Readers' Letters, February 1995, February 1995

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War-time Motor Sport

Sir,

In “Motoring Collector’s Items” last month it is stated that the October 1939 issue of Motor Sport was printed without a cover and with only eight pages when paper suddenly became too precious a commodity.

In fact it was rather more dramatic than that! The reason for no cover and only eight pages was that it been decided that there was no future for a sporting motor magazine because war had broken out. However, I was able to convince the Proprietor that, even if the war went on for ten years, I could fill the paper with motoring history. So he immediately rang the printers to say there would be an October issue after all, but it had to be hastily prepared.

After that the war-time format reverted to 16-pages plus covers and I was able to run it without a break all through the period of hostilities “by remote control” as it were, helped by the office staff in London, who miraculously just escaped the Hitlerian bombing, and the great enthusiasm of the readers who, unable to motor while in the Army, Navy or Air Force, contributed fascinating articles which I was able to edit while posted out to Farnborough, Harrogate and London by the Ministry of Aircraft Production. Incidentally, at the time Motor Sport was the official journal of the BRDC, and by 1941 was back to 22 pages and picture cover.

Bill Boddy, Founder Editor, Llandrindod Wells.

Two Cheers

Sir,

I was pleased to read the ‘Racing Ahead’ proposals in the last issue. I hope they will come into force at my circuit, Oulton Park, in ’95, then I should be able to spend more time watching racing and less time lying on the grass counting the Jumbos going in and out of Manchester International.

I do not however think that laying on any kind of entertainment is a good idea. We don’t want circuits turned into shabby fairgrounds, especially a beautiful spot like Oulton Park. The racing is enough. That’s what we go for.

Roy Sandbach, Stockport.

To Finish First…

Sir,

A P Martin is to be congratulated for his fresh thinking — to me at least — on F1. However, I wonder how well he has thought through some of his ideas. For example, his proposal 3, restricting tyre-changes, could result in drivers deliberately running over debris in order to get punctures and so qualify for new tyres — unless the replacement tyres would have to be in a similar state of wear to those replaced, as with cricket balls! Again, proposal 4 refers to previous finishing positions, which I take to mean final positions, given that typically only some 50% of starters do in fact finish. Either way, a proposal that involves exceptional measures at the very outset does not appear altogether convincing.

Which brings me to the radical proposal 5, which seemingly overlooks the basic object of racing, namely to reach the finish first! But maybe I do Mr Martin an injustice and his elaborate points system is intended only for the purpose of World Championship rankings, leaving individual race results to be determined in the time-honoured way. In which case, perhaps he could be persuaded to develop his idea further by incorporating a suitable scale of penalties for unsporting behaviour, thereby resolving an issue that has so bedevilled the Championship in the past.

Ian Berry, Enfield, Middx.

Time Slip

Sir,

Re your article ‘It’s logical, captains’ in the January issue. Thank goodness that at least someone is waking up to the harm that is being done by the incredibly long-winded starting procedure which has become such a turn-off when you go to watch motor racing!

Over a period of years the delay to the programme at meetings has become farcical, with possibly the worst instance being the amount by which the schedule slipped at this years Saturday part of the Coys Historic Festival.

By the time at which the last race was due to be run, 17.45 hours, I had to leave for home, missing races 5 and 6, after the considerable expense of travelling some distance and paying for entry and a programme. The delay between races at this event was bad last year but this year it was simply inexcusable. The problem seems to be much less at meetings at Mallory and Cadwell Park, so that it is particularly sad that an event offering so much (and costing so much to attend) should be so apparently badly organised.

On the basis of this year’s showing there seems little point in printing a programme if no attempt is made to adhere to it. While the long delays must be frustrating for the drivers it is even worse for the spectators, without whose gate money the event could not take place at all. There is a general feeling that there could be better ways of spending a day than hanging about waiting, so any effect that Racing Ahead may have will be for the better, hopefully before everybody decides to go somewhere else. Perhaps Ladbrokes could start by taking bets on how nearly the meetings run to timetable, with money given to charity by the organisers for exceeding the time allowed without good reason!

Jack White, Royston, Herts.

Lotus Eater

Sir,

Mr David Hunt’s courage acquiring the assets of Lotus F1 following the Monza success/failure in September 1994 has to be admired.

Is the time not right for Nigel Mansell, graduate of Aston University, to jump straight in complete with Isle of Man cheque book, buy the Team and endear himself further with his British fans; himself in a winning car?

Lest the wreath be cast on Lotus’ water.

John Selby Greene, Stroud, Glos.

Sales Talk

Sir,

Reading your obituary to John Thornley, I was reminded of an occasion years ago when I was on a sales course at Cowley.

We were taken round the MG works at Abingdon by John, where they were at that time building MGAs. He told us that each one was given a 7-mile road test, during which a speed of 70 mph was briefly reached. Someone asked him how he reconciled this with the then normal running-in instructions of not exceeding 40 mph for the first 500 miles?

To which he replied in these words: “With regards to running in you have to legislate for the ultimate clot!”.

Oliver Perks, Wrington, Bristol.

Country Matters

Sir,

Recently I wrote to my MP, Sir Peter Hordem, (at the urging of The Daily Telegraph motoring correspondent), suggesting that both Road Tax and Third Party insurance should be loaded on to the cost of fuel, thus in one swoop avoiding tax and insurance dodging and simplifying collection, both points being of some concern to the authorities.

A reply from the Rt Hon Kenneth Clark to Sir Peter was copied to me, mentioning that this had been considered, but that it discriminated against rural motorists, and was therefore not considered further.

Obviously some voter resistance is expected, but surely those who travel most should pay more than those who cover low mileages. This is a natural discrimination which, to me, seems totally logical.

Certainly the insurance part works well in South Africa, as does, I am informed, the tax part in Germany. Possibly the fact that Road Tax discs are bought at Post Offices, and rural voters show a Tory bias may have something to do with the reluctance to bring in a simple, convenient and “loophole-proof” system.

Charles Treen, West Sussex.