Letters, February 1986

Pity the Poor Historian!


Most letters to any editor are written to correct or protest. This one however, has the exceptional purpose: to commend.

MOTOR SPORT, July 1985, contained a reprint of your original report on that most memorable of races, the German GP of 1935. Fortunately you included a photo of von Brauchitsch’s Mercedes-Benz (no. 7) with the burst left rear tyre that may have cost him the race. For the conscientious historian such a document is invaluable. Just consider what one reference sources on hand have to say regarding that tyre bursting 50 years ago:

Pomeroy, The Grand Prix Car 1906-1939, p 82: “a tyre”.

Court: A History of Grand Prix Motor Racing, p230 “near side rear tyre”. Tragatsch: Die Grossen Reniahre 1919-1939, p 210: “linker Hinterradrerfen”. Hull/Slater: Alfa Romeo, p256 -left-hand rear tyre” Monkhouse: Grand Prix Racing. p 21. “near side tyre”

Monkhouse, Grand Prix Racing, p 128: “a tyre”.


The Autocar 3.V1.1938, a Gordon• Crosby drawing clearly showing: a rh/os rear tyre bursting. Luranc Nuvolan. p 127— “right front wheel”

Motor Trend: 100 Years of the Autornobile, p 156: “right front tyre” Of the nine, three are patently wrong, three inconclusive and three correct. Pity the future historian trying to unravel events without the aid of contemporary photos or other reliable evidence And thank you for printing such incontrovertible documentation. Green Valley,California J. D. SCHEEL

Sinister Move


I could not agree more with Mr Dixey’s letter about the indicator switch being moved to the left of the steering column

As a driving instructor for the last 24 years — since indicator switches were on the dashboard or in the centre boss of the steering wheel — one would think the manufacturers would have standardised the position for this switch.

When my pupils have a lesson on my Datsun Sunny (right-hand stalk) then practise with Mum or Dad in the family Metro (left-hand stalk) you can imagine the confusion. We frequently turn left in the Datsun with the windscreen wipers being our only signal to other drivers!

Thanks for an excellent magazine. Minstead Mr P J LALE

Safety Priorities


Your editorial in the January issue of MOTOR SPORT touched a nerve. Last year for the first time I marshalled on an RAC Rally special stage (Sutton Park), and after over 20 years of marshalling at what are laughingly known as “speed events” I was horrified loose how nearly non-existent were the safety precautions to protect spectators — spectators who, remember, were not motor sport aficionados, but members of the public viewing the rally as an alternative to the football match or the leisure park.

The RAC happily allows this situation to continue, with its disastrous potential for the sport if (when?) a serious accident occurs, meanwhile the same governing body is seriously considering making roll-cages and seal-belts compulsory for historic racing cars — a vandalistic, insensitive and authoritarian proposal which cannot possibly affect the destiny of anyone other than the driver involved. Why the different attitudes? I wonder if the amount of sponsors money involved has something to do with it. and how much of said money is finding as way into individuals’ pockets in Belgrave Square, to ensure that those individuals continue to train the spotlight of official attention away from the sponsors pet branches of motor sport? A good many years ago, D.S.J. got into trouble for lifting flat stones and pointing out what lies underneath, maybe it is time some of us followed his lead.

Droitwich Spa BOB WATT

A Kind Gesture

I was most interested in the article on Peter Ashdown in the January issue. I knew of Peter and his brother but it is an incident concerning their late father which is the subject of my letter. In the spring of 1952 I entered the East Anglian MC Driving Test meeting, arriving at a remote airfield in E. Essex. My car, a 1952 SV Morris Minor, was accepted by the scrutineer but was not. My competition licence was out of date.

Bill Ashdown, whom I had never met before. was standing by and heard what was going on. He very kindly asked me if would like to accompany him on the tests arid I gladly accepted his offer. His car was a 2 1/2 litre Riley roadster, not the most suitable car for such an event with as considerable overhang for and aft and that wretched steering column gear shift. Nonetheless, he competed with considerable verve and I enjoyed it. This kind gesture was something which I have never forgotten.

Newton Abbot R F LUMSDEN