Around and about, December 1972

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Comment on the Racing and Club Scene

Astonishing Russian

If I had suggested a year ago that a Russian car was going to win two British racing championships I would have been considered, at the very least, something of an optimist. When the Group 1 regulations were announced few would have foreseen that there was any hope of the Moskvich 412 being remotely competitive. Apart, that is, from Satra Motors who import the cars into Britain. They were alone in realising that this 1,500 c.c. family saloon would obviously run rings around the other 850 c.c. and 1,000 c.c. cars that were eligible for the up-to-£600 untaxed category. Satra Motors managed to tempt MRS Chief Instructor, the vastly experienced Tony Lanfranchi, out of retirement and London’s Kensington Close Hotel (which is to be highly recommended) joined in to sponsor the project. A second car was also run and amongst several different drivers encouraged to propel it was none other than John Webb, Managing Director of Brands Hatch et al.

The team decided to enter both of the Group 1 Championships, the Britax one held at BARC meetings and the Castrol equivalent. In all, Lanfranchi drove the maroon 412 on 29 occasions at nine different tracks and only once did he fail to win his class. The Moskvich never retired and never got involved in any accidents. It was a quite astounding record and last month Satra Motors held a reception at the Kensington Close Hotel, naturally, to celebrate the victory. Members of the Russian trade delegation were present and several awards were made although, as far as we know, Lanfranchi was not given the Star of Lenin. Seriously, Satra Motors and everyone concerned, are to be congratulated on an excellent year of motor racing.

Meanwhile a recent meeting was called by the SMMT at the request of British Leyland, Chrysler, Ford and Vauxhall to discuss the future of the Group 1 category with the RAC, and various recommendations were made. These included important changes like the fact that only current production models should be accepted, that the price classes would be determined by the show-room price, not pre-taxed price, and that standard seats and tyres would be mandatory. Recommendations were also made regarding the policing of the regulations and it is hoped that the RAC will adopt and put into force the meeting’s recommendations.

Pearson is Vandervell Novice

Vandervell Products Ltd., now a part of the GKN combine, still keep a very active interest in motor racing even if the Vanwalls are just a fading but glorious memory. This year Vandervell have sponsored a unique Novice award, for Silverstone meetings only. More than 70 novice drivers registered for the championship and the result was in doubt right until the last meeting. The award rested between John Pearson, who drives a much modified Jaguar XK120 in Production Sports Car events, and the young Formula Forder Doug Bassett who races a Nike Mk. 6. Earlier in the season another Formula Ford driver, Dave Ferris, looked as if he was going to carry off the honours but in August he was injured in a most unfortunate accident when a plastic marker with a lump of concrete on the end was thrown up and hit him. The former kart champion has been unable to race since.

So the Vandervell Award was between Pearson and Bassett and depended on how well they did overall in their respective races. As it happened Bassett looked as if he might win his race until he spun off and crashed while Pearson finished second in his race and thus took the title. At the start of the season neither driver had obtained six signatures on his licence, one of the conditions of the competition. Vandervell intend to repeat the scheme again next year.

Superman Taylor

Ian Taylor, the 25-year-old Newbury, Berkshire driver, has certainly been receiving plenty of attention since he clinched the British Oxygen Formula Ford Championship. Last month we reported that he had won the third Grovewood Award and now he has been voted BP Superman of the Year. This he celebrated by rushing off to Snetterton with his Dillon and winning the big Formula Ford Festival which features races for almost 100 of these 1,600-c.c. single-seaters.

The Superman award is the culmination of the year’s BP Man of the Meeting competition. This idea was started last season and it proved a great success and has continued to be so this year. At twenty selected meetings, a panel of motoring journalists selected a “man of the meeting”—not necessarily the winner of the race but someone who gave the best display even if he did retire with a lap to go. Of these twenty, Taylor was singled-out as the Superman and was presented with a painting by Louis Stanley at a function last month. The scheme was also tried at a number of motor cycle meetings and a similar award was made to the up-and-coming rider Mick Grant.

Pit Stops

• Castrol held their annual club film preview in November and the three new films are now available from their library. One film deals with the Austrian Grand Prix and will surely convince many British spectators that this is THE continental race to visit next year. A second film features various motor sporting events from drag racing to rallying, naturally all have Castrol involvement, while the third caters for motor cycle fans and shows four different kinds of two wheel competition. More details from Castrol Film Library, High Road, Cowley Peachey, Nr. Uxbridge, Middlesex.

• Michael Turner has produced yet another fine set of Christmas cards all depicting motor racing scenes including Beltoise’s classic drive at the Monaco Grand Prix this year. Posters are also available and if you haven’t bought any Christmas cards yet it is about time you wrote to Studio 88, 98 West End Lane, Harrow, Middlesex.

• The series of three Formula Two races held on consecutive weekends at at the Brazilian Interlagos circuit last month produced three different winners. The first round went to Emerson Fittipaldi’s elderly Lotus 69, round two was won by that other fast Brazilian, Carlos Pace in a Surtees and the third round was also won by a Surtees but this time with Mike Hailwood at the wheel.