To anyone who is interested in the B.R.M. project the matter of drivers must be causing a lot of thought. If this automobile is good enough to compete on level terms with the Continentals, and we all sincerely hope it is, then the whole conception of British drivers most change. We must have out-and-out professionals, to whom racing-driving is their meal ticket, not the usual business of selling the odd car during the week, and than dashing down to the course for the practice and then hoping to put up a “Good show, old boy” at the the meeting. That’s all very well for the club events but we have simply got to realise that international motor-racing is a deadly serious business in which a great deal of prestige is involved.
At present one has to have money, and a decent chunk of it, to get a drive in a real race, and although we have produced some tolerable drivers. l cannot see any British driver—with the sole brilliant exception of the late Richard Seaman—being asked by a foreign team to take a car on ability alone. Many of our wealthy amateurs have bought themselves into a team (and been given a dud car), but as drivers they treat us as the amateurs we are.
Let’s face it, chaps! Right from the earliest days our motor-racing record is pretty terrible. Have we ever produced a car or driver to compare with the best of the Continentals? We shot them out of the skies and proved beyond doubt that our men and machines were supreme, but yet these same people who got panic-stricken at the thought of a Spitfire produce cars and drivers that make rings round us.
What’s the answer? I said before, it’s money. B.R.M. must comb Britain, starting with the motor-cycle boys, to get the finest team of drivers possible, irrespective of their means, and then give them contracts that will enable them to live as professional racing drivers. The team will have to be paid by the race promoters to start. Why on earth our drivers tolerate the position where they pay entrance fees at meetings such as Silverstone, Goodwood and Shelsley which attract big gates, is beyond me. The prize money does not even cover expenses. Silverstone must be good for a £40,000 gate, and £10,000 prize and starting money would soon bring out the best in designers and drivers.
R.A.C. could, I say could—but it’s only a pipe dream to expect any help to British motor-racing to come out of the palatial edifice in Pall Mall—help by promoting a Grand Prix at Silverstone and giving the profits to B.R.M.
I see clubs are appealing for help from their members to buy equipment for the team. I have never heard such silly nonsense in my life. We are told that motor manufacturers and accessory makers have contributed £150,000 to the project—surely they can supply the odd van or two or even a set of refuelling funnels? If they are still short of money then sell buttonhole badges or radiator emblems, or even publish a book of the story, but, let’s get away from this amateurish messing about and get down to business.
Reading “Tim” Birkin’s book increases this feeling, and I suppose this letter sounds a bit garbled and bitter, but as an enthusiast who has attended most meetings at home and abroad since I was taken as a small boy to the 1909 Sutton Bank hill-climb, I begin to despair that I shall ever see a British car and driver leading the field in an international race, and now it seems that a marvellous opportunity is being frittered away. One more message. Please, Mr. Mays, much as I have admired your sprint driving for the last thirty years, give some of the youngsters a chance and use your experience and ability in the team manager’s position.
I am, Yours. etc.,
ERIC E. B. VEREKER.