Matters of Moment, March 1960

Stirling Moss attacks the F.I.A.

In a circular sent to most of the motoring Press, Stirling Moss has attacked the attitude of the Commission Sportive Internationale in its control of motor sport.

He criticises the C.S.I.’s call for batteries on G.P. cars from 1961 onwards as extremely dangerous if a car overturns. He takes to task the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile for being master of our sport instead of acting as its servant; months elapse before urgent matters are settled, and “the C.S.I. meets all too rarely, perhaps four or five times a year,” says Moss. He cites several examples of F.I.A. inefficiency, such as the announcement of the change in fuel regulations made a mere three months before the 1958 Argentine G.P., after the F.I.A. had undertaken to give at least six months’ warning of changes in race regulations, the lag of five months before competitors in this race knew whether or not this race would count towards the Drivers’ Championship, and the fact that, although thereafter it was clearly laid down that regulations must be in the hands of National Clubs at least three months before the Championship rate to which they apply, the Targa Florio, which counted towards the Sports-Car Championship, was run a few weeks later, a mere month after regulations covering it had been received.

Moss also refers to the anomaly that Championship races have been held which do not comply with the F.I.A. requirement of a minimum length of 300 km. and a minimum duration of two hours, and of the Championship status of the Sebring G.P. last December although it had never been held before, as the F.I.A. ruling on Championship events requires. He then expresses disgust at the time lag in sorting out protests arising from the R.A.C. Rally.

In making these points, the earlier ones of which have oft-times been discussed before, Moss will have almost every follower of motor sport firmly behind him. He goes on to attack the new sports-car race rules, which look like killing the 170-m.p.h. sports/racing machines stone dead and have caused Aston Martin and Lister to withdraw – rules issued some 18 months after the F.I.A. had guaranteed that the former regulations would stand unchanged for three years.

Moss is concerned that the new sports-car requirements will make such racing more dangerous than it has been in the past. He glosses over the requirement that the cars must have a reasonable steering lock, which, however, is sensible in that it prevents freak cars running at Le Mans, for example, in which there is so little lock that a serious skid would be difficult or impossible to correct and/or in which the tyres might foul the bodywork on the sharper corners, neither of which makes for safety. Stirling feels that instead of calling for a minimum ground clearance and luggage-boot capacity in its desire to have sports cars that are nearer to the original conception of a Le Mans model and less like thinly-disguised G.P. racers, they should insist on 1,000 examples or so having been sold to the public before the race!. But, Stirling, how do you check this?

What really worries Moss is the windscreen regulation, which he says makes racing dangerous because oil and dust will obscure the driver’s vision and the required height of screen prevents the driver from looking over it. Stirling says he does not know “of a single wiper that can cope with an oil-dust-rain mixture even at 40 m.p.h., let alone 170.” Who are we to argue, especially as this problem reared its ugly head in the recent Argentine 1.000-km. race. But why, in this ease, did Moss elect to drive a Maserati coupé at Le Mans in 1957, and isn’t it remarkable that wipers exist which function perfectly well on 600-m.p.h. aircraft? Surely racing is intended to improve the breed of everyday motor cars and if screen-wiper manufacturers are obliged, by the new rules, to hasten the introduction of foolproof wipers on the fastest cars, so much the better. However, we merely set down such comments as occur to us.

In expressing his dislike of the rule that permits a driver only one race per 24 hours yet allows him to drive for six hours round the Nurhurgring and for 24 hours on and off at Le Mans, Moss obviously has his own interests at heart. But, in general, he is absolutely right – the old men of the F.I.A. and C.S.I. are hopelessly out of touch with the set-up of present-day motor racing – and Stirling has done well to publicly air his grievances.


Dewar Trophy for B.M.C.

The R.A.C. has awarded the Dewar Trophy for the most outstanding engineering performance of 1959 to the British Motor Corporation, coupled with the name of their Chief Engineer, Alec Issigonis, for “advanced development in automobile design as exemplified by the Morris Mini-Minor 850 and Austin Se7en 850.”

The award is well deserved, because there is no more advanced British car than B.M.C.’s A1DO15. We are thus again pleasantly reminded that last year marked a turning point when British manufacturers got out of the groove and introduced brilliant new small cars – Triumph the Herald, Ford the New Anglia and B.M.C. the ADO15 twins. We congratulate Issigonis on weaning the most advanced and daring of the trio, and we foresee keen competition between B.M.C. and Ford for World family-car sales. We turn to Road & Track as guiding American opinion and are interested to note that they conclude their road-test of the B.M.C. mini-car with the words: “It will undoubtedly prove to be an extremely useful and practical second car for thousands of families,” and that of the Ford New Anglia with: “The car should be a success everywhere.” Which is where an Editor wishing to appear erudite would add, Verb sap.