WHAT a bit of luck that the muddle over how to select sixteen cars for the galling grid was sorted out quickly and amicably, for the race round the streets of Monte Carlo is such a classic event that it would be a pity to spoil it. During practice some French papers printed that the CSI were recommending that twenty cars should be allowed to start, but this was false information, which was unfortunate, for the race could easily support twenty starters, though whether the finances could is another matter. The Constructors and Entrants Association mean well when they say they want to encourage new people to join in Grand Prix racing, but that is as far as it goes. If an organiser said he had a kitty of £32,000 for sixteen cars, or £2,000 each, they would be happy, but if he then said he still only had £32,000 but wanted to Start 32 cars, so it would only be £1,000 each, it would not he acceptable to the Association. They want to help, but only after they have helped themselves. Anyway, Monaco was all right, they limit the grid to sixteen, and the sixteen that got in were more than worthy of their places, the only unfortunate being Servoz-Gavin who crashed his car and had to borrow Stewart’s spare for the last-minute dash. However, if he was going to be that fast, he could have done it in the earlier practice, as Pescarolo did, you were not forced to wait until the last 30 minutes. The Swedish Formula Three driver Ronnie Peterson did very well to get on the grid at his first attempt at a Grand Prix, and his mechanics who built the March at the Bicester factory obviously did a good job as the car finished the race without a fault.
March Engineering are only too pleased for customers to send their mechanics to the factory to build their car, once the monocoque is off the jig, as it not only eases their labour problems, but it means that the customer can really know his car before final delivery is made. This also applies to the Formula Two and Formula Three cars and recently one of the March directors, who was not closely in touch with the workshops, went to a Formula Three race and was puzzled to see so many familiar faces at the Bicester factory on the starting grid. When he said “Why are all our fitters taking part in this race ?” he was told “Ahem!, they’re not our fitters, they are our customers.”
Oh yes, it can rain in Monaco, and over the years it is surprising how many times it has done so on the Friday morning early practice. This year the rain kept on coming back, and Saturday night was not the usual happy gala night in the Casino square, it was damp and miserable and the cafes and restaurants were packed and the streets relatively empty. On Sunday, only a few minutes after the end of the Grand Prix the rain came down as never before, which was lucky for the drivers, and not too desperate for the public and those whose work is done indoors, but it was miserable for the teams who were in the middle of packing up the pit material. In all racing circles the number 13 is considered to be unlucky and is invariably left out of the list of competitors’ numbers, though I knew a fellow who raced on motorcycles consistently with the number 13 and he was a World Champion, but normally there is no 13 in a motor race. The easy way to avoid it is to number cars on evens only-2, 4, 6, 8 and an on. At Monaco a new superstition has arisen over the number 18 and red cars, for that was the number on poor Bandies Ferrari when he crashed and was burnt to death at the chicane. In this year’s entry list number 18 was Chris Anion with the STP-March and when it was realised that it was a red car there was a quick reshuffle and it was renumbered 28, which made the programme a bit confusing. The absence of Andretti and the STP-Oil-Treatment-Special was a disappointment to many people, but the Granatellis and Andretti are very involved with Indianapolis and had a lot of testing to do with their new McNamara cars for Indianapolis, these having been built in a small factory in Germany, run by John McNamara, an American living in Europe. Anyone who has read Andy Granatelli’s book on motor racing “They Call Me Mister 500” will know how important the Indianapolis 500 is to the Granatelli brothers. It’s not the money they can win, for they have spent more money on Indianapolis over the years than winning every race would ever accrue for them. it is one of the best motor racing books I have read in a long time, and it’s easy to see why they scratched from the Monaco GP in favour of working on their Indianapolis projects. It’s why Ferrari tries so hard to win at Monza and why Matra must win at Le Mans.
The Granatelli family not only sponsor Indianapolis cars, but own them as well, and work on them, which is a very different thing from the sort of sponsorship that the wide boys are drumming up for Grand Prix racing. I can’t imagine anyOne from the Yardley Perfume for Men firm working all night on “their” BRM to get it ready for a race, or the cigarette chaps working on the Lotus 72 to get it sorted out. The latest and best giggle yet in this sponsorship racket, for that is all it is, is “Brooke Bone OXO Racing with Rob Walker”. I ask you! Who on earth is going to keep writing all that, or even saying it, as the name of a racing team ? While the pits on race day were sweet smelling and fragrant with the odour of Yardley’s, there was no nice Oxo brew-up afterwards when the weather turned cold and miserable. I wonder how long it will be before it becomes obvious to someone that they are being conned. Dunlop paid a lot of money for Stewart and Tyrrell, but at least their car was on pole position, and Goodyear pay good money to keep Brabham happy, and both firms are learning a lot from their association with these drivers, but Perfume, Cigarettes, OXO, Chewing Gum, or Surgical Goods, that is something else. The first time I saw this “sponsorship business” was when Indianapolis came to Monza back in 1957, but a close look behind the scenes revealed that in most cases the man who owned the sponsoring firm was a dyed-in-the-wool racing enthusiast, like Bob Wilkie and his Leader Cord Specials. His greetings card factory was at last making him big money and the tax man was allowing him to go racing on the profits, but Wilkie had been playing around with racing tars Since he was a young man. Another man I met was the chap behind Coca Cola bottles, not the liquid inside, but he had been in the racing game for years. There was a car named after a long-distance haulage company, but the owner owned the car and ran the team, another was tied up with a chain-store company, he was actually driving the car. The roots of all the sponsorship went deep into the Sport, and if you read Granatelli’s book you will see how deep. Today people are being talked into putting money into a racing team when they have barely seen a racing car, let alone used a spanner. on one, and this smacks of “getting on the band wagon”, a game that is doomed to failure.
The Monte Carlo circuit is unusual in that it has no paddock, the best that can be offered is a side-street in which to park the transporters, but even that is becoming difficult. There was a time when all the teams viewed each other with a sound sense of rivalry and each one would find their own garage in town and it was fun to do a tour of all the garages to find out where everyone was busy working away, and to get into all of thern you needed a smattering of at least four European languages. Gradually the scene has been changing and this year, with only two exceptions, everyone was in the same garage; it was like a big chummy club meeting, and frankly rather boring and clinical, in fact almost like a mechanical hospital. This sort of thing is all part of the changing scene that people like Lotus, McLaren and Brabham have brought back from America, consciously or unconsciously I don’t know, but I remember the first time some of them returned from Indianapolis they said they thought the “Indy Guys” were a funny old lot. Old professionals who had it all buttoned up to make a conifortable living, without driving too hard, and they were naturally opposed to any European upstart who tried to upset the Establishment. That was 1961 or 1962. This is 1970, and somehow I feel the Grand Prix circus has learnt a lot from those years, unfortunately, I would add.
During the race Amon was baulked by a slow car he was lapping, during his chase of Brabham, and as the March accelerated away you could not see Amon, but a tiny clenched fist was extended vertically. He did not have room in the cockpit to move his arm, and I was surprised he managed to get his hand out. It was all rather ineffectual and frustrating for him. A lot of people talk about the good old days when you could see the driver sitting upin his car. More important, I feel, in those days, if someone baulked you you could lean out and thump hint one on the car as you went by, and them) turn round arid hurl abuse at him as you accelerated away. It was all good fun, and its loss is the price we must pay for progress.
Before the race started, and while the cars were on the “dummy grid”, there was a gentle parade of old cars that were to be auctioned in the following day. In previous years the competitors in the vintage Paris-Nice Commemoration Rally have been welcomed to make a parade round the Grand Prix circuit, but this year they were turned away. About 70 vintage and PVT cars, typical of those that took part in the pre-war classic Paris-Nice Rally, set off from Paris at midnight on Wednesday andcovered 1,200 kilometres via Turin and the Col de Tende (in heavy snow) to arrive in Nice on Saturday evening. Their annual parade round the circuit was cancelled at the last minute “on grounds of security”, a new phrase discovered in Monaco this year, and instead a collection of old cars that had been brought down on trailer and train crept round as a travelling advertisement for the Auction Sale. What a pity money-grabbing over-rules decent sporting instincts, but it was very fitting in today’s Grand Prix world. Seven cars entered for the Paris-Nice from England and all got to the finish with very little trouble; they were two Amilears, a Salmsoil, a 3-litre Lagonda, a Talbot 90, a 38/250 Mercedes-Benz, and a D8 Delage, and all the drivers were very disappointed at being ousted from the Grand Prix circuit by commercialism. They didn’t even get free tickets to see the race. Oh well, they enjoyed their motoring and they use their cars for fun that money cannot buy, only enthusiasm and hard work can achieve it.
Finally, the greatest reflection and the most unbelievable left lying in the Monte Carlo harbour was the great Brabham mistake, to which he admits freely. He misjudged his braking on the last corner of the 80-lap Grand Prix and lost the race to the hard-charging Rindt. It was not a simple mistake, though it may have looked like it, but was the culmination of a number of things. Undoubtedly the Brabham’s brakes were tiring after 80 laps round-the-houses, and so were the brakes on all the other cars; they were bound to be. For about 15 laps, after Amon had retired, Brabham was able to gauge the pace of Rindt, who was now in second place, and the Lotus showed no signs of gaining, in fact it was losing ground, so Brabham could well assume he had got the race won. There was every justification in easing back a fraction in the last laps, his pit keeping him informed of the gap. What he did not anticipate was arriving in the Casino square just as Siffert’s March died on him, so that Brahham had to come to a virtual stop until the March picked up again and he could accelerate round it. This lost him four or live seconds on that one fateful lap, and this inspired Rindt to drive the way he does in Formula Two. Brabham could now not take it so easy, for Siffert had unintentionally lost him time, and now Rindt was producing an apparent miracle, going through the Casino square in the most incredible opposite-lock slides in his pursuit of the Brablham that he thought must be in trouble. It was not, and Brabham was still safe as he ended the last lap, but he was very conscious of the charging Rindt in his mirrors. As he approached the final hairpin he made a very rare Brabham mistake. He-was just lapping Courage, and was fearful that the De Tomaso would baulk him on the last corner, but Courage was keeping well to the right and out of the way. Had Courage upset Brabham’s line into the hairpin it was just possible that Rindt could elbow his way through an the inside, so two things were important, one to brake as late as possible and, two, to take a straight line for the apex of the hairpin and “shut-the-door” on any possibility of Rindt diving inside, a perfectly legitimate racing manoeuvre between two such drivers. Brabham made two errors, he braked a fraction too late, and misjudged how close Rindt was, for though close there was no hope of a dive to the apex and Rindt was heading for the classic line round the hairpin and wishing there was one more lap to go. Brabham locked his wheels and in spite of working hard at “cadence” or on-off panic braking his car overshot the apex of the hairpin and slid into the barriers. Rindt went round in the normal racing line, thoroughly believing in Father Christmas, and an astonished Piers Courage watched it all wondering if it was really happening. Course marshals helped Brabham to turn round and he finished a crumpled second. Those Brabham fans who think he can do no wrong should recall the Italian GP of 1967, when Surtees put him into the loose stuff and won the race on the last corner. Old Jack Brabham is good, but not a god, and what is nice he is human about it all, cursing himself quietly but chuckling about it really. He doesn’t mind his own mistakes but he can’t abide other people’s errors causing him to lose. D. S. J.