Around and About, July 1979

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Mears and Cosworth win at Indianapolis

Rick Mears scored a fine win in the Indianapolis 500 on May 27th, his Penske PC6 leading home a field dominated by turbocharged Cosworth DFX engines, six of the Northamptonshire breed crossing the line before the first Offenhauser home. A. J. Foyt took a dramatic second place, coasting over the line with a broken DFX in his Parnelli VPJ6C. Danny Ongais was a brilliant third from well back on the grid with another Parnelli and Bobby Unser’s Penske came in fourth.

Mears was on pole in only his second Indy 500, but it was the Unser brothers who set the pace, A1 leading for 85 laps of the 200-lap race in the incredibly effective, new ground-effect Chaparrral 2K until a failed gearbox seal just after half distance put him out, then Bobby taking the lead for 89 laps until slowed by the loss of fourth gear.

The lead up to the race had been marred by a political battle between USAC and CART, provoked largely by USAC’s decision to restrict turbo boost pressure to 50 in. of mercury. Yet though this year’s Indy cars were consequently slower in a straight line, the lap record tumbled to 164 m.p.h.

* * *

Shelsley Walsh

Martyn Griffiths, the Midlander who so nearly won the RAC British Hill-Climbing Championship last year, scored a magnificent win at Shelsley Walsh on Sunday, June 10th.

Driving Mike Pilbeam’s latest creation, the MP 40 with “ground effects”, Griffiths won the Shelsley round of the Championship with a time only 2/100ths of a second outside Alister Douglas Osborn’s outright record of 27.35 seconds.

A.D.O., in another Pilbeam, was second a mere 4/100ths of a second behind Griffiths and the reigning champion David Franklin with his March BMW was third and only 1/10th of a second behind.

In addition to this competitive speed hill-climbing from the top British drivers, a record crowd was treated to superb weather and the inclusion in the programme of some magnificent historic racing cars. Peter Curbey’s latest 23B, Ron Footitt’s Cognac Special and Tim Llewellyn’s 1979/30 Bentley 8-litre were the historic class winners.

Alister Douglas Osborn retains his lead in the British Championship ahead of Chris Cramer and Martyn Griffiths. – A. W.

* * *

Climax concessionaire

It is amazing how quickly memories fade in motoring sport as reputations wax and wane at nearly the same speed as the competition cars, particularly on the engine side.

Recalling how many different types of competition cars benefited from Coventry-Climax power, it is rather sad to read a note from the company’s PR man saying, “Our commercial product range these days is entirely forklift trucks, apart from a limited number of engines for Ministry of Defence contracts.”

Those of you with Climax-engined vehicles should know that Tony Mantle of Climax Engine Services, Lenchwick, Evesham, Worcs., took over (in February 1977) the parts and advisory service for FEW, FWA and FWB motors.

We are told that Mr. Mantle owns six Lotus derivatives including a Lotus 25. As you would expect from the company title, much of the work is concerned with competition car preparation, but some restoration is also undertaken on customer and museum-owned cars.

* * *

Aero-diary date

With Euro this and that popping up everywhere in these voting days, we thought an aero-date might relieve the monotony.

The Shuttleworth Collection at Old Warden, Beds, is the venue. On July 29th they will hold their traditional annual Military Air Pageant.

This year Shuttleworth expect to show an Avro Lancaster and contrast it with such machinery as the Hawker Hurricane, Fairey Swordfish, Supermarine Spitfire, Gloster Gladiator, Bristol Se5a and the jet generation including the de Havilland Vampire.

It is advisable to arrive early as the narrow approach road can quickly become congested. Entry charges are £5 per car, including passengers.

* * *

International E-type day

The E-Type Register of the Jaguar Drivers’ Club is once again organising a test day at Mallory Park circuit in Leicestershire. To be held on July 8th, the entry fee for those who have E-types with a laminated screen and their crash helmets to BS2495 is £9, and this should give the run of the circuit for 20 minutes or so. Additional activities include the annual Concours d’Elegance and demonstration runs by historic Jaguars.

The JDC will be running these long circuit sessions, but non-Jaguars will also be allowed, all those taking part segregated according to probable speed differential.

Enquiries should be addressed to: George Gibbs, Burghclere Grange School, Burghclere, Newbury, Berks.

* * *

A jet-set life?

We receive a regular amount of correspondence from those who feel that we enjoy a life full of international travel, glamour and girls. No matter how often we tell people that the image is false the letters keep coming in.

Perhaps the best scheme for the ambitious is to enter the Sir William Lyons Awards, organised by the Guild of Motoring Writers. On the staff we have once Guild committee member, three members, and one who regards the whole thing (the Guild) as rather suspicious.

The scheme for newcomers is that they be under 23 and resident in the British Isles. The idea is that such youngsters submit articles covering a topical motoring interview (400 words) and feature (1,000 words) on one of the following three subjects:

(a) the future of sports car racing; (b) should motorcycle power output be limited by law? (c) should we all buy British cars?

As an alternative to the above entrants may write a 1,000-word article on any motoring or motorcycling subject of his/her choice, indicating the publication for which it is thought to be best suited.

First prize is £500, and as a matter of interest we have the 1977 winner, Ian Bamsey, on the staff of our sister journal Motoring News. Regulations and entry forms are available from Mrs. Jean Peters, General Secretary, Guild of Motoring Writers, “Fairfield”, Pyrford Woods, Woking, Surrey.

* * *

Toyota competitions

Flashing out of Cologne recently, on a mission to do with the works of Henry Ford, we noticed a rather slick dark-glassed building bearing the legend Toyota.

Investigation proved that Öve Andersson had moved from the previous Toyota competitions home in Belgium to the outskirts of Cologne, occupying part of said building.

Toyota have currently decided that they should be represented again in Group 4 with a 2-litre, 16-valve version of the Celica, Hannu Mikkola took second overall on the 1977 RAC Rally with such an engine. The decision marks a renewal of interest by the World’s third largest motor car manufacturer in this motorsport category.

Naturally the body style will be that of the current Celicas, either in fastback or liftback.

* * *

Tatra tales

We have a rather disturbing missive from the Motokov Press Service detailing the general superiority of the Tatra 613 limousine from Czechoslovakia.

We are told that this rear-engined 3,495 c.c. V8 provides 0-62 m.p.h. times of 12.7 seconds; a peak speed of 190 km./h.; relatively low fuel consumption (16 litres per 62 miles) and is “the most roomy of all the comparable cars of foreign makes.”

The disturbing part comes when they comment that the Rover 3500 and Renault 30 were used for comparisons and that the Rover had to be withdrawn after about 5,000 miles with the brake pads “worn down to the minimum permissible limit. Moreover an engine defect disabled this car after another 450 kilometres.”

Propaganda or fact? We look forward to nominating a suitably brave driver to find the Tatra truth in the matter!

* * *

Number 1 in Europe

For the mass production people the lure of being the biggest is an irresistible one. Renault are full of beans because, they say, “Renault is now the leading importer in Great Britain, Germany and Italy.”

Renault’s biggest seller in Britain is the R14

* * *

Speeding in Sussex

The MG Car Club will be promoting a restricted licence speed trial at Goodwood on July 8th.

More details from the club’s South Eastern Centre, PO Box 126, Brentwood, Essex.