Gabbiani trashes a 792 at Donington: Bira pushes his 250F at Reims. Plus Swedish rallying and racing in New Zealand
The two shots are only a tiny sample of a treasure trove which came the way of Ian Wright. who lives in France. He deals in sporting memorabilia, and a couple of years ago got a call from a man who had bought a building in Paris. It had been the HQ of the defunct Miroir de Sprint, once France’s foremost weekly sports paper, and the basement was jam-packed with boxes of sports photos thousands of prints and negatives of football, rugby, cycling and motor racing, much of it unpublished. Just before it went in the skip, Wright bought the lot for a minimal fee. Most has now been auctioned off but, when yet another box surfaced, Mr Wright sent some to us.
As if living near Heathrow in Hounslow wasn’t exposure enough to aircraft noise, Doug Cotterell seems to have made a habit of photographing the most spectacular Formula Two shunts at Donington Park, right under the flight path for East Midlands Airport. There was some excellent stuff of the first-corner shunt in 1983 between Beat Jans, Aldo Bertuzzi and Guido Daccò, but this sequence of Beppe Gabbiani’s prang at the Old Hairpin during the race morning warm-up for the ’79 race had us grinning. The Italian has recounted the tale in self -deprecating fashion in recent years, explaining that the corner was flat-out in qualifying trim, on fresh tyres and low fuel. Not so in race spec… At the time of the middle shot, with the front wheels attached (but the rear end some way adrift), he was apparently pressing the ignition button in a bid to drive back to the pits! For some reason he was a non-starter.
Swedish reader Ingvar Sjogren was only 16 years old when he took these evocative pictures of the Rally of the Midnight Sun in 1964. “It was summer vacation.” he recalls. “and I couldn’t have been happier when the rally passed through the town where I lived. The rally had international status and was a round of the European Championship for Drivers and the World Cup for national teams. I took my bike and borrowed my father’s Zeiss Ikon camera and went to see the cars. Unfortunately the special stages were cancelled because the surface of the road was too bad — but it was not all bad as I could get nearer the cars and talk to the drivers. After this my dream was to be a professional motorsport journalist. My dream was not fulfilled but my interest has continued and I now have more than 8000 negatives from Swedish motorsport.” We especially love the picture of rally winner Tom Trana going through what looks like a quarry.
From the far north of the world to the far south (cheers, then, to the art editor for a clever layout). New Zealand’s Mark Holman seems to have been something of a jinx for Denny Hulme. In a nice selection spanning a quarter-century, we see the 1967 World Champ retiring his Brabham from a Tasman Series race at Levin and the Jaguar XJS that Hulme shared with Armin Hahne before its retirement from the ’86 Wellington street race. Holman was particularly keen on Levin: “I went to my first race there in 1961, chauffeured by my long-suffering dad who wasn’t the slighest bit interested and read a book all day.” More fool him!