Around and about, March 1976

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Ferrari Cars

Thanks to the generosity of Maranello Concessionaires Ltd. Great Britain, the firm who keep all those exciting Ferrari cars on display in the showrooms on the Egham-by-Pass to the west of London, we were able to look in on a test-weekend at Paul Ricard where Lauda and Regazzoni were putting a Formula One car through its paces, fitted with the new regulation low-profile bodywork and sunken air intakes and using the de Dion rear suspension layout. On the long back straight the Ferrari was pulling 13,000 r.p.m. in 5th gear, and recording 291 k.p.h. (181 m.p.h.) on the electronic speed trap.

While there we were able to appraise the latest situation on Ferrari road cars. Top of the list is undoubtedly the Berlinetta Boxer, the fabulous low 2-seater coupe with 4.4-litre flat-12-cylinder engine mounted behind the cockpit and over the transmission. Even at a price of £17,500 in this country the Ferrari BB is selling remarkably well, probably because many people feel that it might be the last “great car” from Maranello or it might be their last chance to have “the ultimate” in race-bred Ferraris. They could be wrong, for there is already a 5-litre version on the way! It is worth noting that the basic price of a BB is £14,946 to which the Government add £1,245 of Car Tax, and £1,295 of VAT.

If you feel you must retain links with the Ferrari past, or need more space inside, there is the 365/GT4 2 + 2, a 4.4-litre classic V12 with 4 o.h.c. mounted in the front of a Pininfarina-styled 2-door coupe for a total of £15,718. A conventional and classic Ferrari GT car for all-round town and country use.

When the beautiful little Dino 246GT, with its race-bred V6 engine, was dropped in favour of the Dino 308 GT of similar layout but with transversely-mounted V8 engine of 3-litres capacity there was much weeping in the Ferrari Clubs, especially as the shape was dull in the extreme. Although this model is still listed it is supplemented by the 308/GTB, which appeared at Earls Court last autumn. This latest Ferrari is a step back in the right direction, with a sleek elegant shape styled by Pininfarina, using the same mechanical components as the previous model, the 3-litre 4 o.h.c. V8 engine mounted transversely amidships in unit with the 5-speed transmission. The outstanding break-through on this model is the use of fibreglass for the bodywork, but so good is the finish that it is hard to tell. The name Dino has been dropped for this model, as have the Dino badges, so it is now pure Ferrari 308/GTB and at an all-in price of £10,500 it will no doubt find a lot of buyers, while the rather angular Dino 308/0T4 is still available for £1,000 less.

The Race of Champions

This year’s Race of Champions at Brands Hatch on Sunday, March 14th, will give drivers a chance to learn their lines round the modified Brands Hatch circuit. Paddock Bend has been moved inwards and the camber improved and to make room for the big, new pits complex the straight from Bottom Bend to Kidney has been angled into the former spectator enclosure. On the Grand Prix circuit Kidney now becomes a sharp left under the bridge; on the club circuit it becomes a fast little kink leading to a much higher entry speed to Clearways.

The Formula One Constructors Association expects all its members to field cars in the Race of Champions. Supporting races at this BRSCC-organised event will include opening rounds of the Allied Polymer Group Formula Ford 2000 Championship, and the RAC British Touring Car Championship and a ShelISPORT Escort celebrity race.

A Graham Hill memorial

Motor Sport readers are not the only people to have thought that some sort of memorial to Graham Hill should be organised. A group of Graham’s friends and associates, inspired by Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, and with the blessing of Mrs. Bette Hill, are currently discussing the formation of a trust fund. In turn it is hoped that this fund will raise money for more solid memorials to Graham Hill. More news should be forthcoming shortly. Meanwhile, as this is likely to be an “official” memorial, we shall temporarily close our correspondence columns to the issue. This month’s letters pages, in which we include a letter on the subject, had gone to Press before the above was known.

It was in the cause of these memorial suggestions that Motor Sport’s Assistant Editor found himself donning the pristine football boots he’d so carefully preserved throughout his school life (by carefully avoiding the game—harder exercise than actually playing it) to join a team of racing drivers and journalists playing soccer against the Happy Wanderers team of television stars, former Queen’s Park Rangers players and a couple of FA coaches. The match, at Bexley United’s ground in Kent, had been arranged by the BRSCC’s Peter Browning in aid of the projected Graham Hill fund.

We men of motoring were routed 9-2 by the Stars, hardly surprising when you consider that most of our side hardly knew which way to kick the ball, or thought that the ball ought to have been oval. Tim Schenken had never stood on a football pitch before. C.R. and >strong>Autosport’s Editor Ian Phillips were about as much use as full-backs as a bucket full of holes, so the score reflects more on their deficiencies than on the splendid efforts of goalkeeping Renault 5 racer Mike Hill. Derek Bell, our team captain, and a footballing regular, was quite brilliant, while Peter Gethin showed the makings of a super-star. Gerry Marshall retired his 18 stones with pinching boots (number 178 in his hook of excuses, said Peter Browning), Tiff Needell and Danny Sullivan showed streaks of skill, but the rest of us, including Barrie Williams (have you ever seen even George Best smoking on the pitch), were pretty useless. Still, it was all good fun and we raised a few pounds for the fund.

As we go to Press we learn that Silverstone’s Daily Express International Trophy Race for F1 cars on April 11th has been renamed the Graham Hill International Trophy. Good for the BRDC!

Lotus XI Nostalgia

THE name C. Chapman will once again appear against a Lotus XI entry in a programme this year. The Lotus constructor has accepted an invitation from Gerry Marshall to drive his former Team Lotus XI in an historic race. There will be some reminiscing too about the drivers of this XI in other races during the season: Peter Jopp, David Piper and Ian Walker, who all made their names in Lotus Xis. Indeed Jopp, with Reg Bicknell, gave the model its first Le Mans class win. A fifth, less historic, driver, will be Motorsport’s Assistant Editor, Clive Richardson. This XI is the one with which Mackay Fraser set several World Records at Monza in October, 1956.

The XI is one of a team of six cars to be run under the Marshall Wingfield Racing with Corbeau Equipe banner this season. The rest include a Formula Super Ford Elden for the talented winner of both Radio 1 and Britax Group 1 Championships in 1975, Jock Robertson, ‘a 7.2-litre Ford Capri for Tony Strawson and Mick Leary to run in Supersaloon and Special saloon racing, a new Ralt-BDG Formula Two car for Marshall’s partner in his sports car business, John Wingfield, to run in the MCD Libre Championship, an ex-works 1964 Le Mans Sunbeam Tiger for Marshall to drive in the Rochas Classic Car Championship and a Ford Zephyr Mk. 2 in which David Atkinson will contest the Classic Saloon Car Championship.

Thrills in the Forest

As a preview to this year’s Castrol/ Autosport Special Stage Rally Championship, Castrol organised a demonstration of special stage rallying on a three-mile route through the familiar Speech House section of the Forest of Dean. This gave us a chance to sit alongside Russell Brookes in the Andrews Heat for Hire, works-prepared Escort RS1800 and Colin Malkin in Del Lines’ Porsche Carrera.

The stage was snowy and icy to start with and Malkin, our first pilot, confessed to being unhappy with the Porsche in spite of the engine being at the right end for this legendary works Imp driver. We soon saw why he was unhappy: the Porsche had a superb, Charles Ivey-built engine, but no suspension to speak of. The sump-guard graunching on the gravel was the only bump stop. Yet Malkin pendulummed the tail so smoothly from side to side, so controlled on opposite lock, that the problem hardly seemed to matter. It was a real handful on the snowy straight, though, the ruts trying to steer it off. And no, Porsche’s don’t react like Imps to cornering help from handbrakes! “The handbrake’s the strongest thing on an Imp said this Chrysler spokesman …

The Boreham-backed Brookes is one of the closest challengers to Roger Clark’s title of King of British Rallying. His car is identical to Clark’s and the combination showed sensationally in our progress through the forest. The stocky Brookes sits in a high perch close up to his twirling wheel, so the co-driver, sunk in a low, comfortable seat actually looks upwards and forwards at Brookes, whose elbow digs you in the ribs every time he hits first, third or fifth in the ZF gearbox. Brookes’ driving was pure textbook brilliance. This was expected, from reputation. What was interesting was the feel of the Escort Mk. 2 in the forest: so well balanced, with surprising traction for its layout and exceptional stability on the straights —feeling stabler than the Chequered Flag Stratos, for instance.

That Four-wheel-drive Renault

At the stroke of a mis-printing machine we completed the cheapest development exercise on record for Renault last month by describing the Renault 30TS as four-wheel-drive instead of front w.d. Come to think of it, the 30 might form a jolly good base for a four w.d. conversion.

Shell’s Approach to 1976 Competition

Since Agip broke the long-standing tie between Ferrari and Shell, that oil company have been out of Formula One and into an ever-widening range of sporting activities under the ShellSPORT banner. By shrewd backing of the personality cult, especially female, mentions of the Shell name have increased over the air, and in print, though one has to face the fact that the Ferrari link was a prestigious one that is hard to put an immediate value on.

Every year Shell now hold a large bunfight at their London HQ to present prizes to an enormous cross-section of the sporting motorised world. This year their World Championship was with Martin Lampkin’s Trials title (scored on a Bultaco). Lampkin went up to collect his prize along with men such as Timo Mäkinen and Roger Clark, Ford Team manager Peter Ashcroft, for masterminding Mäkinen’s fourth RAC Rally win and Clark’s fourth RAC Rally Championship victory, and Patrick Neve, the young Belgian F1 prospect. Another rallyist in receive recognition was Motoring News champion Mick Briant, who had also scooped up two other Championship titles this season.

Shell’s competition expert, Ray Cunningham, revealed that the company would be backing a five-race Silverstone Formula Three Championship ‘BP hack the main British series); that the ShellSPORT Celebrity Escorts would be fielded again, and that two Minis would be entered for “leading motor sport personalities” in the Mini 1275 GT Championship.

The Shell Gold Star Awards scheme will operate for single-seater sports and GT racers, rallying and rallycross, in addition to the original saloon car racing scheme.

Wiscombe Park

The popular West Country hill-climb up the main drive of Wiscombe Park house, near Honiton in Devon, will be functioning again this summer with three major meetings open to the public and three restricted to members and competitors only. The first meeting, due in April, will be a round of the RAC Hill-climb Championship and among the interesting entries will be Wiscombe Hill directors Sir Nick Williamson with a March 751, ex-Hans Stuck, and Richard Brown with an F2 Martin. Grand Prix cars up the front drive, between banks and hedges, is something everyone should watch now and then, to keep a sense of proportion. The 1976 Calendar of events is as follows:

April 10/ 11th : Aston Martin Owners’ Club RAC Championship.

May 8/9th: Bristol MC & LCC.

Sept. 4th : Woolbridge MC (restricted to members).

Sept. 5th : MG CC (restricted to members).

Sept. 18/19th : BARC

Oct. 3rd : National Sprint Association (motorcycles only).

Formula Two Augmented by Ferrari Race

April 19th is the Easter weekend date for the BARC’s Thruxton F2 meeting at which we will be able to see the new racing engine propelled F2 machinery described opposite.

Also on the bill will be a race reserved exclusively for Ferraris. We are told that one B3 312, owned by Michael Vernon in the Midlands will he included. Pitted against it should be a 1972 312 sports/racer, a pair of 512Ms and “a Formula One Ferrari 375 Indianapolis”. Is that the one Enzo couldn’t find a role in life for?

Congratulations to Camaro driver Stuart Graham on winning the Tarmac Racing Championship once again and to Geoff Friswell for winning the Alcoa Man of the Year Award in his Clubman’s U2.

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