Letters, January 2020


October hasn’t been a very happy month. First, we lost Andrew Cowan, and then only a couple of weeks later Russell Brookes passed away. Both were very influential in my motor sport career. Cowan was the first rally driver I had any awareness of. It was at the time of the London – Sydney Marathon of 1968, huge news at the time, with massive press coverage and nightly TV reports. I was at school then, and it caught the imagination of every schoolboy in the land, me included.

All my pals and I had no doubt that we would take part in the event in years to come, and we all had our own ideal car already sorted, although I don’t recall a Hillman Hunter featuring highly! Well, of all that group who were so sure then they were going to go rallying, only one actually did. And it took me 43 years to get my first win!

As well as being a damned fine rally driver, Andrew Cowan went on to achieve huge success as a team manager, particularly with Mitsubishi, but to me he will always be the Marathon Man who kicked off my interest all those year ago.

RIP Andrew Cowan and Russell Brookes.

Ian McRae, North Lanarkshire

Barney Oldfield’s legacy includes inspiring many young drivers, including Karl Kimball
Barney Oldfield’s legacy includes inspiring many young drivers, including Karl Kimball

I can hardly tell you how much I enjoyed your appreciation of the career of the great Barney Oldfield. Nearly half a century ago the rapscallion I was would back his first car out of his parents’ driveway, put the big Ford 350ci V8 in drive and step hard on the loud pedal.

The neighbours having complained, dear old Dad admonished me: “Don’t go taking off like Barney Oldfield!” I responded: “Who is Barney Oldfield?” “A race car driver,” came the answer.

Years later when my love of motor sport led me to intense study of the sport’s history I learned that Barney Oldfield’s last major win came two years before my dear old Dad was even born!

Then I pictured my grandfather some time in the 1930s telling dear old Dad ‘Don’t be taking off like Barney Oldfield!’ to which he doubtless replied, ‘Who is Barney Oldfield?’ And now we know.

Karl T Kimball, Little Rock, Arkansas

The latest issue is great and I must firstly say that the editor’s article is so very profound –in my younger days it was a routine to buy both Autosport and Motoring News for a few pence!

But the reason for my letter regards the article on the Lola T210 not so much for the editorial but the picture of the car driven by a very dear friend, now passed, Jeremy Lord.

I had the great pleasure to know Jeremy. He was a solicitor by profession, in the late ’70s, and had then become the honorary legal advisor to the BARC at Thruxton. I really struggled to get to grips with the circuit myself, but he spent hours over a diagram of how to drive it for me.

From the back of the grid with that help I qualified fifth in FF2000 at the age of 40-something, back in the mid-80s!

One of life’s wonderful people, sorely missed, and whose family I am in touch with and told them to buy the magazine.

John Farmer, via email

I read the fascinating article on the ultimate evolution of the Porsche 917 (Best of the Best, November 2019) with interest.

Having visited the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart this Summer, it was telling that the crowds for the 917 exhibits were bigger than those for the modern machinery. Even 50 years after they were built, these remarkable cars still grab attention. My own Porsche racing car is humbler. I own a 944 Turbo, in a striking red and white livery in homage to the Dickie Attwood Le Mans-winning 917.

To date, its greatest claim to fame is being raced by a then 16-year-old Jamie Chadwick to third place at Mondello Park. Given the trajectory of Jamie’s career [she has gone on to win the British GT4 title and the inaugural W Series], she is somebody I suspect who will go onto achieve much more.

Jason Mills, London

I was curious about a letter recently (Motor Sport, December 2019) about the time it would take an electric vehicle to complete 700 miles from Dover to Tongue. Actually, it’s very easy to answer.

My current 2016 Model S 85, has now covered 60,000 miles and I am regularly completing longer journeys in the car having taken her to Germany, Belgium, France and Spain. Even in the UK, where we are a bit behind with supercharging stations, my Tesla network provides me with countrywide coverage. I recently went to Cornwall with no range anxiety (what is this anyway?).

So in answer, my car refuels at the Tesla-provided superchargers network. To go from Dover to Tongue would require two stops along the way of about 23-30 minutes each. This would be all the time needed for a cuppa and a toilet break, before the app tells me I am ready to go again. Serenely cruising at around 69mph (the sweet spot for efficiency, it seems!) consuming between 235-285Wh/km in progress whilst listening to the sweet sounds of Beethoven’s 7th.

Gerard Sauer, via email

I enjoyed reading the rallying article by your digital editor Dominic Tobin (Mud, Sweat and Tears, December 2019). However, as a Motorsport UK scrutineer I was disturbed by the in-car photo on page 103. Mr. Tobin should be wearing his HANS device under his harness strap not above it, and his flameproof balaclava should be tucked into his overalls. An excellent result for a first time navigator nevertheless.

David Walters, Wilmslow,  Cheshire

Tobin had never rallied before, so made one or two errors, which were well spotted!
Tobin had never rallied before, so made one or two errors, which were well spotted!

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