What a provocative journalist you are! Your piece on Vintage Racing Philosophy way a masterpiece of provocation and I am not utterly convinced that you believe a word of it! As the pilot of the ingenious, overheating-free Austin Seven, I feel compelled to rise to the bait.
You assume that we racers of hot A7s do it to know what it felt like to be Dodson, Driscoll and Co. I know what it must have felt like: Ruddy marvellous! It must also have felt quite pleasant to know that, should the engine blow up, a highly skilled mechanic would take it away and work night and day to get it ready for the next meeting at Sir Herbert’s expense! The nearest I can get to that feeling is to race something that I can (a) afford and (b) fix. What I really seek is to know what it feels like to be ME, in different circumstances, racing within given rules the best Austin Seven I can put together. I am sure,
however, that if this was 1930 I would have devoted as much thought and effort into modifying my car as I have in 1985.
That is a major part of the competition. We Al racers compete with each other, not just on the circuit but also alone in our workshops, where every stroke of the file could mean a vital half-second off the lap time. Surely it was always like that?
In the seventies, McGrath and I shared the campaigning of his outstandingly original Austin Nippy 65. The first four laps were spent in boring isolation. The last lap was the exciting one in which twenty or more cars came by at once. Nice for purists, but nasty for us.
The Chummy changed all that for me, as did McGrath’s “Boulogne Special” for him. We saw just as many cars but from the back of the grid we were passing them.What does it feel like? Ruddy marvellous!
We do have a feeling for the Vintage ethic: check our tyres and crankshafts if you like. However, the very core of what we are trying to do with our Austin Sevens is to BEAT each other, by the greatest margin possible but within the rules laid down by the V.S.C.C.
It is called Motor Sport, Sir. You know:she pastime that gave its name to the magazine! Chester G. WALKER [Point taken!— Ed.]