MATTERS OF MOMENT, June 1965

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THE CHANGING FACE OF MOTOR RACING

For motor racing, the present is a time of change. We have moved on from the “right crowd and no crowding” and the hey-day of the gentlemen amateur drivers to public appreciation of the Sport and intense professionalism. For some years drivers have dictated the conditions under which they are prepared to race—no bankings, no rain, dislike of Targa Florio hazards, etc.

American-engined V8 sports/racing cars are now faster than F.1 cars and Clark and Gurney show more enthusiasm for the Indianapolis 500 than for races like the B.R.D.C. International Trophy and the Monaco G.P.

Grand Prix racing should represent the highest form of motor racing and while this remains so from the scientific and cost angle, it is to be hoped that next year’s 3-litre cars will put F.1 lap-speeds back at the top, and driver-skill at a premium, even if other types of competition car prove more spectacular and other races more lucrative.

INSURANCE TOMFOOLERY

We are bombarded with publicity matter from insurance interests trying to convince us that motor cover is run at an enormous loss, sports cars are a bad risk, etc. We welcome the move to take the driver’s record into consideration and to make the accident-prone pay realistic premiums, providing great care is taken to assess correctly who is to blame when an accident happens. These changes have not prevented a steep the cost of insurance, however, nor are even experienced young drivers finding it any easier to put sports cars on the road.

An announcement that the British Safety Council is urging a Government Committee to investigate whether the American insurance companies’ psychological attitude tests could be used beneficially here, not only for insurance purposes, but when “licensing young drivers and analysing court-convicted offenders,” is disturbing, although Stirling Moss backs the idea. Apparently three U.S.A. underwriters set an examination of 200 to 300 “Yes/No,” “True/False ” questions and allow psychologists to analyse the replies, in assessing a good, moderate or bad driver insurance risk. The questions asked include : “Do you have nightmares?,” “Do you like ski-ing ?,” “Do you feel another world-war is inevitable?,” etc.

Does British motor insurance want to get involved in this kind of nonsense or should it retain some semblance of dignity rise in a business which started by making money in an element of risk, which latter insurance companies now seem reluctant to recognise ? This psychological brainwashing emanates from a part of the Globe where, according to a correspondent, one provincial Government Highway Code poses the question “Is it legal to make turning signals by means of swinging the car-door outwards?,” to which the student of roadcraft is told : ” No.”

This question and those of the U.S.A. psychological insurance assessors seem to be on a par. . . .!

ANNUAL BROOKLANDS RE-UNION, JUNE 26th

Vickers-Armstrongs Ltd. have granted permission for badge-holders to enter the grounds of the old Motor Course, in their cars, on the last Saturday in June, between 2 p.m. and 4.30 p.m. The Re-Union is open to anyone with genuine Brooklands associations—driver, official, spectator, mechanic, etc. Ticket applications should be made, giving credentials, to these offices. There is no admission charge, some ex-Brooklands cars and many famous personalities are expected to be present (offers to bring genuine cars welcomed), and tea will be available at that former haunt of Brooklands’ personalities, the “Hand & Spear” near Weybridge Station, where the evening will be spent talking about the Track and viewing Brooklands’ films.

“SHOPPING FOR A ROLLS-ROYCE”

There have been certain difficulties in continuing this feature, since its appearance in the April issue. Two R.-R. specialists, very willing to let us try their cars, have premises in the provinces, respectively some 70 and 155 miles from these offices, and heavy commitments in other directions compelled us to postpone visiting them. A Mayfair R.-R. dealer had nothing suitable for us to test and another, at West Norwood, sold a Mulliner Silver Wraith a few days before we were due to try it. However, we hope to resume our shopping in the near future.

The Brands Hatch “1000” race, too late to report in this issue, was an ambitious idea. But at Brooklands in the late vintage period, sports cars raced for two periods of 12 hours, not six hours, and no work was allowed between them. Subsequently, they faced for a continuous 1,000 miles. In the B.R.S.C.C. even engine changes were permitted between each 500-milc spell. It was the same in this year’s pathetic four-hour T.T. Surely the sports cars of 1965 are not regarded as more frail than those of 1929/32?

OLD-TYPE SPRINTS

In an age when some people leap off the ground at the very thought of a dragster, let alone seeing one through a cloud of burning slick-rubber, it is nice to know that the older type speed-trials and speed hill-climbs have not been superseded by the American sling-shots. For example, on June 13th, Shelsley Walsh celebrates its Diamond Jubilee, with appropriate historic cars and motorcycles running and George Lanchcster, who discovered the famous hill for the Midland A.C., as Guest of Honour. Then, at the end of the season the Brighton Speed Trials gain similar status, over a course built originally as a private motor-racing venue. Let this serve as a reminder that freak straight-line 1-mile sprinting has not yet robbed the speed hillclimb or the speed trial contested between normal competition tars, of status and glamour.

* * *

The annual Elstree Flying Display takes place on June 5th.

DINKY LOOKS

Sir,
Can tilting at the Editor be taken much further, with the appearance of the letter from the Chairman of Meccano Ltd. in your last issue? Having seen the new Vauxhall, I must say that your comparison of the rather clumsy grille and wheels with a toy was extremely apt. It would seem that Vauxhalls might have felt disgruntled, but certainly not Dinkys. It must, Sir, be especially hard to bear as you have always given much space to new model cars.

Although it is stated that “Dinky Toys enjoy the reputation of being the finest and best-detailed models in their field,” this, of course, depends on the field. Although they are improving, it is by no means certain that they can claim to be the best British model car, and they certainly cannot compare with Dugu, Tekno or Rio models, admittedly collectors’ pieces, or even with the latest French Dinkys.
Anstey. CECIL GIBSON.

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