• Colourful Rise
Every year after we have presented our colour review we have thousands of requests for a monthly colour section. Colour is expensive, so while it was impossible to make the pictures topical we have repeatedly decided it was not in our readers’ interest to change our centre-spread. Some years ago progress in production enabled us to present a topical picture in colour on the front cover. Now progress has made it possible for us to present topical pictures in colour on the centre-spread. Next month the centre-spread will be in colour with, we hope, pictorial coverage of the South African Grand Prix, Swedish Rally and a new British car. Since 1936, we have never increased the cost of Motor Sport without offering our readers a new feature which we believe to be of added interest. The February issue will cost 2s. 6d. and will be on sale on Thursday, 1st February, 1968: we are confident your verdict will be—still the best value in motoring journalism.
• Presenting The Petition
The Motor Sport and Motoring News Petition Against the 70-m.p.h. speed-limit on Motorways, which called also for revision of speed-limits on other roads, signed by 280,000 people, many of them ordinary as distinct from sporting drivers, was presented to the Minister of Transport on December 11th. Following a luncheon at the Pen & Wig Club in Fleet Street attended by motoring writers from the leading daily and technical papers, a fleet of chauffeur-driven Vanden Plas Princess limousines (mistken by one journalist, who was perhaps overcome by the occasion, for Daimlers) took these supporters, reinforced by racing drivers Denny Hulme, Graham Hill and Tony Brooks, to Transport House. Here Mrs. Castle’s non-driving Principal Private Secretary, Mr. Brian Lloyd, received the heavy bundles of documents, the signatories of which represent some 500 voters per constituency and which, very significantly, include those of Police drivers, J.P.s, a great many doctors, firemen, ambulance drivers, etc., and many employees of the M.o.T. itself. . . .
The Petitions were carried into the Ministry by Hulme, Hill and the Editor of Motor Sport, and a letter to Mrs. Castle explaining its recommendations and requesting an early reply was handed to Mr. Lloyd by the Rt. Hon. the Earl Howe,. who very firmly explained its importance as representing the views of over a quarter of a million people. Earl Howe then drove away in his Ferrari, accompanied by Graham Hill.
There is no need to reiterate the futility of a Motorway speed-limit as low as 70 m.p.h., which causes frustration, dangerous bunching, stagnates design, wastes time, is unenforceable, and has never been shown to reduce accidents. Bill Boddy reminded those at the presentation lunch that already there is a 60-m.p.h. limit on one road; he remarked that just as the Suffragettes fought for their rights years ago, and won, so now are those who drive for pleasure or as a livelihood fighting for their freedom from persecution on the road. But, he said, drastic measures, so easy for the car-owning population to put into effect, would be inadvisable, at this stage of the battle, which is why Motor Sport did not publicise the time and place of the presentation. Mrs. Castle has been asked for an answer on behalf of the 280,000 who signed the Petition of their own free will and posted it back to us; this will be reported on in due course. Meanwhile, our thanks to all who supported this campaign, which has had such an overwhelming response as probably to embarrass the M.o.T., those who helped us present it, and those newspapers and journals which publicised this action.
• A TV Ban On Motor Racing?
The B.B.C. and I.T.V. have joined forces in stating that if racing cars carry advertising, as is now sanctioned by the R.A.C., they will not televise races. This will mean a loss of revenue to the B.R.D.C. and the B.R.S.C.C., which may not be a bad thing, inasmuch as “gates” must be diminished when races can be watched on television. The circuit owners have never told us how much they earn from granting TV contracts, so there is no means of knowing whether the increased “gates” would offset loss of TV revenue.
What surprises us is that Peter Dimmock, head of B.B.C. outside broadcasts, has expressed disgust at advertising being permitted on racing cars. Not all that long ago he caused a London taxi to be entered for a Monte Carlo Rally complete with taximeter, appointing Tony Brooks as its driver. Night after night the taxi’s mileage was totted up and its recorded “fare” inflicted on viewers, until mercifully the thing retired. This TV gimmick was surely more detrimental to the prestige of motoring sport than advertisements on racing cars, and it could be construed as advertising for television. Mr. Dimmock is clearly not an “Ovaltini,” having picked on this product as something he would hate to see advertised on a leading car in a G.P. race; does he really think that anyone would have as much chance of reading what is on a 55 sq. in. decal on a speeding racing car as they have of seeing, for instance, the advertisements for Dunlop or Slazenger which can be read on the racket covers of Wimbledon tennis players in TV pictures? I share Mr. Dimmock’s distaste for Ovaltine but think he is over confident of what his cameras can pick up, even in those boring long-held close-up views of individual cars which are an unfortunate feature of TV motor-racing commentaries.—W. B.