Letters: December 2018

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East, west, home’s best

It’s become a British trait to complain and Silverstone gets its fair share, particularly on social media. I have just returned from the Singapore GP and other than the night atmosphere it falls well short of Silverstone as an event and venue. Poor support races, very little food choice (they bag check and stop any food being taken in), refusing access on race day until 30 mins before the first race (many people didn’t get to their seats to see the Porsches), inadequate toilet facilities, restricted viewing and armed security guards, no fan regalia or flags etc on sale, just official overpriced team kit.

The only redeeming feature of this GP was an extraordinary qualifying lap from Lewis Hamilton. I’ll take Silverstone any time.

Bob Bull, Portishead, North Somerset

 

Betting slip?

I read that Sean Bratches thinks betting on Formula 1 races is a good way for fans “around the globe to engage with the world’s greatest racing spectacle”.

I have an even more revolutionary idea to achieve that end – put F1 on free-to-air television. Then all fans will be able to engage in the sport we all love.

John Leonard, Higher Kinnerton, Chester

 

Taxing issue

How refreshing in your Sebastian Priaulx/Lotus Cortina article to see a Cortina as it would actually have been raced by Jim Clark (who I recall seeing at Brands Hatch in 497C).

I query the orange cam covers, though, and it’s a shame that TEAM LOTUS on the driver’s door is too large and the steering wheel Lotus badge is black! A tax disc would have been a nice touch; certainly they had one when raced.

David Foster, Ascot, Berks

 

Three-pointed stir

With regard to your article on the Mercedes Le Mans debacle of 1999, I was at the time a retailer of model cars, in particular the superb 1:43 scale resin kits made by the now sadly defunct French manufacturers Starter and Provence Moulage. Their plan, as always, was to model as many Le Mans competitors as possible as soon as possible. Mercedes, on the other hand, was determined to put the whole thing in the past and forget it ever happened. 

The kit makers would have had all the details together ready to manufacture as soon as the race was over and Mercedes, we must assume, withdrew permission to use its name or design. The result when it arrived was an attempt at deniability. Gone were the familiar red or blue boxes; plain white boxes were simply marked CLR. Nowhere, not even on the assembly instructions, was there any indication of who made the kits. 

Changing the subject, in response to Chris Berger’s query on last month’s Letters page, to the best of my knowledge Cobras raced only once in period with fastback hardtops. This was at Le Mans in 1963 in an attempt presumably to counter their otherwise ‘barn door’ aerodynamics. Goodwood rules call for closed coupés, so this is the most elegant way to comply.

Rod Hunt, Seaton, Devon

 

Satisying lunch

I thoroughly enjoyed the Lunch With… Freddie Spencer article in last month’s issue. Freddie is my all-time motorcycling hero and I have been lucky to meet him at the Festival and at the launch of his autobiography Feel.

For all he has achieved in his sport you could not wish to meet a more humble and self-effacing man. He has that rare ability to make 30sec with him leave you feeling like you’re an old friend he’s known for years. It would have been so easy for him to have turned into a grizzled old ‘bar room bore’, but his insistence that he has found real contentment later in his life after it hit rock-bottom is genuine.

Having finally dried out after watching him secure the 250cc title in abysmal conditions at Silverstone in 1985, I can only wish him every future happiness.

Thanks also to Mat Oxley for his brilliant articles each month in both the magazine and on your website.

Peter Spiers, Watford, Herts

 

Donington connection

I read with much interest the recent article about the 1938 Donington Grand Prix by John Bailie. My father was a regular attendee at Donington before the war, often cycling to the circuit from his home in Derby. Before he died in 1997 he committed a lot of his memories to paper, and also wrote a history of Donington Park using material he had been able to gather together in the 1960s from various people old enough to remember how things had been only 30 years previously. Sadly he never found a publisher, but the manuscript contains some interesting insights, not least his recollections of the 1938 Grand Prix. It was held on his 18th birthday; within two years he would doing his bit against the might of Nazi Germany in the RAF.

He did not have a camera, but was an accomplished artist, and in later years he made a number of drawings inspired by his visits to Donington.

Howard Sprenger, Hedge End, Southampton

 

More anon

Reading John Hostler’s letter in Motor Sport’s November issue, I too regret the absence of the illustrators’ names on the Porsche and Ferrari drawings.

With reference to the 512S being the work of Vic Berris, I would agree with John that this is Vic’s work. He was my uncle and I am proud to have been given his surname as my middle name when I was born in 1944, while he was fighting for his country.

I have a large copy of the 512S given to me by Vic with other drawings, the 512S bearing his name as illustrator.

John Berris Lay, Charing, Kent

 

More fuel them

The news regarding the WEC’s proposed use of hydrogen is not before time. Race circuits have plenty of space for solar panels and wind generators, the energy from which could be used to separate hydrogen from water. Generating hydrogen on site means no transportation would be required.

However, in my scheme this renewable, zero-emission fuel would not be used in a fuel cell but burnt in 12 cylinders arranged in a vee configuration. If this engine would do 20,000rpm and be allowed to burn just a little castor oil my dream will be complete! As a spectator I don’t get to experience what it feels like to drive a racing car, but with electric cars I am denied two further senses – hearing and smell.

Rick Benson, Sawston, Cambridge

 

The gloves are off

I enjoyed reading the article in November’s issue of Andy and Seb Priaulx driving Jim Clark’s 1965 Lotus Cortina. It reminded me of seeing Jim Clark and Graham Hill a couple of years later three-wheeling Mk2 Lotus Cortinas through Knickerbook at Oulton Park during the Gold Cup meeting – no chicane to slow you down in those days.

But back to the article: it surprised me that, despite both being booted and suited while driving, the accompanying photos showed neither was wearing gloves. It might not have been a race meeting, but it still gives the wrong impression to aspiring young drivers.

Tim Moore, Withybrook, Warwickshire


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