When did you lose interest?

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136

Sir,

The heading of D.S.J.’s article in your March issue certainly had a telling ring about it as far as this reader was concerned. Of course, the fact that I am writing to you now is proof enough that my interest has not entirely waned; but there clearly is widespread unease about Grand Prix racing and to my mind Denis Jenkinson’s article was a disappointment because ultimately it shirked this issue.

What, then, are the causes of this unease? One factor seems to me to stand out: the sport has frankly lost its purpose. At one time racing was very much a pioneering activity and one with genuine practical significance. It set out not only to show what motor cars could do but also to contribute to their improvement. And it undoubtedly succeeded. But even before the last war this role was beginning to appear distinctly unreal because the cars were becoming so specialised as to bear little resemblance to their everyday counterparts. Since the war the rift has continued to grow and today’s GP cars are about as relevant to everyday requirements as speedway machines. Indeed GP racing has, I feel, virtually become speedway and its appeal has shifted accordingly. This surely goes a long way to explain the almost total lack of interest now shown by major motor manufacturers and their concentration on rallying instead. (By contrast, in the motorcycle field the rift is less apparent and manufacturers still participate.)

Given that this view has any validity, the inevitable question is what, if anything, can be done about it. In my view the only possible hope must be in a change of regulations. The capacity type of regulation which has been in force for so long has surely outlived its useful life. It should be replaced as a matter of urgency by something more in line with modern motoring needs, for example a fuel consumption formula. This would at once open the way to a vast range of engine types: e.g. reciprocating, rotary, diesel, petrol, internal and external combusion, air, steam, blown, unblown, etc. All right, I know that it has been tried before without notable success, but the attempts were not exactly concerted. The kind of Formula I envisage would not rule out high consumption cars, but would penalise them. This could be achieved by limiting the amount of fuel carried by cars at the start of a race, and by further limiting the amount allowed to be taken in at each pit stop. In this way the farcical possibility of the serious contenders all dropping out through lack of fuel would be avoided. In general this type of formula would throw competition open, giving greater variety; it would encourage the development of economical engines (and driving techniques); it would allow regulations to be adjusted without excluding existing machinery; it would possibly even induce manufacturers to resume active participation …. Of course this might mean that victory could no longer be guaranteed for one or other assemblage of almost identical British components—but that, I submit, would not be too terrible a price to pay.

I.G.J. Berry – Orpington.