Old Fogey Writes
I must be becoming an old fogey, but here it is: an angry letter to MOTOR SPORT from Tony Dron. As one of the very first drivers in Formula Ford 1600 early in 1968 I read your “FF1600 Focus” with unusual
‘were were right when you dismissed Fittipaldi’s and Scheckter’s debt to FFI600 as irrelevant. They both had previous motor racing experience; in fact Emerson had won a single-seater championship in Brazil before arriving here, admittedly almost penniless, to make his fortune. Both these foreign drivers obtained powerful backing and without doubt they were given superior equipment. However, to say that James Hunt spent most of his time crashing in FF is inaccurate. James had attempted to race a Mini in ’67 but the project failed. He and I started in FF in May, 1968, as beginners. He was working for Telephone Rentals as a £20 a week salesman and he had an Austin Cambridge tow-car which he had bought for £30 (sold his Lambretta to get it!). James sold the Mini for about £300 and put deposits on a Russell Alexis and Chris Steele engine, taking out two separate hire
purchase deals on each of these. I had a Titan Mk 4. We raced every weekend, sometimes twice a weekend for the rest of that season and James’ two significant accidents involved me. They were late in the season.
At Mallory we were tightly bunched, his right rear wheel between my wheels at the first corner. Some idiot hit him and we all went flying. By braking! got out from under his engine just in time. A week later at Oulton I spun in front of him at Cascades while in the leading bunch, and he cartwheeled into the lake and sank. Whatever else you may think of James Hunt, he was not a Formula Ford crasher; he is a gentleman who to this day exonerates me from blame for that incident (“I was going off anyway on my own; thanks for getting me out”, he said). What’s more, his obvious prowess in FF got him a drive in a ropey old F3 car at Cadwell, where he went and blew the famous stars into the weeds and took a lap record.
Later on, battle-weary with lack of recognition in F3, he did begin to crash too often, bathe had the class to rise above such an understandable personal problem. That’s the difference between a drop-out and a World Champion. Sutton TONY DRON Editor, Thoroughbred and Classic Cars
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