Wharton's star quality


Your story on Ken Wharton reminded me of the several occasions when this great and versatile driver graced meetings at Snetterton in the early 1950s, at a time when enthusiasts were able to watch famous drivers and cars at many meetings other than Formula One Grands Prix during a season.

It also brought into focus the depths to which motor racing has plunged over the past 10 years or so, as was exemplified by the Ferrari debacle at the end of the Austrian Grand Prix. Was it only 10 years ago when I was able to attend Friday practice at the British Grand Prix for a fiver? And Nigel Mansell always raced to win!

I was privileged to watch such fine drivers as Roy Salvadori, Bob Gerard, Peter Whitehead, Reg Parnell, Ron Flockhart, Stirling Moss, Jack Brabham, Jim Clark, Jochen Rindt, Bruce McLaren, Peter Collins, Archie Scott-Brown and many others.

Wharton gave the Snetterton regulars the chance to see and hear the V16 BRM; I will never forget this car or how this most versatile of drivers was able to master it in a way which defeated the skills and courage of other highly rated drivers. One could also see this great driver at hill-climbs, British circuit racing, trials, driving tests, grand prix meetings andrallies! I regarded him as much more of a star than Michael Schumacher ever will be.

Of course, it was not all good in those days: Wharton, Peter Collins, McLaren, Rindt, Clark, Scott-Brown and many others lost their lives. But motor racing has become all the poorer in my opinion because everything now depends upon the dictates of huge and, in many cases, unrelated sponsorship, and the demands made upon the sport by television rights. It is high time that those who are involved in Formula One face the stark reality that the whole pack of cards could come tumbling down if there are any more incidents such as we had to witness in Austria. All it will take is for a few million people to press another button on their television handsets!

I want to see drivers using their considerable skills rather than cars with launch controls and which can be largely controlled from the pit garage rather than by the drivers. Furthermore, I do not want to listen to the appalling explanations of the conduct of the Ferrari team which were given by Brawn and Todt after the Austrian Grand Prix.

I am, Yours etc, Peter Nichols, Wiltshire