Continental notes, March 1965

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A number of readers have expressed surprise that I do not spend the winter months chasing the motor racing to warmer climates, going to Watkins Glen as soon as the European season finishes, and then on to Mexico, California, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. Such a world tour would be quite feasible, and it need not finish in Australia, for on the way back to Europe one could take in Daytona’s Speed Week and the Sebring 12-Hour Race, arriving back home in time to start off again with Siracusa, Monaco, Nürburgring and so on. Such a world tour of motor racing sounds all right on paper, but it has its drawbacks and these are many, and among them the reasons why I restrict my race reporting activities to European events. Some of these reasons are political, others are personal, but overall they can be summed up briefly. While I enjoy living the artificial life of Grand Prix racing amidst the “circus,” I also enjoy living a normal life. I like doing those things that ordinary enthusiasts and club-members enjoy; I like to go to my local motor club gatherings, to “mess about with old cars,” to go to film shows, talks, club parties, and similar non-racing, but nevertheless, motoring activities because first and foremost I am a motoring enthusiast, and more by luck than judgement I became a journalist and reporter of motor racing. In addition to motoring I also enjoy motorcycling, and keep active in the winter months doing an occasional motorcycle trial, and some regular “scrambling” on my own private circuit. Competitive scrambling is far too exacting and strenuous for me, but a little private dicing over the rough stuff is not only great fun, but keeps your reflexes in good trim as well as being jolly good exercise. Competing in motorcycle sprint meetings over the standing start 1/4-mile is another of my hobbies and the past winter has seen a big programme of work in the workshop building a new sprint bike, which when it has had a season of competitive development should be producing a figure of 600 b.h.p./ton, and be most interesting to ride.

As can be seen from the foregoing, life is very full and far from dull, and there is little space in which to fit further activities, and to set out on a world tour would mean the curtailing of something already taking place. It is always my aim to try and keep a sense of proportion, and by having a wide range of activities and interests I feel they enable me to keep this sense of proportion. If I was to live with the “circus” for twelve months on end, followed immediately by a further twelve months, and so on, I should get into an artificial rut. The “circus” life of travel and hotel living is not a normal way of life, it is fun for a time, but can become a bore and if allowed to become the normal you lose touch with the way of life of the ordinary motoring enthusiast, who is, after all, the bulk of the readership of Motor Sport.

By restricting my reporting and race observing to the European season, and I have done this now for eighteen years, I find that I start each new season with the same enthusiasm for racing cars and motor racing. I know full well that if I tried to cover all motor racing, so that it was an all-the-year-round task, I should long ago have become saturated, blasé, disinterested, or bored and would be facing the coming European season as just another job of work to be tackled with as little effort as possible. As it is the coming season is as exciting to me as my first season was, and I can hardly wait to hear the first of the 1965 Grand Prix cars running. Having had the winter months away from racing, but not from motoring, and motorcycling, I know I shall endeavour to cover as much as possible while the European season is on, going to all the worthwhile races and circuits, doing as many sprints meetings as I can, going to Vintage Rallies, the Power Boat race, a Speedway meeting, a Stock Car race meeting, hillclimbs, local club events, in fact as much as possible while it is all taking place. When the season is at its height there are acquaintances in the journalistic world who “go for a fortnight’s holiday,” missing the German Grand Prix, or the wonderful Solitude circuit, in order to sail a boat or sit on a sandy beach. For me there is too much happening to take time off during the summer months, and the winter months are spent in trying to catch up with all those things that did not get finished the previous winter. The life of the motoring enthusiast is indeed a full one, and there are so many facets to motoring and motoring sport that there is never any need to be idle, and providing one can keep one’s horizons wide and keep a sense of proportion then there is no reason why the coming season should not be better than the last one.

This month will see the beginning of the serious racing season, apart from the “out-of-place” South African Grand Prix that was held in January, and the end of the month has the Sebring 12-Hour Race on March 27th. While Sebring is not one of the more inspiring races, being held on a flat and featureless aerodrome, this year there is an innovation in that large-capacity Sports Cars are being allowed to enter. Under F.I.A. agreement all the long-distance Classics have been restricted to Prototype GT cars and Homologated GT cars these past few years, but last year the R.A.C. started a new trend when they allowed unlimited-capacity Sports Cars to compete in the Tourist Trophy at Goodwood. While they were running the Sports Cars ran all over the Prototype cars, so that Sebring is going to be very interesting, for the cars powered by American V8 engines are almost certain to set the pace, and if they last 12 hours can hardly help winning. However, the race is a long one, entailing pit-stops and driver changes, as well as team tactics, and much of this will be new to the Sports Car brigade, who have only had to run two or three hundred mile races in recent years. The biggest advantage that the Sports Car has over the Prototype is a lower frontal area, as windscreen specifications are not the same, while some of the Sports Cars will no doubt have 7-litre engines.

Ferrari has already had the 330P-2 out on test, this 4-litre Prototype having a new V12-cylinder engine with two o.h.c. per bank of cylinders. The layout of mid-engine follows last year’s Prototype cars, but the body shape has been greatly improved and over a period of 12, or 24 hours I feel it may well cope with the Anglo-American bastard Sports Cars. It is most unfortunate, therefore, that Ferrari is not going to Sebring with the 330P-2 as it seems unlikely that we shall see the Chaparrals, Hussein, Scarabs, Cooper-Fords, Lotus 30, Elva-McLaren and so on at Nürburgring or Le Mans, as these races presumably adhere to F.I.A. recommendations. The idea of long-distance racing being for GT cars and Prototype GT cars was quite a good one when it was introduced, but the Prototypes seem to be getting away from the accepted standards of a GT car of late; the mid-engined GT car has not proved to be the saleable proposition that the old-fashioned front-engined GT car was. The only exception to this rule is the Porsche 914 GTS (the original 904), and the recent performance by Böhringer in finishing second in the Monte Carlo Rally in one of these mid-engined GT coupes has rather squashed any idea that it is only a racing GT coupé. However, Böhringer is an exceptional man and Porsche an exceptional factory, but I cannot foresee us all using mid-engined GT cars for GT motoring as distinct from racing.

At the end of last year the Elva-B.M.W. looked like being the latest recruit to the new form of GT car, but unfortunately various problems have caused its manufacture to be shelved for a while; they were not design or manufacturing problems, but political and industrial ones. That most controversial of all mid-engined GT cars, the 275 LM Ferrari (that started life as the 250 LM) has arrived at a very peculiar situation. The F.I.A. will still not recognise it as an homologated GT car because insufficient numbers have been built, but the Italian Federation have said that they will accept it as an homologated GT car in all Italian national events, which means a few Monza races and numerous hill-climbs, but little of importance, all of which still does not please Enzo Ferrari, but at least he has climbed sideways a little and allowed his cars to be repainted red and entered on an Italian licence, but not his own personal one.

Racing to Formula One and Formula Two begins in earnest this month, with a Formula One event at Brands Hatch and a Formula Two event at Silverstone, the latter replacing the Aintree meeting run by the B.A.R.C. In Formula One the appearance of the new flat-16-cylinder Coventry-Climax engine is eagerly awaited, in Lotus and Brabham cars, but it is unlikely to be a serious contender until mid-season, at Spa for example. B.R.M. will be continuing with their V8 and Ferrari is in the unique position of having three types of Grand Prix engine to use, the V6 and V8 and the flat-twelve. One team that will be missing from the circuits this year is the British Racing Partnership, the team of Ken Gregory and Alfred “Pa” Moss, that has spent other people’s money on Grand Prix racing for many years, using up the resources of two Hire Purchase firms, and last year using up their own money. Now they have had to call a halt and B.R.P. has withdrawn from Grand Prix racing. Cooper will still be struggling on and presumably are third in line for the new Coventry-Climax engine, but like Lotus and Brabham, will be relying on the V8 engine for their major attack.

I am very happy to see that there have been very few driver changes since last year, for nothing is more unsettling to a team than to have a game of “musical chairs” with drivers during the winter months. The only major changes are that Jackie Stewart replaces (Ginther in the B.R.M. team, and Jochen Rindt has replaced Phil Hill in the Cooper team. Team Lotus are still retaining Mike Spence to support Jim Clark, as their real number two driver Peter Arundell is still not recovered from his Reims crash of last year. His mending is taking far too long, due to complications that were unforeseen, but when he is fit again he will take his rightful place in Team Lotus. Jack Brabham still has Dan Gurney with him, Graham Hill is still with B.R.M. and McLaren still leads the Cooper team in Formula One, while World Champion John Surtees and Bandini remain with the Ferrari team.

A new interest will be appearing in Formula One racing this year in that the tyre monopoly that Dunlop have held for many years, since Pirelli, Englebert and Continental withdrew from Grand Prix racing, is to be broken by the advent of two American firms. The Brabham team have signed up with Goodyear and Firestone are on the brink of getting into Formula One, already supplying tyres for the McLaren team for their Sports Cars and Tasman Coopers that have been racing in New Zealand and Australia. Competition is a good thing, and already Dunlop have produced yet another new racing tyre which has put them one jump ahead of the opposition, just when the opposition had thought they had got the measure of Dunlop.

In Formula Two there has been a monopoly in the engine world with the Cosworth SCA being unbeatable, but this year will see the introduction of a B.R.M. Formula Two engine, of 1,000 c.c., it being in effect half of the V8 Grand Prix engine, as far as the head design is concerned. Early experiments at Bourne were actually carried out on a V8 engine running with only one block and cylinder head in use and the “empty” journals on the crankshaft covered up by blanking pieces. This 4-cylinder twin-cam bodge-up worked so well and gave such a satisfactory bench horsepower that it would seem that the proper Formula 2 engine should be more than a match for the Cosworth engine; except, of course, that we are talking about the 1964 Cosworth engine, and Duckworth and Costin have not been sitting still since last October. This new 4-cylinder B.R.M. engine will be fitted into the new Lotus Formula Two car, together with a Hewland gearbox and should liven up the racing, though I am still of the opinion that 1,000 c.c. is just sufficient for a decent motorcycle engine, and not enough for a racing car; and certainly not enough for Grand Prix drivers to be wasting their time on.

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Having ended the Lola-Ford GT project Eric Broadley has returned to Lola Cars, and built new Formula Two cars and a new Sports Car for 1965, both of which were on show at the Racing Car Show at Olympia. The Formula Two car is a monocoque chassis layout, but the Sports Car is virtually an open version of the Lola-Ford GT, using a 4.7-litre Ford V8 engine mounted amidships and is just about as squat as they come. Although Sports Car racing is virtually extinct in Europe, there will no doubt be plenty of National British meetings at which the Lola will compete against the Lotus 30, the Elva-McLaren and the Brabham, so that those spectators who enjoy “the sound and the fury” will get their money’s worth. There is a tendency to regard these 4.7-litre Ford V8 engines with awe, but it was not so long ago that Maserati were racing a 4.5-litre V8 four-cam engine and Ferrari had a 4.9-litre V-I2 engine, while there was also his most spectacular engine, the 4.4-litre in-line 6-cylinder with twin camshafts, a truly immense engine in all respects. When the 2-1/2-litre Coventry-Climax engine dominated sports car racing, mainly because Maserati and Ferrari withdrew, and important events turned to Prototype GT cars, we tended to lose sight of 4-1/2-litre engines. I have always been a believer in “the bigger the better,” so enjoy the power units in these Sports Cars that are appearing today, but I still wish they we’re single-seaters. I have yet to see a 7-litre Ford V8 engine in full-cry in a tiny racing car, but the nitro-burning supercharged 6-1/2-litre V8 engines in the Dragsters that came to England last year were more than impressive. Those power units in the rear of Lotus or Brabham cars would sort the men from the boys, and the noise of a whole starting grid full of such machinery would be paradise. — D.S.J.

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