Around and About, December 1979

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Surveying those who watch . . .

Publimotoring of Geneva have released more figures showing the kind of people they found watching 1979 Grands Prix. They asked just over a thousand spectators from seven countries at the Belgian, French, British and Monegasque World Championship races a little about their background.

The commercial reason behind the survey was to find out what sponsorship arrangements are effective amongst an audience that is predominantly male with 85% drawn from the 18-44 years of age group. A pretty wide age span that common sense would have also indicated!

Pole position in the sponsorship race for recognition amongst this sample was firmly held by Marlboro (32%) from Elf on 16.1%. The next biggest group were the equivalent of the political “don’t knows/cares” at 11.46%, rather more than Martini and Gitanes achieved on recognition from the 1,118 spectators questioned.

Least recognised sponsor? Copersucar, who are said to be out of GP racing in 1980 after spending a great deal of money on various Fittipaldi designs.

Lotus and Rolls: more than meets the eye?

News that Rolls-Royce and Lotus were to combine forces in the American market came as a bit of surprise to us, for Lotus had devoted considerable effort to building their own sales and marketing outlets in the USA.

The deal is far more comprehensive than we had imagined from first reports. Lotus will send their cars to Crewe for shipment to the Rolls-Royce headquarters in Lyndhurst, New Jersey. Former broadcaster and journalist Reg Abbiss will then co-ordinate every aspect of selling Lotus cars, service and publicity, alongside Rolls-Royce, through that company’s 68 North American dealers.

Lotus North America becomes part of Rolls-Royce Motors Inc., planning to triple present sales of 300 cars a year in the coming years.

Lotus see the USA merger offering them “a good dealer network and the upgrading of our image in a much shorter period than we experienced when going upmarket in Britain”.

What do Rolls get? As we understand the situation they will accrue some advantages in economy of scale, virtually doubling the number of cars they handle without introducing a competitor to their showrooms.

Many feel that the real point is that Lotus, as part of Rolls in the USA, can contribute their excellent m.p.g. figures to push the overall of the Rolls range beyond the threatened Government penalty areas. Lotus will not be drawn on this, but either way the joint approach from Lotus and Rolls-Royce shows that ingenuity and optimism are not dead in the UK. Good luck to both sides.

Koni confidence

While Bilstein become increasingly entrenched in top level rallying Koni have the enviable record in GP racing. Ever since 1971 the World Champion driver has had the Dutch company’s widely adjustable telescopic shock-absorbers installed.

Ferrari changed to Koni 20 seasons ago and Koni say that “since 1976 all Formula One racing teams have driven on Konis”.

Since the late sixties the biggest Koni design improvement has come from the use of titanium in racing car suspension components. This led Koni into manufacture of their housing and top cover in “high grade aluminium, which meant an enormous weight saving”, in the company’s words.

Researching the modifications made to a Group One racing Dolomite recently, one of our reporters discovered that such technical excellence has a price. The leading exponent of Dolomite preparation in 1979 told us that similar dampers were priced at over £400 a pair.

The less exotic Koni range, as well as the serious competition dampers, continue to be handled in Britain by J. W. E. Banks and Sons Ltd. at Crowland, Peterborough.

* * *

An outfit named Zoom Television Ltd. at Pinewood Studios, Iver Heath, Bucks, have made a video cassette recording of the 1979 London to Brighton run. Cost is £85 and coverage is from three crews based at Brighton, Crawley and on the run itself.

* * *

A Cosworth Christmas? These genuine Cosworth DFV, ex-Grand Prix engine block-coffee tables, cost £450 to £900, depending on history, from Marino International Ltd., 48/50 High St., Corsham, Wilts. Other DFV memorabilia include pistons from £10 to £40, variable according to race-finishing position, polished or unpolished, with a plate showing details and a certificate of authentication from the engine builder, and polished, inscribed crankshafts at £95.

* * *

Congratulations to Malcolm Wilson for winning the British National RAC rallying title for the second year in succession. Castrol, who with Autosport sponsor the series, were probably not quite so pleased, for Wilson’s Escorts are backed by Total. Now 23 years old Wilson will carry on with Total and Ford Escort RS1800s in the Sedan Products home international series next season.

* * *

The Austin Morris Mini Rally Challenge is to be an integral part of the BTRDA-Esso series of club championship events next year. The racing equivalent has proved very popular indeed over recent seasons and offers some of the most generous prizes to be found in club racing. For rallying competitors will be allowed the 1,275 c.c. engine but mounted within any Mini body style they care to use for reasons of cost. Regulations and details of how the £2,500 prize will be dispersed from: Ron Elkins, BL Motorsport, MG Plant, Abingdon-on-Thames, Oxon.

* * *

RAC competition licence fees for 1980 will range from £2 for co-drivers on closed to club events to £65 for an A-category international race licence. Full details and application forms from the new RAC British Motor Sports Council at 31 Belgrave Square, London SW 1X 8QH.

Formula Talbot

The latest single-seater Formula to emerge, Formula Talbot, will run on methanol as a sop to energy conservation. Chassis can be either Formula Ford 1600 or Formula Ford 2000 type converted to run with 150 b.h.p., Talbot Sunbeam Ti engines. Racing tyres will be fitted. Methanol suppliers will be available at circuits. The BRSCC is running a 12-race series. This should be a quick Formula which might oust, and certainly take the pressure off, one of the over-subscribed Ford Formulas eventually. Details from the BRSCC or Jackie Epstein, the exclusive supplier of engines, at Brands Hatch.

The Model Engineer Exhibition

Next year’s 49th Model Engineer Exhibition will be opened by HRH The Duke of Gloucester and takes place from January 2nd to January 12th, at the Wembley Exhibition Centre. Entries have closed.

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