Madrid G.P

April 13th

The original intention of the O.D.A.C.I.S.A., who organise the racing on the Jarama circuit near Madrid, was to hold a full-scale Grand Prix, standing on its own feet as the Madrid G.P. because the Spanish G.P. had been moved to Barcelona. When they discovered their date was clashing with two other big meetings there was little hope of the original idea being carried through, so they modified the plan to running a combined race for Formula One cars and Formula 5000 cars. Initially Team Lotus and Matra showed signs of interest along with some of the more important private teams and the field was made up with a handful of newcomers with ex-works Grand Prix cars and a few Formula 5000 cars. With Hill, Rindt, Stewart and Courage on the list a keen little race could have taken place, with newcomers having the opportunity to race in good company. At the last moment all the aces changed their minds, the works cars were withdrawn, and a very depleted field assembled. Things looked black for the organisers, but as it turned out all was well and it proved to be a very pleasant and happy little meeting, the large crowd enjoying some fine sights and sounds, the competitors being more than satisfied and the organisers relieved. The meeting illustrated that not only is there still an element of sport left in motor racing, but a meeting can be enjoyable without any big names or factory cars.

On paper eight cars would not make a race, but as it was it was all good fun and there were good prizes for nearly everyone. As it is not permitted officially to let Formula 5000 cars compete against Formula One cars there were two sets of prize money and two classifications, but the four cars in each category ran together and as far as the drivers were concerned it was a free-for-all race. Dean drove his ex-Bernard White B.R.M. with 3-litre V12 engine, Corner drove Crabbe's newly-acquired ex-works Cooper-Maserati V12, with 3-valves-per-cylinder engine, Stone drove a Brabham powered by a bored-out twin-cam Lotus-Ford engine, and Mosley drove his new square-tube chassis 1969 Lotus Formula Two car with last year's Cosworth FVA engine. Gethin had the Church Farm Racing McLaren with 5-litre fuel-injected Chevrolet engine, fresh from its two Easter victories, Holland had the Alan Fraser Team Lola-Chevrolet V8, and Russell and Lamplough had a pair of Lotus monocoques that originally had H16 B.R.M. engines attached to the rear bulkhead, but now had a tubular space-frame behind the cockpit carrying a 4.7-litre Ford V8 engine. There should have been another Lola-Chevrolet belonging to Hawkins but it was withdrawn due to lack of an engine after the Easter racing.

Race day started with the arrival at the circuit of the competitors in a local rally, after driving a 400 kilometres route through the night, and after the racing cars had had an extra practice period the rally competitors had a race which constituted their final "special stage". Then a surprisingly large collection of vintage and veteran cars assembled and made a three-lap parade of the circuit, which was greatly appreciated by the spectators. Among the old cars was a very fast Alphonso Hispano Suiza of 1912 that was most impressive, a very original and well kept Amilcar Sport and a boat-bodied Silver Ghost Rolls-Royce 1912 that Mr. Toad would have swooned over.

The eight miscellaneous racing cars lined up for the 40-lap race and when the flag dropped Dean took off like a dragster, never having made a start with the B.R.M. before. Right opposite the main grandstand the B.R.M. went sideways on with spinning wheels and there were some anxious moments, but no-one touched anyone. At the first corner the B.R.M. arrived in neutral, and Dean spun, scattering cars in all directions, again without any damage, so the crowd were getting their money's worth of excitement even before the race was properly under way. From practice times Gethin should have been out in front, but after all the alarums and excursions it was Holland who led in the blue-and-white Lola-Chevrolet, with the orange McLaren thundering along behind and catching up. Neither the B.R.M. V12 nor the Cooper-Maserati V12 had any hope of keeping up with the two Formula 5000 cars, and when Gethin finally caught up with Holland the two big rumbling V8-powered cars put on a splendid show. Having sized up the performance of the Lola-Chevrolet Gethin followed it for a time arid then he and Holland had fun together, passing and repassing, running nose-to-tail, and side-by-side. They looked and sounded splendid, complete with aerofoils on struts at the rear, and the two 5-litre engines shook the grandstands as they went down the main straight at close on 150 m.p.h. Mosley and Dean were having a little private race together, the small handleable Formula Two Lotus keeping up with the more powerful B.R.M. V12. Corner was unable to keep up with them as his Hewland gearbox was jumping out of 2nd gear, so he was forced to change from bottom to 3rd gear, which lost a lot of time on the sharp corners. Lamplough's Lotus-Ford V8 expired almost on the starting line, but Russell's similar car was rumbling along quite well and he just managed to keep ahead of the Cooper-Maserati. Stone in the under-powered, but reliable Brabham twin-cam Ford brought up the rear. Mosley's efforts game to a stop when an injector nozzle broke away from the inlet manifold, which left Dean in an undisturbed third place.

Seven laps before the finish Holland eased back a bit as his water temperature was running high, and with a clear road in front of him Gethin turned on the power for a couple of laps, just to establish a fastest lap and assert his supremacy. In the closing laps Holland decided to have a final fling and the Lola began to close on the McLaren, but Gethin had everything under control, or thought he had. As the McLaren thundered down the hill on to the main straight all was well in the cockpit, but as it crossed the line to start the last lap there was a "plop" from the engine and a connecting-rod broke! At almost the same moment, over the brow of the hill from where the McLaren had appeared, Holland had tried just a bit too hard, and spun the Lola. As Gethin coasted out of sight with a broken engine, Holland was overdue and the race still had one lap to run. Eventually the Lola appeared, with Holland looking a little red-faced, but not knowing he was about to take the lead again. Poor Gethin had to stand beside the track with his crippled McLaren and watch the Lola sail home to a surprise victory, followed by Dean (B.R.M.), Russell (Lotus-Ford V8), Corner (Cooper-Maserati V12) and Stone (Brabham-Ford twin-cam).

Footnote : This race at Madrid could well be a starting point for the revival of small races for single-seater cars of Grand Prix type, at circuits that can exist without having everything on "World Championship" scale. As things stand at present there is no opportunity outside of England for newcomers to get a foot into Grand Prix racing with an ex-factory car, or even with a new one. The World Championship series is very much a "closed-shop", almost controlled by Unions, so that the sporting amateur has little encouragement. With Formula One having priced itself almost out of existence, few organisers being prepared to pay £1,200 starting money per car, and Formula Two following hard in "big brother's" footsteps, the time may be ripe to think about mixed racing once again, as we have in British Club racing. A field of Formula One, Formula Two, Formula 5000 and one-off "specials" can produce satisfactory racing, given the right circuit and the right organisation, and there is no shortage of people who want to race and who are prepared to accept good economical propositions, rather than scream for maximum starting money, and special conditions. The Spanish organisers paid good starting money, offered good prize money and, quite by chance, produced a pleasant and happy meeting. It could be that other organisers, who are getting tired of the "professional rat-race", might turn to encouraging the sporting racing driver.—D. S. J.