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164

Frisco surprise

Sir,

I live one mile from San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park and a drive through the park is the highlight of my morning commute. On many occasions I have remarked to myself that the wide, undulating park roads would make a fine race course. Until the March issue of Motor Sport I had no idea that the park had indeed played host to motor racing in the 1950s.

Although blighted today by stop signs and pedestrian crossings, the basic track layout remains driveable and the bison still feed beside the former main straight. Sadly, environmental concerns and the close proximity of large trees probably prohibit any future racing in the park. But one can still dream — and experience a bit of a thrill on the way to the office.

Your re-design is excellent and I remain a committed reader.

Scott M Bloom,

San Francisco

***

Telly talk

Sir,

As Marcus Simmons comments in his review of ‘The Grand Prix DVD Collection’ in the April issue, television coverage of grand prix racing in the 1970s was “sketchy at best, and often non-existent”. But it is a mistake to confuse the broadcast of races here in the UK with the question of whether those grands prix were actually televised at all by their host nation.

Many of the races were televised, particularly those in the second half of the decade. The problem is the coverage is not owned by a single entity, such as one of Bernie Ecclestone’s companies, but by the individual host broadcasters.

Duke’s new DVD release simply provides footage of the documentary films made in the 1970s by Brunswick. No attempt is made to acquire and incorporate the vast amount of host broadcast material that still exists. In the early 1990s, the late Brian Kreisky’s Videovision company acquired some of this footage, and selected incidents were broadcast on the defunct satellite channel Screensport.

For someone out there with real enterprise, there is still the opportunity to gather together all of the grand prix footage from the national host broadcasters of the decade and to produce an exhilarating series of DVDs.

Gordon McCabe,

Dorchester, Dorset

***

Ditch the Brabham

Sir,

I really enjoyed the feature on Jochen Rindt in your April edition. He really was a photographer’s delight and could always be relied upon to provide good pictures — such as these (above) at Thruxton in 1968 at the Easter Formula Two meeting. He spun his Winkelmann Brabham entering the chicane and was lost from view in a ditch! Out popped the Brabham, covered in chalk dust, before rejoining the heat and going on to win the final.

Mike Hayward,

Shifnal, Shropshire

***

Gartner’s crash

Sir,

I competed at Le Mans in 1986, the year of the Jo Gartner tragedy (April issue). I recall that during the early part of the race the Kenwood Porsche was being driven very hard: on one occasion it overtook me into Mulsanne Corner using all the kerbs and more, something that at that time most drivers tried to avoid in a 24-hour race.

I was in my car after Jo’s Porsche went off and drove past the site of the accident for many laps while in the ‘snake’ behind the pace car as the organisers dealt with the accident, which occurred early on the Mulsanne before the restaurants, a long way before maximum speed was attained. I clearly remember a single long tyre mark which stretched for around 100 metres and veered off to the left to the point of impact with the barrier. The width of the skidmark indicated that it was a rear tyre that had made it. This would point to something failing at the car’s rear and nothing to do with driver error or a misjudgment in avoiding a rabbit.

John Sheldon,

Algarve, Portugal

***

Classic colours

Sir,

Great to see the ERA picture in the Peter Stevens article in March’s Motor Sport. After nearly 25 years driving ERAs in Bira colours, courtesy first of Bill Morris and latterly of David Wenman, I still catch my breath at the visual effect of the blue body and yellow chassis, one of the finest colour combinations in motor racing. Mind you, it does demand an above-average standard of cleanliness!

The story of the original selection of the Bira blue colour has often been repeated, but what may not generally be known is that the blue/yellow combination only became established in 1939. Bira appeared in a blue ERA (Romulus) as early as 1935. Initially he drove under a British licence, and it was only when the AIACR accepted Siam as a national licence holder that the distinctive yellow chassis appeared. I don’t know whether the idea emerged from Siam or from the White Mouse team. If you look at Remus (bought for 1936) you will see that the chassis is blue, quite correctly. At the beginning of 1939 the Bira cars were repainted with yellow chassis, but Remus had already been disposed of.

The car you pictured is R12B, Hanuman II — you can see the Hanuman badge on the bonnet side just ahead of the White Mouse emblem. The venue is the tunnel at Monaco, a scary spot for ERA drivers: and that’s me trying to keep the pedal to the metal while wanting to take a confidence lift!

Tony Stephens,

via e-mail

***

A year out

Sir,

I must point out an error on page 60 of your April issue in the article on Robert Daley, the photographer. The caption refers to Monaco 1961 instead of 1962, the most obvious clue being the chequered helmet of Innes Ireland in the UDT Lotus 24, complete with the twin exhausts of the Coventry-Climax V8.

The issue with the report of the 1962 race was the first Motor Sport I purchased. I was aged 13 and still have my copy to this day!

My only criticism of present day Motor Sport is that I wish the cover was similar to that used in 1962. This would be more in keeping with your present historic content.

Alan Walker,

Glasgow

***

Fuel play ?

Sir,

I refer to the April issue and the article titled ‘Cobra: taking the fight to Ferrari’.

In the 500km race at Spa-Francorchamps you tell us that “despite Phil Hill claiming the GT lap record, chronic fuel starvation blunted his challenge”. In the interest of historical accuracy this is not quite the case.

After the car was retired the fuel lines were checked and these and the filters found to be full of ‘waste rag’. Foul play was suspected, but not openly talked about!

At the time I was working as a sort of ‘gofer’ for the Carroll Shelby racing team. I was 21 the following day, June 15, 1964, and hitched a ride with photographer Bernard Cahier in his Mini Cooper to Paris. I did not tell him the significance of the day as I did not want him to think that I was after any more of a favour, but it was a wonderful and illuminating journey.

On a completely separate matter — and one I would only raise as I am writing — I think that it’s nice to see a new editor who is seen to have had a very early interest in Motor Sport. Clearly he will know how old he is now and the date of the issue he is seen holding, but he was a very well developed toddler at only one and a half, was he not?

Bruce ‘Stroker’ Dowell

via e-mail

Yes, you may have a point. Maybe I was a little older. Then again, I’ve always been big-boned — ed

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