Editorial, June 1997

I don’t know about you but it seems entirely daft to me that the organisers of the historic race meetings that are popping up over Europe seem unable plan their events in such a way that their dates don’t clash.

I understand the season is only so long and that established meetings have less flexibility than the newcomers but, were I in charge of such an event, making sure my spectators weren’t elsewhere at the time would figure near the top of my priority list. And it’s not just the crowds who find their diaries double-booked and loyalties split.

By the time you read this, Stirling Moss will not, in fact, have taken part in the Mille Miglia because he was in Monaco for the Historic GP at the time while, at the other end of the country, many potential spectators were camped out at Le Mans to watch pre-qualifying for the 24-hour race. And where will you be on the weekend ofJuly 5/6? In Reims for its ‘one-off 12-hours reunion or Basildon for Retro ’97, Canon Lionel Webber’s Moss and Amon-toting ‘one-off’ historic hillclimb? Europe is a small place these days and people will happily travel large distances for their fix of historic racing but it’s not so small that either spectators or competitors seem likely to manage being in different places at the same time.

The only crumb of comfort I can offer is that the 1993 Goodwood Festival of Speed was a ‘one off’ too.

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It was the aforementioned Canon Webber, chaplain to the BRDC, who reminded me that this year would have marked the 70th birthday of Archie Scott-Brown, were it not for one grim day at Spa back in 1958. If you have not read his biography, Archie and the Listers by Robert Edwards, you have missed one of the greatest treats in motoring literature.

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I have never been so glad to be stuck in a traffic jam in all my life. Sauntered up to Silverstone for the VSCC’s ‘Spring Start’ meeting expecting to drive straight in and found queues back to the main road. Apparently the crowd was more than twice as large as last year’s, with those making the journey being rewarded by good weather, marvellous racing cars and some fine driving. The VSCC’s next Silverstone meeting is its ‘Racing Green’ event on Saturday, June 5. Among the Astons, Jaguars and Lotuses of all eras, there will be an explosion of vintage Bentleys to commemorate the anniversary of the fabled 1927 Le Mans win.

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There are two stories in this issue which tell tales of extraordinary human achievement. One is Pierre Levegh’s attempt to win Le Mans single-handed, the other the brief, brilliant history of the Hesketh Formula One team. I tried hard to imagine how something similar might happen today but gave up before long. Sad, isn’t it?