Matters of Moment, March 2011

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Inject some inspiration!
Motor racing was better in the past. There, I’ve said it. But do I really believe it? Never! The next race is as enticing as it ever was. Personally, I can’t wait for Bahrain.
But I have a conundrum. When it came to shooting the cover image for this issue, featuring the cream of BMW saloon car racers, what did we choose to highlight? The liquid lines of the modern 320Si, in which Andy Priaulx has claimed an unmatched trio of world titles? No way. We stuck that at the back. Instead, we were turned on by the lurid bulges of the fantastic 40-year-old CSL `Batmobile’ and the boxy outline of the edgy M3. Today’s Bimmer is third-best, no question. Priaulx and Steve Soper certainly agreed, as you can read on p46.
In mid-January, as I emerged heavy of foot from the energy-sapping halls of Autosport International, I couldn’t help but reflect on my personal highlights of the annual racing car show: the collection of classic McLarens, the curvy sports racers on the HSCC stand, the ‘fast Fords’ up for sale at the Coys auction. The modern racers? Few stood out.
Now, Motor Sport today can never be accused of wallowing in the past. We take a leaf out of Jenks’s book: to live in the present, but one that is always informed by a rich and colourful past. Still, the conundrum I can’t get away from is that old racing cars are so much sexier than new ones! Part of it is human nature, that we react to the familiarities of the past and our memories. But most of it is because engines, aerodynamics, innovation.., it’s all neutered today. Motor racing used to be about extremes. But you can’t tell me a 1.6-litre turbo four — set to power Grand Prix cars from 2013 — is extreme. If the 1000bhp turbos of the 1980s were Sylvester Stallone, the future iteration sounds more Colin Firth.
I don’t want to be pessimistic. Standing at Copse watching an F1 ‘on rails’ still makes the hairs bristle on the back of your neck, and I’m sure the leading team bosses and engineers haven’t forgotten their pledge that spectacle must always be central to the ethos of F1. But the constant homogenisation of the modern racing (and rally) car threatens to draw all character from the sport. As for the drivers, well, Martin Brundle sums them up perfectly in Nigel Roebuck’s Reflections this month — and it’s a similar tale.
I’d really like to prioritise the modern racer over the old on the cover of Motor Sport, but the fact is they don’t inspire me as much — and the evidence is you seem to agree. Perhaps we’ll view them differently with the passing of 10 years. But right now, it’s hard to believe.

As I write, the team here in Chelsea is gearing up for the second Motor Sport Hall of Fame, in association with TAG Heuer. We launched the concept last year, as we celebrated the great names of racing with what turned out to be one of the parties of the year. The Hall of Fame remains ‘virtual’ for now, but we’re returning to the Roundhouse in Camden to add more illustrious figures to our exclusive club on February 15. And in the true spirit of the magazine, they won’t all necessarily be from racing’s past…
We’re offering the chance for five subscribers (plus a guest each) to join us on our special night, with a competition to win tickets. To enter, visit our website and answer what will undoubtedly be a very easy question for any reader of Motor Sport! So log on to www.motorsportmagazine.com today and give yourself a chance to join us for what promises to be another night to remember.
Damien Smith, Editor

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CONTRIBUTORS

Adam Cooper
Over his years in racing, Adam’s time in paddocks of all sots, including Formula 1, meant that he encountered the late Tom Walkinshaw in many guises and moods. One was an unusually self-revelatory session when the fiery Scotsman’s businesses appeared doomed. It offered a rare glimpse of the man behind the image, as you can read in Adam’s tribute to this larger-than-life figure.
Greg Pajo
Some photographers are great shooting people, some excel at moving action. But the ability to be fast is a real asset when it’s a race against deadlines or track schedules. For our BMW story, Andy Priaulx’s commitments meant that Greg only had a couple of hours to photograph three cars and land our cover shot tough when shoots often take all day. But the results were worth the stress.
Ed Foster
He has just about recovered from cycling between John O’Groats and Lands End clad in skin-tight red Lycra as one of The Incredibles (it was to benefit a Parkinson’s charity, not personal peccadillo), so who better to find out which famous racing name is now adorning bike frame tubes? Clue: they’re not curved anymore. He’s also been discovering how Norfolk wants to rival Modena…
Smart Collins
Poor Stuart two rain-soaked photo projects in a row. Last month’s soggy six-wheeled Tyrrell session was eclipsed by the Merzario shoot in this issue the single wettest car-to-car shoot Stuart has ever done. But coping with adverse conditions is pat of the job: track tests are fiendishly complex to arrange, and we only get one shot at them. Serves us right for organising them in winter! Sorry, Stuart

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