Continental Notes, January 1968

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Last month I touched on a revolution in France that could have disturbing effects on the rest of the sporting world. Fortunately reason prevailed and what started as a domestic affair remained so, and the rest of the world did not get directly involved. However, this French fuss brought to light certain weaknesses and notes of dissension in other countries, where tradition and apathy were, perhaps, the ruling factors, and it has had the effect of making a lot of people sit up and take notice, which must be a good thing.

As mentioned last month, the F.F.S.A. challenged the authority of the A.C.F. and, through them, the F.I.A., but since then amicable agreement has been reached and there has obviously been some “climbing down” on the part of those two bodies, so we can say that the F.F.S.A. have won the day. The F.I.A. has published a long explanation of the situation which reads as follows :—

“The F.I.A. is considered as the holder of International Sporting Power and this prerogative has never been questioned by anyone. [Until recently by the F.F.S.A.—D. S. J.]

“This power is a collective one which originates from the pooling of the powers which were held at the beginning of this century by the Automobile Clubs of six European countries. These national Clubs met in Homburg (Germany) in 1904, for the Gordon-Bennett Cup Race, which they were organising jointly, and they decided to create the first motoring sport organisation with world-wide effect. Seven other national Clubs joined them and the A.I.A.C.R. was formed, this title being changed to the F.I.A. after the 1939-45 war. From 1904 to 1952 the A.C.F. exercised F.I.A. sporting power in France unfailingly. Even among their present detractors, not one can be found who could deny in good faith that their work has been useful and that they have loyally served the cause of the Sport.

“In 1952, to comply with new French laws, the A.C.F. prompted the creation of the F.F.S.A., whose first President was Mr. Pérouse, who was at the time President of the A.C.F. It must be emphasised that since 1952 successive Presidents of the F.F.S.A. have always sat on the C.S.I. Committee of the F.I.A. [The F.F.S.A. were not then strong enough to have anyone other than A.C.F. people as President.—D. S. J.] Let us name in order Augustin Pérouse, Simon de Peyerim-holf de Fontenelle, Raymond Roche and Jacques Finance. True they sat as A.C.F. delegates, but they were there and the A.C.F. insisted that in their F.I.A. delegation should be the senior officer of the F.F.S.A. [!—D. S. J.] F.F.S.A. members or staff officers have attended numerous’ sittings of the C.S.I. and its sub-committees.

“Finally, on the explicit request of the A.C.F., direct clerical relationship was established between the Secretariats of the F.I.A. and the F.F.S.A., and was maintained until October 8th, 1967 [the date of the Paris revolution.—D. S. J.], without the A.C.F. demanding their right of intervention, to which they were entitled by virtue of the F.I.A. statutes. So, it appears obviously untrue to say that the F.F.S.A. has ever been cut off from the F.I.A. Nevertheless, since last Spring there has been a climate of crisis in French motoring sport.

“The F.I.A. considered it their duty to keep out of the conflict, as one of their major principles is never to get involved in any domestic affair, such as was the case between the F.F.S.A. and the A.C.F. and certain promoters of major French events. The F.I.A. and a great many of the affiliated member clubs of other countries were deeply worried by the disruption which had arisen in France, and hoped, even until the Autumn Congress, that passions would cool off and an effort of goodwill on both sides would help to find a sensible solution, allowing all parties concerned—race promoters and competitors—to restore harmony and serenity which is necessary for the good organisation of events.

“The F.I.A. Committee met in Paris on October 12th and was faced with a formal decision by the A.C.F. They claimed their right to exercise their Sporting Power which they had held ever since the foundation of the F.I.A. in 1904, and the F.I.A. Committee decided that this should be so and that they could not transfer power to another body (the F.F.S.A.) unless formally asked to do so by the existing holders (the A.C.F.)

“It was the respect of an ancient and established tradition, which the F.I.A. had never failed to follow, which led the members of the F.I.A. Committee to decide not to follow up the application of the F.F.S.A. to represent France in place of the A.C.F., and not a feeling of mistrust [or the ‘old pals’ act’?—D. S. J.], let alone hostility towards the F.F.S.A. The F.I.A. were aware that those who were to suffer, and be prejudiced, were the French promoters as well as French and foreign entrants, almost all of whom were not involved in the conflict. This was a situation which no genuine supporter of our Sport could allow without trying their utmost to straighten things out. After a thorough study of the various aspects of the dispute between the A.C.F. and the F.F.S.A., a delegation from the F.I.A. composed of Mr. Wilfred Andrews (F.I.A. President), Mr. Maurice Baumgartner (C.S.I. President) and Mr. J. J. Fréville (General Secretary, F.I.A.) was received by Mr. Missoffe, French Minister of Youth and Sports. At the end of this interview the following Statement was issued :—

‘The A.C.F. has made known that due to the attitude of the French Government with regard to motoring sport in France [previous acceptance of the F.F.S.A.—D. S. J.] and while desiring to facilitate the search of a final solution, they are handing back to the F.I.A. the power which has been entrusted to them (in 1904), pending the calling as soon as possible of a General Assembly to decide to whom this power will be entrusted. A body which will probably be made up of a French delegate, an F.F.S.A. delegate and a representative of the French Government, will act as the intermediary between the F.F.S.A. and the F.I.A. for all questions concerning the organisation of the Sport at International level’

“The F.I.A. is of the opinion that the proposal made in the above statement is a concrete effort towards a normalisation of the relationship between the F.I.A. and the controllers of motoring sport in France. This arrangement could become effective, by F.I.A. statutes, as soon as the affiliated Clubs of other nations have met in General Assembly, but from now on, all necessary steps will be taken to re-start normal connections between the F.I.A. and the F.F.S.A. [In other words, the F.F.S.A. have won the battle.—D. S. J.] The F.I.A. wishes to pay a tribute to the A.C.F. whose peace move has rendered this agreement possible. [In view of the Government support of F.F.S.A. there was not much choice.—D. S. J.] They consider that they have given full proof of their goodwill and express their satisfaction at the approval given to their proposal by the Minister of Youth and Sports”

That then is the official view of the rumpus in France, from the International Governing body of our Sport, and is fair comment. When the F.F.S.A. started their revolution last October they had a lot or supporters, notably among manufacturers, race organisers, entrants and drivers, and in December all this opposition gathered together in London to form a united front and support the F.F.S.A. Before the meeting could take place the above statement front the F.I.A. was published and the A.C.F. had backed down, so that the way ahead was smoother and along existing constitutional lines. Consequently the meeting in London did not have to go ahead with an International revolution and as the F.I.A. said they would welcome any organised representation from those involved in professional motor racing, a Committee has been formed to send a delegate to the F.I.A. to represent those active in International motor racing. This Committee is made up as follows: Colin Chapman (Racing Manufacturers), Joakim Bonnier (Drivers), Nick Syrett (Organisers), Rob Walker (Private Entrants), John Webb (Circuit Owners) and Claude Bourillot (F.F.S.A.). The last named will represent this group at the meetings with the F.I.A./C.S.I. in Paris, and he has been promised a sympathetic hearing from our International racing “parliament.”

It would seem that common sense has prevailed and the International government of our Sport will continue in its existing form, but a lot of people will be much more attentive than they have been in the past and minor changes in constitution will be made to bring the system more in keeping with the twentieth century. If nothing else, this F.F.S.A. furore has blown away a lot of dust and cobwebs from the F.I.A., in Paris, London and other capitals as well.

* * *

At a recent C.S.I. meeting there was a certain amount of embarrassment about the speed with which the 3-litre limit on Group 6 Proto-types was imposed, and it has now been laid down that any future changes to Appendix J will be announced in October, but will not come into force until a complete year has elapsed. In the case of the single-seater Formulae any changes will not be enforced until two years have elapsed. That is to say that any changes announced next October will not take effect until January 1970 if they affect Sports Cars and Prototypes, and January 1971 if they affect Formula One, Formula Two or Formula Three. This I will believe when I see it, for the French have a splendid term called “force majeure,” which can be interpreted into meaning “as from now”!

The A.C. de l’Ouest, who organise Le Mans and dictate by fair means or foul, the future of sports-car racing, have announced the regulations for the 24-hour race to be held on June 15/16th. Group 6 cars will be limited to 3-litres, Group 4 (Sports Cars) to 5-litres, and Group 3 (Production GT Cars) are unlimited. Henry Ford II has given the A.C. de l’Ouest $25,000 to pay for alterations to the circuit between the White House bends and the pits. The idea is to introduce a new corner in this fast stretch in order to reduce the speed of the cars past the pits. Henry Ford giving money to the Le Mans Club is a bit like them offering him “starting money,” and an artificial “chicane” is dodging the issue. The Le Mans pits need a complete revision and rebuilding on a link road such as is in use at Monza, Brands Hatch, Silverstone, etc. Let us hope there will be some Ford money left over to buy some 100-watt light bulbs to illuminate the soggy morass behind the Le Mans pits.

* * *

The F.I.A. have not yet published their official list of Graded Drivers, but a list compiled by R.A.C. timekeeper King-Farlow has been agreed upon and reads as follows :—

Chris Amon

Jim Clark

A. J. Foyt

Paul Hawkins

Jackie Ickx

Gerhard Mitter

Mike Parks

Lloyd Ruby

Joseph Siffert

John Surtees

Joakim Bonnier

Mark Donohue

Richie Ginther

Graham Hill

Herbert Muller

Peter Revson

Lodovico Scarfiotti

Mike Spence

Jack Brabham

Vic Elford

Dan Gurney

Denis Hulme

Willy Mairesse

Jochen Neerpasch

Jochen Rindt

Skip Scott

Jackie Stewart

These drivers are restricted to taking part only in International events and National events of their own country, which keeps them out of a vast list of National events in which foreign participation is allowed, and from all F.3 events. There are twelve British drivers in this International list of 28, which indicates that we have not got a monopoly on good drivers. When you consider the hundreds of aspiring racing drivers in Britain, the numerous Driver Training Schools, the multitude of circuits and the fantastic number of races held during the British season, we do not produce very effective results. In some ways it is a bit of an odd list, as Ginther reckons to have retired, Scott and Revson are hardly International drivers, and I am sure A. J. Foyt will not be impressed by being “graded” by the F.I.A. having just become U.S.A.C. Champion for the fifth time!

* * *

The U.S.A.C. race at Riverside at the end of November sounds to have been a real motor race in the style that many people in Europe would like to see. It was for single-seater cars limited to 4.2-litres for o.h.c. engines, 5-litres for production engines, and 2.8-litres for supercharged engines; in other words, Indianapolis cars. It was held on the road circuit of 2.6 miles to the lap and run for a distance of 300 miles, with a compulsory refuelling stop. Gurney drove an Eagle powered by a 5-litre Ford V8 engine with Weslake cylinder heads, Clark drove a Vollstedt-designed car powered by a 4-cam Indy Ford V8 engine, and Surtees drove an American-owned Lola similarly powered. Of the 30 starters 22 of them had 4-cam Ford V8 engines, four had turbo-charged Offenhauser 4-cylinder engines, two had unblown Offenhausers, Gurney had his push-rod engine and another entry had a Chevrolet V8 engine. These 450-500-b.h.p. single-seaters were mostly handled by Indianapolis drivers, who are fast catching on to road racing, but Clark and Gurney dominated the practice and the race until Clark’s engine blew up. Gurney won at 108.391 m.p.h. but only after losing the lead due to a puncture and making a terrific recovery, using the powerful Eagle to the full. Another Eagle, powered by an Indy Ford engine and driven by Bobby Unser, was second, with Andretti third in his Ford-powered Hawk, a sort of American-built Brabham, sometimes called a Brawner-Brabham. After driving these really powerful single-seaters, which are virtually Grand Prix cars with another 100 b.h.p., the European 3-litre cars will seem a bit flat to Gurney, Surtees and Clark, and it is easy to see why drivers like A. J. Foyt and Mario Andretti are not very interested in Grand Prix racing.

* * *

For 1968 the reigning World Champion, Denis Hulme, has signed up to drive for the Bruce McLaren Racing Team, with McLaren as number two driver. They will begin the season with the V12 B.R.M. powered M5A McLaren that appeared at the end of last season, but are in line for Cosworth V8 engines, for which a new chassis is being designed. So far the McLaren single-seaters have not been outstanding, not necessarily due to design, but more from engine problems, the bugbear of any “special builder.” The McLaren with 3-litre Indianapolis 4-cam Ford V8 engine did not work; this was followed by the installation of a 3-litre Serenissima V8 engine, which was a complete waste of time and money; then came the F.2 McLaren with Cosworth FVA engine like everyone else had, but it showed no signs of challenging the Matra, Brabham, Lotus or Lola cars using identical engines; after this we saw the larger version of this F.2 car, powered by the first V12 B.R.M. 3-litre engine, but that obtained no results. Let us hope that the McLaren-Cosworth V8 will bring success to the keen little team at Colnbrook. Obviously Hulme’s decision was swayed by the sweeping success of the Group 7 two-seater McLaren-Chevrolet V8 cars in the Can-Am races, which followed on similar good performances in 1966 with the first of the McLaren-Chevrolet V8 cars, and before that the McLaren-Oldsmobile cars. From results it would seem that the McLaren design team are good at big two-seater cars, but not so good at single-seaters. This would also seem to apply to Eric Broadley and his Lola cars, whereas Lotus and Brabham are the reverse; they sweep the board with single-seaters but are mediocre with two-seaters such as the lotus 30/40 and the Brabham sports cars that have made occasional appearances.

As Rob Walker is having a Lotus 49 with Cosworth V8 engine for Siffert to drive, and Tyrrell intends putting a Cosworth V8 into a Matra chassis for Stewart to drive, and Ford France have similar ideas for Schlesser, it would seem that there will be quite a queue at the doors of Cosworth Engineering at Northampton, and I bet they will be very busy working on one special engine for Clark’s Lotus. All this sounds just like 1964/65 and Coventry-Climax, when there was only one really good “latest development” engine and Clark and Lotus got it, with justifiable results. When racing engines are being developed and not just built in series there is only time for one really good one. With the Cosworth Formula Two engines they were built as a series and no further development work was done, so everyone was on an equal footing. In Grand Prix racing Duckworth is going to have to keep on with development work on the V8 if he is going to stay ahead of Ferrari, Honda, Eagle-Weslake and Repco, because they are all working hard on improving their engines. Just why Hulme has abandoned his connection with Repco, where he was sure of getting the latest developments, or at the worst immediately after Brabham had proved them, is hard to see. The same goes for Stewart, who was certain of the best that B.R.M. could produce while he was their number one driver, but with Tyrrell and Matra he can only be a second string. My guess is that he will be about fourth in the line for a Cosworth V8 and he’ll only get the best Matra parts after the works Matra team are fully supplied. You only have to see who got the first MS7 chassis during 1967. It was not Stewart or lckx, it was Beltoise and then only after Servoz-Gavin had tried it initially. Matra are out to win races for “Engines Matra,” and no one else, and I don’t blame them.

* * *

In South Africa David Piper has set a National speed record of 189.4 m.p.h. in his ex-Maranello Concessionaires Ferrari P3/4. This is good going, for the Le Mans speed estimates for these cars was 190 m.p.h., with 195 m.p.h. for the works P4 Ferraris.

* * *

The R.A.C. have announced that advertising will now be permitted on racing cars, and that it need not be connected with the motor industry. Any number of advertisements will be allowed but each one will be limited to 55 square inches, or 5 in. depth by 11 in. width. It is hoped that the racing world can get money from sponsors in exchange for this advertising space, which will make up for the withdrawal of Firestone, Esso and B.P. money. Good luck! At least this shows an appreciation of the fact that we are living in the mid-twentieth century and this relaxation by the R.A.C. augurs well for future desires. Who knows, we may get a T.T. in the Isle of Man before the end of the century, which is only 32 years away. If you look back 32 years you will find that Germany was dominating Grand Prix racing, Great Britain’s stranglehold on Le Mans was finished, but we still dominated the Land Speed Record. Not so long ago really, was it?

While on the subject of money and sponsors, Castrol announced that they are continuing to sponsor the A.A.R.-Eagle team in Grand Prix racing and at Indianapolis, so Gurney’s future seems assured, and Brabham has still got the backing of Goodyear for Grand Prix racing, while they are financing a 4.2-litre Indianapolis engine at Repco. John Surtees is continuing with Honda in Grand Prix racing and, while Team Surtees are no doubt looking for sponsorship to pay for the running of Honda Racing, I cannot imagine Mr. Honda is worried about the cost of actually designing and building cars and engines. If you have seen the industrial film on Honda activities in Japan you will realise that it is a mighty empire that could probably buy any likely sponsors without noticing the cost. Ford of Britain are continuing to support Team Lotus in Grand Prix racing, and also Cosworth Engineering, and have started a research programme with Keith Duckworth into the design of a four-wheel-drive Grand Prix car. Nothing is likely to be seen of this project before the end of 1968, but it gives us something exciting to look forward to. I wonder if they will be having talks with Ferguson Research about 4-w-d? No doubt when the project is successful, as it must be with the money of Ford, the brains of Duckworth and Chapman, and the driving of Clark, the Ford publicity boys will claim to have invented four-wheeldrive. They claimed to have sired the first Grand Prix engine to win on its first appearance, when the Cosworth V8 won at Zandvoort, and they told us that using the engine as part of the chassis was new and revolutionary, which caused Lancia, Ferrari and B.R.M. to say “oh, really!” Let us not forget the Ferguson P99, designed by Claude Hill and Ferguson Research, which proved 4-w-d in 1961 and was offered to British racing-car constructors, but they all turned it down, though had an abortive little dabble with it.—D. S. J.