Matters of Moment, February 1966

The Motorist in Society

The overall 70-m.p.h. speed-limit, the departing Fraser’s panic idea, together with innumerable other anchorages applied to the motoring Briton, has resulted in nearly as much attention being focussed on road legislation as on World affairs. How does the modern motor-car user show up as a member of society, ? Pretty well, we would have thought. Using vehicles over millions of miles, day and night, sun or fog, in an over-populated island of dismally antiquated roads and towns, he and she has accidents, each of which, sadly, represents an individual tragedy, but which, compared to mishaps in the home or premature death through disease or neglect, do not need to be over-magnified, as biased official statistics magnify them.

There are probably more inexperienced drivers than careless motorists in our midst, more thoughtless manipulators of mechanically-propelled vehicles than reckless fools, and the recent protest meeting of the newly-formed Motorists’ Action organisation (run by Lotus’ Sales Manager but not with Lotus’ support) adjacent to M1 on a Sunday morning certainly proved that vexed car-owners, whom the Government glibly relieves of thousands of millions of pounds for the privilege of keeping this country efficiently mobile, are not hooligans, are, indeed, perhaps the only demonstrators who have caused the Police and their fellow citizens no embarrassment during a pubic protest gathering.

This being the case, wouldn’t you have thought that the Minister of Transport might have seen some point in encouraging good, law-abiding driving by addressing road-users, encouraging instead of damning them, and getting over vital aspect’s of safe-driving behaviour, an opportunity which has never been more easily afforded by such mediums as radio and television, as the leaders of the three main political parties are well aware. It is a suggestion we offer to Mrs. Barbara Castle, the latest M-o-T, whom we are not going to criticise because she hasn’t a driving licence (the War Minister doesn’t go to the office in a tank or the Minister of Ag. Food & Fish sail a whaler), providing she proves, and soon, that she makes proper use of advisory staff who do know what road travel in 1966 is all about.

Another aspect of the Motorist in Society is that of the bad odour in which enforcing all manner of petty motoring regulations has put the Police. Those who know far more about the matter than we do have said that with the sharp rise in crime it is absolutely essential that the Police have the help and sympathy of the British public. The matter, they tell us, is urgent and vital— with train-robbers breaking out of jail, children molested daily, break-ins commonplace and scores of murders unsolved, Britain is rapidly in danger of becoming another Chicago. So wouldn’t you think the Police would try to improve their image in the eyes of some 8,000,000 motorists ?

Yet we still see able-bodied policemen, constables who in some areas can apparently earn something like £1,000 a year before they are trained, operating radar speed-traps, devices which more than once have been proved fraudulent in Court, to apprehend drivers exceeding the 30-mph. speed-limit by a few miles-an-hour along some straight, deserted road. Do they honestly think this helps to reduce road accidents ? At known danger spots, maybe, but not in 90% of the cases? Why, the things-are operated usually for a few hours at a time, once a month or so, on any given road, and the latest dodge is to load the apparatus into a Police car, move it a few hundred yards, and set it up again, in the hope of trapping those drivers who had previously been aware of where they should go slowly. It used to be said that a Police patrol car was a deterrent to bad driving; radar trappers are not content, evidently, to be merely an effective deterrent! What a farce, what a terrible waste of police-manpower in this age of continual crime and violence. In a country where innocent children, visiting the Schoolboys’ and Schoolgirls’ Exhibition, were molested by adults each day, can we spare so many coppers for controlling their radar toys ?

Why, we wonder, do the luckless bobbies, put on to operating these traps, stand for it. With the present shortage of police they cannot fear dismissal if they refuse, surely ? Perhaps there are reasons why a policeman has to do as he is told, but they might at least agree to report only those cars doing over 45 m.p.h., or something like that, because, from handling their own cars and patrol cars. they must know that 30 m.p.h. is painfully slow on most of the roads where they set up their traps. Indeed, raise the limit on the majority of town roads to 40, leaving drivers to use their own discretion about what pace is safe, but double the fines for offenders, and most motorists would probably obey the Law all the way—another thought we present to Barbara Castle.

The row about the 70-limit has obviously made the Government think, and it is astonishing that nothing more has been heard of Tom Fraser since his resignation, even if the Sunday Times was premature in saying that Mrs. Castle is about to abolish it from the fast lanes or our motorways. Letters continue to pour into these Offices, with reasonable arguments against this futile restriction, and although one Labour-advocate makes fun of our suggestion that the 70-limit may spell near-disaster for Britain, pointing out that this country has survived the suffragettes, a General Strike, two World wars, etc., remember that in those days we were not trying to export high-performance cars in the face of threatening competition from Europe and Japan or maintaining full peacetime employment.

The Lawless Motorist!

In a letter to one of our readers the Borough Engineer and Surveyor to the London Borough of Enfield, F.E. Ladly, M.B.E., E.R.D., M.I.Mun. E.,M. Inst.M.H.E., refers to his efforts to get radar checks on all main roads in the Borough, giving as his reason the need “to curb the largest class of law-breakers in the Country the motorists.” He also writes of “the general lawlessness of the motorist.”

The Woking Court recently fined a doctor £10 and endorsed his licence, his crime-doing 48-50 m.p.h. in a built-up area while fetching drugs apparently urgently needed by a mentally-deranged patient

South African Grand Prix, Formula One (January 1st)

This year the South African race, held on the East London circuit, was not in the World Championship series, but nevertheless it was run to the new Formula One limits of 3 litres unsuper-charged, 1 1/2-litres supercharged. The only new Formula car to compete was the Repco-Brabham V8, driven by Jack Brabham and it would undoubtedly have won the race had the fuel-injection pump not seized, breaking the Gilmer driving belt in doing so. This retirement by Brabham allowed Mike Spence to have an easy victory in a Lotus 33, fitted with an enlarged Coventry-Climax V8 of 2 litres capacity. A second Team Lotus car was driven by Peter Arundel, having his first race since his 1964 crash at Reims, and he showed promise of a good reliability by finishing third, behind Siffert who was driving his Brabham B.R.M. V8 of the past Formula One. Arundell’s car was one of last year’s Team Lotus 1 1/2-litre V8 Climax-engined cars.

Innes Ireland drove a Parnell Lotus fitted with a 2-litre B.R.M. V8 engine, and Paul Hawkins had a 4-cylinder 2.7-litre Climax engine in a similar car. The Stirling Moss team resurrected one of the HRT. monocoque cars, fitted with B.R.M. V8 engine, and it was driven by Richie Ginther, while Bob Anderson was driving his own Brabham-Climax, with a 2.7-litre 4-cylinder engine, and Bonnier borrowed the spare car from Team Lotus, a Type 33, with 1 1/2-litre V8 Climax engine.

Results : 60 laps of 2.43 miles circuit-145.8 miles (234.6 km.)
1st : M. Spence (Lotus-Climax 2-litre V8) … … I hr. 29 min. 58.4 sec.158.05 k.p.h.
2nd: J. Siffert (Brabham,B.R.M. 1 1/2-litre V8) … … 58 laps
3rd : P. Arundell (Lotus-Climax 1 1/2-litre V8) … … 58 laps.
4th ; D. Charlton (Brabham-Climax 4-cyl. 2.7-litre) ..58 laps
5th : S. Tingle (L.D.S.-Climax 4-cyl. 2.7-litre) … … 57 laps
6th : J. Love (Cooper-Climax 4-cyl. 2.7-litre) … … 56 laps
Fastest lap; J. Brabham (Brabham-Repco), in 1 min. 25.2 sec. 165.6 k.p.h.
Retired : D. Prophet .(Lotus 24 Maserati 4-cyl.): J. Bonnier (Lotus 33-Climax V8); I. Ireland (Lotus-B.R.M. 2-litre V8); P. Hawkins (Lotus 25 Climax 2.7-litre); R. Ginther (B.R.P BRM V8); J. Brabham (Brabham-Repco V8): D. Hulme (Brabham-Climax 2.7-litre); P. de Clerk (Brabham-Climax 2.7-litre): R. Anderson (Brabham-Climax 2.7-litre).
Other finishers, A. Jeffries (Cooper-Climax 4-cyl. 2-litre); D. Serrurier (L.D.S.-Climax 4-cyl 2-litre); C Puzey(Lotus-Climax); J. Pretorius (Lotus,Climax 4-cyl. 2-litre)

Boxing Day Brands Hatch Results

Formule Libre :
1st : M. Daghorn, (Felday-BRM) … 14 min. 54.2 .sec. (74.8 m.p.h.)
2nd : M.Beckwith (Brabham-Ford)
Saloons up to 1,000 C.C. :
1st : R. Nathan (Hillman Imp) … 11 min.11.2 sec. (66.51 m.p.h.)
2nd : R. Calcutt (Hillman Imp)
Sports Racing Cars :
1st : J. Coundley (McLaren Elva Oldsmobile) … 10 min. 0.0 sec. (74.40 m.p.h.)
2nd : P. Westbury (Felday BRM)
Formula 3 :
1st; P. Courage (Lotus-Ford) … 14 min. 22.0 sec. (77.68 m.p.h.)
2nd : C. Irwin (Repco Brabham-Ford)
Grand Touring Cars :
1st : D. Margulies (Ferrari 250 GTO) … 10 min. 10.4 sec. (73.13 m.p.h.)
2nd : G.D.R. Marshall (Lotus Elan)
Saloons Over 1,000 c.c.:
1st : A. Mann (Ford Mustang) … 10 min. 15.2 sec. (72.56 m.p.h.)
2nd : M. Young (Ford Anglia).