Around and About, January 1974
Muir joins Gardner in SCA Comoros
THIS Year’s European Touring Car championship could see a different story to the straight fight between BMW and Ford which has dominated the 1973 season. Two of the most experienced saloon car drivers in the world are to join forces in the SCA Freight team with a brace of brand-new 7-litre Chevrolet Camaro ZLIs: Adrian Chambers, managing director of SCA, has enticed Brian Muir away from BMWs (he drove BMW-Alpine CLSs in the European and British Touring Car Championships last year for the Alpina factory and for Dealer Team BMW/Malcolm Gartlan Racing). Thus the two forty-year-old Australians, arch rivals in saloon cars for many years, will be out to break up the fight between the new 24-valve BMW CSLs and the 3.4 litre Cosworth-engined Capris. Presumably two more strong, mature and highly experienced drivers will be needed to partner the Aussie pair, but this had not been resolved when we last spoke to Chambers. Muir is no stranger to Camaros—he drove the Wiggins-Teape car in 1971—and is happier in big, powerful cars than anything else. Backing for the SCA team, who’ll be preparing the two Camaros at the firm’s East London premises, will continue to come from Goodyear and Castrol.
Adrian Chambers tells us that he cannot bear the thought of selling Gardner’s 1973 British Touring Car Championship winning Camaro to a club racer or for it to be seen in the ETC in different colours. He is so attached to the Car that he intends to keep it and may loan it to a motor museum if any of them are interested.
On the subject of the European Touring Car Championship the dates and venues for the 10-round 1974 Championship have been published and are noticeable for the omission of a British round. Though Britain has scrapped Group 2 in favour of Group 1 for the British Championship, some factions were hoping that it might be possible to bring over the European Group 2 circus specially for the Tourist Trophy race, to be able to include this as a round of ETC. What will happen to the Tourist Trophy? To make it for Group 1 cars would be to bring this famous race to its knees.
Vallelunga, Nivelles, Dijon and Jarama (cancelled last year) are new venues in the ETC this year, which begins on March 10th at Dijon, France, followed by Monza, Italy (March 24th), Salzburgring, Austria (April 14th), Mantorp Park, Sweden (May 5th), Vallelunga, Italy (May 19th), Nivelles, Belgium (June 30th), Nurburgring, Germany (July 14th), Zandvoort, Holland (August 11th), Paul Ricard, France (September 1st), Jarama, Spain (October 6th).
Crroup I, Nke it or not
Not only has Britain to suffer the lowering in mechanical quality of its touring car championship by the move from Group 2 to Group 1—we almost didn’t have a Championship at all thanks partly to the infamous dilatoriness of the RAC and the SMM and T and to too many self-interested fingers from the newly formed British International Saloon Car Drivers’ Association trying to change the recipe of the pie. Eventually commonsense prevailed after a toughly worded telegram to the RAC from the BARC, the BRSCC and John Webb of MCD had threatened that these organising bodies would completely wash their hands of Group 1 if the regulations were not produced within a few days.
For this one year only the British Touring Car Championship becomes the 1974 Castrol Anniversary Touring Car Championship to mark the Swindon-based oil company’s 75th anniversary. It is a title which we might have protested about had it been a nonmotoring orientated company which had removed the national title, but Castrol have put so much into British motoring sport in those 75 years that the sport can afford to offer them this one season’s accolade. Perhaps if Grand Prix cars had run on tobacco for 75 years (and who knows, but they might have to do if the fuel shortage worsens), the British Grand Prix might justifiably have adopted temporarily its unhappy assumed title. However, from habit and for conciseness we shall doubtless continue to refer to the British Touring Car Championship.
The national championship should not be confused with the two club level Group 1 championships which are being run under a different set of regulations. The national cars must conform to FIA Appendix I Group 1 Touring Car regulations, except that various safety modifications must be made, including the fitting of roll cages, four-point safety belts, racing. seats, safety fuel tanks or GRP protected standard ones, protected fuel and brake pipes and so on. Engines may be blueprinted, dampers and springs are free, exhaust system is free from the standard manifold, sump and oil pick up may be modified to prevent surge, baffles can be fitted in the transmission for the same reason, a limited slip differential can be fitted, etc. Tyres are free so that racing covers may be used so long as the tread width does not exceed wheel I section plus 1.5 in. and the inflated width must not exceed wheel J section plus 3 in.
There will be four classes and spectators will be able to identify which classes the cars are in by the different-coloured stripes of at least 18 in. in width on their roofs. Class A is over 4,000 c.c. (red stripe); B, over 2,500 c.c. to 4,000 c.c. (blue stripe); C, over 1,600 c.c. to 2,500 c.c. (green stripe); D, up to 1,600 c.c. (white stripe). Points will be awarded on a 9, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1 basis per class.
Regulations for the two club championships will be much the same as Group 1 has been in 1973 and to avoid a repetition of the “cheat” tyre war, the RAC has included a list of eligible tyres in the 1974 Blue Book, which must be adhered to. Cars must be homologated in Appendix J and additionally be listed in the Autocar Buyers Guide as being available for retail purchase in the UK. Cars will be divided into four new price classes, all prices including VAT and Car Tax: up to and including £999 (white roof); £1,000 up to and including £1,249 (green roof); £1,250 up to and including £1,599 (blue roof); £1,600 and over (red roof).
And now for the good news
Those who bemoan the loss of Group 2 in Britain—and there are plenty of them— can take consolation from a new Super .Saloon series which Peter Browning of the BRSCC is to promote at the suggestion of some of the leading special saloon car drivers. For sheer spectacle and speed this should knock Group 1 into a cocked hat and if the interest which is being shown so far is anything to go by it will give racing engineers and designers even more scope than the lost Group 2 business did. Imagine the battle between Gerry Marshall’s 500 b.h.p. Vencora, Tony Hazlewood’s DAF V8, Mick Hill’s Holman and Moody V8 engined Capri, Colin Hawker’s DFV-engined Capri, Ian Richardson’s 500 b.h.p. plus Chevrolet Corvair, an all-fibreglass BMW 3.0 CSL with 495 b.h.p., turbocharged 3.5-litre engine which March Engineering are constructing for John Markey of BMW Concessionaires and possibly, just possibly if sponsorship can be obtained, a lightweight Jaguar Xj 12 to be constructed by John “Plastic” Pearson of racing XK 120 fame. And these are just a few of the potential cars.
There will be eight rounds in this Championship which will be in addition to the usual special saloon club championships. Each round will have an individual sponsor and the prize money for the first ten places will be split: £200, £175, £150, £125, £100, £75, £50, £40, £30 and £20. There will be no classes but an additional £50 will be paid to the highest-placed up to 2-litre car and a further £10 will be paid to all race starters from eleventh place downwards. Peter Browning hopes that this exceptional prize money by club racing standards will encourage other competitors to build suitable cars and that it will provide suitable exercise for some of the quicker of the now redundant British Group 2 cars, like David Howes’ AMX Javelin.
Provisional dates are: April 14th, Snetterton; May 5th, Brands Hatch; May 27th, Ou1ton Park; July 7th, Croft; August 4th, Silverstone; August 18th, Ingliston; October 13th, Mallory Park; and a date to be decided at Mandell° Park.
1974 Avon Tour
Off-road stages including forests and hillclimbs will be included in the 1974 Avon Tour of Britain, which Avon Tyres and Motor magazine will co-sponsor in July. Once again Peter Browning and the BRSCC will be responsible for planning. The route will be considerably extended beyond that of last year’s “prototype” event and will take in Scotland and Wales to make its title almost justifiable.
Scrunneering will be in the Midlands on Wednesday July 10th and from the start the following day competitors will head for Yorkshire and thence to Scotland where there will be an overnight halt. Friday’s route will take in more Scottish stages, then the Lake District, South Yorkshire to Snetterton for night racing and then on the Saturday the convoy will head for London, the West Country and back to the Midlands. A Welsh loop will be included on the fourth and final day.
Six circuit stages have been planned and another 25 stages on varying surfaces are being investigated. Only Appendix J Group 1 cars will be eligible and the organisers are to insist that the 120 competing cars retain the same make, type and size of tyre throughout, the event and that none of the “Group 1 special” tyres which appeared this year will be suffered. Only tyres in the 1974 RAC special list covering production saloon cars will be allowed.
The entry fee will be £50 for an individual entry, £50 for a manufacturers’ team or trade team entry and £10 for a club team. Overseas entries which start the first special stage will receive a payment of £50. Full details of the event will be available on March 15th.
Ferguson is Dunlop Manager
A reorganisation of Dunlop’s Motor Sports Division sees that most familiar face in motor sports, Dick Jeffrey, move on to pastures new. Dick, who joined the Division in 1946 and has been manager since January 1958, has been appointed manager of motor sport relations, with responsibilities for special assignments within the company’s marketing organisation, so his face will still be around.
Taking his place as manager of the Division is a face best known to rally competitors. Jeremy Ferguson was Dunlop rally manager for three years from 1968, since when he has been personal assistant to the director of the Dunlop UK Tyre Group. This twentyeight-year-old graduate of Trinity College, Oxford, was responsible for master-minding Dunlop’s involvement in the 1968 London Sydney Marathon and the 1970 World Cup Rally.
Dick Jeffrey successfully transferred Dunlop’s interests from Formula One to tourist car racing and rallying in 1970, a policy which Ferguson will continue. He regards rallying and racing, particularly Group 1 and 2, as important to Dunlop because these are the areas in which it is genuinely possible to get feed back of development to enable the improvement of road tyres.
Both men will continue to be based at Fort Dunlop.
Evening News Showboat
If MOTOR SPORT is distributed on time this month (that means later than usual, as intimated in the December issue) the second Evening News Showboat Racing Car Show will already have opened on board the Townsend-Thoresen ferry Free Enterprise II, which ferried this writer across the Channel several times during the course of last year. In its more unaccustomed role the ship will have over 100 racing cars, including 20 new ones, exhibited in a paddock-style spread over three decks. In the passenger lounges will be exhibition stands offering performance equipment and accessories, books and race tickets, a cinema, discotheque, drivers’ autograph stand, motor racing art gallery and “do-it-yourself motoring amusements”, about which the mind boggles!
John Webb from Brands Hatch and ShellSPORT-Luxembourg team manager Jackie Epstein are organising the show, which they first ran two years ago. It will be open every day, including Sundays, from Saturday January 5th to Sunday January 20th from 10.30 a.m. to 8.30 p.m. at weekends and 12 noon till 8.00 p.m. on weekdays.
The Free Enterprise will be moored alongside the cruiser HMS Belfast in the Pool of London opposite the Tower of London and can be reached via Tower Pier outside the Tower of London and thence by free ferry operated by 240-seat Thames river buses.
Another interesting design project, this time based on a Jaguar V12 E-type, is being undertaken at his Cotswold manor house hideout by Bill Towns, that brilliant designer from whom British Leyland acquired the Minissima city car which created so much interest at the Earls Court Motor Show. The former Aston Martin designer is creating a dart-shaped body on the E-type with backing from Jim Thomson, former BARC Hill Climb Champion with a Blydenstein Firenza. Thomson, head of Guyson Industrial Equipment Ltd., Otley, manufacturers of the renowned Guyson beadblasting equipment which many tuners use, unfortunately managed to roll his drophead V12 E-type road car. Bill Towns approached Thomson to purchase the wreck and when Thomson found out why Towns wanted it, offered to back the project. If the prototype is successful there is a chance that this Towns/Guyson/Jaguar creation may be put into limited production.
Incidentally, that Minissima is unlikely to go the way of other interesting designs acquired by manufacturers simply to bury them: we understand that the astute Towns made British Leyland agree to return the car and design rights to him if they don’t utilise them within a certain time.
The BRSCC have banned F. Ford driver Derek Lawrence from their meetings for six months for running an illegal Titan engine in the F. Ford Festival at Snetterton, which he won. Lawrence was disqualified from the BOC Championship for a similar off ence.—C.R.