Another Ten Years
Another Ten Years
IN THE ISSUE of MOTOR SPORT for May 1965 I wrote an article entitled “Ten Short Years”, in which I expressed surprise that ten years had passed since May 1st 1955 the day on which Stirling Moss won the 1,000-mile open-road motor race, known as the Mille Miglia. I could hardly believe that ten years had gone by since I sat beside him as “navigator” in that event, for it all seemed like yesterday and was still vivid and real to me. Incredibly, another ten years have passed, and now in May 1975 it seems no less vivid and exhilarating. However, I do not intend to dwell on that momentous day, for I dealt with it all in MOTOR SPORT for June 1955 and reflected on it all in May 1965, but the last ten years seemed to have passed equally quickly. During that time Alan IIenry has found his way into the pages of MOTOR SPORT, continuing the enthusiasm for racing cars and motor racing that I have instilled into these pages since 1939, indeed his enthusiasm for the past is as strong as it is for the present and future, and it was during one conversation with him that I recalled some comments made in 1965 and suddenly realised here we were in 1975, with another ten years gone. Although he was at school in 1955 and a keen reader in 1965 and now on the staff, the “name of the game” has not changed, nor has the enthusiasm, though looking back I wonder that anyone can be very enthusiastic today with motoring for fun almost legislated out of existence. Twenty years ago I was enjoying every minute of motoring, yet people were telling me it was not fun any more, not like it used to he. I don’t doubt that in 1995 A.H. will he telling enthusiastic young chaps that the real fun days were 1975! The most momentous happening since 1965 in my world of Grand Prix racing, was the introduction of the 3-litre Formula in 1966. Racing cars took on a new lease of life, they became bigger, more powerful, faster and noiser and racing drivers stopped complaining about a lack of horsepower or blaming defeat on having a less powerful engine than their rival. The Cosworth V8 came on the scene and set new standards of b.h.p. and was put into series production as an “over the counter” Grand Prix unit ready to race. Mike liewland was not far behind with his production gearbox/final drive unit and we have seen that anyone and everyone can build a Formula One car to take part in Grand Prix events. Ten years ago Britain was setting the pace and still is, though the driver scene has changed from the Englishspeaking Colonials, Americans and English to the broken English of Swedes, Argentinians, Brazilians, Austrians and Swiss, pure English-speaking drivers being very thin on the ground. As the 3-litre Formula got under way Jim Hall and his Chaparrals were showing us the direction to go with aerodynamic aids and once started on the wind-path the Formula One scene went berserk, going through the whole gamut from the sublime to the ridiculous and are now in such a scientific
state that they often blind themselves with their own science. Cohn Chapman set the standard for everyone for the seventies, showing them how VD build a modern Grand Prix car and the rule makers have been hard put to keep pace ever since. ‘Today, if you wanted to design a Grand Prix car that was radically different you would find that it would not pass all the FIA safety and construction regulations. Freedom of thought is something that has disappeared in this last ten years, now it is aikl written down how you should design a Grand Prix car and about the only thing left to the whim of the designer is the shape of the air-box on top of the Cosworth engine. British designers having shown the world how to build a Grand Prix car (the exceptions being Enzo Ferrari, who has always known how to do it, and BRM who often appear to be in need of telling), now everyone is doing it. Chapmaninspired kit-cars for Formula One have come from America, Brazil, Italy, France, Japan as well as all quarters of the British Isles with the possible exception of the Isle of Wight! Just as it has become easier to be a designer, using the word loosely, it has become even easier to become a racing driver, using the words even more loosely. Today a racing driver is no longer someone special, he is the chap next door or the mechanic in the garage across the road. Ten years ago a BMC Mini made you a racing driver, now it is a small single-seater to any of a dozen Formulae in almost any country in the world.
The 3-litre Formula has seen engine power rising to 450 b.h.p. and to keep it all under control tyre development, accelerated by the influx of Goodyear and Firestone onto the scene, has almost out-stripped car design. The biggest break-through has been the tubeless racing tyre which has allowed revolutions on tyre construction and the advent of the low-profile wide-tread tyre. When Goodyear first muttered about tubeless tyres to the FIA the old gentlemen in Paris nearly threw a fit and when Goodyear then said they had not run a racing tyre with a tube in it all season there was panic in the hencoop, but it was too late, tyre technology was advancing faster then even the French could write the rules. The aerodynamic scene was another matter, for any experiments were easy to see and most of the past ten years has seen a running battle between ingenuity and officialdom and it still is not finished. One of the saddest happenings was the banning of moveable aerofoils, for progress was being made
in that direction; remember the BAC/Cooper one that varied as a function of wind speed, the Ferrari one that varied in relation to engine oil pressure, and the simple Lotus one operated by the driver’s left foot, following the lead given by Jim Hall. In this short ten years we have seen the introduction of advertising and commercial sponsorship with colour, ballyhoo and a circus atmosphere almost over-riding the real reason for racing and this “Show-Biz” outlook has bred a new sort of person, so that anyone who can drive a car feels that motor racing owes him a living and he expects to be “sponsored” befored he has shown any ability. Fortunately the name of the game has not changed and the sponsorship of talkative also-rans is not very widespread and it is still the winners who reap the just rewards. A lot of the so-called sponsorship can be put under the loose-heading of advertising, and a lot of that can be put down to tax-evasion, which must have a limited life, so is will he interesting to view the situation in 1985, providing we can all make it through George Orwell’s 1984. With the increase in business interests we have seen the growth of Unions, with their attendant strikes and boycotts and threats, from drivers, organisers, journalists, trade representatives, constructors, sponsors, entrants and so on; in fact, the only people in motor racing who have not formed a Union (or Club, Society, Association, or Group, which are all the same thing) are the spectators. One day there will be a
Spectators Union and then there will be trouble, with good reason, as any of the longsuffering paying-public know only too well. Ten years ago I had just started Jaguar motoring, with one of the first of the 4.2-litre E-types and now two Jaguars and a quarter of a million miles later I am still a happY Jaguar owner. I had waited four years for all the faults of the first E-type to be eradicated and now in 1975 I had a sad week-end driving about in the last E-type to come off the production line. It was a black and chrome open two-seater, Registration number HDU 555N and a plate on the instrument panel read “This is the last car built after thirteen years’ manufacture of the Jaguar ‘E’ type Sports Car”. The body shell was number 4S 8989 and the Car Number IS 2872. More than 72,500 E-types have been built since 1961, starting with the 3.8litre 6-cylinder engine, progressing w the 4.2-litre 6-cylinder, and ending up with the superb 5.3-1itre V12-cylinder engine. The E type is dead, long live jaguar. Apart from the demise of this classic British car at the end of this decade under review, the racing scene saw some memorable sports cars, the Ford GT4’0 and Porsche 917 being two ears we will never see repeated or possibly surpassed, for the changing world is outlawing such beautifully outrageous cars. If 1 had never driven a GT40 or ridden in a Porsche 917 coupe, life would not be complete and though more efficient cars will lap the circuits quicker it is difficult to visualise a two-seater coupe that will stir the emotions quite so much as a 5-4itre air-cooled flat-12-cylinder Porsche 917. Although it is three years since the FIA ruled the Porsche 917 out of long-distance racing 1 still find it hard to believe that we will never sec them again. With Porsche and Ford taking their unlimited technical resources out of sports car racing we have been in something of a doldrum and it is difficult to see any way out. Another doldrum that has crept up on us is the legislation aimed to do away with private motoring, and certainly pleasurable private motoring. New laws that are aimed at making motoring less attractive are not of a temporary nature, they are here to stay, unless there is something in the nature of a revolution. The grey face-less civil servants who make laws have clearly admitted defeat by the motor vehicle and having sat back for many years hoping that the problem of the motor vehicle would go away, they are now intent on getting rid of the problem rather than trying to solve it. If there are ten more years of “free motoring” I shall be agreeably surprised. To enjoy
motoring in Europe today, even in Spain, yOu must not only pick your road Carefully, but also the time of day and the season of the year, and even then you can guarantee to break a law or two every hour on the Fleur. Was it really ten years ago that 1 used to cruise all day and every day at 105 m.p.h. in my first E-type, saying to myself “1 really must stop cruising at over 100 m.p.h. all day. it is exaggerating.” Little did I think that officialdom was going to do it for me, it all seemed so happy and carefree in 1965, and yet at the time I was regretting the passing of 1955, when we cruised at 150-170 m.p.h. all over Italy, practising for the Mille Miglia, in and out of the Sunday traffic, what little there was of it.
In closing that Article ten years age I said I thought there would be plenty of motor racing taking place in ten years hence, and indeed there is, but I doubted if many of the drivers of that day would still he racing. From the Grand Prix fields of those days only Graham Hill iS still active in the same sphere, though Chris Amon is still racing and Surtees and Gurney arc still deeply involved. Hulme and Stewart are still about on the scene hut Ireland, Ginther, Gregory, Brabham, Bondurant, Attwood and Bucknam are no longer involved. 1 also said that I hoped that one of the race reporters of 1965 would still be at the trackside and I am happy to say he still is and with luck will still be at some of them in 19.85.—D.S.J.