THE FORD Motor Company’s competition plans for 1973 were announced during the Racing Car Show and, as well as the expected programme of International rallying and saloon car racing, Ford also said they would Be catering strongly for the motor club member. Stuart Turner, Ford’s Director of Motorsports, commented that “Ford had a fantastic year of success in Europe and beyond in 1972, so the mixture for 1973 is much the same.”
Turner went on to say that the enormous interest shown by the public during the recent RAC Rally had influenced him into providing maximum support for motor club members who, he said, were the grass roots of International racing and rallying.
To this end the Ford Sport Club has recently moved down to Ford Advanced Vehicle Operations at Aveley, Essex, and a new secretary, Charles Reynolds, has taken over. A new brighter Ford Sport magazine will be published and the club will be going all out to meet the demands of enthusiastic Escort Mexico and RS1600 owners. There will be six Ford Sport Days in 1973—May 27th Brands Hatch, June 16th Castle Combe, August 26th Mallory Park, September 16th Ingliston, September 22nd OuIton Park and October 7th Croft—and anyone who has been to a previous Ford Sport Day will know that these meetings are well worth putting in your diary. Geared to the Ford Sport Day will be an exciting competition to find Britain’s best all round motor club. Called the Ford Sport Club Challenge this competition has five sections which cover driving tests, a table top rally, manning a rally control, a pit stop competition, and a motoring knowledge quiz. These competitions will Be held at Ford Sport days and the winning club will be decided on a points system.
The prize is well worth winning for it includes three expenses—paid trips to the 1974 Monaco GP, the guarantee of an International racing or rally name at the winning club’s annual dinner and dance, an expenses-paid coach trip to Ford’s Competition Department as well as £50 and other fringe benefits. If your club is interested further details are available from the Club at Arisdale Avenue, South Ockendon, Essex RM15 5TJ.
Ford is again backing Escort Mexico Championships for both racing and rallying with the latter now including four chances at driving a works Ford Escort RS1600 as an extra bonus to drivers who do particularly well. Ford has also re-introduced a European Formula Ford Championship with the prize of a works Formula Three drive for the winner.
On an international front in saloon car racing Ford will be going all out to win the European Touring Car Championship with a team of Ford Capri RS2600s run from Germany by Mike Kranefuss. Three cars will be run at all the rounds and also at the Targa Florio, Nürburgring 1000 km and Le Mans. The nucleus of the team is Germans Dieter Glemser and Jochen Mass (respectively 1971 and 1972 European Touring Car Champions), Scotsman Gerry Birrell and Englishman John Fitzpatrick, who has returned to the Ford fold. In addition, various “name” drivers will make occasional appearances including Mike Hailwood and Jody Scheckter. In addition various Ford national companies will run cars in their own particular national championships. In Britain Ford has renewed its link with Broadspeed who will run a works Capri RS2600 in the British Saloon Car Championship with a driver yet to be nominated. Malcolm Gartlan, who ran the effort last year, has moved to a similar deal with BMW along with his driver Brian Muir. Ford will also run a works Escort RS “1300” for lady driver Gill Fortescue-Thomas and give works assistance to the RS1600 of Dave Brodie. Ford will not have any interest in Group 1 racing.
In addition to this Ford has available £10,000 for a revised private entrants bonus scheme to cover racing and rallying. All in all it is an exciting programme from Ford who will, no doubt, get maximum value for their money.
All is certainly shaping up for a big Ford versus BMW battle in several forms of competition in 1973. Already mentioned has been BMW’s British Group 2 effort with Malcolm Gartlan Racing running a 3.0 CSL on behalf of BMW Concessionaires. However, both Brian Muir, and whoever drives the Broadspeed Capri RS, will have a big problem staying with Frank Gardner’s Chevrolet Camaro.
BMW, unlike Ford, are looking to Group 1 and will be running three Concessionaires backed cars in 1973. Two will be BMW 3.0 Si’s to be driven by Group 1 Champion Tony Lanfranchi (entered by the new Shell Sport Luxembourg team) and motoring journalist Roger Bell while Mrs. Wendy Markey (wife of Concessionaires Comps Manager John Markey) will drive a BMW 2002 Tii.
On the European Touring Car front BMW are going all out to avenge their 1972 defeat by Ford and under team manager Jochen Neerpasch will field a strong driving team led by Chris Amon and Jacky Ickx on occasions and including Hans-Joachim Stuck and others yet to be nominated.
There will also be Ford v. BMW battles in Formula Two and 2-litre sports car racing. March Engineering have, of course, secured an exclusive contract to run BMW engines and will be opposing all the Ford-engined runners in both categories. In Formula Two March is expected to run a works Formula Two team with Jean-Pierre Jarier and A. N. Other who could be either Jody Scheckter, Jean-Pierre Beltoise or Clay Regazzoni. Private entries in March-BMW will include Mike Beuttler, former F3 man Colin Vandervell, Formula Atlantic Champion Bill Gubelmann, Can-Ant driver Gregg Young, French F3 name Jacques Coulon and several others. They will have to beat strong teams from Rondel-Motul, Team Surtees, Brabham and GRD, who will all be using various versions of the Ford BDA engine.
In sports car racing the March-BMW has already shown its paces in South Africa without actually securing a win and competition here will come from a variety of engines run in Chevrons, Lolas and GRDs but again mainly Ford based.
While Vauxhall are hardly in the same league as Ford or BMW when it comes to competition the works blessed Dealer Team Vauxhall continues to flourish and they also announced their plans at the Racing Car Show. The racing side of the business is run by Bill Blydenstein’s firm and he will again have Gerry Marshall as his only contracted driver. This year the team will be concentrating on club saloon racing leaving Group 1 to the several private Firenza owners who will be contesting the category.
Presumably Marshall will start the season in his 2.5 Firenza with a Blydenstein developed Vauxhall engine but we wonder if the team may be tempted to follow the lead set by Basil van Rooyen in South Africa and fit a V8 Chevrolet engine into a Firenza. In fact van Rooyen’s firm, Superformance in Johannesburg, are marketing Firenza V8 road cars as well as racing one.
Radio Luxembourg back racing
At one of the slickest and best presented press conferences we have attended for many a day, Radio Luxembourg, the original pop music station, announced plans to tie in their 208 banner with no fewer than eleven various racing vehicles. Luxembourg started a pilot scheme last year with the dragster of Denis Priddle and the Rondel Brabhams in F2. The results have been encouraging and for 1973 Radio Luxembourg will be making a much bigger effort and their plans include a weekly motor racing news programme every Friday.
Luxembourg will continue to back Priddle’s dragster and the Rondel team who have expanded to no fewer than six cars of their own construction and have, in addition, joined forces with Shell to sponsor the three car Formula 5000 Shell Sport Luxembourg team. This is the Brands Hatch based operation run by Jackie Epstein and formerly called Speed International.
The team is to have two brand new Lola T330s to be driven by reigning British F5000 Champion Gijs van Lennep of Holland and Team Belso of Denmark, who joins the team after a year in Formula Two. Last year’s championship winning car, a Surtees TS II, will be retained and driven by Clive Santo. In addition, Tony Lanfranchi’s Group I BMW will be run under the same banner. Harping back to Rondel, their line-up is interesting for they intend to run two separate three-car teams both under the overall control of Ritchie Bray, who has joined Rondel from McLaren Racing. One team will have three French drivers—Henri Pescarolo, Bob Wollek (who both drove for Rondel last year) plus, probably; Jean-Pierre Jaussaud, who was runner-up in the European F2 Championship last year. The other team is headed by Tim Schenken and includes the young Mexican Johnny Gerber, who only started Formula Ford racing in May last year. He finished the season with a victory in the important World Championship FF race at Brands Hatch in October but would seem to be a little short on experience to take the plunge into Formula Two. The third driver in this team will be Jody Scheckter if he is not tempted to join the March-BMW F2 attempt.
Luxembourg’s sponsorship of these various teams is not worth a great deal in financial terms but it has enormous value in publicity terms. Motor Circuit Developments Ltd. will also be joining in on the scheme and it is hoped to recapture some of their lost attendences. At the Luxembourg announcement John Webb told the assembled journalists that during the “pirate radio” days, when Radio London sponsored Keith St. John, Brands Hatch had its largest ever crowds for club meetings. We wish the Luxembourg team the best of luck.
Silverstone Circuits Ltd. recently held a gathering to tell the press of their plans for the 1973 season, which are naturally centred around the Grand Prix scheduled for July 14th. Besides the five race programme on Grand Prix Day there will be a host of additional activities to keep the crowds entertained from an early hour. The additional races to Britain’s premier Formula One event cover Formula Three, Formula Atlantic, Touring Cars and Histories, with the F3 heats on Friday afternoon.
The other Silverstone meetings start with the always popular International Trophy Meeting, which will again feature a combined event for Formula One and 5000. Sponsorship will come front the GKN group once more and the programme will be the same as last year with the meeting covering both Saturday and Sunday, April 7th/8th. Formula Three, Formula Ford, Saloons and Histories provide the additional fun.
This year the two sports car meetings will be amalgamated into one to be called the Martini International Super Sports 200 which takes place on Sunday, May 20th. The main race will be a round of the Interserie run in two 35-lap parts and supporting events will cover Formula Atlantic, Formula Ford, Histories and, for the first time on the Silverstone GP circuit, Group 1 saloons.
Although the crowd was not large for last year’s event, Silverstone is again staging the Tourist Trophy, Britain’s round of the European Touring Car Championship. Thus we will have the chance to see Grand Prix names in Capris and BMWs. There will be some supporting races and the date is Sept. 23rd.
The remaining International car date at Silverstone is for Formula 5000 cars on August 5th and that meeting will be held on the club circuit so the outright lap record is bound to fall. Only a week later is the John Player International motorcycle meeting, on the full circuit, which includes a round of the new FIM Formula 750 Championship.
For booking forms, further information, and details of Jim Russell’s school write to Silverstone, near Towcester, Northants NN12 8TN (Tel.: Silverstone 271).—A. R. M.