Letters, May 2010

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Time to clip wings?

Sir,
Having just watched the boredom that was the Bahrain Grand Prix I now realise that, like MPs and their expenses, Formula 1 just does not ‘get it’. Wings are things that should be fitted to aeroplanes, not land vehicles. The amount of grip still generated means that any decent long corner is flat out and the high-speed braking so good that outbraking, even at the end of long straights, is almost impossible. Closely following another car destroys your own downforce, compounding the problem.
Major changes are needed to the regulations to ban wings (less grip, fewer things to break), introduce minimum ride heights (less grip, circuit bumps become less of a problem) and possibly revert to crossply slicks to increase slip angles (allowing bigger controlled slides). If things continue as they are, public interest will disappear, rapidly followed by sponsors.
Richard Hood, Dorset

Stuck on Shadow

Sir,
I enjoyed the article by Tony Southgate on the early days of Shadow (April issue). As a 14-year-old boy I lived just across the road from the Bostrom/Shadow factory in Weedon Road and used to spend many a happy evening loitering outside the factory hoping the doors would be open so that I could get a glimpse of the cars being built. If there was a friendly-looking face about I would pluck up the courage to ask “have you got any stickers I could have?”, which if I was successful would then adorn my school work folders (which I still have). I also remember the sinister transporter that Tony talked about – it would always be very exciting to see it either entering or leaving Ross Road (which is actually the road that the factory was in). What chance today of being able to hang about outside an F1 factory and ask for some stickers?
My other memories of that time are of a JPS Road Show in Northampton around 1973, with Emerson Fittipaldi and Ronnie Peterson. I didn’t get Emerson’s autograph, but I did get Ronnie’s.
And then there was the time that my father won a raffle prize of a pleasure flight over Northamptonshire. On arriving at Sywell Airport he found the pilot was none other than Mike Costin with a Cosworth company plane. Unbeknown to me or my father the prize had been donated by Cosworth…
Alan Smith, Oundle, Northamptonshire

In the hot seat

Sir,
While browsing magazines in the newsagent I saw the March issue with its stunning cover showing the JPS Lotus and just had to buy it.
Lotus has always been special to me, as my first job upon leaving school in 1959 was in the stores of Lotus Cars in Hornsey. During the 1959 Motor Show at Earl’s Court, where the Elite was on show, Colin Chapman called me into his office and asked me to stick samples of different coloured leathers onto display cards for upholstery choices for the Elite at the show. Chapman said I could use his chair and desk, but as he left the office he turned and said “don’t you get any ideas sitting there”…
It is great to see the Lotus name back in F1 and I wish the team every success.
Terry Fletcher, Standon, Herts

Seeing red over black
Sir,
Piers Morgan’s recent programme about Monaco stirred a memory. On the night before one Monaco GP in the mid-60s I was standing behind the barriers in Casino Square with my old school friend Robbie Robertson. I had followed him to Geneva University and a visit to Monaco for the GP had become an annual pilgrimage. We both had hotted-up Minis and later raced Lotus 7s in Clubmans events.
As we watched the glamorous celebrities in their exotic cars arriving at the Hotel de Paris, we were joined by the instantly recognisable bearded figure of DSJ. We chatted about the forthcoming Grand Prix and Formula 3 race, and became aware that placed all around the square were ‘No Parking’ signs, but that none of the arriving guests were taking the slightest bit of notice and just parked as near as possible to the hotel entrance. The Monegasque policeman standing near us in his smart uniform with white leather holster seemed to ignore the infringements, sometimes nodding to the drivers and signifying his tacit approval.
Then a black Ferrari turned up, parked next to the other cars, and a young blood in dark glasses got out, looked around so that we could all see him, and entered the hotel. The policeman walked over to the car and slapped a parking ticket on the windscreen. When he returned to stand near us we asked him why he had done that car but none of the others. His reply was, “Firstly, I don’t know him. Second, he clearly loves himself too much. And third, all Ferraris should be red!” We all had a good laugh.
John Moulds, Alderley Edge, Cheshire

Abate in a Breadvan

Sir,
In reference to Doug Nye’s interesting article on Carlo Mario Abate (March issue), I witnessed one of his most memorable drives. As a 10-year-old in 1962, I was taken by my father to see the Guards Trophy race at Brands Hatch. It took place in atrocious conditions (similar to another well-known sports car race at Brands some eight years later). It was won by Mike Parkes in an open-top works Ferrari, and second was Carlo in that very different Ferrari, the ‘Breadvan’. I recall being fascinated by the rear windscreen wiper, the likes of which I had never seen before.
Finally, regarding Nigel Roebuck’s article on Lotus, I have a picture of Jim Clark in 1965 at Snetterton preparing to go out in practice in the Ron Harris Team Lotus at the inaugural F2 event, wearing his beige button-up cardigan!
Peter Haynes, Needingworth, Cambridgeshire

Why no Midget shots?

Sir,
Last week I received my copy of Motor Sport and was excited to see that Eoin Young had penned an article about Louis Klemantaski (April issue). I had hoped it would throw more light on his pre-war motor racing photography. But excitement turned to gloom as there was no mention of the 1930s Midget car racing scene.
Throughout 1937-38 Klem could be seen every week at the Coventry, Lea Bridge and Belle Vue Speedways recording the close action that was taking place on the tight dirt ovals.
It always seems strange to me that Klem’s foray into Midget cars never gets a mention; even the current custodians of his collection have no record of his photography in this area.
As dozens of his Midget car photographs still exist why is this? Perhaps one day the UK pre-war Midget car racing scene might be recognised by ‘serious’ motor racing historians.
Derek Bridgett, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffs

Hunting party

Sir,
I was pleased to read your Tour of Britain article in the March issue, and was pleasantly surprised to see my picture while nurturing the Camaro around the Tour in 1973. I had worked with James Hunt at March when he acquired the ‘Hunt the Shunt’ nickname in his F3 days – we did many all-nighters repairing six written-off cars in eight weeks. The worst of these was at Zandvoort when James flipped the car and the roll hoop snapped, leaving him with bad abrasions to his hands and a severe headache. James spoke of the previous season with the 1000cc screamer F3, and how he was caught beneath an upside-down car – in the days when motor racing was dangerous and sex was safe.
On the Tour we were not expected to last to the end of the first day (a problem with a bent crankshaft damper meant we had blown the engine several times). I remember we saw 412bhp on Mathwall Engineering’s dyno –
not bad for a stock blueprinted engine! The problem with the damper had been identified and I recall going into Ladbroke’s in Camberley the day before the Tour started and getting 10-1 on James to win. I put £10 on and collected the money a week later – in the winning car…
Richard Lloyd could not drive the car that year as he’d had a road crash on the way to Le Mans. So he had called on James to take his place in both the Tour and then the Spa 24-hour race. The gremlins came back at Spa and, although James qualified ninth and first of the Group 1 runners, a front stub axle bearing broke just 40 minutes into the race.
We all retired to the bar, and James was happy as his performance had attracted the interest of Alpina BMW, who signed him for some big-money Group 2 races.
Stuart Green, Lymington, Hants

Ronnie, March and more

Sir,
I’ve been reading Motor Sport for more than 40 years and the March issue must be, in my humble opinion, one of the very best. There wasn’t one article I could skip over, everything had to be dissected in detail to do it justice – absolutely marvellous!
The Lotus articles took me back to 1972 when my Mini 1000 had a JPS sticker in its back window and took me to six Formula 1 races that year without leaving Great Britain. They also reminded me of the issue that convinced me to buy Motor Sport every month – August 1970, with Jochen Rindt and the Lotus 72 on the cover. They then took me way back to the first F1 race I attended – the 1962 Aintree 200 with Jim Clark in the Lotus 25. And then forward to the 1978 Long Beach GP when I could still, without paying a king’s ransom, take a picture of my hero Ronnie Peterson leaning on the pitwall and chatting amiably to Mario Andretti as the mechanics worked on their Lotus 78s not 10 feet away! Let’s hope that the new Lotus F1 team can bring back the magic.
The Robin Herd article reminded me of the exceptions in my 1/43 F1 model collection. It’s supposed to only consist of cars I have actually seen race, so there are two Peterson 711s and two Peterson 761s (unfortunately not in the Teddy Yip livery I saw Ronnie race at Long Beach that year – why didn’t I buy the John Day model that was on sale there…). But, for some reason, there are also the 701s of Amon, Stewart and Peterson – I remember admiring the audacity of March’s exploits in 1970 and I worshipped all three drivers! It makes me wonder how different history might have been had Robin, as he said, been able to afford to build the 711 in 1970 for Stewart to drive. Then I remembered watching Jarier and Beltoise dominate in the STP 732s at Mallory Park, and Gilles Villeneuve joyfully throwing the Direct Film Formula Atlantic March around the track at Edmonton before he moved to F1, and of my being a corner marshal at the 1981 Edmonton Can-Am round where Al Unser Sr and Teo Fabi piloted the Budweiser 817s.
I was living in Canada by the time the Jaguar XJ12C raced, but I so wanted it to win – perhaps because the first four years of my working life were spent at British Leyland at Longbridge. I sadly drove past what’s left of the site last year.
Thanks so much for a wonderful issue. Great memories of the past and fascinating analyses of the future. And, surely, Andrew Frankel must have the best job in the world!
Alan Toft, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Lotus – Britain’s garagistes

Sir,
I received the March issue of Motor Sport and was horrified to read ‘Lotus – Britain’s own Ferrari’. Lotus, although technically very innovative and successful, were ‘garagistes’. The title therefore belongs to BRM. I still enjoy Motor Sport after 51 years.
Charlie Laverack, by e-mail

You can’t win them all…

Sir,
I must say I’ve enjoyed your brilliant magazine for many years. Please forgive the lateness of this letter, as the February issue just came into my newsagents. Regarding the Doug Nye story about the amazing Win Percy, some corrections:
1. His 1990 Bathurst victory ended only a two-year period of Sierra domination, with Peter Brock, David Parson and Peter McLeod winning the event in a Holden Commodore in 1987, prior to Sierra wins in 1988 and ’89.
2. Win isn’t the only Englishman to win the race, as John Fitzpatrick shared victory with Bob Morris in a Holden Torana L/34 in 1976. He eased a very ill car to the line as Bob stood in the pits, in tears with fingers crossed, in one of the great displays of mechanical sympathy seen at that great race.
Dave Aston, Sydney, NSW, Australia

The right ingredients

Sir,
I first read Motor Sport in 1947 and have watched it adjust to the changes in racing and how it is reported, together with the impact of television. I have seen it struggle in recent years to find its role in our sport.
However, the March edition is proof that you have found your position, with Nigel Roebuck’s article on the current scene, the wonderful feature on Lotus and, for me, the stories on Brian Shawe-Taylor and the Jersey Road Race, not to mention Bill Boddy and
his love affair with Brooklands.
Long may you continue to present motor sport in all its glory. I am sure Jenks would approve of the magazine as it is today.
Ray Truscott, Alberta, Canada

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