Letters, January 2007

Letter of the month

So much for commitment…


I was amused to read in your Jim Clark tribute the section on the Lotus 30/40 and your assertion that Colin Chapman was totally committed to that car.

In the early ’70s I was looking after Paul Gresham’s ex-Willment car for John Markey, running in the Castrol/Guards GT championship. This was the ‘Pink Stamps’ car, which is now in the USA. Most of our problems came from old and tired magnesium uprights. After one huge failure, John ended up in the bank at Lake Esses at Mallory Park, bending both himself and the car quite badly.

Ken Graham offered to help me rebuild the chassis if I could get some drawings, so I phoned Lotus and arranged to go to Hethel and search through its archives. While I was there, halfway through a drawer with paper everywhere, Mr Chapman walked into the drawing office and demanded to know what I was doing. On hearing my explanation, he uttered just one word, short and female in origin, and strode off. So much for his commitment, then.

Bob Dove, via e-mail

Nostra culpa


I greatly enjoyed the excellent article on the Ferrari 312PB. 

One small comment: p45 of November’s issue shows Jacky Ickx in Ferrari No1 at Spa in ’72 and the caption indicates that he won. The fact is that he and Clay Regazzoni should have won, but they were delayed by a loose wheel and a puncture, and lost two laps. They finished one lap behind the lucky winners, Arturo Merzario and Yours Truly.

I mention this because articles printed in prestigious magazines such as Motor Sport tend to become ‘history’!

Brian Redman, Florida, USA

There’s more…


Because Motor Sport’s readers are undoubtedly the most knowledgeable of all those who read the specialist press, I suppose it is understandable that Simon Taylor, in his otherwise excellent summary of Brian Redman’s career, should have felt able to omit the most obvious observation: that, along with Sir Stirling Moss, Brian Redman is the greatest driver not to have won the World Championship.

If I had been a newcomer to the sport and to your magazine, I would have been given an incomplete account of Brian Redman’s achievements (but then it surely demands a book to do him justice). Incidentally, why did Redman believe his life would have been especially endangered by signing for Ferrari?

I saw Redman at the very first meeting I attended, at Mallory Park in ’66, where he won the Formula Libre race in a Kincraft. And now, 40 years later, I have been privileged to witness him joyfully flinging the BRM P160 around Silverstone. One of our greatest drivers.

David Goddard, Hove, Sussex

Compound curves


I have to take umbrage over Tony Southgate’s remark, “The ’69 Eagle had flat-sided tanks because no-one in the States would do compound curves in metal.”

1969 was only five or six years removed from an era of great American craftsman such as Quin Epperly, Eddie Kuzma, Lujie Lesovsky and later a young Don Brown. These Americans, and many others, built the front-engined roadsters of that era and some of the early rear-engined cars, by and large with their own hands. Some of these gentlemen worked behind the scenes of US oval racing until carbon-fibre tubs came into prominence in the 1980s. Perhaps he didn’t look hard enough.

Steven W Zautke, Milwaukee, USA

Last orders


Thanks for an excellent interview with Phil Hill. However, I feel he doth protest too much over team orders to allow Mike Hawthorn to pass and take second places at Monza and Morocco.

At Monza Hawthorn was in a strong position to win or at least finish second until a slipping clutch ruined his chances. Both Brooks and Hill were therefore able to overtake him. In Champion Year he freely admits the fault was in part his own following a ‘delayed’ start. In Morocco second place ensured the World Championship was his rather than Moss’s.

Surely a decision to favour Hawthorn would have been made by a team manager. Both races were won by Vanwall, and Hill’s chances of victory in either were nil. Hawthorn was very positive about Hill’s support in his autobiography and forecast that
he would be World Champion. 

I hope you will continue to interview drivers from the past while they are still around.

David Baxter, Rouillac, France

Going to the dogs


Just a quick note to thank you for the Brian Sewell article on motorsport posters. Sewell is indeed a motorsport fan; how many of your readers heard him describe on Radio 4 a few years back, in his own inimitable way, a night at Wimbledon Stadium watching banger racing. 


David Harbey, Bedfordshire

Interserie special


I have enjoyed your exceptional and superb publication since the early 1960s. However, in your October edition, p23 shows a picture of two sports-racing cars, captioned ‘Ex-Willy Kausen Can-Am Porsche 917-10 chasing a similar car’. The ‘similar car’ is Switzerland’s Herbert Mueller driving the 1974 Interserie championship-winning Martini Porsche 917-20, a very rare car, driven by an extraordinary driver. 

The 917-10 competed in Can-Am as well as the European Interserie. The 917-20, which featured an unusual adjustable wheelbase, was a one-off model, and only participated in Interserie.

Peter Felder, Ontario, Canada