Continental notes, February 1973

Grand Prix Politics

LAST MONTH we left the scene in a state of deadlock between the Formula One constructors and the Grand Prix organisers, with the constructors asking for a guaranteed total of starting money and prize money for a field of 20 cars of around k,100000 and the organisers offering a total of about £53,000. Since then the constructors have come down and the organisers have gone up, so that they reached a gap of only ,C12,000 per race. The constructors had a press conference during the recent Racing Car Show and put their case forward and said the organisers were liars and dishonest, just es the organisers had said about the constructors the month before. At the organisers’ meeting their interests were represented by the secretary Henri Treu, supported by John Webb of Brands I latch, Peter Clarke of Silverstone, Basil Tye of the RAC and the association’s PR Man. In contrast the constructors faced the press in an imposing display of force and unity, the top table containing Ken Tyrrell (Team Tyrrell), John Surtees (Team Surrees), Max Mosley (March Engineering), Bernard Ecclestone (Brabham), Frank Williams (Williams Team), Louis Stanley and ‘Fins Parnell (BRM),.Peter Schetty (Ferrari.), GordonCoppuck (McLaren), David Yorke (Teems) and Peter Warr (Team Lotus) with moral support from representatives from Firestone and Goodyear and the Constructors Association’s new secretary Peter Macintosh. It was an imposing array of top brass and they put their points over well, though personally I view the whole slanging match as rather Mule and unhealthy and both sides talk some sense and some hot air, while both sides can be thought to be lying through their teeth, and equally both can be surprisingly honest at times. Amid all the confusion neither side help much when they quote monetary figures, for they boils dodge about from Swiss francs to American dollars and, back to good solid English pound notes. If they kept their money talk to one currency they might get a more sympathetic car. They also contuse the issue by quoting a figure and not adding rather important corollaries, a care in point beingthe total money the South Africans are raising for their Grand Prix at Kyalami. No mention is made of the portion being spent on air fares for the circus to fly to Johannesburg, a very different expense to that involved getting to Silverstone or Belgium.

The last comment I made last month was that the Argentine Grand Prix had been cancelled due to a shortage of money. I larcHy had the January MirroR SP our been printed than it was back -on” again. for a limited number or invited cars. No doubt as this issue is printed there will be another change, but if not the Buenos Aires race will have been run on January 28th and will be reported in the March issue of MOTOR SORT.

Grand Prix Teams

The fluctuations and instability among the personnel of the Grand Prix teams is nearly as unhealthy as the politics, and nothing is really -Certain until everyone is seated in a car, with she engine running, on the starting grid. Once a 450 b.h.p. engine is started up all the “wheeling-and-dealing”, the “political intrigue” and the “indecision” has to stop and I cannot recall a driver switching his engine off and going on strike or bargaining for more of something, once the starting flag is up. There was a classic occasion when practically the whole entryin a motorcycle race did One lap and retired to the paddock en bloc in protest, and it didn’t half cause a fuss, but it was an exceptional occasion.

Since the summing up of the Grand Prix scene last month there have been some changes and additions, notably Amon falling out with March, or March falling out with Amon, and as a result the New Zealander will not be in a Grand Prix March. His place has been taken by Jean-Pierre larier, tor what that is worth. Philip Morris (Europe) the Marlboro cigarette people are continuing to support I3RM and the Bourne team have taken on Beltoise and Lauda in addition to Regazzoni and Schuppan, which makes a colourful international scene, with the drivers coming from Switzerland, France, Austria and Australia. Marlboro are also Supporting the Frank Williams team and constructional help has been enlisted from the ISO-Rivolta firm of Bressone, near Milan. Already the Politoys 1:X3 “Williams Special” Of 1972, has been repainted and renamed the ISO-Marlboro-ready for the 1973 season and new cars are also being built; drivers are Oanley and Galli.


The Stuttgart firm are quietly getting on with their 1973 racing plans and have announced that their activity will be concentrated on two areas, “with works participation confined to that degree necessary for the further technical development of the racing cars. Main initiative will be left to private customers.” That is a lovely official statement, full of possibilities, and the sort of statement I like, especially when it comes from a serious firm like Dr. Porsche KG. They go on to describe the turbo-charged 917/10 as a “well-ripened and highly developed competitive machine standing at the disposal of professional drivers,” and say that further development of the car for use in Can-Am and Interseric racing will be in the hands of the Porsche racing department in Weissach, the fabulous Research and Development centre west of Stuttgart.

For rallies and GT racing_ 40 of the ‘Carrera RS models are being built in “competitive trim”, suitable for the European Rally Championship and the European GT Championship and the Zuffenhausen firm will be entering the Carrera RS in long-distance sport’s car races and the Safari Rally, “to ensure continuing technical development of the car”. The factory racing department were recently carrying out tests at the Paul Ricard circuit with a turbo-charged 917/10 and a 2.9-litre Carrera RS. The Can-Am car was making a mockery of the Formula One lap record and the 2.9-litre Carrera RS was clocking well over 170 m.p.h. on the back straight. Porsche racing is continuing apace and Matra must have been very interested, as their racing department is based at Paul Ricard.

Daytona Speed Weeks

In the first week in February high speed activity begins at the Daytona Speedway in Florida, USA. It gets off quietly with the 24I-tour Race for PIA 3-litre sports cars, much to the disappointment of some people, for 24 hours at Daytona really drags, and last year’s reduction to 6 hours was very popular. Following this long grind on the combined banked track and internal road course, the scene moves to the super-speedway, the highspeed banked track and the NASCAR saloons take over, lapping at around the 200 m.p.h. mark, bare inches apart, which must be exciting to watch. Between February 10th and February 18th there is practice,-qualifying and qualifying races, all leading up to the Speed Weeks climax, which is the annual Daytona 500 Mile race, the fifteenth to be held. It is a race that draws record crowds and the high speeds are almost beyond the comprehension of European race followers.—D.S.J.