Around and about: comment on the racing and club scene, December 1971

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More money for Grovewood Awards
The 1971 Grovewood Motor Racing Awards were presented last month at a reception in a London hotel and the proceeding screened on BBC2’s Wheelbase programme. The value of the Awards was doubled this year, and the scheme widened slightly to take in two special commendations of £100, the winners of these being eligible for a major prize next year. The idea was instigated back in 1963 by John Danny the Chairman of Grovewood Securities, owners of several racing circuits, as a help to young British drivers who were showing outstanding ability in the early stages of their careers. The recipients are chosen by a panel of journalists nominated by the Guild of Motoring Writers.

The panel apparently had absolutely no trouble in immediately coming to a decision on the winner—Formula Three man Roger Williamson who, in his first year in single-seaters, chalked up a total of 14 wins, won the Lombank Championship and was runner-up in the Motor Sport/Shell and the Forward Trust Competitions with his March 713M. A 23-year-old former karter he started car racing with an 850 Mini in 1967 and, though his operation was always on a shoe string, he really started to shine last season with his driving of a 1-litre Ford Anglia in which he won the Hepolite-Glacier Championship.

Second place went to the 28-year-old Australian Vern Schuppan who arrived with only limited racing experience to make his name in British motor racing a couple of years ago. This year Schuppan has been driving very fast and competitively in a Palliser Formula Atlantic with a BRM tuned engine, following previous experience in Formula Ford, and won the Yellow Pages Championship.

Third place went to the 20-year-old son of a man whose name is already very well known in motor racing circles—Arthur Mallock. His son Ray only started in competition last year but this season he has cleaned up the Clubmans Formula Championship using, not surprisingly, the latest model U2.

Collecting the two Special Commendations were two rivals in Formula Ford racing 21-year-old Bernard Vermilio and 19-year-old Tony Brise. Vermilio, in his second full season, drove a Merlyn to overall victory in the British Oxygen sponsored Formula Ford Championship (the big one) while Brise, in his very first season, finished runner-up with his driving of an Elden and then a Merlyn. Both have works Formula Three drives next season Vermilio for John Player-Team Lotus. and Brise in a Brabham.

More Formula One sponsorship
The tobacco companies seem to be increasing their involvement in motor racing for 1972. As has been widely rumoured, John Player have decided to continue their long standing association with Team Lotus but instead of calling the outfit Gold Leaf-Team Lotus, the new name will be John Player-Team Lotus and the cars will he called John Player Specials instead of Lotus 72s. Apparently even the chassis plates will refer to John Player Specials, which seems to be taking things a bit far. At the start of 1971 season March announced that their F1 machines would be called STP Oil Treatments and not March 711s. No one took a blind bit of notice and while we were all happy enough to call the cars STP-Marches, that was about it. It will be interesting to see if Player have any more luck. They intend to run two cars in Formula One for Fittipaldi and Walker and two in Formula Three for Vermilio and A. N. Other.

However, it seems they will not be the only cigarette sponsored Formula One team for an announcement was made during the month that BRM had transferred from running under Yardley patronage to that of the Philip Morris cigarette firm. Three cars will be sponsored with Frenchman Jean-Pierre Beltoise taking over the number one seat and breaking his long ties with Matra. Ganley and Marko will complete the team.

STP have been very pleased with their sponsorship of the March organisation and continue it for the third consecutive year as well as continuing with their bonus schemes and a new backing of a non-championship Formula One race. March will run STP Formula One and Two cars for Peterson and the Austrian Niki Lauda and possibly also an F3 car as well.

Yardley may also continue to back Formula One motor racing but probably will change teams while Brooke Bond/Oxo continue with Surtees, Politoys with Frank Williams, Gulf with McLaren, leaving only Brabham and Tyrrell of the British constructors without commercial backing. There is even rumour of W.D. & H.O. Wills backing the Tyrrell outfit. Some say there is never smoke without fire or should it be sponsorship without smoke?

Racing cars afloat
It seems that we just can not go a year without having some form of Racing Car Show. The International one at Olympia is a biennial affair but something less grand is usually dreamed up for the intermediate years usually in the Horticultural Halls. However, it looked as if this time no such Show was planned until early in November when news came of an interesting venture to hold an exhibition aboard the Townsend-Thoresen cross-Channel ferry boat “Free Enterprise II”.

This will be known as the Evening News Motor Racing Showboat and will be moored alongside HMS Belfast in the Pool of London with Thames river boats ferrying the public across from Tower Pier. The Showboat will be open every day, including the Sunday, from January 1st until January 8th. Over 100 racing cars will, apparently, be on show including 20 new models plus the usual goody firms. The boat has all the necessary facilities including a 200-seat restaurant and during the show period various dinner dances will be organised to appeal to different sections of the motor racing public, Formula Three one night, marshals another and so on. The Showboat will be open from 10.30 a.m. until 8.30 p.m. and admission will be 50p for adults and 20p for the under 15s. Further information from Brands Hatch who are organising the event.

Standard saloon racing
Following the interest shown during 1971 Standard Saloon Car Racing will be a major feature on the club racing programmes next season with no fewer than three Championships. Two of these will be for any Standard Saloon Cars and the third will be specifically for Escort Mexicos, very much along the lines of the Championship already run.

The Standard Saloon Championships will span the whole season, the one organised by Motor Circuit Developments and backed by Castrol has no fewer than 21 rounds and has a prize fund of nearly £3,000. The BARC Championship is to be held over 12 rounds but at a larger spread of circuits. Full details of prize money and dates are available from the respective organisations.

Both run under the same rules for eligibility and classes are as follows: 0-£600, £601-£800, £800-£1,100 and over £1,100, these prices being the pre-purchase tax price of the cars which must be homologated in Group One. At present such likely machines as Ford Escort Sports and Mexicos are not homologated but it is in the pipeline.

The Mexico series will be sponsored by Castrol and will be very much the same as this season. Incidentally this year’s winner after a certain amount of eligibility squabbling, was Gerry Marshall, who drives the Tiran Auto Centre/Uniflo car with Jody Scheckter a very close second. There will also be a rally championship this winter for Escort Sports and Mexicos, for more details of that see Rally Review.

Social season
This is the time of the year when one starts dusting down the dinner jackets and getting in trim for the regular rounds of dinner-dances not to mention midnight matinées and end-of-season prize-givings. A couple of the latter fell within a day of each other towards the end of November.

The first was the presentation of awards for the Yellow Pages Formula Atlantic championship which, as regular readers of this column will know, has been tremendously well promoted throughout the year. The prize-giving was well up to standard and it was particularly pleasing to note that all the regular championship competitors whether they were due to pick up a prize or not were invited along.

Yellow Pages also took the opportunity to announce that they would be backing Formula Atlantic in its second year but to an even greater extent and prize money would be greatly increased. The big race of the season will be as a supporting event to the BOAC 1000 and the winner of the epic will take home £360 plus bemuses from STP and possibly Dunlop tyres. There is a 22-race programme and the only pity is that all the rounds are at British circuits, a fact that will put some drivers off the category. Even so it seems probable that grids will increase considerably in 1972 and the racing will become even more competitive.

The second presentation was by Shell who held a cocktail party at Shell-Mex House which killed several birds with one stone. The first was to premiere a new film called “Grand Prix School” which they have made this year to illustrate the workings of the Jim Russell Racing Drivers’ School at Snetterton. While the film is an excellent “‘plug” for the school it also provides first class entertainment and is just the thing for Club film nights.

The second function of the evening was to present the awards to winners of various Shell-sponsored championships both for motor racing and motorcycle racing. Winner of the Shell Super Oil Championship for Formula Three was Dave Walker, very much a man of the moment with his recent promotion to the Lotus Formula One team. Shell were to have handed over a large cheque but due to protests still outstanding in the final qualifying round this was not possible. But the Australian did not go home empty handed for Bill Boddy was on hand to present him with the Motor Sport Trophy which is awarded to the winner of the championship. This took the form of an excellent portrait painting of Walker in his driving gear which was admired by all. Other motor racing awards were for the Shell-Gregor Grant Clubman’s Championships, young Ray Mallock taking the 1,600-c,c. category honours and Noel Stanbury, who has worked his way up from 750 Formula Racing, collecting the 1-litre class award. These were Dexter Brown paintings as were the motorcycle awards. Best laugh of the evening came when the bearded Continental Correspondent of a certain monthly magazine stripped off to reveal a Dave Walker Fan Club Tee shirt.

Attwood Retires
Richard Attwood has announced that he will retire from motor racing at the end of the year to concentrate on his family motor business in Wolverhampton. He started racing in 1960 with a Triumph TR2 and was soon making a name for himself driving in Formula Junior and Formula Two with the Midland Racing Partnership. In 1963 Attwood was the first ever recipient of a premier Grovewood Award.

His progress in single-seater racing never quite fulfilled the early promise although he drove in Formula One for Reg Parnell Racing and later for BRM giving them an excellent result at Monaco in 1968 by finishing second and setting a lap record. The following year he made his last Formula One appearance this time deputising for an injured Jochen Rindt for Team Lotus and finished fourth. Since then his major successes have come at the wheel of sports cars which he always enjoyed and he is probably best known for his win at Le Mans last year with Hans Herrmann and his second place this year with Herbert Muller, on both occasions driving Porsche 917s.

• Dogs, previously admitted to Brands Hatch, Mallory Park and Snetterton provided they were on leash, will be banned from all Motor Circuit Developments circuits from the start of next year. This follows an incident at Mallory in mid-August when some hooligans let loose from a car and then terrorised a well-trained motor racing dog and it was in collision with a competitor. The car was badly damaged in the incident and the dog was killed.

• The traditional Boxing Day race meetings will be on again this Christmas, weather permitting, at both Brands Hatch and Mallory Park. The actual date is December 27th, not the 26th, and Brands will include Formula Three, Formula Atlantic and a Buggy race on the programme while the Mallory feature race is for Formula Fords.

• Contrary to our statement in this column last month the Huron firm is not completely out of business and though Jo Marquart has left to join GRD, one of the original directors, Jack Smith, is at present in the process of trying to re-form the firm.

• The Gurston Down hill-climb venue saw the largest ever turnout of the Five Hundred Owners on October 3rd. Over 25 of the old 500-cc. Formula Three cars took part in the meeting and the championships were decided in the following favour: Girling Trophy, John Turner (Cooper-Norton); John Parker Trophy, Bob Jones (Cooper-Norton); and 1,100-c.c. Trophy, Tom Elton (Cooper-JAP). Further information on this club for these now historic little racing cars from Peter Kendall, 15, Ancastle Green, Henley-on-Thames, Oxon.

• Next October there will be a race at Brands Hatch entitled the Formula Ford World Final. Each of the countries in which Formula Ford races are held, thirteen at the latest count, will decide their national champion earlier in the year. His prize will be an expenses paid trip to Brands Hatch for himself and his car and a chance to win the World Final and its tremendous prize of a brand new Formula Three car for the 1973 season. The runners-up will share more than £600.

• Caterham Car Sales have been appointed sole concessionaires for the Lotus 61 Formula Ford model first produced in 1969. Lotus no longer manufacture customer racing cars but there are still some new 61Rs left at £1,100 while stocks last. Contact Caterham at the addresses on page 1309.

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