Racing into the Winter

There was a time when racing came to a dead stop towards the end of September, usually culminating in the presentation of the Motor Sport Brooklands Trophy at Goodwood. But racing is no longer a fair weather sport, even in an era of tremendously wide tyres, and club events continue to take place well into the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. What is remarkable is that not only do race-hungry competitor’s welcome the opportunity to keep their cars exercised, but there is also a hard core of marshals and spectators who are prepared to brave the elements in order to watch competitive, albeit cold motoring.

The British Racing and Sports Car Club organises more meetings, either directly from London or from its several enthusiastic regional centres, than any other club, and the championships with which the club is most closely (but not exclusively) associated continue right to the annual BRSCC festivities at Brands Hatch and Mallory Park over the Christmas holiday.

The most important Championship from the purist’s point of view is the National Formula Three series, sponsored by the Lombank instalment purchase organisation. This year has seen something of a revival in F3 races at club level, with what amounts to professional participation by teams such as Gold Leaf Team Lotus, which has entered as many as three cars for a single race. Lotus produced a new F3 machine this year after several seasons without major success in the formula, and although the Gold Leaf-backed team has not had the best of luck, the 59 (as the F3 Lotus is called) is proving to be the car to beat, much as its Formula Two cousin (the 59B) has been in the hands of Rindt and Hill on the Continent.

While the Gold Leaf cars have been assailed with minor problems, a new name has suddenly appeared on the Formula Three horizon. A 22-year-old South American named Emerson Fittipaldi arrived in England from his native Brazil early in the season, acquired a Formula Ford car and instantly got himself noticed for some very fast driving indeed.

It was not long before Fittipaldi had deserted Formula Ford and was to be seen at the wheel of one of the new Lotus 59s, entered by former driver turned racing school proprietor Jim Russell, Fittipaldi’s progress in the Lombank Championship series of races was little short of sensational and by the time the final round, held at a chilly Brands Hatch meeting on November 7th, came around, he was only one point behind Alan Rollinson, who had built up an early lead at the start of the season and withdrawn to concentrate on Formula 5000 and Formula Two driving. Rollinson, sadly, was unable to defend his lead following a back injury, so eyes were on Fittipaldi, who needed to pick up only two Championship points to win the title and the £100 which goes with it.

After holding an early lead on the horrid wet track, Fittipaldi relinquished the lead to another Formula Ford expert, the Australian David Walker, who had a similar Lotus 59. When Walker spun off, Fittipaldi had no difficulty in winning from a very fine field of F3 veterans, several of whom also flew off the glassy tarmac in pursuit of the newcomer. The Brazilian win naturally generated a good deal of excitement among Fittipaldi’s extensive entourage of fellow countrymen who are apparently reporting back to South America his every move, relayed via the newspapers to an avid public, just as Fangio’s activities were from the beginning of his European career. The Lotus people are not unaware of the youngster’s potential and he has been signed to drive not only in F3 again, but also in European Trophy rounds of the Formula Two Championship.

The Lombank Championship, although it contains a couple of rounds at International level, mainly comprises club events. There are several foreign and Commonwealth drivers who base their racing on British circuits, but the Championship is not as International as it could be and the names of the Swedish drivers Peterson and Wisell, who have done most of the F3 winning with Schenken on the Continent this year, do not appear, even though Wisell has been racing with a British licence.—M. G. D.