Views of point
The Japanese Grand Prix was the best Formula One race for a long time. And why? Because the drivers’ world championship was not a factor, and no-one was worried about points-scoring or team driving. I recall Jenks rubbishing the championship some 50 years ago. How right he was.
This is a postscript to your letter ‘Teething troubles’ (printed in the September 2005 issue).
The Polish dental patient mentioned in Gordon Lang’s letter is in fact a Hungarian named John Dornay, who arrived in this country after the 1956 uprising in Hungary and was a valued McLaren employee during the 1970s.
The M16 Gordon mentioned in his letter took pole position for the Indy 500 of that year (1971).
M16s with small bodywork modifications contested the Indianapolis 500 from 1971 through to 1976 and took three pole positions: 1971, M16A-2, Peter Revson; 1973, MI6C-5, Johnny Rutherford; 1976, M16E-2, Rutherford.
They also took three Indy wins: 1972, M16B-4, Mark Donohue; 1974, M16C-5, Rutherford; 1976, M16E-2, Rutherford.
What Gordon Lang saw that day in 1971 at McLaren’s base in Colnbrook was the start of McLaren’s good six-year run at Indianapolis. Should he wish to be reunited with his old dental patient, I would be happy to assist.
Atlantics in Oz
At last Formula Atlantic comes to Motor Sport (Gilles Villeneuve feature, October issue).
Here in Australia it was the premier series of the early 1980s after the decline of Formula 5000. Ralt RT4s were the most popular cars and many have survived to race again in historic events.
Recently a series was organised for Atlantics and Formula 2 — more than 30 cars were found to compete in Victoria at Sandown and Phillip Island, then Mallala in South Australia, Eastern Creek in Sydney and at Queensland Raceway. The series is also a support for the A1GP round at Eastern Creek.
It was great to see the article on the Villeneuve March, as my son Andrew races a 73B, chassis 8, in the historic series. It is the ex-Colin Vandervell car, in which he won the Yellow Pages Formula Atlantic championship in 1971. I also have the remains of 74B/1.
I also loved the article on Longford. I have visited it on a few occasions while on rallies: the race car body in the window is an Ausca, a copy of a Maserati. I raced one in the 1970s and ’80s with an MG engine.
Thanks for the magazine – I still have almost every one back to 1951!
Life begins with 40?
I was very interested in the feature on the Lotus 30 (X-Ray Spec, November issue).
I watched Jim Clark struggling with it on several occasions. It certainly looked the part although its track record was poor. The other serious drawback of using the Lotus Elan-type chassis backwards was safety: there was nothing substantial between the driver and the backbone. I saw Tony Hegbourne have a massive accident in the woods at Brands Hatch with a Lotus 40. All that was left of the car was the chassis and engine, four wheels and a large pile of glassfibre. Hegboume walked away looking dazed but uninjured. I think he was a very lucky man!
Mallory book plea
I am the author of the forthcoming title: ‘The Friendly Circuit — Mallory Park 1956 to 2006’, for Tempus Publishing. I wonder if any readers would have stories or memorabilia that would assist me in writing the book? At this stage it is just a case of writing in with information and your contact details. You can write to me at: Mallory Park Circuit, Kirkby Mallory, Leicestershire LE9 7QE, or e-mail [email protected].
Wild West mules
Following your 30-Second Board article on the medal awarded to Barney Oldfield for winning the Seventh Cactus Derby in 1914 (November issue), I feel a little elaboration is in order.
Although Oldfield had the fastest elapsed time, he didn’t actually cross the finishing line first — that honour went to Louis Nikrent driving a Paige. While Oldfield was stuck in the now swiftly running New River (which was usually dry), Nikrent overtook him and took the finishers’ flag first. Oldfield was awarded the medal on faster elapsed time after being pulled from the river by mules.
Other competitors in that race weren’t so lucky. Billy Carlson, driving a Maxwell, broke a wheel in the race and walked into Needles to find a replacement, On returning to his car he found it stripped and had to retire (so this isn’t just a modern phenomenon!). Louis Chevrolet had been only 16 sec behind Oldfield into Needles, but he had destroyed his car in the process and spent the rest of the race riding as a mechanic to Cliff Durant, who finished fourth overall.
Great photos of Reg Bicknell from Mr Chitham (You Were There, November issue) – pity one of the captions was incorrect.
The date of the race at Crystal Palace was July 30 1955 — motor-racing after WWII was not resumed there until ’53. The picture actually is of Reg in his own-built Revis MkIII The race was the Trophy Meeting’s 10-lap Senior Race, and the Revis was sixth on the grid. Reg was well up with the leaders when on the fifth lap at Ramp Bend the rear nearside wheel parted company with the car, which fortunately skidded to a halt with Reg okay.
The race was won by Jim Russell from Ivor Bueb and Cliff Allison.
I was sad to read in your November edition that Andrew Hedges had died. I knew little of him or his exploits until the recent LMES meeting at Silverstone.
My girifriend Jane and I attended as guests of the BRDC, a prize she won in a draw while I was competing in the Walter Hayes Trophy. While taking coffee in the clubhouse during the morning, Andrew and some of his friends asked if they could join us at the table we were occupying as the bar area was very full. Almost immediately Andrew introduced himself to us and what followed was a wonderful afternoon in their company, which included a rather boozy lunch. I found Andrew to be charming, interesting, full of wit and certainly someone who knew how to live life to the full. He clearly still had a zest for life and a love of motorsport.