delight in debunking their co-author. Pomeroy will go into a long technical treatise as to why a particular car was a good Grand Prix car, and in a few short words Moss will sum it up as a practical racing car. Pomeroy goes to great length to prove that the V16-cylinder B.R.M. was a masterpiece of design, and is most convincing, especially as regards the merits of the highly supercharged engine, but Moss deflates the reader with these words: “I came to it expecting it to be Awful and left it knowing it to be Dreadful.”

Similarly, Moss goes into paeans of praise about Coopers, and Pomeroy deflates him with a few terse and well-chosen words. Of one thing they do agree and that is that Daimler-Benz A.G. had the finest racing department ever known, and that the W196 was a first-class racing car, while they agree in the excellence of the 2 1/2-litre Vanwall Grand Prix car, and have a kindly affection for the 250F Maserati. Throughout the book Moss unwittingly gives away some absolute gems of information about why he was such a good driver. These come up in discussing particular cars, such as when he is talking about the 1961 German Grand Prix, when he ran rings round the entire Ferrari team and the Lotus Team, driving an obsolete Lotus-Climax 4-cylinder. He was using “rain tyres” which were said to wear rapidly on dry roads, and he says “I had to use my wits to seek out wet or oily patches, which everyone else would avoid like the plague, in order to conserve my tyres, just like the Argentine race in 1959.” Another quotation I would like to give is Moss saying “Neither I, nor any other experienced driver today, now waits for the car to signal what it wants to do in the middle of a corner because some long distance, and some time, ahead I have already decided what it is going to do.” Later he goes on to say “all this talk about reacting to signals that the car gives you is utter nonsense. If you are in this condition you really had better not be playing at modern motor racing.” And that applies to a lot of people who are racing today.

In the Foreword it is explained that this book is a joint effort and the reader may wonder who has written what, but apart from where it is necessary to distinguish and Moss writes in the first person, while Pomeroy writes in the third person, the only clue is le style c’est l’homme, as they “jointly” put it. For regular readers of Pomeroy it is easy to see that he has written most of the book, and he not infrequently puts well-chosen words into the mouth of Moss. I am happy to say that at no time does Moss do the same for Pomeroy, with some of his ill-chosen American slang. This is a large book, running to 285 pages, with numerous photographs, drawings, graphs and tables, and mistakes are surprisingly few for such a tome, though some have crept in such as Spa being the first appearance of the Lotus 25, whereas it was Zandvoort, and Geoffrey Taylor building his first independently sprung Alta in 1939, whereas it was actually in 1936, and the 328 B.M.W. was built in Munich in 1936, not 1938.

In the final chapter Pomeroy sums up and among the many interesting things he has to say is this: “Not only would 1958 cars be considerably faster than they were if they were running on 1963 tyres, but 1963 cars would lose at least two, and possibly as much as 5 m.p.h., on their lap times (he means lap speed) if they were sent off with 1958 tyres.” In case anyone doubts that Moss was a genius at the wheel of a racing car, Pomeroy does a great deal of analysis to prove this, and one outstanding example is when Moss did six consecutive laps of the Nurburgring, during the 1961 race, with a variation of only 0.44%. Pomeroy produces a touring-car analogy to show just how remarkable this was. It is equivalent to covering fifty miles in the hour, in a touring car, without varying the distance covered in any fifteen minutes by more than twenty-five yards, or say five car lengths! A master driver indeed. I could go on like this for a long time, for this is a fascinating book and had it not been forced to omit all reference to Grand Prix Ferrari cars it would undoubtedly rank as a classic, both as a book to read and a text-book on Grand Prix cars. As it is it is certainly a classic among books to read.

During the summer I wrote a short article of appreciation of Stirling Moss, when he officially announced his retirement from racing, and I suggested that many people would write books on Stirling Moss, “some qualified and some unqualified.” This joint effort by Moss and Pomeroy definitely comes under the heading of “qualified” and is for those of us who want to know more about Stirling Moss than the colour of his underpants or the problems of his sex-life.

While still on the subject of single-seater racing cars I would like to turn to another aspect. Some time ago, in British Club racing circles, it was suggested that the 1,172-c.c. Formula racing as run by the 750 Club was reaching the limits of its usefulness and many clubmen wanted another outlet for their enthusiasm for building and racing home-built “specials.” A scheme for encouraging single-seater cars, or monopostos, was put forward and I gave this my support for I thought how much nicer it would be if the amateur Clubman built himself a single-seater racing car instead of the so-called sports car or 2-seater, especially as very few of them ever carried two people or were used on the road. In order not to clash with the 1172 Formula interests, which insists on the use of a 1,172-c.c. side-valve Ford engine, the Monoposto Formula gave a free choice of engine but insisted that it should be a production unit. In opposition to my earlier paragraph, where I deprecate the use of proprietary engines for Grand Prix racing, Club racing does not intend to improve, develop, or prove anything, but is merely a way of providing an amusing activity for the Clubman. At this time Formula Junior reared its head and rather squashed the Monoposto idea, many Clubmen going over to the more sophisticated Formula Junior. However, the Monoposto enthusiasts carried on in their small way, and last year took a big stride forward when they limited engines to the 1,172-c.c. side-valve Ford. Since then they have had many good races and the number of cars built have increased, and are still on the increase, the comparative simplicity of the Ford 10 engine encouraging more people to join in.

After a successful season of racing this year, the Monoposto Register arranged a Test Day at Brands Hatch and invited a select group of journalists to try some of these single-seater cars. There were six cars present, and no two could be considered identical for they were all products of the owner’s inventiveness and building ingenuity. The two outstanding ones were Terry Hardy’s Project X, with which he won the Monoposto Championship this year, and John Moore’s Warwick II, which won the Championship in 1962. Hardy’s car is built on early conventional lines, not unlike a Vanwall, with the front-mounted Ford 10 engine mated to a B.M.C. gearbox and driving to an Elva reduction gear and final-drive unit. The chassis is tubular, all wheels are independently sprung, and the general finish is truly superb. The Warwick II is completely different, having a rear-mounted engine and being on Cooper lines as regards the chassis, but the Ford 10 engine is mounted transversely, just behind the driver, and behind that is a B.M.C.-Mini gearbox unit turned on its side. An exposed chain drives from the Ford clutch to the Mini box, and the Mini universal takes the drive out to the rear wheels. This car is inventiveness at its best, and the gearbox department is literally the bottom half of a Mini unit, which is the sump and gearbox combined. Both these cars were great fun to drive, fast enough not to be dull, and you had all the pleasure of driving a single-seater, with its attendant noises, smells, view of the front wheels and so on. It is quite normal to get 60 b.h.p. from the side-valve Ford 10 engine in racing trim, Hardy’s engine actually giving a consistent 64 b.h.p. at 5,500 r.p.m., so that in a small light single-seater car the performance is satisfying, but apart from this there is the undeniable satisfaction from driving a single-seater racing car, whether you have the gearbox between your legs as in Hardy’s car, or you sit up the front as in Moore’s car. As these cars cost between £200 and £500 to build, it can be seen that this is an attractive proposition for the enthusiastic Clubman who enjoys designing and building as well as driving.

In a letter to the Monoposto Register, Terry Hardy summed up the matter rather well when he said “I don’t care how good your 1,172-c.c. Formula car (sports) or your 750 Special (also sports), both of them may be faster than your single-seater, you will not experience the same thrill as sitting in the middle of a car with all four wheels in view. If you are going to go racing, race a racing car. The difference is very subtle, but difference there is.”

Although many aspirants to the new Formula Two and Formula Three may consider they are amateurs, if they stay in that form of racing they arc almost certain to become professionals. In Club racing, which means events on the Silverstone Club circuit, and those such as are run by the 750 Club, the Monoposto races provide an outlet for the true amateur. The day at Brands Hatch was greatly appreciated and I know that those journalists who took part had the greatest admiration for the owners who allowed us to drive their cars round the track. It’s one thing for a big factory to lend cars to journalists, but a very different thing for owners to lend them their pride and joy. Frank Tiedeman, the Secretary of the movement, did a fine job of Press Relations by providing us all with copious information about the cars, the owners and their activities. Such enthusiasm deserves to succeed.


Finally, as 1964 is fast approaching, a word or two on next year’s International Calendar. The Monaco race will open the season of Grandes Epreuves, followed by Zandvoort and Spa, while the French Grand Prix will be at Rouen and the British Grand Prix will be at Brands Hatch. For what it is worth, this last event takes the title of the Grand Prix of Europe. Nurburgring and Monza close the European Season of major races, with the addition of the Austrian Grand Prix. The Austrian event has been promoted to Championship status, but not Grande Epreuve, a subtle distinction, and it stands alongside the American, Mexican and South African Grand Prix races. In all we have thirteen Grand Prix races to count for the Manufacturers’ and Drivers’ Championships, so 1964 will be a busy year.

The future of the new Formula Two and Formula Three is as yet undecided, but it looks as though there will be many Formula Two races in Europe, at places like Pau, Rome, Monza, Reims, Clermont-Ferrand, Pergusa, Karlskoga and Montlhéry. Organisers who in the past have put on major Formula Junior events, or minor Formula One events, seem to be interested in Formula Two, as being more interesting than Juniors and not so expensive as Formula One, while some of the smaller organisers who ran Junior races only have plumped for Formula Three. A lot of the smaller British meetings, that never had an International entry anyway, have been dropped from the International Calendar, which is a good thing, for in spite of this the 1964 International scene is bigger than ever with a great many more events in America now ranking as International.

The Daytona Speed Track are holding a 2,000-kilometre race on February 16th for large G.T. cars, and the following week the fantastic 500-mile race on the banked track is to be held. This is the 160-m.p.h. dice for American saloons with 7-litres of overhead-valve V8 engine, and the ever-active B.R.S.C.C. are organising a round-trip flight to see this race for the sum of £77, which must take the prize for the most expensive race visit. In the detailed handout about this trip there is a picture captioned, “A typical Daytona racer” and the car is a GTO Ferrari!

The European scene follows accepted trends in most cases, except that Pau have relinquished their traditional Easter Monday date and taken the following weekend. This race has always clashed with the Goodwood Easter meeting and resulted in Formula One forces being split, often to the embarrassment of the B.A.R.C., but now they should both be able to have a good entry, though Pau are planning Formula One and Formula Two races. Having solved this particular deadlock another has arisen in the new Calendar in that the Bruxelles Grand Prix for Formula One is on the same date as the Targa Florio. While this will only affect Ferrari as a team, it will affect a number of Grand Prix drivers who enjoy the Targa Florio, and also a number of race-reporters. I append a brief list of the more important events for 1964, the full list running to thirteen pages of close typewriting, and the Editor would not wear that.—D. S. J.

*”Design and Behaviour of the Racing Car,” by Stirling Moss and Laurence Pomeroy. 285 pp., 9 1/2 in. x 6 1/4 in. (William Kimber, 46, Wilton Place, London, S.W.1. 50s.)

Races for Formula One and Championships
May 10th – Grand Prix of Monaco – Monte Carlo
May 24th – Grand Prix of Holland – Zandvoort
June 14th – Grand Prix of Belgium – Spa-Francorchamps
June 28th – Grand Prix of France – Rouen
Aug. 2nd – Grand Prix of Germany – Nurburgring
Aug. 23rd – Grand Prix of Austria – Zeltweg
Sept. 6th – Grand Prix of Italy – Monza
Oct. 4th – Grand Prix of USA – Watkins Glen
Oct. 25th – Grand Prix of Mexico – Mexico City
Dec. 26th – Grand Prix of South Africa – East London

Other Formula One races
Mar. 14th – Snetterton
Mar. 30th. – Goodwood
April 5th – Pau
April 12th – Syracuse
April 18th – Aintree
April 26th – Bruxelles
May 2nd – Silverstone
May 17th – Rome
May 24th – Avus
July 5th – Reims
July 19th – Solitude
Aug. 16th – Enna
Sept. 13th – Pescara
Sept. 19th – Oulton Park

G.T. and Prototype G.T. races
Feb. 16th – Daytona 2,000 kms.
Mar. 20th – Sebring 12 hrs.
April 26th – Targa Florio
May 31st – Nurburgring 1,000 kms.
June 20th – Le Mans 24 hrs.
Aug. 29th – Tourist Trophy