So the GPDA have finally got their way and the Belgian GP has been prised away from Spa, probably for good. After the organisers had spent a large sum of money to meet the demands of the GPDA they have been left in the lurch. The Association always complain that their actions receive unfair and uninformed publicity. Very well, let them explain why Spa was deemed fit to race on in 1970 but not in 1971. More to the point, let them explain why this generation of GP drivers (with the notable exception of Jacky Ickx) should decide that a circuit good enough for Fangio, Moss, Ascari and Clark should be abandoned.
The argument of increasing speeds is hardly valid. A 1956 Lancia-Ferrari going off the road at Burnenville at 130 m.p.h. would have given its driver no more chance of survival than its modern counterpart doing the same at 150+. It’s also worth noting there were no Armco barriers in 1956 and many natural hazards have been removed since then.
Of course no one would deny an accident on a circuit such as Spa is potentially more serious than on a modern slot racing track such as Hockenheim or Kyalami, but surely this is an accepted part of the sport. If drivers are not prepared to accept this (no one is forced to race GP cars) they should give up—it does not give them the right to change the very nature of the sport.
I feel very strongly about this issue because Spa is the first major blow by the GPDA in their attempt to achieve precisely this. After throwing in various red herrings such as the Malmedy affair we finally have the truth: the GPDA set out to axe this circuit from the calendar and they have succeeded. I am only sorry for the organisers who spent so much money for so little reward, the enthusiasts to whom Spa represented the ultimate in GP motor racing, for Jacky Ickx who will undoubtedly feel that his profession is somewhat less worthwhile, and for the whole future of Grand Prix racing.
In 1970 D.S.J. stayed away from a European GP in disgust at the choice of circuit, and Jackie Stewart won $35,000 in a TV slot car competition (race time 1 min. 56 sec.). Still, that’s chicken feed— just think how much he could win if they held a whole series for the World Drivers’ Championship!