Letter of the month
Willie Green retires
Sir, What can I say other than thank you to everyone for all the fun and excitement I have had in motorsport during the past 45 years? And to all the unpaid marshals, medics and helpers few competitors realise how much these people subsidise our enjoyment. Our marshals are the best in the world.
Obviously I must thank Sir Anthony Bamford for setting me up in historic racing. I have been allowed to race his cars for no less than 36 years they were hardly even historic when we started! And thanks too to John Surtees for a works F1 drive albeit in historics!
Happily, as a result of the care and attention lavished on me [after Green’s Goodwood accident last September], at St Richard’s Hospital, Chichester under the supervision of David Allen, and the orthopaedic work of Guido Geutjens in Derby, I can now walk again, albeit like a very old man, but things are getting better every day. I can now drive an automatic – bliss!
It has been a very emotional time. So many people have written, sent cards and presents, visited from miles away. It really is humbling to realise how many people care. Thank you everyone.
Willie Green, Derbyshire
Ronnie, part one…
Sir, Your photograph of Ronnie Peterson at Mallory Park (Parting Shot’, MS December) brought back many schoolboy memories of that wonderful 1971 season.
Ronnie was utterly dominant that year in Formula Two and I recall a Bank Holiday demonstration at Brands Hatch which gave him a conclusive victory in the F2 race, the pace of which would have done him proud in Formula One.
A couple of years ago we were touring Devon and Cornwall and stayed in a small bed-and-breakfast hosted by a single gentleman who was very courteous and obliging and prepared a fine breakfast prior to our departure. During the course of our meal the conversation led on to mutual hobbies and it wasn’t long before he emerged from his back room with a collection of motor racing photographs, letters and general matters of great interest.
This man had obviously done it and got the T-shirt — included in his memorabilia was a photograph of himself leading one Jim Clark in a Lotus-Cortina at Silverstone, and many other assorted items which could have kept me there for the rest of the vacation. His whole attitude was dismissive of his own achievements and it was a pleasure to meet him and hear his stories, one of which had particular interest for me as we discussed Ronnie’s abilities, and the conversation turned to a meeting at Mallory Park. Turns out that he was there and not only remembered the crash, but had pictures of the remains of the March sitting in the paddock. The man’s name was Phil de Banks and it was a joy to meet him.
John Sylvester. Aberystwyth
…and part two
Sir, Seeing your photo in ‘Parting Shot’ (December issue) reminded me that I had been marshalling very close to the point of impact.
Ronnie Peterson had a very lucky escape that day, as did the public. The enclosed Lynton Money photo was taken as the car was being lifted off the bank.
From left to right the photo shows an unknown official, myself, Martin Shalders (who is still to be found observing at Castle Combe, Thruxton and Goodwood, still with many of his original crew), Dave Hawn, whom I have lost contact with, and of course Ronnie.
The March mechanic had been dispatched from the pits to supervise the loading of the wreckage. It was a very cold day and Ronnie was pleased that the mechanic had brought him a coat.
A few weeks later I managed to find Ronnie during the marshals’ break and he kindly autographed the photo. Does any reader know who the first official is?
Fergus Whatling, Bury St Edmonds
Sir, I thoroughly enjoyed your piece on the great races at Brands Hatch (December issue). I was at most of those post-1972. My fondest memories though are not of individual races, but of being able to go up there seemingly any weekend and see Formula 5000, F3, FAtlantic or Super Saloons, never mind F1 two or three times per year.
Top memory? Gunnar Nilsson winning the F3 title in 1975 and then moving over to FA to do the same.
How about a feature on the races that you could see in the UK during a single season before one-make series, success ballast, carbon-fibre and red flags were thought of?
Ian Mann, by e-mall
Wow. In the last paragraph is a succinct list of most things wrong with modern racing. You missed out safety cars though!-Ed
Sir, Further to your comment in the January issue of MotorSport about the ‘heated debate’ concerning the production of new versions of historic cars: as a small but representative group of existing manufacturers (Chevron, Crossle and Lola) we are endeavouring to continue developing links with the FIA through close cooperation and cross-fertilisation of information.
In this respect we welcome the FIA World Motorsports Council initiative in creating a Historic Working Group to study in detail the many issues within historic motorsport. The most pertinent one for the manufacturers is the opportunity to make continuation models ready for the new Historic Technical Passports. As the FIA has opened this window we would like to reassure the historic racing community that we will be working at all levels to ensure any cars will be made to the same specification as the originals and not have any performance advantage whatsoever. We will not condone or support any spurious copies.
We would also like to underline the fact that we are small niche manufacturers, none of whom have the capacity or intention to flood the market with replicas. With only a handful of cars built we doubt there would be more than one or two legal continuation-model cars in any one event.
As to value, I use the analogy of a Thomas Chippendale chair made by Mr Chippendale himself, worth many hundreds of thousands of pounds. His chairs have been copied, replicated, reproduced in their thousands, but not to the detriment of the originals. A historic car, well race-prepared with a complete history, will always be more valued than a 2006 car. The 21st century cars will have a good but lesser value, which is as it should be.
As a manufacturing group, we want to preserve our motorsport history by continuing to maintain and care for British motor racing heritage marques, providing and preserving archives, technical and practical information and of course parts and components. We believe by leading the way in an honest and open debate, working with the FIA and race organisers, then the way we enjoy historic racing now can be carried forward by future generations.
Chevon Racing Cars Ltd, Crossle Cars and Lola Heritage
Good to see the constructors acting in response to these concerns- Ed
Wrong way on M16
Sir, You will have had a flurry of letters pointing out that the photo of the McLaren MI6 accompanying Denis Davis’s letter (December issue) is in fact of a completely different model — the M24.
Nearly as wrong as those 1960s Italian Grand Prix captions earlier this year. Must try harder!
Nigel Urwin, London
Help on a T56
Sir, I am in need of readers’ assistance. My 1961 Cooper T56 MU Formula Junior was raced from new by Robert Bouharde from October 1961 to October 1963, mostly in his native France.
Generally he raced privately, but sometimes he was entered by Ecurie Montlhéry. I have, so far, been unable to find out anything at all about this organisation, but I hope that one, or even some, of my fellow readers will know something.
Peter Jackson, Southampton
Light it up again
Sir, Your reader John Porter (January 2006) is critical of Nigel Roebuck’s views on smoking, speed bumps and cameras.
May I suggest he reads Nanny State News instead and leaves the rest of us to enjoy Nigel’s columns every month until such time as they are banned by the political correctness busybodies?
Andrew Wallace, Hitchin
Right, that’s the letters pages finished I’m off for a cigarette now-Ed