READERS' LETTERS, December 1994, December 1994

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Champagne replies

Sir,
In response to ‘Champagne Query’, from A Burman, (MOTOR SPORT, October), the practice of spraying, rather than drinking, the victory champagne, was first seen after the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1967.

The perpetrator? Daniel Sexton Gurney!

M Gallagher, Derbyshire.

Sir,
With reference to the Champagne query in the October issue, I have always believed that Dan Gurney started it. Being a non-drinker he did not know what to do with the stuff — so he shook the bottle and sprayed it around!

K Warner, Alresford, Hampshire. (Several other readers have written in to identify Gurney as the originator of the champagne-swigging art – Ed.)

Ownership onus

Sir,
New legislation which will affect all owners is under review at DVLC Swansea. Briefly and simply their answer to Road Tax dodgers is to introduce an ownership tax. All cars whether on the road or not will have to be taxed! So far the methods and payments involved have not been released, but certain points seem clear.

1: We will all end up paying full tax as a part tax for “restorations”, “stage rally cars”, etc won’t work as a deterrent for tax dodgers.

2: Cars over three years old require an MoT to obtain a tax disc where does that leave half-completed restorations and cars that the owner cannot afford to MoT at the precise moment the test and/or tax is due? How do we obtain the MoT certificate in these cases? And what about museums, breakers’ yards etc? The problems are infinite.

3 (This one could really kill us all off): To obtain tax, surely the car will have to be insured. Otherwise “off-road” cars, having obtained a tax disc (or whatever) would be able to drive without insurance undetected in the same way as are current tax disc dodgers!

All car owners/clubs or any interested party should contact their MP, RACMSA or DVLC Swansea where a special department is set up to deal with the flood of complaints arising from this proposed legislation.

One possible answer to detecting tax dodgers is the US style dated licence plates, renewable annually, which show clearly whether the car is taxed or not. Any following motorist or patrol car can see immediately if current road tax has been paid. These plates are supplied by licensed companies, just like MoT testing stations. Why should we pay tax on possessions what’s next, a tax on the number of shirts you own, an MoT for spare parts, or a licence to carry brake fluid a dangerous corrosive liquid, after all?

Ken Calder, Ettrickbridge.

Moore Memories

Sir ,
You might be interested in a recollection of 60 or more years ago which was triggered by Mr Stanley Mann’s advertisement on the back of a recent issue.

At this distance in time I cannot recall the relevant date except for the fact that it was September of either the year of the last Amateur TT or the year of the first Manx GP; I am quite sure, however, that it was very wet.

George Sutherland, a fellow inmate at my prep school in N Wales, had invited me over to the island to watch the September races. His home was out at Castleton so on the day in question we had to pedal our watery way to the nearest point on the TT course which was Quarter Bridge, a sharp right hard turn with a camber which was good for racing motor bikes but no help at all to cars. The tedium of waiting in the rain was relieved by the excitement of knowing from the family grapevine that the “Road Closed” car was to be driven by Mr TG Moore. The car and its owner were well known on the island.

Shortly after the time for the road to be closed an open Bentley four-seater came rushing down to Quarter Bridge where it skidded on the wet road and made a 180-degree turn but was bought safely to a halt in the middle of the road, all to the great delight of the crowd. Then from the crowd there appeared a large policeman — all policemen were large in those days — who strode across to the car and with a great flourish pulled out his notebook amid more cheers and laughter and pretended to take down the driver’s name as if he didn’t know who it was.

The car was turned round and shot off towards Braddan Bridge. It never occurred to me that I might see it again, even in an advertisement.

Col Henry Weaver, Ventnor, IoW.

Straight thinking

Sir,
To avoid the costly time consuming accidents at the double chicane immediately after the start at Monza, is not the answer to allow the cars to go straight through at this point on the first lap? Cones could then be put in place for all subsequently laps. By this means the drivers and we, the spectators, would enjoy the full speed acceleration from the start and the sorting out process would have no interruptions with less likelihood of damage to cars and drivers.

Christopher Riley, Southwell.

Bored in the USA

Sir,
I was interested to read the Postcard from America article in the October issue of MOTOR SPORT regarding Mansell’s farewell to IndyCar. Being a racing fan and resident of Indianapolis,

I have followed the career of Mansell in F1 and more recently the CART series. While it was refreshing to see a happy relaxed — albeit theatrical — Nigel in 1993, this year it was back to ‘Mansell Classic’.

Not winning apparently suits him ill and everyone was certainly made aware of that. In addition to theatrics, we were treated to whining, moaning, finger pointing, excuses and petulant behaviour Not only did Nigel not have the patience for the required medical exam after his accident and subsequent retirement at Indy, he had the distinction of being the only driver not to attend the following evening’s Victory Dinner.

Local talk is that Mansell signed for $45 million to return to F1 , and that $44 million was raised by IndyCar fans.

B Johnson, Indianapolis, USA

Cooper’s whereabouts?

Sir,
I am trying to trace any history for a Mk XI 1957 F3 Cooper, chassis 6/57, the remains of which came to Australia from the Reading area in the early 1980s. The car originally had a Manx engine and is well documented between 1957 and 1959 in the hands of the Finnish driver Carl-Otto Bremer.

However, its subsequent history is unclear, although it appears it later ran in UK sprints and hillclimbs. All that is known is that it may have been painted black with an orange nose stripe, and that parts of it were incorporated into a VW-powered car around 1980.

I would welcome any correspondence on the history of this car, on Carl-Otto Bremer, or on Mk XI Coopers in general.

Graham Howard, 33 Princes St, Boronia Park 2111, Australia.

Calculators out…

Sir,
Now that the close season in Fl is descending. perhaps this is the time for some suggested rule changes to promote (hopefully) better racing:

1: A further reduction in front wing size including a limit upon the length and width of bodywork in front of the front axle line.

2: A reduction in the extent by which rear wings may extend beyond the rear axle line.

3: As racing suffers from the problem created by “marbles” restricting the racing line, and as the ‘marbles’ are a by-product of ultra soft slick tyres which are of no relevance to road tyres, the rules should be amended to require all-weather treaded tyres which at the end of a race retain at least 1.6mm tread depth. Tyre-changes to be restricted to changing punctured tyres.

4: Grid positions to be decided on the basis of finishing position in the previous GP (other than first race of year).

5: Points to be awarded on following basis (assuming 26 car grid): leader each lap 25 points; second each lap 24 points (etc down to points for last place on each lap). The total at the end of each race would be divided by the number of laps and then points as above added for position on last lap. This would reward drivers who suffer a mechanical failure near the end of a race, which presently goes unrewarded, and will also encourage more overtaking.

6: Raised bevelled kerbs to be altered so that they drop away into the gravel trap, thus discouraging kerb-banging and encouraging rather more accurate car placement.

AP Martin, Fillongley, Warwickshire.

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