Matters of moment, February 1978

The way ahead

In a situation in which we are told that Inflation is coming down hut prices continue to rise, when well-deserving sections of the Community such as the Military and the Police either have to wait for promised pay-rises, or just don’t have them, while others force an issue by prolonged strikes which can be extremely damaging to the Nation as a whole, with politicians playing the games they always play and with the salvation of North Sea Oil always round the next corner but the cost of petrol to the motorist reduced only by a Liberal-Labour confrontation unique in Government, the way-ahead cannot be regarded as a bed of roses.

This being the case, it behoves those of us who are outside the cause of these sordid happenings to enjoy, to the best of our ability, the new motoring season which has just commenced. Last month Motor Sport published its usual guide to the more important races, which we hope will enable holiday-planners to take in some of the Continental races of their choice (perhaps even the Targa Florio, inspite of that typing error!) and those at home to remember that the British Grand Prix happens at Brands Hatch on July 16th let’s hope that the English weather behaves… The Continental Correspondent’s assessment of the 1978 Formula One teams shows that there should be an interesting G.P. season ahead, with the Argentine race, reported in this issue, as a curtain-raiser which may point the coming trend. Such as how Michelin-shod Ferraris will fare this year, how Lauda will make out with Brabhard-Alfa-Romeo, whether Hunt can stage a come-back, and how Andretti and Lotus will perform. Also whether this year will see the end of the beginning, if not outright success, for turbo-powered F1 cars. There will be the additional sensation of watching the first British F1 female, Divina Galica, drive for Hesketh. In the past there have been some very brave lady competitors, like Gwenda Hawkes, Kay Petre, and Elsie Wisdom, etc. But they were racing motorists rather than racing drivers and modern F1 participation comes so very much in the latter category that whether Divina’s stand for Women’s Lib will even get as far as qualifying remains another charming 1978 speculation (the Editor says that if he has understated the case and she actually wins a race, he is willing to do all in his power for her!).

Apart from all the big motor racing and rally fixtures which should have the support of all true followers, the season will be crammed with small events which give great enjoyment to a no-less keen section of the motoring firmanent. There will, for instance, be FIVA International rallies for the older motor-cars in Germany, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland/France, Eire and Switzerland on its own, together with the FIVA World fixture in Australia on April 8th-24th and the FIVA European fixture in Luxembourg on June 21st-25th. At home the VSCC will have its traditional happenings, with four race meetings, the Prescott speed hill-climb, and other worthwhile fixtures, the Bugatti OC will occupy many Prescott fixtures, always so pleasantly staged, and the FIA Historic Championship for 1931-60 GP cars and 1950-60 sports-racing cars will be contested, the qualifying races running from that at the Bugatti circuit at Le Mans on April 29th-30th, to a race during the BRDC Silverstone Meeting on September 23rd, with another round at Brands Hatch, and ERAs are eligible.

Because of all this fun and frolic, the VMCC and the HCVC intend to be as active as formerly on the antique motorcycle and commercial-vehicle fronts, the many one-make organisations likewise, not forgetting the multitude of excellent Club journals, through which you can supplement your Motor Sport contact with this greatest of sports. Then there are some specialist ideas which, although they will have perhaps an even smaller following, will provide great delights for those who have the taste. The custom of re-enacting historic events or returning in appropriate cars to significant venues have their own special appeal. It was, we think, the STD Register that first discovered this, when its Coatalen Sunbeams went back to Wolverhampton, their birth-place. This year there is to be the TT Reunion over the Ards circuit at Belfast (if you had any association with those great sports-car races of 1928-36 and can attend, please write at once to Lord Dunleath, Ulster VCC, Ballywater Park, Newtonards, Co. Down BT22. 2.PP, N. Ireland), the Alvis OC intends to take suitable Alvis cars back to Le Mans on June 18th-20th, and the VSCC visits Boulogne, scene of carefree motor-racing in the nineteen-twenties, on May 27th-28th. Then on February 5th the VSCC goes to historic Brooklands for its driving tests, and at Easter the MCC will hold another Lands End Trial as it has since 1908, and next October the Motor Show opens in bold, busy Birmingham, instead of at Earls Court. Certainly, it’s all happening and inspitc of political gloom and the high cost of living there is every reason to think that motoring and motor-racing will be as full and as satisfying this year as it has been in the past. The continuing interest in the older vehicles will even please the motor-copers and an amusing off-shoot of this is that private advertisers are told that they will be better served by selling their mechanical-heirlooms through the Trade, because this obviates all the bother of dealing with prospective purchasers. Traders are saying that you should avoid Auctions, in case a no-sale threat stigmatises your vehicle as a financial non-goer…!

All in all, we think we can safely wish you a belated Happy New Year.