Letters, May 2022

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Your Tyrrell article in March [Shed heaven] states that for the 1970 season Ken Tyrrell and Jackie Stewart decided to go with the Cosworth engine as “there were no unfair advantages – the engines were all the same”. At Watkins Glen for the penultimate race (not the series finale as stated in the article), we were in the adjoining bay in the Technical Centre to the Tyrrells. I was chief mechanic on the Surtees team, responsible for running John’s car. On the night before the race I noticed the Tyrrell lads had the gearbox off Jackie’s car and were working in the clutch area. It subsequently transpired that a set of stronger flywheel bolts had been flown over specially for Jackie’s car.

Five laps into the race John was the first retirement with, guess what, loose flywheel bolts! There were favoured teams that had the latest updates, and therefore a considerable advantage over the rest. All engines being equal? You’re away with the fairies if you believe that.

Bill Granger
Nuthall, Notts

Russian-Grand-Prix-grid

No Russian Grand Prix for 2022 but what about 2023 and beyond? Should the FIA make a stand?

It’s great to see the FIA bow to public opinion and cancel this year’s Russian GP. Unfortunately, I’m sure that they’re looking forward to milking the Russian cash cow all over again in 2023. If the FIA and the motor sport world in general want to react properly to the brutal attack on a sovereign nation by the barbarian in Moscow they will announce that all future races in Russia have been struck from the schedule until Putin is removed from office. It’s time for the FIA to get off its “motor sports are non-political” high horse and recognise that the rights, and lives, of hundreds of thousands of people are worth more than sanctioning fees.

John Tuleibitz
South Carolina, USA

I have enjoyed the correspondence on Graham Hill’s wonderful drive in the 1960 British GP [Letters, March and April] which I witnessed at the exit of Woodcote. What has not been mentioned is that the race was preceded by a magnificent touring car tussle between Colin Chapman in John Coombs’s Mark II 3.8 Jag and the Equipe Endeavour Mark II driven by Jack Sears. After 12 laps of squealing tyres with not a cigarette paper between them and the order changing every lap, Chapman triumphed by two tenths of a second: 24min 21.8sec to 24mins 22.0. And the best was still to come – what a day for a goggle-eyed 12-year-old.

Further entertainment was provided by the sight of John Bolster, commenting from the pitlane, being brought up short by a length of broadcasting cable and, if memory serves, nearly strangling himself. The Woodcote stand was reduced to helpless laughter. Les Thacker’s photo record of happy days in the April issue [Pitstops and f-stops with the man from BP] is superb.

Patrick Welland
Crowborough, East Sussex

There were a couple of very good articles in your March edition. In GTO goes racing we find that John Surtees (one of my heroes) set a series of lap records in the Goodwood TT and was taken out by Jim Clark who was being lapped for a second time. Whoever laps Jim Clark for a second time? On his day, John Surtees with the right machinery was unbeatable and excelled in every branch of racing in which he competed: F1, F2, Can-Am and sports cars, and obviously his numerous motorcycle championships. He lived in this country and paid his taxes here for most of his racing life. A definite candidate for a knighthood if ever there was one, unlike some.

Also the Mat Oxley article about the continental motorcycle circus was brilliant. These guys who toured Europe for the season living in their van relied on start money to get them to the next race. Hence the ‘start money special’, a bike which you knew would never make it to the finish, but if you didn’t start, no money. And of course Jenks [our DSJ] and Eric Oliver were part of the circus with their Austin 3-Way van. Jenks would ride a 350 Velocette in the solo races just to boost the start money. Heating the baked beans on the Primus stove one minute, and the Castrol R the next. Halcyon days!

I had a friend who raced, and one time he crossed the border from Austria into Italy at one of the smaller crossing points. He was a couple of miles down the road when he was surprised to be stopped by a couple
of motorcycle cops who had been at the frontier. The cops insisted that the two Manx Nortons, a 350 and a 500, be unloaded from the Thames van.

Was there a border irregularity? No. The cops just wanted a quick blast up and down the road on the bikes!

Lindsay Jamieson
Sherborne, Dorset

In his article in the April edition on the BRDC International Trophy [The Archives] Doug Nye refers to the season opener at Snetterton, won by Jimmy Clark. Stirling Moss was a competitor in that event, driving a BRP Lotus 21 modified to accept a V8 Coventry Climax engine, the car in which his career ended at Goodwood.

Unfortunately the car was not running well but Moss did not retire. After a number of pitstops and with the car at last on song Stirling being Stirling set the fastest lap of the race despite the 21 being clearly inferior to Jimmy’s 24.What a shame that we didn’t get to see Stirling and Jimmy going head to head in equal equipment, don’t you think ?

John Hindle
Penshurst, Kent

Vic-Elford-with-1968-Monte-Carlo-Rally-trophy

Not a great all-rounder? Here’s Vic Elford after winning the 1968 Monte-Carlo Rally – a week before his victory in the Daytona 24 Hours

Following the sad news of Vic Elford’s passing I am finally writing you a letter I had intended to write last summer on the occasion of your article discussing the all-round driving greats [Racing’s greatest all-rounders, July 2021]. Sir Jackie Stewart did not consider ‘Quick Vic’ one of the great all-rounders on account of his ‘never having made it in Formula 1’. I for one would consider a driver winning the Monte-Carlo Rally one week and the Daytona 24 Hours the next to be definitely part of that select club. Vic Elford successfully competed in sports cars, Can-Am, touring cars, rallying, rallycross and even NASCAR. As for Formula 1, after a single test and in only his third ever single-seater race he brought an outclassed Cooper home fourth in the 1968 French Grand Prix at Rouen, a circuit comparable in places to the old Nürburgring. I rest my case…

Karel De Cuyper
Rotselaar, Belgium

Vauxhall-model-car-advertisement

Vauxhall’s 1960s car design competition drew a huge entry, including at least one of our readers

I have got to that age where I suddenly remember odd things I did as a youngster. In the 1960s, Vauxhall launched a competition for anyone to design and build a model of a concept car. The winners were invited to the Vauxhall HQ to show off their design and model. I had to send off five shillings and in return they would send you four wheels complete with rubber tyres as the basis for your model.

Do any of your readers remember this? The winning designs were usually very good – mine looked like wheely-bins!

Jon Jeffrey
Llandudno Junction

I was interested in Andrew Frankel’s comments in his column in the April issue. The first part related to how annoying modern cars can be with their array of bings, bongs, alarms, spoken messages etc. Andrew’s frustration was that manufacturers assume their customers are morons. I suspect to a degree many of us find their car warnings, alarms etc a bit frustrating and agree with Andrew but speaking from many years experience in insurance and particularly the US market I have some sympathy for manufacturers setting the bar low. When a Winnebago driver can calmly leave the vehicle in cruise and go back to make a cup of coffee I think most of us would think him a moron. This case was far from unique and, in the US market, would almost always result in the manufacturer being sued for allowing the event to happen.

We all drive the same UK roads and see the same stupid behaviour from drivers, so sadly I think that until the law reflects a need for personal responsibility we have to put up with a ‘lowest common denominator’ approach to the design of car controls
and systems.

Simon Clutterbuck
London

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