The 1981 Season

At the time of writing it looks as though the proposed “pirate” series of Formula One races under the title The World Professional Drivers Championship is still-born. Although the anonymous World Federation Of Motor Sport, as mentioned in the December 1980 issue of Motor Sport, claimed that most of the existing Formula One teams and drivers were signed up for this “pirate” series of events, there has since been some back-tracking and FOCA have said they cannot support this series of events. At the moment they have not said they will support the official FIA World Championship series.

Into the middle of this wrangling a rubber bombshell fell at the beginning of December when the Goodyear Tyre and Rubber Co. Ltd. of Akron announced that they were stopping all racing tyre activity in Europe. Renault, Ferrari and Talbot-Ligier said “What a pity”, as they tested their Michelin tyres, but it means that Williams, Alfa Romeo, Brabham, Lotus, McLaren and all the lesser teams are standing on their alloy rims with no tyres available. In the background are Pirelli, Dunlop, Japanese Dunlop, M&H but what will happen we have yet to see. At least it will take people’s minds off the petty bickering that has been going on about money, rules, television rights, authority, investments, turbo-chargers, drivers and so on and so forth.

The calendar of events listed below is from the official FIA Bulletin and it all looks pretty reasonable. There are no wild ideas about Formula One racing in the car park of the Casino in Las Vegas, or round the streets of Chicago or even on the rebuilt Spa-Francorchamps circuit. The French GP takes its turn at Dijon-Prenois, the British GP at Silverstone and the Italian GP returns to Monza. The world of long-distance racing is given a new title World Endurance Championship and combines a championship for manufacturers or makes and one for drivers, though I can forsee some problems here with sometimes three drivers sharing one car.

The Formula Two world looks healthy enough, with twelve rounds in the championship and a reserve event in case somebody withdraws, and England is graced with three events, the BRDC run one at Silverstone, the BARC run one at Thruxton and the third is at Donington Park. In Formula Three the European Championship really does span Europe and though the events may not be so fast and furious as the British Formula Three championship world, they do cover a good cross-section of major circuits and prepare an up-and-coming driver for his steps up into the world of F2 and F1.

The events listed are only those with full International status, there are an equal number of events on the restricted International Calendar and every weekend throughout the 1981 season there is more than one event. On the weekend of our own Grand Prix at Silverstone, which has Formula 3 and saloon can racing as supporting events, there is a European Formula 3 championship event at the Misano Autodromo in Italy and a Formula 2 championship event at Enna in Sicily. As if that is not enough there are restricted International events at Nurburgring, in Sweden and in Finland, while there is Rallycross in France, Autocross in Hungary, HilIclimbs in Italy and Yugoslavia and Drag-Racing in America and Sweden, and they all come under the jurisdiction of the FIA and its sports department, FISA. Some people think that FISA is only involved with Formula 1.

Remember that the RAC British Grand Prix and BRDC Garden Party is at Silverstone this year on Saturday July 18, with practice and qualifying on Thursday and Friday so if you are going to take a day off from work “for grandmother’s funeral” you had better arrange for “grandfather’s funeral” to take place the day before. — D. S. J


A Motor Racing Art Exhibition

Until January 27th an Art Exhibition featuring over 100 motor-sporting pictures, dating from 1894, many of which are from the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu, can be seen at the Octagon, Milsom Street, Bath, together with a collection of Masterpieces of general interest presented by the Royal Photographic Society. Open on Monday to Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 5.15 p.m., the admission cost is 75p per adult, children, OAPs and students, 40p each.

* * *

ERA Book Published

In London last month the ex-“Bira”/Prince Chula ERA “Romulus” attended a party held to celebrate the publication, by White Mouse Editions in conjunction with Cavendish Books, of a book about the racing ERA, which covers, we understand, every conceivable aspect of the activities of English Racing Automobiles Ltd. We hope to review this long-awaited book next month. — W.B.