Letters from readers, February 2004

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Star letter

Recorded livery

Sir,

As a great admirer of Simon Taylor’s sense of history, I am somewhat surprised that in Modern Times, January 2004, he perpetuates the myth that “sponsorship as we know it first appeared in the 1968 Tasman Series” with Gold Leaf Team Lotus. Not so; nor, as often claimed by many, was Team Lotus the first Formula One outfit to race in a sponsor’s corporate colours with the Spanish at Jararna on May 12 that year cited as the event.

Both honours belong to then-Rhodesians John Love and Sam Tingle, who ran their Brabhams in the colours of, and were entered by, Team Gunston after the local tobacco brand in the South African Grand Prix held at Kyalami on January 1, 1968. The former qualified 17th to Sam’s 22nd, so John, technically, became the first-ever starter in commercial colours of an FIA-sanctioned event.

Colin Chapman returned to London after supervising Jim Clark’s ‘plain’ Lotus 49 to victory in that South African GP – the Scots last Fl win, as it turned out – before flying to South Island, New Zealand for the January 20 Tasman race. Had he possibly (probably?) gleaned the tobacco livery concept from Gunston, then put a rapid proposal to Gold Leaf? This might account for the Lotus cars receiving their corporate colours only after his arrival in Christchurch.

Either way, Love, Tingle, Gunston and Kyalami, and not Chapman, Gold Leaf Team Lotus and Christchurch, were first with sponsorship as we know it in Fl.

Talking about myths, 1968, Lotus, and Spanish Grands Prix, should not Jackie Stewart’s win at Jarama in 1970 with Ken Tyrrell’s customer March 701 rank as the last privateer win over Jo Siffert’s 1968 British victory with Rob Walker’s Lotus?

.

Dieter Rencken, London

******

Duff information

Sir,

In the November issue of Motor Sport the article by Bill Boddy titled ‘Over the Edge in a Benz’ provides a presentation of my father which is completely false. The comments ‘Duff was a Bentley driver” and “Duff recovered and won for Bentley in 1924” suggest that he was just one of the drivers employed by W Bentley.

In fact, he owned his own car and was a great individual champion driver. He won not only at Le Mans, but in races all over Europe and also at Brooklands, where he broke the Double-Twelve record, driving two sets of 12 hours on successive days without a co-driver, said to be the greatest feat of endurance ever witnessed at Brooklands. He broke the 24-hour and many other world records. His car was exhibited at Selfridges and now stands at the Motor Museum at Le Mans.

When my father first entered his Bentley for the Le Mans race in 1923, not just WO, but many of the top drivers of the day told him that the car was not suitable. If it had not been for his initiative there never would have been a Bentley racing team at Le Mans, where the reputation of the marque was established.

After all, who would enter his own Bentley for the race against the advice of Mr Bentley himself? Please give my father the recognition he deserves.

I do not know much about the Benz accident, except that my father only drove the car because he had promised to do so, in spite of grave misgivings about the brakes, which failed when he left the finishing straight and went up the banking.

Charles Duff, London, NW6

You must be a very new reader of Motor Sport! I have given your father praise for all the accomplishments you mention many times. Years ago I drove up to Newmarket to interview him and we spoke of his Le Mans performances in 1923 and 1924, but he had more or less forgotten his Iwo big Fiats. The Benz episode is given a long separate chapter in my book Brooklands Giants. I can do no more to give your father the recognition you and I both know he deserves without repeating countless articles and book references I have already written — WB.

******

Boarder patrol

Sir,

Close inspection of the Parting Shot of the Huddersfield MC Trial in the December issue of Motor Sport reveals an interesting detail. Towards the top of the climb there is an individual on the hill, in cloth cap and tweed jacket, who appears to be riding a skateboard!

Is this the first photographic record of the skateboarding phenomenon? Have we all been hoodwinked because this transatlantic sport clearly (or more accurately, blurredly) has its historical roots in Huddersfield?

Jasper Gilder, Hemel Hempstead, Herts

*****

Throw in the Javelin

Sir,

If Bill Boddy had chosen to extend his fascinating insight into Spa endurance races by just one more year (to 1949), he might have commented on the fine result of an unlikely contender, the 1.5-litre Jowett Javelin, in its first major competitive outing.

Piloted by Anthony Hume and Tom Wisdom, the car was driven to the circuit from the factory’s home in Bradford, West Yorkshire. A second Javelin towed experimental manager Horace Grimley’s camping-trailer full of spares!

The race car ran faultlessly for the 24 hours of the event, covering 1572 miles at an average speed of 65.5mph, not only winning the 2-litre Touring class but also exceeding the best of the 4-litre Touring class.

ERA’s Leslie Johnson (in a 2.5-litre Aston Martin) was reported to have been greatly impressed by the Jowett’s performance, which may have played a part in his company’s involvement with the creation of the tubular chassis for the Javelin-based JowettJupiter sports model later that year Johnson brought in Dr Eberan von Eberhorst to design the chassis, which provides a tidy link to another feature in your December issue — the fabulous Auto Union D-Type.

How small and entwined the world of motorsport can be!

Geoff McAuley, York

Derby day

Sir,

I am prompted to write by Bill Boddy’s piece ‘The Day the Germans Came’ from the January issue.

This brought back great memories of Donington Park, which I first visited in 1935 with my godfather Walter Handley, the great racing motorcyclist, and racer of MGs and Freddie Dixon’s Riley, and my father, Harry Perrey, an intrepid competition motorcyclist and the first person ever to cross and recross the English Channel with an amphibian (a 500cc Ariel mounted on floats). He did this trip in the summer of 1929, the round journey, induding a Calais champagne lunch, being completed in 6hr4Omin.

Your piece about the Germans at Donington rekindled wonderful memories, not only because the 1938 GP was won by my all-time hero Tazio Nuvolari, but also because the accompanying photographs included one of Earl Howe. By a happy coincidence, the first copy of Motor Sport I ever handled also featured a photograph of Earl Howe, but this time on its cover at the wheel of a Maserati taken during the 1934 Monaco GP. Your photograph of Caracciola (another hero!) and his wife, Baby Hoffman, was also evocative. The lady standing next to Baby is, of course, Frau Lang.

Peter H Perrey, Birmingham

******

The other Jackie

Sir,

All lists of ‘greats’ in any sport are of course subjective, but how your panel can omit from any position in the Top 20 sportscar aces a driver who partnered many of the acknowledged heroes in their stirring drives leaves me dumbfounded.

I refer to Jackie Oliver, without whose assistance surely Mr Ickx could not have achieved his legendary 1969 win. I believe Jackie also still retains the record for the fastest-ever sportscar lap on a road course. They don’t come tougher than that.

John Atkins, Benfleet, Essex

******

Best of the rest

Sir,

Rest and Be Thankful was indeed unique for a British hillclimb, and Gordon Cruickshank’s article (December 2003) brought the memories flooding back. The scenery, the occasional incident and the results service were just some of the notable features.

GC mentions Peter Lawson’s BRM going down the hillside. I can still see it happening, at the 1968 meeting, and still remember the relief when the driver, clad in yellow oilskins and thus clearly visible from the top of the hill, jumped out and waved all four limbs simultaneously to reassure us he was okay.

But it was the results service that was the most amazing. Within minutes of the final climb, a hardworking team in a caravan produced results listing all times, the RAC Hillclimb Championship runs in the order of ascent and a list of the prize-winners.

This being before the days of computers, highspeed printers and mains generators, it would have been done by typewriter and a hand-cranked duplicator. The finished product was handed out free to anyone who cared to wait the short while at the caravan door. Service indeed, and just part of what made Rest and Be Thankful so special.

Colin Ward, Yateley, Hants

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