Around and about: comment on the racing and club scene
The Evening News Motor Racing Showboat which was moored in the Pool of London for the first week of January proved to be a considerable success for the organisers and also for the many mothers of on-holiday schoolboys who were packed off to visit this floating racing car exhibition. Some of the more hardened enthusiasts were a little more sceptical having been brought up on full-scale International shows at Olympia. Since Olympia went bi-annual the organisers have been searching for a way to fill the gap with a smaller show, which has taken on various names with a conspicuous lack of success. This latest attempt, dreamed up by John Webb, only a couple of months before it actually happened was by far the best.
The Showboat itself was in fact an old friend, the Cross Channel ferry Free Enterprise II, and the racing cars were displayed in the hold where tourists normally put their holiday-bound or returning cars while the other amenities of the ship like the restaurants and bars were all put to good use. To reach the boat, which was moored alongside the museum ship HMS Belfast, one took a river ferry, thus even more excitement for the small boys, but there was one hitch when a hawser got wrapped round the propeller and everyone was marooned on board the Showboat for some considerable time.
Formula 1 cars were definitely limited with only an old Tyrrell March 701 and the ambitious Connew on board. The latter has been built virtually in a shed by a young man of the same name who was formerly an engineer with Team Surtees. The car was shown with dummy engine and gearbox but the rest of the chassis was complete using a neat monocoque construction with inboard suspension front and rear. Peter Connew hopes to find a backer to replace that dummy engine and box with the real thing and thus hopes to break into the big world of Grand Prix racing. To get as far as he has done deserves encouragement and we can but wish him luck with the scheme.
The Show director was Formula 5000 entrant Jackie Epstein and naturally he had encouraged several of his friends from that category to bring their cars along. There seemed to be a lot of second-hand McLarens about but there were two brand new cars for the category, the Surtees TS11 and the Leda LT27. The Surtees featured side radiators and was based very much on the TS9B Formula One car which appeared at Monza. The latest in the line of largely unsuccessful Ledas looks every inch like being a race winner now that the talented New Zealand driver and engineer Graham McRae has joined the project. Working well with Len Terry, the pair have come up with a rather BRM-like car which looked good at the Show while its sister car was already taking pole position in McRae's hands at the opening Tasman race ahead of Gardner's Lola, Hailwood's Surtees and Hobbs' McLaren. The Leda outfit, run by Malaya Garage, have also taken on Alan McCall's Tui project under their wing and the Tui Formula Super Vee was also on show.
Quite a few of the smaller manufacturers, whose histories have been chronicled in Motor Sport over the past twelve months, had their latest offerings on show including the Huron firm who are now back in business. A completely new firm was that of Lyncar Engineering of Taplow, Bucks run by former Lola, March and Brabham designer Martin Slater and he showed an interesting new monocoque Formula Atlantic which incorporated all the ideas the firms he had previously worked for, had vetoed.
There was a good display of engines including everything from tuned Volkswagens to a Cosworth DFV just re-built by the St Neots firm of Race Engine Services who have built themselves quite a reputation over the past twelve months. Also worth inspecting was a gearbox essentially similar to the Hewland Mk VIII which the manufacturers, Metso, hope will find favour amongst Formula Ford and Formula Three constructors. It is interesting to see someone challenge the monopoly that the excellent Maidenhead firm have had in this category for so long.
Road car exhibits were also present on the Showboat and in particular the Costello Engineering MGB with its Rover V8 power brought a lot of favourable comment and orders. The Costin Amigo also attracted attention and there was the little Lotus 7-like Dutton sports car and even a town car. In an attempt to gain publicity for the Showboat on press day the organisers prevailed on some young ladies, of rather dubious attributes, to do a striptease across the exhibits. Even in this permissive age the resultant photographs revealed too much for the picture editors of the national dailies (and definitely Motor Sport) to allow and the resultant publicity was resoundingly zero. Personally we preferred the racing cars which on the whole were more attractive anyway.
Season passes save pounds
Readers often complain about the high cost of motor racing spectating but if you are a regular at one of the Motor Circuit Developments circuits you can save pounds by buying a season ticket at the beginning of the year. The Brands Hatch pass for instance costs £9 (£8 for BRSCC members) and if you attend every available meeting the full cost would be something like £35. It does not include the Grand Prix but does encompass most of the other big meetings. Season passes are also available for Mallory Park, Oulton Park, and Snetterton and all include free paddock admission and special car parking facilities.
At the same time Motor Circuit Developments have also announced Speed International which is a club for spectators at their race meetings. Benefits will include discounts for race admission, low price trips to foreign races and other social functions. Details of Speed International and the season tickets can all be obtained from Brands Hatch Circuit Ltd, Fawkham, Nr. Dartford, Kent.
JCB Championship again
Plans have been announced by Speed Merchants to run the JCB sponsored by Historic Car Championship for a second year following its successful introduction in 1971. The rules remain unchanged with the class structure encompassing Historic Sports Cars up to and over 2000 c.c. and Historic Racing cars of any capacity. Already there is news of several exciting cars, particularly sports-racers, being resurrected for the series which will encompass seven rounds, all but one at Silverstone. This year the races will support some of the major fixtures on the Grand Prix circuit and thus will have an excellent audience. The dates to pencil in your diary are April 3, April 23, May 21, June 17 (sports car only), July 15 (racing car only), and August 6 with the final round at Crystal Palace on September 23. It is rather a pity that MCD have not been able to accommodate any of the rounds at their circuits, particularly Oulton Park, but perhaps they will be won over if this year's competition is a success.
• Grand Prix driver Howden Ganley and fellow New Zealander Cavan Riley have built up an excellent reputation and a very good business over the past three or four years servicing Hewland gearboxes. Now the firm called, not surprisingly, Racing Gearboxes Ltd. has become a member of the Trojan Group and has moved to Unit 2, Trojan Works, 9 Purley Way, Croydon, Surrey. Incidentally the GPDA have unanimously voted Ganley winner of the Wolfgang von Trips Memorial Trophy which is presented annually to the most successful newcomer to Grand Prix racing.
• A marshals training day open to members of all motoring clubs is to be organised at Silverstone on March 12 starting at 9.30 a.m. A revolutionary fire fighting device will be demonstrated as well as talks and opportunities for practical experience. Secretaries of Clubs who wish their members to take advantage of the day are asked to contact Lew Wooster of the British Motor Racing Marshals club at 13 Malvern Mews, London NW6. Incidentally the club itself is always interested in recruiting new members.
• Club secretaries will be pleased to learn that Jaguar have available their latest film "A Different Breed of Cat" for loan. The film traces the Jaguar history from Swallow Sidecar days and lasts 14 1/2 minutes. Applications to Jaguar at Allesley, Coventry, CV5 9DR.—A.R.M.