Letters, June 2016

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The price of success

With reference to the lucky escapes at this year’s 74th Members’ Meeting, Goodwood is an amazing event but it has become a victim of its own success. The range and quality of cars now competing are the result of this success, but the downside is that it has become too important to win.

Just taking part is no longer enough, hence the numbers of professional drivers now being employed to get the best from the cars.

On the Sunday the only race not to be either red-flagged or to involve the safety car was that for Edwardians. I am sure it is no coincidence that these cars are owned and driven by people who are passionate about them; some have been in the family for years, while others were built by the owner who thus has a vested interest in the car. The possible consequences of an accident are also obvious.

On the flipside, a professional driver has no particular affection for the vehicle he is racing; it is just a piece of equipment with which to achieve his winning goal.

I took part in the first Revival meeting and, as I was driving my Austin A40, winning was not an option. But none of that mattered because it was ‘an event’ and we had the most wonderful weekend. I resprayed a matching A40 to use as a tow and support vehicle and entered into the whole spirit of the event.

Sadly, I think that often it is now seen as a way of increasing the value of a car rather than as a spectacular event in which to take part.

Derek Harris, Ruckinge, Ashford, Kent 

***

Room for review

Having been ‘weaned’ on historic racing as a junior member of the VSCC, when Neil Corner, Hon Patrick Lindsay, Simon Phillips, Michael Bowler and Willie Green were among the front-runners, my views about the 74th Members’ Meeting are these.

What Lord March has achieved with the Goodwood brand deserves high praise; three world-class, industry-leading events from nothing. However, the marketing department at Goodwood does itself no favours by presenting edited ‘thrills and spills’, most recently Stephen Bond’s miraculous escape and Karsten Le Blanc’s extensive damage to his Cobra.

Mixing amateur race drivers with multiple Le Mans, touring car and F1 race winners is in my opinion dangerous for all concerned. I accept the RAC TT at the Revival does this in part, but the amateur competitors in this race are usually highly experienced. More concerning is the ‘Goodwood effect’, where amateur drivers are undoubtedly racing beyond their capabilities in an effort to show favourably. I believe the MM and Revival selection committee need to address the alarming disparity in competitor ability and speed.

The Goodwood circuit has more than ridden its luck with the entry angle and location of the chicane (just ask Jochen Mass, Paul Knapfield and Tony Wood, among others). The circuit management definitely made a mistake when it negated the opportunity to reprofile the width of the pitlane, during the recent control tower restoration. Tradition is very important, but not at any price. 

Surely, all this damaging publicity plays into the hands of local council do-gooders who seek to restrict our sport and encourage further residential development adjacent to the circuit.

I’ve attended all but two Festivals of Speed, every Revival bar one and all Members’ Meetings. I’m neither an owner, racer nor preparer, rather a passionate enthusiast and spectator with a genuine concern that things at Goodwood need fundamental review.

Edward Brown, Northwich, Cheshire

***

Calculating risk

When I travel to London I am aware that I could be the victim of a terrorist attack. When I go motor racing at Goodwood I know that, even as a spectator, I could be the victim of a freak accident. However, I know that the odds on my side in both instances are at least a million to one and I am prepared to take the risk. I do hope the circuit and protection measures remain unchanged and that there is not a knee-jerk reaction.

I was hugely disappointed by the 74th Members’ Meeting. I fully supported the use of a safety car to deal with the Bond and Smit incidents, but local waved yellows would surely have been sufficient for some of the other mishaps. 

With regard to driving standards at club/national level, there has always been a huge gulf between professional/talented amateur drivers and the also-rans. With the more powerful cars, perhaps the answer is for Lord March to ensure that his valued invitations are sent only to those who have demonstrated at least a modicum of talent.

John Hindle, Penshurst, Kent

***

This is the modern world

I enjoyed your very rational report of the 74th Members’ Meeting, especially the question you asked as to what should happen in future as far as safety is concerned.

I do not know what modifications Goodwood will have to make, if any, but it’s difficult to imagine some debris fencing not being introduced. If that is brought in, I believe the number of visitors would still remain high – similar to the Silverstone Classic, which is surrounded by fencing. 

If the worst happens, then we owe Lord March and his team a huge debt of gratitude for letting us enjoy 16 years of superb spectating as it used to be. If motor racing is to continue, however, there may be no choice but to modernise. 

Julian Nowell, Walton on Thames, Surrey

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Print on demand

So the dust settles and we have swapped a long-term BBC monopoly for a long-term Sky monopoly, and will still have to pay for both. How is that good for fans, team sponsors, teams or indeed the current Channel 4 investment?

Many years ago, when F1 had virtually no TV coverage, I followed it via Motor Sport and went to the odd race to get the best blend of reporting and the visceral live experience.

Back to the future for me, and perhaps many others.

Steve Singleton, Ilkley, West Yorks

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Hawaiian topic

I’ve just read Doug Nye’s January column – stuff takes a while to get to Hawaii! Thanks for remembering me all these years later – those were fun days, from tin-tops to GTs and GPs. As you will recall, many drivers drove all three on Grand Prix days and I think the sport was the better for it. Aloha.

John Sprinzel, Molokai, Hawaii

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Gentleman Brian

It was fabulous to read your review of Brian Redman’s memoirs.

I spent many of my younger days at Oulton Park – just a couple of hours by bicycle from south Manchester, where I lived. I first saw Brian helping his colleagues push one of the Red Rose sports cars up to the scrutineering bay, although my first actual meeting was in about 1969/70 when I was a young technician in the physics department at the Christie Hospital.

I went to visit him when he was, I believe, having some repairs to burns acquired at various stages during his career. I took along a motor sport scrapbook and left it with him as I thought he might need something to read. His wife was with him at the time, so I did not hang about long, but they were very friendly and polite.

When I collected my scrapbook some days later I found that all photos of Brian had been autographed; he had obviously also had a visit from Dickie Attwood, as he’d signed a photo of his BRM in Monaco. I was over the moon.

Our paths did not cross again until September 1979, when I was a competitor in Longton & DMC’s Isle of Man sprint. He was in a 5.7-litre Chevron B32 while I was in my home-built 3-litre V6 turbocharged Ford Anglia, so I introduced myself again and thanked him for the autographs. He was again very friendly and polite.

He’s a fine man, and it’s good that he was one of the lucky ones to survive the 1960s and ’70s. 

Pete Nelson, Thurnham, Lancaster

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He wasn’t there

Re You Were There in the May 2016 edition: photo two is not Eugenio Dragoni, but Mauro Forghieri. With his back to the camera is almost certainly Franco Gozzi, Enzo Ferrari’s press officer and right-hand man. Lorenzo Bandini is at the right of the photo.

Please let us have a Lunch with Mauro Forghieri; his memories are unique.

Roy Pagliacci, London SW19

***

Florida cocktail

I really enjoy Mark Hughes’s analyses. As a long-time F1 fan and press photographer I lament the terrible state of affairs in F1 today. I just put together an exhibit of some of my 1970s F1 photos and it got me thinking about those great times. I was reminded that from 1979-1982, over a period of 60 GPs, there were 19 different winners. Over the past four years we had 150 races and seven different winners. Is it any wonder F1 is failing? 

Mike Gotwalt, Vero Beach, FL

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Formula Junior mystery

Perhaps your readers can help. This time last year I bought the chassis of a Yimkin Formula Junior on the strength of a note from someone who raced these cars in period. They vouched for its provenance and had seen it at the Yimkin works in Cadogan Lane, Chelsea, between 1961 and 1963.

Unfortunately the Yimkin founder and engineer Don Sim has no recollection of this car, which suggests it may either be one of the original six that was later modified, or a seventh built after Don sold his interest in the company. More recently I have seen photos clearly showing both the ex-John Parkinson Yimkin and my own chassis outside the Yimkin works in 1963.

Don Sim, John Parkinson, the Formula Junior club and several other members of the community have responded, but somewhere the connection has been lost and there is no recollection of why this Yimkin was modified in 1961 or indeed mothballed for more than 50 years. Does anyone know the history of this Yimkin? My father owned this car in the early 1970s and I’d like to rebuild it with him while his knees still bend!

Alastair Cox, Cottenham, Cambs

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Indycar better than F1?

I have just read Mark Hughes’ piece on the long-overdue open letter posted by the GPDA regarding the state of Formula 1. Having read Motor Sport and closely followed F1 for close to 50 years, I’m actually starting to believe spec racing (heaven forbid) might need to be jammed down F1’s throat to regain some of the lost excitement.

Watching Juan Pablo Montoya in Indycar is now more exciting than following F1, something I never thought I’d say.

While I praise Mercedes’s engineering dominance within the current technical regulations, I blame those who stitched together today’s patchwork of ‘fixes’ that have, in fact, made watching F1 painful. DRS, degrading tyres, proprietary diffusers, energy recovery systems and excessive aero packages are fast killing fan enjoyment.

Yes, Hamilton and Rosberg might be good drivers, but what would it look like if all 22 racers were in technically similar cars?

If F1 exists simply to satisfy a small number of manufacturers (or even teams) so they can display the latest technology, we are lost. We will likely soon be watching cars circulate either without humans aboard or drivers acting simply as passengers. F1 fans want to see cars move around a bit and see the best drivers battle in at least ‘near equal’ equipment, not a technical road map that favours only the wealthiest of entrants.

Let’s hope those in power simplify the technical by truncating the artificial aspects. This cannot be that difficult.

Colin McArthur, Franklin, Tennessee, USA 

***

Radical qualifying idea

Formula 1 qualifying and the subsequent race could be made more exciting if the first 11 places on the grid were taken by the car from each team with the quickest time, and places 12 to 22 by the second-fastest driver in each team.

This would make qualifying more competitive, as top cars/drivers who fail to beat their team-mates would find themselves towards the back of the grid. Racing would also be better as those drivers tried to recover lost ground.

Stephen Pole, Dolton, Devon

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