Continental notes, January 1963

THE Commission Sportive Internationale, or C.N.I. for short, are the people who make decisions concerning motor racing and its kindred aspects of the sport. The C.S.I. have recently announced that the existing Formula One for Grand Prix racing, which limits engine capacity to 1,500 c.c. and minimum weight to 450 kilogrammes, will be extended for two years beyond its normal span. Originally laid down in 1958 the Formula was due to run for the years 1961-2-3, and after the successful and spirited season we have just completed, it is fitting that the Formula should be extended for the years 1964 and 1965. This will give much encouragement to people who are building or developing unraced Grand Prix cars ready for 1963 for it will mean that they have a full three years of racing ahead of them before the Formula is changed, and even then it might be extended still further, if it is still successful.

For the years 1964 and 1965 a new Formula Two will come into effect, and this will be for racing cars with a maximum cylinder capacity of 1,000 c.c. and a maximum number of 4-cylinders. The minimum weight is put at 420 kilogrammes, and one can visualise this Formula being the playground of the small-time factories and designers and the private owners. By 1964 Formula One is likely to be very crowded with manufacturers’ teams, and to be truly International with Germany, Italy, Japan and Great Britain fielding factory teams, so that the less affluent racers will be able to join in with the new Formula Two.

For these same two years Formula Junior is to be scrubbed and replaced by a Formula Three which in essence is what Formula Junior was meant to be in the past, but it went wrong. The new Formula Three for the years 1964 and 1965 will be for racing cars with a maximum of 1,000 c.c. capacity, the engine to have come from a Touring Car, homologated as such, and only one carburetter will be allowed, and only 4-speed gearboxes. In other words the new Formula Three cars will have to be kept within reasonable limits of tune, the new Formula Two being the field for free development of 4-cylinder engines, either production engines, or out and out racing engines.

In Formula One there is the field for completely free engine design, except of course that only straight petrol is allowed, no alcohol, no nitre, nothing exciting, and superchargers are banned. The curtailing of truly free engine design and development took place in 1957 when the C.S.I. bowed to the wishes of the Petrol Barons and took all the real fun out of racing engines. However, in spite of that Grand Prix racing has continued to flourish and continued to produce interesting engines, and much as I like the thought of two or three-stage supercharging, nitro fuel, wild valve timings and astronomical r.p.m. the present-day Grand Prix engines are much more practical and could well lead to good things for you and me.

Every time I see a Coventry-Climax VS engine start up on the starter and idle at 900 r.p.m. I think what a desirable power unit it would make for a G.T. car. The flat 8-cylinder Porsche Grand Prix unit practically is a G.T. power plant, for the 2-litre version fitted in the sports/racing coupe as used at last year’s Targa Florio made as exciting a G.T. car as one could wish to see.

In twelve months’ time we start on one of the most organised and tidy periods of motor racing that we shall ever see, with three Formulae for racing cars which offer sensible steps up the ladder for designers and drivers alike. For this year of 1963 conditions remain unchanged, with Formula One going ahead as fast as ever, and Formula Junior continuing as a high-pressure Formula 1 for the smaller teams. It is almost certain that many new prototypes for the new Formula Two will appear during this coming season and no doubt organisers will “jump-the-gun” and hold races to Formula Two, even though it does not come into being until January 1st 1964.

The above decisions of the C.S.I. are greeted with joy, but at the same time they made another decision that I can only greet with derision. They have decided that in any Championship event, cars that have completed two-thirds of the total distance shall be classified as finishers, whether it is still in the race or not. In the past we have had this nonsense, an example being at Monte Carlo last year, when Graham Hill blew up well and truly, while in the lead and with only a few laps to go to the finish. He was classified a finisher even though the car was derelict by the Station and Graham was walking back to the pits. This sort of situation is sure to arise this coming season, and at some time we shall have the anomaly of a crashed and completely destroyed car being listed as a finisher, just because it had run two-thirds of the total distance before it crashed.

While the racing car world is cut and dried and to have a most satisfactory form in twelve months time, the world of cars that are not classed as racing cars remains chaotic. This is the world of G.T. cars, Touring cars modified and unmodified and what we used to call sports cars, but are now called Prototypes. There is still much to be sorted out, but at least we know that the Sebring 12-hours, the Nurburgring 1,000 kilometres and the Le Mans 24-hour races will count points towards a World Trophy for Prototypes (G.T.) with no limitation on engine capacity. The Targa Florio and the 6-hours of Monza races will count towards another Trophy for Prototypes (G.T.) with a maximum engine limit of 3litres. Iris worth noting here that Prototypes have the letters G.T. in brackets after them, which means that the Prototype is supposed to be of a forthcoming G.T. car, not a Formula One car. In addition to the above Trophies there is a Championship for Manufacturers of homologated G.T. cars and this series will be contested over three Mountain hill-climbs and two Rallies, the European Rally Championship being scrubbed, so that each Rally can now stand on its own feet and rise or fall by its own importance.

In closing about things Continental the outstanding happening of last month was undoubtedly the way Team Lotus wiped the eye of German journalist Richard von Frankenberg. As detailed elsewhere in this issue, Peter Arundell in a Formula Junior Lotus with Cosworth Ford engine, not only repeated his performance of the Monza race of last June, but improved on it and having done the 30 laps and won the wager of £1,000 he went on to set up a new and shattering lap record, of 1 mm. 49.8 sec. for Formula Junior cars on the Monza road circuit. This time would not quite have got him a place on the grid at last September’s Italian Grand Prix, for the last of the 22 selected starters lapped at I mm. 49.1 sec., but it would have beaten Burgess, Shelly, Greene, Ashmore, Lippi, Siffert, Chamberlain and Prinoth, all of whom were driving Formula One cars, admittedly some of them being obsolete and rather tired, the cars that is.

Praise for Colin Chapman in replying to the German allegations of using over-size Junior engines, in this sporting fashion, cannot be too high. After all we are supposed to be interested in racing because it is a sport, and yet there are many people with far less at stake than Chapman, and certainly not as important in the world of motoring, who faced with similar allegations, rush off to solicitors and the “small print men” and achieve nothing more than a double-edged apology and perhaps some hard cash at the cost of fantastic sums to the legal profession. Colin Chapman answered von Frankenberg’s allegations in the most spectacular manner possible and the most satisfactory for all concerned. Let us hope that any similar “affairs” in the future will be settled in a similar sporting manner, though it is unlikely that Team Lotus will get challenged again for some time. While praising Colin Chapman as head of the Lotus concern, one must not overlook all those who aided and abetted him in the project, notably Peter Arundell who did a superb piece of high speed driving, and Mike Costin and “Cosworth” who built the engine, as well as the Lotus chaps who built the chassis. In fact anyone wearing a Lotus buttonhole badge gets my heartfelt congratulations for a wonderful effort.

With so much at stake, in prestige apart from the £1,000, it is a pity that some weekly papers rushed into print and stumbled over themselves in their excitement, with the result that there were various versions of the technical outcome of the wager. The Lotus Press department issued the statement printed elsewhere in which they quoted the record lap speed as 118 m.p.h. One weekly paper put it at 119.16 m.p.h. whereas another had it correct at 117.144 m.p.h. which is a six-figure conversion from the true speed which was 188.525 k.p.h. The weight of the car caused controversy outside of official quarters, for after being weighed by the scrutineers and accepted as being over the Formula Junior minimum of 400 kilogrammes, Lotus Press department gave the actual figure as 403 kilogrammes, but the weeklies came out with two at 400 kgs. and one at 453 kgs. Similarly the scrutineers measured the bore and stroke of the Cosworth engine and these were 85 x 48.15 mm. which they quoted as being a capacity of 1,092.348 c.c. The “newspapers” of the technical press, not the dailies, gave this as 1,097 c.c. and 1099 c.c. depending to which you subscribe. Admittedly these figures differ by only a few cubic centimetres, but surely accuracy is of vital importance in a situation like this. Calculations and conversions done casually on the back of an envelope may be alright for the “Daily Excess” Or the “Daily Whale”, hut in the world of motoring journalism such discrepancies are not good enough. The best yet was the Grand Prix engine to the current Formula that was written up with figures for bore and stroke, and when worked out carefully these figures gave 1,507 c.c. and 1,500 c.c. is supposed to be the limit! Roll on the Common Market so that everyone will measure in millimetres or centimetres, and measure speed in kilometres per hour, then we can get on with our motor racing in peace.

D. S. J.