Letters

Opinions expressed are those of correspondents and not necessarily those of Motor Sport

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Senna Censure

Sir,

I am astounded to read about the post race press briefing after the Japanese Grand Prix. I have always admired the driving skills of Ayrton Senna, but at times thought that he was arrogant or rude, both on the track and in interviews. How worthy is he as an ambassador for the sport when he openly admits that he decided to cause an accident, if needed, to gain the 1990 World Championship ?

He was variously reported as saying 'I decided that if Prost beat me off the line I would take the line into the first corner and would not give way, even if there was an accident." ( ITV Oracle). "I promised myself that if, after the start I lost the first place, I would go for it in the first corner, regardless of the consequence. That's what took place." ( Daily Telegraph).

If indeed he did say either of these sentences, then FISA needs to carefully review its position. It would seem that some action would have to be taken against him, especially as he used threats such as "The gloves are off" again this year.

Motor racing is meant to be a non-contact sport. It is dangerous enough without some drivers deciding to use brute force to succeed.

B J Walsh,

Twickenham

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Wet-weather Racing

Sir,

Having just read a Japanese newspaper report and subsequent comments from the drivers and organisers of the rain-stopped Australian Grand Prix, my first thoughts were of sympathy for the drivers having to race under the reported conditions.

On further reflection, however, I recall earler days of the sport, when Formula One teams were expected to be able to race under any conditions, and the accolade of "regenmeister" was given to drivers who could master the elements. I ask if there is really a valid reason for trying to turn Formula One into a fair-weather sport when, unlike at most venues in the United States, the weather at many circuits used for the world championship cannot be relied on to be fair.

I continue to be amazed at the technological developments and the adaptation of driver skills that allow progressive generations of Formula One cars to be driven in relative safety so rapidly. It should be possible to apply the same technological and driver skills to enable wet-weather races to be run.

The problems faced on a racing circuit and on the road are basically the same — adhesion and visibility. Adhesion is down to tyre design and aerodynamics, visibility to spray control. If it means that cars for a wet race have narrower tyres and cycle wings, so be it, although I don't think the final solutions will be so simplistic. At least the spectators, teams and sponsors would have a complete race, and some of the technology will trickle down (pun intended) to the cars of we every day driving mortals.

Although many of the drivers at Adelaide seem to have started the race unwillingly and with good reason, it is to their credit that they did start in cars that seem to have been unsuitable for the conditions. Now is an ideal opportunity for the new FIA management to frame suitable rules that can deliver the goods in rain.

Tony Innes,

Tokyo, Japan

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Circuit Charges

Sir,

Through the pages of Motor Sport I would like to ask the RAC, race organisers and circuit owners to justify the exorbitant fees charged to competitors who wish to race their 'historic' cars. There is a large disparity between the reasonable £30 or £40 (short or long race) which the VSCC requests, to the extortionate £65 charged by Brands Hatch Leisure Club for a 10-lap race on the short (1.4 mile lap) Cadwell Park circuit.

Perhaps these fees explain why many historic meetings this season have been unable to field full grids. I feel that unless something is done to reduce these fees competitors will be denied the opportunity to exercise their cars and spectators will be denied the chance to see them in action. I look forward to the replies from the powers that be.

M J Smailes,

Cleveland

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End of the Rhode

Sir

As a young apprentice I joined the motor-trade in 1937 in Cambridge, I find so many memories are stirred by the pictures, stories and descriptions in your admirable publication every month.

I was employed in a small family business called H Birch & Son of Victoria Road. I mention this only as it may "ring a bell" with some of your older readers, particularly undergraduates, who were the owners of a very interesting range of motor vehicles of all makes and nationalities.

These, I recall had to be kept inside the garage and a car rug or loose tonneau cover always found its way over the rear numberplate. It was some time before I discovered that the "Bulldogs" had very strict rules regarding the personal transport of students.

The reason I have written is because of a brief encounter with a car called a Rhode. This car was stored in a barn in the village of Oakington and belonged to a local farmer. On seeing the car I was impertinent enough to suggest that I might clean it for him, to which he agreed. The car, a four-seater saloon, rather like an early Austin 20, was in a brown finish with cloth-covered seatings. The spare wheel was carried in a recess on the n/s front wing, and the battery was on the opposite side running board. I can't recall the position of the petrol tank; might it have been under the bonnet with the four cylinder side-valve engine? It was not until I noticed a very brief mention of a "1924 Rhode" in the account at the Test Hill in the Brooklands Reunion (Motor Sport, August 1991) that I realised this was the only mention I have ever seen, before or since, of the name Rhode.

I recall scanning all the garage lubrication charts that had decorated the walls for years, but no mention of a Rhode. I should be pleased to see any comments from readers who have any knowledge of this make and any pictures that are available. In closing, I would point out that I joined HM Forces in the early forties and lost touch with the car described. I seem to recall a rumour that, on the death of the farmer, the car was taken away as scrap metal for the War Effort. It saddens the heart to think of what must have been a very rare motor car should have perished that way.

Arthur C Pauley,

Cambridge

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Roving clock

Sir,

With reference to letters published in the November issue about the Leyland clock from Shap Summit. This clock has been erected at The Brewery Arts Centre, Highgate, Kendal, Cumbria, and has been there for some years now, not at the folk museum in Appleby as stated.

N R Yates,

Cumbria

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Morgan Hunter

Sir,

If it is any help to "Mr Morgan Hunter" ( Motor Sport, November), I acquired Morgan 4/4 KUY 474 from a Liverpool garage, which I think was Jimmy Rae, late in 1955 when I was stationed at Oakington, flying Vampires. I used it in trials and speed events for a couple of years, whilst I was at Cambridge learning how to be an engineer.

I have a picture of us on Simms in the Exeter Trial of 1956, with my passenger looking concerned because he has just seen the cliff up which we are set to climb. We won a First Class award on that occasion.

I later sold the car to, I think, a London dealer. Perhaps you could tell Mr Lideliard that I have an entry on the 1992 Exeter, and would be very happy to wreck his car once again on that event. It cracked its chassis in 1956, a problem the model was prone to.

T J Threlfall,

Shawforth, Hants