At the time of writing these words (five weeks before they appear on sale in the shops) the situation regarding Formula One Grand Prix races in 1976 is muddled to say the least, but not as muddled as the long-distance racing calendar which I will deal with later. The Formula One Constructors Association who offer the Grand Prix circus as a “package deal” to race organisers asked for X-pounds sterling to put on their show and before some of the organisers could reply the CSI said that the organisers would only pay Y-pounds sterling. After much argument, back-chat, cross-talk and diplomatic “argy-bargy” an agreement has been reached at Z-pounds sterling, though exactly who gave in will never be known. While all this was going on the 1976 FIA racing calendar was published and nowhere in the list of events from January to December was there any mention of any Formula One races. Formula One just did not exist. For example, the Race of Champions is listed at Brands Hatch for March 14th, but the only category of racing mentioned is TS1 (Group 1 Touring Cars), and the BRDC Silverstone International Trophy meeting is listed for April 9th-11th for Formula Three and Group 1 saloons. None of the World Championship Grand Prix races were listed or given dates, so that as far as the FIA were concerned Formula One Grand Prix racing was dead and buried, However, the various organisers knew when they were going to run their events even if the FIA didn’t and the list below is the nearest thing to reality, but with the continual confrontations between the Constructors Association and the CSI, anything might happen. It’s the old, old story of shouting matches between the workers and the management, the Union men doing the shouting for the makers of racing cars and the government of the sport (did you say sport?) shouting for the race organisers, except that as this is business, not sport, the business men reckon they can get on without the help of the governing body. While it all dragged on the season was getting closer and people wanted to plan their trips. If the whole thing blows up again and the British Grand Prix is not held at Brands Hatch on SUNDAY July 13th, as you and I think it is going to be, then blame then: not us. One thing for sure (because the HA Calendar says so) there will be a Formula Three race at Brands Hatch on July 18th. While the world of Formula One was wrangling over money the world of longdistance sports-car racing has been staring blankly into space wondering what was going to happen to them. For a long time we all thought that races like the Monza 1,000 kilometres, the Spa 1,000 kilometres, the Nurburgring 1,000 kilometres, and Le Mans, were going to he for a new “silhouette” Formula, a simple idea in which you could produce the wildest factory special as long as it looked something like the cars you were trying to sell. Somewhere along the line this idea was swept under the carpet and instead of a free-for-all Manufacturers’ Championship the FIA came up with Juno Championships, one for Special Production Cars and one for Two-seater Racing Cars and the race organisers were left to choose which type of event they would run. The result is a good old “mish-mash” very suited to the ridiculous times in which we live. Half the good r5ces have opted for one Championship and the other half for the second Championship. The Le Mans organisers have stepped out of the whole thing and decided to run a sort of Formula Libre 24-hour race, and the Daytona people have followed suit, though they are both still listed in the Championship for Special Production Cars (Group 5), which can be oneoff factory specials based on production components or principles.
It looks as though we have got ourselves two lists of races that will be very non-champion Championship events, and though there are eleven races listed for two-seater racing cars and nine for Special Production Cars I can see an awful lot of events being cancelled sooner or later, preferably sooner, before too many people are confused. The traditional Monza 1,000-kilometre race on April 25th will be for Group 6 two-seater racing cars (sports cars in loose terms) and the Nurburgring 1,000 kilometres will be for Group 5 Special Production Cars and just to confuse things further a rule was made that Group 6 races should not last longer than four hours, which puts paid to 1,000 kilometre events but Group 5 races must last six hours or run for 1,000 kilometres. You can see why Le Mans has opted out of the FIA Championships and have decided to go their own way.
The rest of the sporting world seem fairly happy, with uncomplicated calendars, listed below, and simple and straightforward Championships. There are plenty of Formula Two races, including two in England, one at Thruxton at Easter-time and the other at Silverstone in August. The major problem for Formula Two seems to be a question of the cost of competing, due mainly to the high ideals of some of the people involved, who think this “schoolboy Formula” is as important as Grand Prix racing and should be tackled in the same extravagant manner as Formula One. The result is that Formula Two has been steadily pricing itself out of the market place. The world a motor racing can barely support the extravagances of the Formula One circus, who have a bit of a monopoly on money, so that the only hope for survival in Formula Two is for those concerned to view it as more of a sport and less of a business. In other words, to stop expecting to make an easy living from motor racing, and to earn money elsewhere and spend it on motor racing. Formula Three racing is a different story, for most of those involved still think in terms of camping in a tent behind the pits and living on baked beans, in order to save enough money to he able to afford to go racing. For them the FIA have arranged a good series of events for a Formula Three Championship and there is a round at Thruxton, thanks to the BARC, and one at Brands Hatch at the time of the British Grand Prix. In Britain the BARC and BP are running a very busy F3 Championship, on a purely national scale, and have made positive efforts to peg operating costs by restricting tyres to one particular make and type, making all things as regards tyres and costs, equal for everyone. It seems that the FIA will probably be following this intelligent lead.—D.S.J.