Letters From Readers - Formative Years, March 1975
After reading the interesting article on page 149, I began thinking of my “Formative years” which were during the early 1950s.
The first racing car to make a really big impression on me was the V16 BRM. I had been a staunch BRM supporter from the outset, but it wasn’t until the 1952 British Grand Prix meeting at Silverstone that I actually saw and heard (!) the car. The Grand Prix had been a fairly sedate affair for Formula 2 cars, dominated by Ascari’s Ferrari, but the supporting race for Formula Libre cars made up for that. Froilan Gonzalez and Ken Wharton drove V16s, and the sight of Gonzalez hurling that screaming BRM round Copse corner, with only a few straw bales and a length of rope between us and him, was almost too much for this schoolboy! The pursuit of the leaders by Gonzalez after he had crashed his own car and taken over Ken Wharton’s was almost unbearable, and I have seen nothing to equal it since. That was real motor racing!
Four years later Silverstone was to provide me with another of my greatest memories, and once again it was BRMs! This time it was the British Grand Prix itself, and the complete domination in the early laps by Mike Hawthorn and Tony Brooks, works Maseratis and Ferraris (and Vanwalls) trailing behind them, and the great Fangio himself, chasing so hard that he spun off at Becketts before our very eyes, ripping through the gears as he rejoined the race in clouds of earth and grass, memories to savour.
There are many memories of those great years; the Assistant Ed. should have seen Mike Hawthorn hurling his D type round Waterways corner at Aintree in 1955!
I suppose today’s youngsters are forming their own memories for the future, but I rarely see much worth remembering these days; let’s see, maybe if Mike Will’s BRM leads this year’s British Grand Prix from start to finish. How about it lads ?
Dunstable ERIC DUNSDON
I was very interested to read the article in February MOTOR SPORT on page 149. You and your staff members named one road-car and one racing car which had sparked off a deep interest in motoring, and as one of your Younger readers (20 years old), I thought you might be interested in my two cars.
The first was in 1970 when a friend took me for a drive in his BMW 507 which was a revelation. I had been used to Minis, 1100s etc. and then this evil-looking shark-faced monster! We did 120 m.p.h. on the Kingston bypass and I was hooked.
The racing car was a Type 35B Bugatti. I was at school in Worcester and a few of my friends decided to go to Prescott. I tagged along and saw my first Bugatti and never looked back, since then (1972) I must have been to 50 hill-climbs, but there is nothing to rival that particular sight, sound and smell of Castrol R.
So there you are, perhaps odd that one vintage car and one post-vintage thoroughbred should be the two cars that influenced me most, but in my opinion, compared to a good climb, Formula 1 is boring. I like to see the driver in action, one of my ambitions being to have a ride in a Type 35B with someone of Ian Preston’s calibre driving!
I hope this has been of some interest to you and long may your excellent magazine continue.
Surbiton ANDREW FORDYCE
I was fascinated by the article in the February issue of MOTOR SPORT entitled “Formative Years”. As a mere youth of seventeen, I have long had a fanatical interest in motor racing, first becoming seriously interested in 1969 and buying my first issue of MOTOR SPORT in August 1970, Readers may recall the magnificent cover photograph of Jochen Rindt in the Lotus 72. Since that date I have never missed an issue and the Lotus 72 is still with us, admittedly though now a different colour, but, with all due respect, can D.S.J. honestly imagine a 72 painted green and yellow! The Lotus 72 above all other cars, or, for that matter, drivers, has been the greatest influence on my formative years, and, indeed, it is a car with which I shall always have a distant love affair.
A. H. wrote of the Jim Clark – Lotus 25 combination as a unique situation never since repeated, but what of Ronnie Peterson and the JPS Lotus 72? One has only to examine the articles “Before We Lose Track” in the same issue, and “The Subtle Art of Fast Cornering” the month before to see the harmony between car and driver, a combination which has surely been the most exciting on the circuits over the past two seasons. The sight of Peterson sliding round Woodcote in practice for the ’73 Grand Prix at Silverstone certainly made my heart beat a little faster, and I am looking forward to seeing him do it again this year.
Keep up the good work, and when the 72s finally go into retirement how about a colour centre-spread in tribute to what is surely the greatest racing car of modern times with 20 Grand Prix wins, two drivers’ championships and three constructors titles?
Lincoln MICHAEL R. MARSHALL
I was very interested in the article “Formative Years”. That started me thinking (yes, that’s right, thinking) about what made me become interested in cars. It is most likely because I have been brought up with cars, and fast competition cars. These were all MGs. My father owned a garage and coach-builders which had the titled position of being MG distributors for Edinburgh. I frequently visited there, and my first desire to drive started there. At the age of nine I sat in an MG-B, all alone, contemplating whether to turn the ignition key. I did, a lovely deep growl leaped from the engine, and I fought with the gears and edged the car out into daylight, put my foot further down, and shot around the factory. Out storms Dad, end of my early driving career.
Another big factor was that my father competed in events, and I was taken along, this was the early sixties. He had been competing since he left school in 1950, and was more prominent in the late fifties. He rallied MG TCs, TDs, Magnettes ZA, ZB, MG-As, and he also did driving tests. He swept the boards in MGCC competitions and teamed up with the late Jim Clark rallying TCs and TDs, and they were both in the same team also. He won the Northern and other rallies and his bookcase is strewn with silver, not to mention ashtrays. So, as you can see, he has been a great influence. The other influential person was Jim Clark, who, when I met him for the first time was the World Champion. Think of a young boy of seven being face-to-waist with the World Champion.
Although I don’t claim to have been as fast as the Production Manager’s son, I have been at 120 m.p.h. in a wound-up MG-C.
The cars which have influenced me have been the MG-A/B, the Triumph Dolomite Sprint which is so clear and crisp to be in, Bill Dryden’s SMT Firenza which he handles so well around Ingliston and Croft.
The most striking and immovable car from my mind is the Lancia Stratos, which I got up at 4.30 a.m. to see in the RAC Rally. Another factor was that we owned eight veteran cars, a brace of 1903 Humberettes, a 1903 Peugeot specially made for this country, a 1903 Sunbeam two-seater tourer (our most successful RSAC Veteran Rally competitor), a 1906 Swift two-seater, and an 1897 Daimler six-seater wagonette (did regular run between Falkirk and Canonsloe, in public service), and a 1906 Albion Fire Engine. These carried registration numbers in order, SC 4367 + 531 (now on mother’s car), SA 72, AA 360, G 5118.
So, as you see, cars are in my family blood, and three generations of Gibsons have been in the MGCC (Scottish Centre): George Gibson (grandfather), George T. Gibson and myself Alisdair Gibson.
The best article is Rally Review, but I have only one complaint, there aren’t enough rally pictures. I am a keen photographer and enjoy seeing photographs of such a high standard.
Carry on with the good work.
Edinburgh ALISDAIR GIBSON
P.S.: My father says he tested MG-A prototypes and competed in Alpine and other Continental rallies, and enjoyed the article by Ian Appleyard whom he remembers competing against.