Matters of Moment, December 1968

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Graham Hill–1968 World Champion

In some quarters the Drivers’ World Championship is regarded as an extremely important and tense affair. In others, as a somewhat artificial method of determining each year’s No. 1 Grand Prix driver, in as much as he who amasses the most points is not necessarily the most skilful, ruthless, or fastest of those competing.

Nevertheless, that Graham Hill has won the Championship this year will please the great majority of motor-racing followers and on their behalf we offer warm congratulations to a driver who is popular, reliable, and has something like 100 G.P. races behind him.

It is good that Graham Hill is the current World Champion and excellent, but he has won the honour by the superiority of British engineering technique, in the form of the Lotus-Cosworth F1 car. In spite of his serious approach to racing and the great demands it makes on his time, Hill knows how to enjoy life, flying his own aeroplane, attending parties and fulfilling the role of family man. Within the last few days we have seen Hill and his wife and children in a TV interview, and Hill as one of the Judges of the “Miss World” Beauty Contest.

Times change and whereas before the war drivers of Championship calibre would not have appeared on TV, because there wasn’t any, their children would no doubt have been away somewhere in the care of Nanny, and instead of being interviewed in London they would have been sporting on the Mediterranean at this time of the year, it would no doubt be a biased statistician who could discover any pre-war driver with a better record in a greater number or races who accomplished anything like as much for British prestige as Graham Hill, O.B.E.

In offering our congratulations to the newest World Champion we also pay tribute to Colin Chapman and the mechanics at Lotus, Keith Duckworth and the technicians at Cosworth, and to those at Ford who had sufficient interest in motor racing to release the finance which made the race-winning Lotus-Cosworth possible.

Britain may play little part in the moon-race in which, this Christmas, America and Russia will be competitors in a soulless demonstration of almost unbelievable technical endeavour and complexity, so that many plum puddings will be eaten in close proximity to TV screens over the holiday and for a time mere aviators will seem quite commonplace. When, as we hope they will, the cosmonauts return from encirclement of another planet and imaginations cool off engineering products that can be purchased will again occupy the thoughts of ordinary people. Then it will be that the splendid showing of British drivers, cars and engines in the internationally competitive field of Grand Prix motor racing will provide valuable advertisement and prestige for our products, not only from Lotus Elan to Rolls-Royce but in all fields of British engineering.

Tulips and British Justice

A local evening paper reported the case of a Derby policeman who drove out of Derby Borough Police Station and into a car driven by a Nottingham bank manager. The policeman was charged with driving without due care and attention. He claimed that tulips on the dual carriageway obscured his vision. The case was dismissed.

In another court, at Peterborough, magistrates dismissed a case against a car-owner who was drunk but who was not in his car. They have since been told by the High Court that they were wrong in not convicting and the case was sent back with a direction to convict and fix a penalty. Then there was the case at Marlborough Street Court of a lady, with a clean licence, who was summonsed for failing to stop after an accident and failing to report it. The “accident” concerned reversing into an M.G. Midget in a parking bay. The lady was driving a hire car, which could have been driven by many others. She denied the offences, had no recollection of the incident, and a witness said the offending car had been drivers by a woman with short blonde hair, whereas the defendants hair was long. The Magistrate said there was no doubt at all that the defendant was guilty and fined her £10 and 11s costs.

The R.A.C. V.C.C London-Brighton Veteran Car Run

This year’s Brighton Run took place this year in fine but very cold weather. The entry was restricted, at the request of the police, to 250, of which 232 started and all but 19 made the journey successfully. To comply with the police request for a limit on entries the R.A.C., correctly we think, refused to accept more than one entry from any one organisation. Consequently, the 1904 Brushmobile which Lord Montagu had entered for the Editor of Motor Sport to drive (it would have been his fourth drive in this veteran) was put in as a reserve. By the time it was known that the car could start it was too late to prepare it, and Boddy was out of England, road testing a Morgan Plus-8.

To report the Brighton Run is a thankless task unless one drives or rides on one of the veterans, so on this occasion we content ourselves with some colour studies in the pictorial section.

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