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Willment memories

Sir,

Thank you for the wonderful article on John Willment in your January issue. It brought back a lot of memories of the early '60s. He sounds like a real character!

I grew up very close to his garage in Twickenham and would often ride my bike there to look at the latest exotic machinery. I remember seeing most of the cars that were mentioned and saw many of them race at Brands Hatch, Goodwood and Silverstone. I've been unable to find any books or articles on the Internet about him — does anyone have a book in the works? The book by his partner John Wyer (That Certain Sound ), is now long out of print— do you know if there is any possibility of it being republished?

Thanks for a great magazine.

Ken Long,

Pasadena, USA

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Did you know Cliff?

Sir,

With the news of Cliff Allison's death, could anyone with memories, anecdotes, photographs or memorabilia get in touch with me?

I was privileged to have been given permission to write the biography of Cliff, Cumbria's only Formula One driver, and spent many happy evenings interviewing him over the last two years. I have also talked to many of his contemporaries — I saw Maria-Teresa de Filippis, VP of the Socété des Anciens Pilotes, at Cliff's funeral and she was keen to give me her memories of him.

So far I've written about 100,000 words, but as Cliff was anxious to avoid a formulaic, chronological biography, and was so self-effacing that he rarely related the funnier, more unusual moments of his life, I am short of anecdotes from those who knew him or saw him race.

With the support of Cliff's wife Mabel and his family I have full access to his own extensive archive, but if anyone can add to it I will acknowledge receipt, pay for postage and promise to return any item or photo as soon as they have been professionally copied for the book.

Reading your item on Sir Stirling Moss (Motor Sport, May 2005), the similarities of his ten-tenths concentration to the exclusion of all else was something that Cliff experienced at times at tracks such as the Nürburgring and Spa — they resembled the Pennine roads where he honed his skills and found himself slipping into this level of driving!

I am now determined to finish the book so that the story can be told of this great man from the remoteness of Cumbria who made it to the top through steely determination while having his feet securely rooted in his family and business.

Tony Brunskill, Four Square Marketing Communications Ltd.

13 Friargate, Penrith, Cumbria

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Fuel for thought

Sir,

I enjoyed the 'X-Ray Spec' on the Brabham BT52 in the May issue of Motor Sport. However, I feel the comment on the legality of the fuel used by Brabham towards the end of the 1983 season was a little unfair on Renault.

At the time, fuel used in F1 was supposed to be petrol with a maximum Research Octane Number (RON) of 102 and a minimum hydrocarbon content of 97 per cent. Working with BASF subsidiary Wintershall, BMW discovered that a toluene-based fuel allowed its engine to accept much higher boost than pump petrol. This 'rocket fuel' cannot really be described as petrol (which contains very little, if any toluene), but careful blending with other components (such as iso-octane and n-heptane) could deliver a fuel that technically met the required specification in terms of hydrocarbon content and RON. A classic example of an 'unfair advantage' meeting the letter but not the spirit of the rules.

I recall that Elf obtained a sample of the fuel used by Brabham in the last race of the season at Kyalami, where Piquet finished third to secure the drivers' title. Elf found the sample to have a RON greater than 102, making it illegal. Elf wanted Renault to protest the result but Renault saw no value in winning the title in a courtroom. Instead it sacked Prost, who went to McLaren. A fortunate decision for Prost, as subsequent events demonstrated.

Richard Mercer,

Middlesbrough

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Kiwi Gemini

Sir,

I believe the photo of Mike Anthony with his foot on the rear of a Gemini Formula Junior shown on page 88 of Motor Sport, March 2005, is of a Gemini Mk3A, not a Mk4. Why do I believe that ? I now own and race the 1961 Gemini Mk3A FJ, chassis number 09, that came to New Zealand in late 1961.

Mike Anthony's car looks just like mine: the Mk3A had inboard drum brakes whereas the Mk4 had discs; the Mk3A used the halfshaft as a top link, but the Mk4 had a top link. I have a feeling that there were only a total of nine Mk3A FJs made by The Chequered Flag in Chiswick, London.

I would be delighted to learn the history of the Gemini Mk3A. Does anyone know how many were made, who the owners were and where the cars are now? I know that chassis number 03 is now owned by David Noble in the UK, and 07 is owned by Alan Conway in Queensland. I can be contacted by email on jimbarclay@xtra.co.nz

Jim Barclay,

New Zealand

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Moore about Greg

Sir,

I thoroughly enjoyed the March edition of Motor Sport and in particular the article on Greg Moore. But in concentrating on his CART career it skipped over his two races in the Mercedes CLK-GTR in the 1997 FIA GT Championship.

I had the privilege of being at the Laguna Seca round to see him race. I had paddock and pit access and got to know an AMG mechanic. Over the weekend I discussed a number of the AMG drivers with him, and he was good at providing long narrative answers on the positives and negatives of such drivers as Alex Wurz and Alessandro Nannani.  When I asked for his thoughts on Moore he stopped, reflected for a moment, and said, " Fast!"

This answer stuck in my head as he obviously preferred longer, more qualified answers based on his comments on the other drivers, but chose a suitable word to describe Greg Moore.  The same sentiment was contained in your article.

Curtis Cundy,

Alberta, Canada 

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Pete Lyonised

Sir,

I was only 10 when I read Denis Jenkinson's account of doing the Mille Miglia with Stirling Moss and I was enthralled. I have just re-lived all those emotions via the reprint in the May issue.

While pondering Simon Taylor's assertion that Jenks was the finest motorsport writer, I was reminded of another who rose above the ranks of 'reporter' and whose prose, as Simon says, "transported the reader to the heart of the sport".

I refer to Pete Lyons, whose grand prix reports conveyed the sights, sounds and emotions of the event in some wonderful writing, as well as the dry facts. Would any of them be worth reprinting?

Mike Dodman,

Worcester

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Thanks from Dan

Sir,

Congratulations on your superb stories about the Mille Miglia. My compliments to Sir Stirling, Doug Nye, Simon Taylor and John Fitch.

I wish I had been in a position at that time to participate myself! What a fantastic race. Thanks.

Dan Gurney and the AAR team,

USA