Racing notes and news

THE F.I.A. has accepted the South African Kyalami circuit as the venue for the 1967 Grand Prix of South Africa, so that next year’s Championship series begins on January 2nd. It was also agreed that there should be a Canadian Grand Prix for Formula 1 and this brings the total of events up to eleven. South Africa (Jan. 2nd), Monaco (May 7th), Dutch (June 4th), Belgium (June 18th), France (July 2nd), Britain (July 15th), Germany (Aug. 6th), Canada (Aug. 26th), Italy (Sept. 10th), United States (Oct. 1st) and Mexico (Oct. 22nd). All these events will count for the two major Championships of the World, the Dnvers and the Manufacturers, and scoring will remain the same; for the first six places points will be 9, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1. However, a major change has been made in that the 1967 season has been divided into two parts, that comprising the first six races and that comprising the remaining five races. Any five of the first group can be counted and any four of the second group. This means that a team or driver can leave out one of the events between South Africa and Britain, and one out of the events Germany to Mexico, and not penalize his chances in the points scoring. Previously it has been possible to use the results of any of the total races, though not all of them, so that for any race result you could drop an earlier one if it was of lesser value. With this new system it will mean that after the British G.P. the Championships begin all over again, the results of the first half being fixed.

While discussing Grand Prix racing the Sporting Commission of the F.I.A. decreed that the name Grand Prix should be applied to a country’s World Championship race and no other. If any country, such as the Argentine, does not hold a Championship event then the term Grand Prix will only apply to one other event if the name of the country is used in the title. This is an encouraging tidying up of a situation that has been very slack recently; a race entitled the Grand Prix of Nomansland should mean that it is the premier event, and by all normal standards this would mean a Formula One event. There has been a tendency to describe saloon car races as the Grand Prix event, which rather detracts from the use of the name, which literally translated means Great Prize, but which more closely means the Number One event of any country.

As reported elsewhere the existing Formula Two racing came to a close at the successful B.A.R,C. meeting at Brands Hatch. In 1967 a new Formula Two begins and for this the rules are briefly that the engine is limited to 1,600cc capacity, must have not more than six cylinders and must be built around what started life as a basic production cylinder block (500 off). All the existing constructional rules apply, but it does mean that designers have a much freer hand as regards the power unit and some interesting designs are already well under way. A European Formula Two Championship has been agreed upon, comprising some 15 races, with a maximum of three from any one country. The greedy British F.I.A. delegates seemed to find it unjust that the seven F2 events scheduled in Britain for 1967 were not accepted in toto. The R.A.C. have now got the unenviable task of deciding which of the seven races shall count for the European Championship, and it looks like Snetterton (Good Friday), Silverstone (Easter Monday) and Brands Hatch (Aug. 28th). France have also to choose three, Germany two and Italy two, with one apiece for Spain, Finland, Holland, Sweden and Belgium. This seems a pretty reasonable and fair arrangement for a Championship series, and the intention is that they should all he run to the same basic conditions as regards distance or time, prize moneys, starting moneys and so on. Since the successful Watkins Glen experiment of paying by results instead of fixed starting money, the idea seems to be catching on in Europe and this may well be the arrangement for the Formula Two races. It is a simple matter of “the faster and farther you go, the more money you get.” Paying customers attend race meetings to see the top drivers racing for as long as possible, not just to see them on the starting grid or for the opening hip, so those whose cars last the whole race should get more than those whose pre-race preparation limits them to the opening lap. Of those who finish it must be reasonable to pay more to the first than to the last. It must also be more satisfying to the drivers and in the United States G.P. John Surtees must have really enjoyed his thrash up through the field after his pit-stop, for every car he caught and passed meant another wad of dollar bills in his kitty. The success of this system depends on there being sufficient money in total to ensure that the first retirement at least. gets a fair sum of money. At the moment, in a Grand Prix, a driver/car combination could receive £1,000 for breaking a driveshaft on the starting grid of a European Grand Prix race, and the winner could get only half that amount.

Already the Cosworth firm have had their 1967 Formula Two engine running in National races, with great success, driven by Mike Costin, the Cos of Cosworth. The new engine, designed by Keith Duckworth in conjunction with Ford of Britain (Dagenham) uses the five-bearing Ford Cortina cylinder block and has a twin-camshaft cylinder head, with four-valves per cylinder. Using fuel-injection it is giving well over 200 b.h.p. and even at £2,500 a time the whole production run of 40 engines has been sold in advance. Naturally, this engine will be fitted in any chassis you like to name, along with a suitable Hewland gearbox, just as the old 1,000cc Formula Two Cosworth engines were almost universal.

The German B.M.W. firm are making strong noises of joining in with a 1,600cc Formula Two team, while Lola have negotiated a tie-up with them for the use of their Formula Two engine. This tie-up would appear to involve John Suttees, which is not surprising knowing the close friendship that has always existed between Suttees and the Munich firm. Their engine, at present in experimental form on a 2,000cc cylinder block, has an intriguing cylinder head design in which the four valves (becoming increasingly popular once again) are disposed radially around the central sparking plug. The two inlet valves each have their own inlet passage and carburetter, and there is an exhaust outlet on each side of the head. The inlet passages are down-draught, almost vertically on top of the cylinder head, and the four valves are operated by a system of rockers and pushrods from two overhead camshafts. In 2-litre form it has been used in a Brabham chassis in hill-climbs and for shortdistance record breaking and shows great potential. The Formula Two version will, presumably, be adapted to the production 4-cylinder 1,600cc block.

Other firms showing keen interest in the new Formula Two are Porsche, Ferrari and Matra, but so far the only news has been surmise, though Ferrari could well use the Dino V6 engine now that it is in production by Fiat, while Porsche have a very good 6-cylinder engine, as evinced by the fantastic Carrera Six (Group 4) sports car. Matra must surely make their own engine in the near future, for their racing programme seems to be a very serious effort to get France back into big-time racing. Their sports Matra Diet is in great production, using a Renault-based engine, so a Formula Two engine should not be too difficult. There seems no doubt that the new Formula Two is going to get underway with a flourish and that it is going to be monopolised by works teams and professional teams even more than the old Formula Two. This will mean that the private-owner will have little or no chance of joining in, which is a pity, for it should be a stepping stone from Formula Three to Formula One. However, if sufficient works teams and professional teams take part then there could well be many chances for a good new driver to get into the realms of the professional, providing all the sponsored seats are not taken by Grand Prix drivers. At the moment the current list of graded F.I.A. drivers are debarred from taking part in Formula Three racing, but an ex-Grand Prix driver has been able to join in with the “newboys,” as we saw happen at Monaco when Willy Mairesse drove an Alpine. A new rule now prevents this from happening, for once a driver has been accepted in the F.I.A. list, which means that he is an accomplished Grand Prix driver, he cannot down-grade himself to Formula Three. It would not be a bad idea if there was some sort of non-down grading for the cream of Grand Prix drivers to prevent them from monopolizing Formula Two. I once asked an ex-World Champion driver (one of the top five) whether he enjoyed messing about in a 1-litre Formula Two car, mixing it with good and bad drivers. His reply was that he did not enjoy it, but the money was good.

At the Earls Court Motor Show, on the Porsche stand, was an enormous Gold Cup. This was the Challenge Mondial de Vitesse et d’Endurance (World Cup for Speed and Endurance) and was awarded for a Championship for Manufacturers in serious long-distance racing for Group 6 Prototypes over 1,000cc and for G.T. cars. The races included in this Championship were Sebring 12 hours, the Targa Florio, the Nurburgring 1,000 kilometres and the Le Mans 24-hour race. As rugged a collection of long-distance races as anyone would want. While Ford and Ferrari were fighting each other for overall victory, the incredible Porsche Carrera Sixes were consistently finishing well up behind them, and in the Targa Florio actually won outright, so that on points the Stuttgart firm came out on top, no doubt much to the surprise and chagrin of Maranello and Detroit. Porsche scored 32 points, Ferrari 28 points and Ford 27 points, and nobody deserves this win more than Porsche, for the 2-litre air-cooled cars have never been far behind and even at Le Mans there have been moments when it looked as though they might achieve an overall victory with an engine capacity of less than half that of their rivals. If ever a firm justified all the rules and ideas of the F.I.A. it is Porsche. Whether their thinking follows closely in the footsteps of the technical people in Paris, or whether Paris looks to Porsche for direction is not clear.

It was not long after the announced demise of Group 7 (two-seater racing cars) racing in Britain (remembering that it never even lived in Europe) that Lola announced their intention of taking part in Group 6 (Prototype GT cars). More important however, was the announcement that Eric Broadley was cooperating with Aston Martin over the projected Group 6 car, and as Broadley is not known for engine design work, it was clear that Aston Martin had designed a suitable engine for long-distance Prototype racing such as Le Mans and the various 1,000 kilometre races. This was first-class news for it mean that there would be an all-British car in the running once more, and the trade and industry who put so much into motor racing without getting much publicity, would obviously welcome it warmly. Nobody in the accessory and equipment world that centres around the Midlands has been very happy with the trend of putting American engines in British chassis, for they have felt the outlay unjustified, as it did not seem to be doing the British Industry much good. I know it was doing McLaren and Lola a lot of good, but firms like Lucas, Ferodo, Lockheed, Girling, Armstrong, Hardy Spicer, Borg and Beck and so on were lukewarm about putting their research knowledge into American products. This was partly why the S.M.M.T. withdrew their support from Group 7, preferring to put it into Formula Two and Three, with Cosworth, Holbay, etc.

Eric Broadley’s ability to design a car suitable for Le Mans and other such races needs no justifying; let us just hope that this time he does not have to sell the idea to a “foreign power” as he did with the Lola coupe that became the Ford GT40. With Aston Martin working with Lola the future looks most encouraging, and it may even encourage Jaguar to bring out their  Le Mans project which has been hanging fire too long now.

While on the subject of Group 6 cars, which must surely have the engine mounted between the driving cockpit and the rear-axle these days, as Porsche have been demonstrating for years, it is interesting that Lotus have announced a new sports/racing car to comply with Group 4 (50 off). This will have the Lotus-Ford twin-cam 4-cylinder 1,600cc engine mounted in the mid-position and it is hoped to have it homologated by the spring. The first one should be at the Racing Car Show at Olympia in January, 1967. The fact that Chapman is thinking “mid-engine” for GT looks as though he is getting interested in Group 6, having played with the idea with the Lotus 30 and 40, and the Lotus-de Tomaso engine tie-up looks as though there might yet be a Lotus mid-engined coupe at Le Mans, even though Chapman said he would never go back after the double-dealing he received from the A.C. de l’Ouest over the Lotus 23.