Matters of moment, July 1965



Clark’s great Indianapolis victory

At a time when British trade can do with a boost and we are not even present on the space-race starting-grid, let us rejoice over the great Indianapolis victory of the Lotus-Ford Type 38, so ably and bravely driven by Jim Clark.

The Indianapolis 500, the semi-track race run at what were regarded in Europe as prodigious speeds, had been an American-driver monopoly since Dario Resta (Peugeot) won in 1916 (he was an Italian, although domiciled in England) and an American-car monopoly since a disguised SCTF Maserati won in 1940. It is a race that before this year had never been won by a British driver or a British car. It was a tough, rough, accident-prone contest which beat every European driver and car that attempted it. As the years went on, speeds rose, and the Offenhauser engine seemed invincible, the chance of a British victory seemed ever more remote—until Colin Chapman decided that Lotus, powered by Ford, should bring the spoils home across the millpond. In three short years he has vanquished the Americans on their own ground, won this difficult race by a clear margin entirely convincingly at over 150 m.p.h., and has changed America’s conception of how an Indianapolis racing car should be built.

This, following Hill’s B.R.M. three, in-a-row Monaco victory for B.R.M., has set “the green” on the highest pinnacle. Sales of British cars and of Fords must surely rocket in the States as a result and there will be many Americans anxious to commute in Lotus Elans and Ford Cortinas as from now on. . .

MOTOR SPORT offers the warmest congratulations to Cohn Chapman for promoting the Lotus 38, to Ford for so effectively and reliably powering it with their twin-cam V8 racing engine, to the Firestone tyres which went through without a change, to Len Terry who designed the car, to David Lazenby who was the Project Engineer for the Indianapolis venture, as well as acting as chief mechanic for the “500” and who built and maintained it with the help of Graham Clode, Mike Underwood and Jim Smith, and to Jim Clark who shouldered the final responsibility with his usual skill and stamina. We have almost forgiven him for forsaking Monaco for the U.S.A.! It was an epic performance, of which every Briton should be proud. It should do our engineering morale and trade a power of good.

V.S.C.C. Mike Hawthorn trophy meeting

Another opportunity to enjoy the variety and sound of historic racing cars in full cry will occur at Silverstone on July 31st, when the V.S.C.C. holds the above race meeting, with emphasis on racing cars up to 2 1/2-litres built before 1953. Details from T. W. Carson, 3, Kingsclere House Stables, Kingsclere, Newbury, Berks—s.a.e. please.

In the courts

At Selkirk Sheriff Court a 21-year-old demolition worker, who had not passed his test, was fined £350 and disqualified for two years for using an uninsured, untested car with five mechanical defects. This must surely be the alltime-high (no accident occurred), but at Chester a third speeding offence cost a salesman £50, whereas at Widnes a youth who inflicted grievous bodily harm on a 46-year-old doctor was fined £40 and in Liverpool a drunk who jumped on a constable’s back as he was arresting a friend was fined £12—so it can be expensive to be a motorist, even when sober and accident-free. You might think, however, that if someone got into your car with intent to remove it and no policeman was present you would be justified in taking some action. In the opinion of Croydon Magistrates’ Court, not so. A 19-year-old car owner who pulled a Guardsman who was crossing the ignition wires of his car from the seat and punched him was fined £25—the intending thief got a complete discharge. If you want to steal a car, first join the Army!

On the brighter side, a radio astronomy expert at Jodrell Bank produced expert witnesses who convinced Stockton Heath Magistrates that there was doubt about the siting of the radar which had recorded a speed of 44 m.p.h., and they dismissed the case. Dr. Jennison, the accused driver, said “The public should be informed that the radar system is not a magic black box. Had the case gone against me I would most certainly have appealed. This is the first case of a driver caught by radar objecting on the grounds of secondary reflection.” And a San Francisco lawyer is suing the Cadillac Division of General Motors for over a million dollars for alleged defects in his convertible! Those who go to Blackbushe airfield for driving tests, drag meetings or “Whyte Lyon” at Hartley Wintney, a little further along A30, has been most tastefully revamped by Chef & Brewer, and is a good place for an omelette, steak or grill, or drinks in the Portcullis, Countryman, Fisherman’s, Minstrels, Gunroom or dimly-lit gallery bar in the roof of the old barn. Open for lunch and dinner every day, “The Whyte Lyon” takes last orders at 11.30 p.m., or at 10.30 pm. on Sundays. Personally recommended.