Continental Notes, January 1973

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Racing Car Shows

When the BRSCC held their first Racing Car Show they started a trend that has since snowballed. The idea originated because the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, who organise the London Motor Show at Earls Court, were not favourably inclined towards racing and competition cars, and some years they would allow a racing car at Earls Court and other years banned them. It was felt that the racing and competition world was a large enough self-contained industry to support a show of its own, and this proved correct, the BRSCC Racing Car Show getting bigger and better as time went by. Eventually the SMMT realised they were missing out on a good thing and gave the Show their blessing and joined forces with the BRSCC in the organisation.

Over the years other Racing Car Shows have sprung up in other countries and there are now so many that the organisers have got together and formed an association (yes, another association!), called the International Racing Show Association. The basic aims are for the various organisers to exchange ideas, plan a calendar of events, and generally bring an air of co-ordination to the Racing Car Show world. As long as it doesn’t get out of hand, like so many associations, it must be a good thing, but if cheapness and shoddiness creep in, as has been noticed at one or two shows in other parts of Europe, it will he a bad thing. Special wooden or fibreglass life-size phoneys of famous cars are not what the public want to see, they pay to see the actual World Championship Lotus 72D, for example, preferably with the oil and dirt of its last race still on it, not that Lotus are making “exhibition phoneys”, but Marlboro have some phoney BRMs and at the French Show at Monte Carlo there was a wooden version of the Gary Gabelich rocket car that was a total disappointment, apart from being dishonest.

The exhibition calendar for 1973 reads as follows:

London: BRSCC at Olympia Jan. 3rd-13th

Stuttgart (Germany) Jan. 27th-Feb. 4th

Malmoe (Sweden) Feb. 101h-18th

Copenhagen (Denmark) Feb. 23rd-Mar. 4th

Oslo (Norway) Mar. 5th-10th

Stockholm (Sweden) Mar. 11th-18th

Goteborg (Sweden) Mar. 24th-April 1st

Helsinki (Finland) April 7th – 15th

Towards the end of the year, on dates yet to be specified, are the annual Show at Monza, held in conjunction with the Italian GP, the Jochen Rinds Show in Vienna, one in Essen, Germany, and one in Bruxelles, Belgium. There are other Racing Car Shows, such as the Paris one held recently and organised by J-P. Beltoise, but as yet they do not seem to have joined the IRSA.

* * *

The Political Scene

The dark dull days of December were greatly enlivened by a slanging match between the Formula One Constructors’ Association and the Grand Prix Organisers’ Association, with letters going to and fro carrying threats and insults. Normally all this sort of thing would go on under cover and we would hear little of it, only appreciating the final outcome which makes itself felt in the form that the Grand Prix season takes. This winter the Grand Prix Organisers banded together and when the F1 Constructors began to start making noises about their requirements for 1973, the Organisers’ “shop steward” told them in no uncertain terms that they could have a 12½% increase over the 1972 rates of pay and they could take it or leave it; adding that, apart from about six driver/car combinations, they were a pretty useless bunch for any organiser to try and use for public spectacle. Not content with the strong reply he told the Press, and the whole world, exactly what was going on. The man from the Constructors’ Association came back with an equally abusive letter, which was also communicated to the outside world. The whole thing is really rather laughable and the bickering and slanging is like a lot of schoolgirls being catty.

What it all boils down to is that the Constnictors’ Association are asking for a 100% increase of the total starting-money and prizemoney for each World Championship Grand Prix, and say that if it is not guaranteed they will take over the running of the World Championship. This demand and statement came from the Constructors’ Finance Committee, which is comprised of Max Mosley (March), Phil Kerr (McLaren) and Bernard Ecclestone (Brabham). The reply came from Henri Treu, Executive Director of the Organisers’ Grand Prix International, with the offer of a 12½% increase, a deadline date for acceptance and the suggestion that if there was any more argy-bargy the World Championship series would be run to some other category than Formula One. As all the organisers of the 1973 series, and the circuit owners, are in the GPI, one wonders where the F1 Constructors are going to hold their World Championship series. Presumably the British Grand Prix would be held at Lydden Hill, the Italian Grand Prix at Vallelunga, the French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours, the German Grand Prix at the Norisring, the South African Grand Prix at Cape Town and the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa! The GPI threat was much more serious, because they were unanimous and if the CSI agreed, the World Championship could be run to Formula Two or Group 7 sports cars, or even Group 2 saloons. We must not forget that in 1951 Grand Prix racing to Formula One came to a grinding halt when Alfa Romeo withdrew, Maserati had died and BRM were not ready, leaving only the Ferrari team. Almost overnight the race organisers and the CSI decided to run the World Championship to the then existent Formula Two, which was flourishing, and Formula One was not reinstated until 1954.

A lot of people feel that Formula One today has got into a rut, due among other things, to having been in existence too long. It started in 1966, has been dominated by the Cosworth V8 engine since 1968, and there is a lack of fresh thinking, or the need for that matter. It is about to start its eighth year, and no Formula One has run for that length of time before. If Grand Prix racing started all over again in some other form perhaps it would occupy the active minds, that are at present engaged in bickering, to a more useful end.

As the year drew to a close the confrontation between the organisers and the Formula One teams reached a deadlock and Henri Treu went to the CSI, on behalf of the organisers, and requested that they be given permission to throw the World Championship races open to F2, F5000 and USAC cars, as well as Formula One, and the CSI readily agreed. The organisers made it known that they hope they can keep the World Championship to the existing Formula One, but the concession granted by the CSI is a sort of insurance policy to make sure they can run their races in spite of any pressures the Formula One teams might try and bring. The whole affair would appear to be a lot of hot air, but Formule Libre Grand Prix racing would be popular with a lot of people, and Dan Gurney would no doubt be interested in joining in with his USAC-Eagle team. An unusual part of the whole fracas was that the GPDA never got a word in anywhere and were never mentioned in the discussions.

A footnote to the whole affair is that the Argentine GP due to be held at the end of January has been cancelled due to lack of money, and may be held at the end of the season. — D. S. J.