Letters: July 2018

Setting history straight

As an owner and racer of Historic F3 and F2 Tecnos, at one time owning four, I devoured Doug Nye’s piece on Ronnie Peterson’s exploits in the famous SMOG F3 Tecno, which came up for auction at Monaco. What a car.

As I read further, however, I was dismayed by the inference from Doug that the Historic F3 racing group is a bunch of young hot-shoes sponsored by the Bank of Dad and that my very real Tecnos might have been “built last Tuesday”. The HSCC HF3 Championship organising team, in which I play a modest ‘marketing’ role, is very rigorous in its demands for authenticity and period history, as are the organisers of the prestigious events that our series supports.

I agree that Peterson’s Tecno should be out on track racing rather than being polished in some collection or museum. That is the sentiment of all those who compete in HF3, in period cars, where the bright yellow SMOG Tecno would be totally at home. Indeed, where else could or should it race again? What a shame Ronnie is not around to see it.

Peter Hamilton, Kelbrook, Lancs


Return to Curborough

Curborough Sprint Course celebrates 55 years of competition this year. To mark the occasion, on September 8 Shenstone & District CC is running a classic sprint meeting using the original course laid out in the traditional manner. The event will be a celebration of sprinting in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, with people being encouraged to dress in the period style of their car.

We would like to encourage anyone who competed at these times to either enter the sprint or else come along to support the event. If you used to compete, but have not done so for a while, to encourage you to take part we hope you will be able to purchase a sprint licence on the day for £5.

If you competed at Curborough in the past, please go to htttps://curborough.co.uk/classic-sprint-2018/ and express your interest in competing or displaying your car.

Howard Cottrell, membership secretary, SDCC


Pleasure in the principality

I refer to the letter from Mr Richard Hennessy in the June edition. I remember the 1970 season very well. And yes, it was an exciting year with six very different cars and drivers winning Grands Prix, as Richard mentioned, but I would like to add one further car to his list – the Lotus 49C of Jochen Rindt in the most exciting finish to a Monaco Grand Prix I have ever witnessed.

Rindt had inherited second place and was 9sec behind Jack Brabham’s BT33, but was catching him at a second per lap. It was very tense but I remember turning to a friend and saying that catching is one thing, overtaking quite another. The words were hardly out of my mouth when Black Jack was forced off-line when arriving at Gasworks corner at the same time as Piers Courage. Taken by surprise, Jack slid gracefully into the barrier, gifting a surprised Jochen a hard-earned win.

I agree with Richard regarding the sports car scene; the new Porsche 917 and Ferrari 512 were brutish, but I feel that 1970 was the beginning of the end for top-class sports-prototype racing until the mid-1980s, which is where I believe the debate started.

Michael McNicholas, Bolton, Gr Manchester


Porsche spice

For someone who admits to consuming unhealthy quantities of classic car magazines, I was excited but not expecting to be surprised by your feature on the rebuilt Targa Florio-winning Porsche 911 RSR.

Over the years I had seen numerous pictures and magazine features about this magic race, but you managed to come up with wonderful, previously unseen pictures, together with a way of telling the story that could only be Andrew Frankel.

If you’ve ever been in, or watched, a classic 911 being driven with commitment, you know Herbie Müller is absolutely on it in the lovely picture where he is coming up the hill, front of the car bobbing as the fans look on.

As someone who is fortunate enough to own both a 1973 Carrera RS and an FIA-spec 911 S/T race car, I have more than a passing interest and passion for this era of the Porsche 911 and its development.

But still I had never heard how the improvised Group 5 running of the car at Monza came about, or seen pictures where the car was running magnesium centre-lock wheels. All in all a wonderful feature, and of course, a splendid rebuild by Maxted-Page!

The only thing left on the wish list would have been a test drive by Andrew – I love the way he describes how a car feels and reacts. Next time, perhaps…

Olle Victorin, via email


Brundle rumble

Much as I enjoy the musings of Doug Nye, I think it was a bit strong for him to refer to Martin Brundle as “a journeyman F1 driver”, and by implication outstaying his welcome by cockpit-blocking.

Let’s not forget that said ‘journeyman’ kept Ayrton Senna honest in Formula 3, stood on a Grand Prix podium nine times, won the world sports car title, ditto the Le Mans 24 Hours, and is arguably the most astute motor racing broadcaster of his generation.

Okay, Brundle didn’t win a Grand Prix, but does that mean the likes of one-time F1 winners Pastor Maldonado or Olivier Panis were more worthy racing drivers?

I think not.

Peter Herbert, Moulton, Richmond, N Yorkshire


There’s Johnny!

Just a small correction to the otherwise excellent article on Steve Nichols in the May 2018 issue. The 1980 Indianapolis 500-winning Chaparral 2K was driven by Johnny Rutherford, not Al Unser Sr.

Unser did indeed win the Indy 500 in a Chaparral, in 1978. He drove the 2K on its Indy debut in 1979, but dropped out with mechanical failure, and the car was then driven to victory at Indy by Rutherford in 1980. The photo on page 108 is clearly Johnny Rutherford (with his signature Texas star helmet).

Thanks for your outstanding journalism, and keep up the great work!

Norman Turnquist, Carlisle, NY, USA


A litany of shortcomings

As a regular reader of Motor Sport and an avid Formula 1 fan since the late 1960s, I must say that I’m concerned about the future. I’m not sure F1 can claim to be the pinnacle of motor sport any more. Here are a few reasons.

The depth of talent throughout the field has slipped with the continued nod to pay drivers. There are only three teams at best with a chance of winning. There is just not enough overtaking. There are too many questionable rule changes, for instance the grid penalties.

The halo ruins the beauty of the F1 car and looks to be a knee-jerk reaction that does not provide enough protection from debris. I felt Red Bull’s screen looked to be a better solution. They should have done more homework before introducing the primitive-looking thing that’s now being used.

Meanwhile, both Formula E and IndyCar are on the upswing, with more competitive racing and more drivers/teams having a chance to win. And please don’t tell me that FE or Indy drivers couldn’t compete in F1. That’s rubbish. If anybody has watched Josef Newgarden, they’ll know he’s a true talent.

Steve Angell, Glenview, Illinois, USA


The life of Brian

Brian Henton might have needed Andrew Marriott’s persuasion to get himself noticed (Lunch, May 2018), but he was modest about the role he played in getting F1 and other forms of motor racing on TV.

In 1977, his F1 team co-owner Don Shaw arranged for the BBC’s documentary department to produce a 50-minute film, Driving to Win, which had some of the best racing footage seen on TV to that point. The BBC’s sports mandarins noticed and – having been shown up by their own side, and also having seen ITV showing live F1 footage – finally crumbled in their resistance to showing motor racing (and its ‘naughty’ ads) on TV. It showed the first of its Grand Prix highlights programmes from Belgium 1978.

David Cole, Oakham, Rutland