Continental notes, February 1970

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

The regulations for the Le Mans 24-Hour race arrived recently and it is interesting to note that its official title is the XXXVIII GRAND PRIX D’ENDURANCE ET DE RENDEMENT DE 24 HEURES, and it will be held on June 13th and 14th, reverting to its traditional starting time of 4 p.m. on Saturday.

When you think that one 24-hour race involves more organisation than a whole season of short-circuit racing, and the Automobile Club de l’Ouest are now in the throes of organising their 38th event, you realise the size and power of the Club. A lot of people do not like the Le Mans race and consider the whole thing to be a “circus” for the financial benefit of a few people, which may or may not be true, but this year the circus aspect will rise to the surface when the flag falls at 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 13th.

It has been traditional at Le Mans for the drivers to line up on the opposite side of the road to the cars and when the flag fell they ran across the road, jumped into their cars and roared off in a struggling mass. This was called the Le Mans Start and was classic way of Starting sports-car races.

Naturally the idea was fraught with hazards, but apart from a few details the “Le Mans start” usually went off well. I think it was the RAC who were the first organisers to drop the Le Mans start from their rates, probably after Duncan Hamilton did a complete spin from a standstill at Goodwood, in the middle of the field of cars. The Monza people wanted to use the Le Mans Start for their 1,000-kilometre race, but the layout of the circuit prevented this.

Using the road and track Monza circuit means having the wide pit straight divided into two lanes, so there was no longer enough width for a Le Mans start. At Nürburgring the Le Mans start was used regularly for the ADAC 1,000-kilometre race, until a wall of Armco barrier was erected in front of the pit apron, and this then made the track width to narrow for a run-across-the-toad start. The ADAC said it was due to safety-harnesses and low coups and all that sort of thing, but they were only side issues.

Now the Automobile Club de l’Ouest have come up with an excuse for the first-lap accident of last year, when Wolfe was killed in his Porsche 917. They say his driver’s door was not properly fixed; due to the rush of the start, and this was partly to blame for the accident. I’m sure Amon would not subscribe to that theory, having watched the accident nearly happen all the way from Mulsanne, being right behind the 917.

However, in their wisdom the Le Mans organisers have altered the starting arrangements, adding that the new system will mean that drivers will start the race fully harnessed and with cooling tubes plugged into their suits on the 917 Porsches.

By two minutes to four o’clock the number one driver must be in the car, all strapped in and ready to go and the door will be firmly shut. The number two driver will be across the road standing in the prescribed circle. Scrutineering will ensure that all cars have a battery masterswitch located on the left side, and situated to the rear of the door, mounted externally. Before the start all these switches will be “off” and when the flag falls the number two drivers will run across the road, turn on the master-switch and the number one driver will then be able to start racing!

Needless to say the number two drivers will then get smartly out of the way. What is not stated is the condition of the number two driver when he lines up in the circle opposite his car. Does he have to wear full racing kit, crash-helmet, goggles, gloves and so on, or can he be in athletic kit with spiked shoes? Some years ago I used to suggest that the Le Mans race should be for proper four-seater cars and that at the start the number two driver should be in the passenger seat and two mechanics should be in the rear seats.

Then after ten laps the car could stop and drop one mechanic; after another ten laps the second mechanic could be dropped off at the pits, and after another ten laps the number two driver would get off, and then the serious business of racing would begin. During the final hour the procedure would be reversed at quarter-hour intervals, so that the winning car would receive the chequered flag with a full complement on board. It would develop some splendid family saloons.

Everybody laughed at my suggestion and asked if I was trying to ruin Le Mans or make a circus of it. I was merely intending to brighten up Le Mans: I shall watch the “new look” Le Mans start, but I am certain that it will convince me that my idea was not so daft or is Le Mans a “circus”? It is said that “Tradition dies hard”, but, my goodness, how hard can it get?

You may also like

Related products