N.B.—Opinions expressed are those of our Correspondents and “Motor Sport “does not necessarily associate itself with them.—Ed.
IT PAYS TO ADVERTISE!
Your comments regarding the British car companies’ export drive and the speed limit may not be so directly connected as you imagine.
Cars in the U.S.A. are mostly sold by publicity and styling. It is obvious that people can only see the latter from the publicity in the first place.
From my observation VW advertise at a national and local level nearly every day. Mercedes about twice a week and Saab, Renault, Peugeot, Datsun and Ford to a lesser extent and in about that order. Triumph and Rootes advertise quite well locally in conjunction with dealers with Rootes (through Chrysler) improving. Can it be coincidence that I have yet to sec a B.M.C. advert and they have put large numbers of people on short tittle?
Incidentally, as a self-exiled Englishman I write this more in hope that it will arouse someone to action rather than as a criticism.
New York. ANTHONY S. WEBB.
HE LIKES IT!
In answer to your query regarding the Morgan being the last car to have a folding windscreen I would suggest you have a close look at that excellent product, the Land Rover. Not only does the windscreen fold but the top and sidescreens are removable and 100% water and rattle-proof. Rust is unheard of in an aluminium body, steering, road-holding, braking and comfort are all excellent, vision is good from a high-placed seat, twin wipers, which can be hand operated in an emergency, and a hand-brake (which does not freeze up in winter) can be used to lock all four wheels if necessary, and many other good points; such as long engine life, a choice of engines and body styles, easy servicing (six nipples and sealed-for-life ball joints introduced with first model in 1948), a comprehensive list of extras, all works proved, not just “bolt-on goodies.” The service department will answer all queries fully and promptly. I could write many more pages in this vein but it would become boring, but please accept this as an unsolicited testimonial to one conscientious manufacturer. You also get what you pay for! No purchase tax on a new Land Rover.
Basingstoke. DAVID M. JONES.
IDEA FOR A HOLIDAY
I was most interested to read your commentson the book by R. W. H. Davis, “A Light Car Odyssey,” in the July issue of Motor Sport.
Last year I was a passenger in a bus travelling from Greenwick to Katmandu, along a route very similar to that of the author’s 12/50 Alvis (although in the opposite direction).
The main road through Turkey and the Middle East, as far as Isfahn, is sealed and in generally good condition, with adequate petrol stations, service facilities, etc. An owner of any car in good condition could now drive so far without any fear of serious mishap.
The Mediterranean coast of Turkey and Syria must be one of the most beautiful coastlines as yet unspoilt by tourism. The food is very cheap and excellent. For anyone wanting a change from Majorca, a drive to Beirut and back would prove an ideal holiday, taking perhaps four weeks
It took our bus 2½ days, or 25 hours’ actual driving time, to reach Teheran front Baghdad. The Persians are exceptionally good motor engineers. The driver of an “lndiman” bus we met in Isfahn had a half-shaft and differential parts made for a “Leyland Tiger” in two days for only £20!
South of Isfahn the sealed road ends, and there is approximately 1,500 miles of very rough road until Dalbandin. (This road is to be sealed in the near future.) Here we had an average of one blow-out a day, once blowing a hole through the floor of the boot. It was found these could be avoided if the 6½-ton bus did not exceed 15 m.p.h.
As one passes into Pakistan from Iran, surrounded by empty desert, there is a solitary sign in the middle of the road, saying ” Keep Left,” giving a moment of amused nostalgia.
Dalbandin itself is the epitome of the Indian Civil Service. The “Check Bungalow,” formerly used by Civil Servants in transit, now a tourist bungalow, has tennis courts and reeks of a Somerset Maugham atmosphere. Indeed, the whole of Pakistan has retained a “British” flavour, more so than India.
The sealed road from Dalbandin to Delhi is in many parts wide enough for only one vehicle, with a hard mud shoulder on either side. During the monsoon these roads would become very difficult, Bridges have now been built across all rivers.
Anyone planning such a journey, which takes about two months, is faced by the choice of travelling through Europe and the Middle East in the winter, and reaching India during February or March, when the climate is tolerable, or seeing Europe in the spring (which is perhaps too good to miss) and facing India in May or June. To drive through India later than June might incur the difficulties caused by the monsoon, mentioned above.
May I say it was a pleasure for me to find Motor Sport available out here, and to read again of vintage car rallies.
Melbourne, Australia. OLIVER CORFE.
A BRABHAM CONVERSION
I have just completed 13 months’ motoring in my Brabham-conversion Vauxhall Viva, and I feel it is worth recording the excellence of both the car, and the Brabham after-sales-service.
Being My first “Conversion car,” I must admit, I was apprehensive about tales of unreliability, low m.p.g., etc., with which people confronted me, whilst running-in.
I am delighted to say that I have never been let down once in the 16,500 miles covered, whilst m.p.g. figures are so good that people just don’t believe me.
Though motored rapidly in many differing road conditions, it has remained trouble-free throughout the year. The safety angle is looked after in outstanding fashion with the lowered suspension and the servo-assisted disc brakes. Therefore the high speeds of the pre-“70”-limit era were no trouble.
In branching out to competitive motoring, I have had every encouragement from the Brabham staff at Woking, and further refinements to the car have been carried out quickly and reasonably cheaply.
In conclusion, may I congratulate this fine magazine for standing up against the abominations of the “70” limit, and all the many other crosses the motorists of this impoverished island have to bear.
Morley. STANLEY HALL
GOOD SERVICE BY BRITISH FIRM
After about 16 years of quiescent reading of your excellent journal—the last four of them in this country—I feel I must come to life to express my gratitude for the excellent fare you provide month by month. Motor Sport comes like water on dry ground to a group of enthusiasts in the jungle here, whose automotive fare is limited to Jeeps of various permutations, with the prospect of a Morris “Oxford”-bred “Ambassador” on the horizon! I would also like to commend to your readers the excellent and painstaking service I have recently received from a company whose products must be of interest to you. I refer to Grangersol Ltd. of Imperial Way, Watford.
I wrote to them recently to enquire about their products and the possibility of using one of them to treat the fabric hood of our Jeeps. They replied by Air Mail, sending a full description of the range offered, and a specific recommendation for the job. I wrote back, suggesting that they send a small quantity (half-a,gallon) by post, as I was not sure how the condition of the vehicle hood would affect the covering capacity, nor was I able to arrange import by sea of a large enough quantity to do two vehicles and leave some over. They replied almost at once, but not before they had enquired at the Post Office about the charges on such a parcel, and so were able to give to me the likely total cost, which, in their opinion, was too much to justify the exercise, so they suggested that I might like to cancel the order, which, reluctantly, I have done.
Orissa, India. BRIAN WINDSOR.
Over the period of seven years I have owned many cars, the last two of which were an Alfa Romeo Giulietta and more recently, that is until July of this year, an E-type Jaguar. I am a professional person aged 35 and consequently considered quite a reasonable risk by insurance companies. In July of this year I reluctantly sold the Jaguar as I was only using it for short distance commuting and it was therefore uneconomical, and in its place I purchased a 1965 998 c.c. Mini Cooper, not, as you may think, a very potent vehicle. I applied to my insurance company for fully comprehensive cover in the usual way, as a result of which they advised me that they would cover me for third party only (despite the fact that I was held comprehensively covered on my previous cars and had no intermediate claim).
I took the matter up with the insurance company with whom I have done considerable business and after a protracted correspondence I received a letter from them, the contents of which are as follows: “We are duly in receipt of your letter of the 5th instant and have noted your remark. We are, of course, aware of the difference between the normal and supercharged model of this type of motor car. However, we have carefully considered this proposal in the light of all the circumstances and regret that we cannot increase the cover offered.” I should be pleased to think that my Mini Cooper was a “supercharged model” but alas this is not the case, and the rather dated phraseology is much more reminiscent of a “blown Bentley.”
In passing, it does occur to me that if I were to fit my particular car with a supercharger then presumably this would not invalidate my insurance as the premium I am asked to pay takes into account this possibility. The point of my letter is merely to demonstrate the out-of-date and unrealistic attitude which appears to be adopted by certain insurance companies, this particular one, incidentally, is a very reputable company of many years standing.
Chertsey. D. R. SHEVLOFF.
SPORTS CAR INSURANCE
My experience has been similar to that of Mr. F. A. Dain (October). During twelve years’ ownership of sports cars I have been well treated by my tariff company but when the “new deal” came into effect the Local Branch said that they no longer had any discretion and, Head Office, tut-tutting with horror at my group 7 “monster,” bumped the premium sky-high. Having shopped around I obtained very much more reasonable cover with a non-tariff company and rang up my old company to tell them the glad tidings. I said that I expected they were relieved to be rid of this terrible risk but the official concerned remarked ” Not at all. We are very sorry to lose you after all these years. In fact we find that people with sports and similar cars are generally a good risk because they care for them and do not like to dent them and because of the large premiums this is the most profitable side of motor insurance.” Any worthwhile comment would be unprintable.
The “New Deal for Careful Motorists” is inconsistent and hypocritical and I have written to the Accident Offices Association to tell them so. Only the Insurance Companies get a new deal and whether or not a driver is careful seems to matter very little. “Performance” has been substituted for cubic capacity, which is the old package in new wrappings, except that this vague criterion has left it open for the Association to come down heavily on any car which they think sounds suspiciously sporting. Despite all the trumpetings about emphasis on drivers and not on cars, experience and driving record count for little except as regards the no claim bonus which is not much of a palliative if the original premium is exorbitant.
Edgbaston. R. H. VERNON.
A NICE PROFIT
I was interested to read of the inflated prices asked by dealers for cars and was reminded of my own case. Last November (1965) I sold my Rolls 20/25 to a London dealer. He paid me £350 for it. In December he advertised it for about £685 and in February for about £725. On the face of it he must have made a whacking profit.
Bearsted. DONALD C. ROBERTSON.
May I suggest that your future road tests should include a cross-country suspension test.
This should be conducted by driving along the A41, High Street, West Bromwich, from Sandwell Road towards Birmingham.
Birmingham. MAURICE POWELL.
STANDS ALONE. . .
Your article in the September issue, on “Testing the Triumph-1300,” was of great interest to the writer, as he took delivery of one of these in February 1966. The final paragraph of your write-up is more or less endorsed, but oh, the workmanship and frustrating defects. To date the writer has experienced some 30 defects on his own car, as per the attached list. It has become known locally as the ” Triumph-Calypso,” as “they” must have made it up as “they” went along. Maybe the writer was unlucky and clicked for a “Friday night car” or a “Going on strike car.”
If the following list of defects on the writer’s car is published in Motor Sport, perhaps other owners of this model, would be good enough to state their own experiences.
(1) Cracked front off-side parking light cover…. Replaced.
(2) Scraping in rear off-side brake, traced to spare washer floating free.
(3) Near-side Sealed-beam unit ” blown.” … Replaced.
(4) Both quarter-light windows too stiff to operate with one hand.
(5) Both quarter-light window latch plates set too high to permit latching the windows.
(6) Off-side quarter-light pinch bolt fell out…. Replaced.
(7) Front parcel shelf rattle.
(8) Windscreen washer pump stuck, and inoperative.
(9) Rattle in horn push-bar.
(10) Rattle in bonnet lid.
(11) Bonnet lid front gap, ¼ in. on near-side and ½ in. on off-side.
(12) Excessive water leak in boot.
(13) Rattle in rear suspension.
(14) Corrosion on inside surface of luggage lid…. Resprayed.
(15) Forward edge of luggage boot lid not rolled-over.
(16) Luggage boot lid deformed…. Replaced.
(17) Front off-side door lock defective…. Replaced.
(18) Oil leak front off-side final drive oil-seal…. Renewed.
(19) Oil leak from timing-cover oil-seal…. Renewed.
(20) Steering column vibration.
(21) Steering wheel incorrectly positioned.
(22) Windscreen washer plunger disconnected from pump.
(23) Rear near-side wheel-arch body weld broken adrift.
(24) Defective front off-side courtesy light switch—corrosion…. Replaced.
(25) Front off-side tyre perforated—five leaks I in. from wheel rim. . . . Replaced.
(26) Excessive noise and movement from steering rack and pinion. . . Replaced.
(27) Gear-change lever securing bolt fell out and disconnected gear-lever from gearbox (4,500 miles)
(28) Defective front near-side courtesy light switch—corrosion. . Replaced.
(29) Inner bolt on the gear-selector shaft loosened, thus necessitating the removal of the rear of the gearbox (5,000 miles)
(30) Brake cables chafing the rear sub-frame.
The car has not yet done 6,000 miles.
In this way we may obtain a cross-section of owners’ opinions and see in which direction the “1300,” as the advert says, “Stands Alone as The Best Small Car Currently Available.”
Hassocks. D. A. DUFF.
THE PRICE OF PETROL
Mr. Cooper, wonders if the “tiger-tuggers” would boycott a cut-price petrol. The answer is yes.
I am fortunate enough to live in an area where I.C.I. petrol is obtainable (94 octane costs 4s. 10d. a gallon) and have driven about 20,000 miles using it in the past eighteen months or so with no ill effects. Within a short distance of the garage I use there are two other garages which sell the products, of major oil companies and, since the initial rush for the cheap petrol subsided, these other garages seem to be selling as much petrol as ever. Since the service at the I.C.I. garage is efficient and courteous, the only conclusion that I can come to is that people do not care how much they pay for their petrol (or for anything else it would seem).
While I am writing I would like to ask if you, or your readers, have any comments to make about the practicability of the Lotus Cortina as a hard-working, “every-day” car (reliability, longevity, availability and cost of spares).
Thank you for “The Best Motor Magazine in the World.”
Co. Durham. W. BRUCE.
I note with interest the comment appearing in your columns relative to the “catch-penny” activities of petrol companies.
I draw to your attention the plight of the owners of two-stroke motor cars (Saab, D.K.W., etc.). Albeit we are in the minority.
The cost of one gallon of “pump” two-stroke fuel is now 6s. 4d. This comprising a petrol/oil mixture to the ratio of 20 to 1. The correct cost of four pints of two-stroke oil is 8s. 7d., this is enough to treat 10 gallons of petrol at the mentioned ratio. Therefore, 10½ gallons should cost 60s. 3d., which is one gallon for 5s. 9d. This means a motorist purchasing a gallon of fuel from the pump is being over-charged by no less than 7d. per gallon.
If, as a basis of calculation, J. A. Cooper’s (October issue) 15,000 miles per annum at 30 m.p.g. (the approximate consumption of a Saab 96 anyway), is used; the petrol companies are reaping £14 10s. in return for absolutely nothing! Add to this the incidental profit on the petrol and oil and it becomes an act of lucrative larceny if not open highway robbery.
Oil mentioned is Shell 2T ex-bulk stock. Petrol at 5s. 2d. per gallon as used in two-stroke pumps.
Liverpool. A. S. PIGGIN.
LOTUS ELAN EXPERIENCES
Having now owned ESG 95C for a year, may I add to earlier comments published in Motor Sport on Lotus ownership, with a few findings of my own. Lotus delivered the car on schedule as ordered and the Elan proved less trouble in settling down on the road than any car I have owned. I have yet to be let down by the car, after 20,000 of the sort of soul-satisfying miles that only a Lotus can provide.
The only “major” fault to date was that of the rear oil-seal on the gearbox failing, resulting in the oil falling out. The Lotus Agent up here, in the wilds of Scotland, please note, replaced the box under warranty in three days at a mileage of 12,000, no arguments or questions asked. The only other fault with the car has been a liking for rear-wheel bearings, average life being in the 6,000 mile region. These bearings have been replaced in each case under warranty, the last time outside the warranty limit. The bearing failure now appears to have been cured.
I will admit to having been a bit apprehensive about pushing off for a five-week belt on foreign soil with a car that has as yet a limited Service Network on the Continent. Just in case, I took £20 of spares with me. On a similar trip last year I went in a big capacity heavy metal sports car that forgot itself and made a mess all over the carpet, causing us to miss a boat. (Sold three months later.)
Motor racing played a part in our trip, resulting in a schedule of sorts that had to be kept, the point being that we motored through Britain, at 70 miles an hour, Holland, Belgium, France and Italy, over some of the most car-destroying roads, tracks, rubble, mud and stones I have yet to see on the public highway. With or without DS Citroens on its tail, the Elan took it in her stride. General conditions resulted in mileages of 600 or 700 a day, with no effort to the driver or car, at 31 m.p.g. and under a pint of oil per 850/900 miles (Continental Esso 20/40). Oil pressure was steady 40 lb., oil temperature 75/80. Average speeds, 47-50 m.p.h. When in the South of France we found first thing in the morning, 10 a.m. that is, oil/water temperatures of 40 before starting the engine! Only on one occasion did she complain, in a 2-hour jam in Nice, all the gauges began to complain, and at maximum oil/water temperature we switched on the heater/blower full blast. With a water temperature of 110° and an outside temperature of 85° it was warm, but the oil/water dropped a good 10°.
To give a full account of the adulation and crowd-drawing potential of the dark green hard-top k.o.-wheeled Lotus would require several pages. I will just say that the car made many friends and was a passport at the many Customs points it passed through, being of more interest than the poor mortals inside. That the headlamp mechanism does not need replacing from continual demonstrations is in itself a tribute to the designer. It was the car, I am certain, that secured for us, unbooked, the last room in the Bouwes Palace Hotel at 9 p.m. on the eve of the Zandvoort G.P. It was at this excellent hotel that we were asked the second day if the Alarm (balance-weight type) was set to go off every half-hour! That car can draw crowds. On one occasion when we were seen putting a toe over the “Line Jaune” in France the amazing result was an admiring look for the car in a hurry, and a wagged finger for the driver.
Well, the Elan is home again, and was sent up for servicing to Perth. Although it means an 80-mile trip each time, it is worth it. The firm concerned have done all the service work on the car since new and have proved very co-operative and efficient. I am always lent a car while my own is there for a day and a night, with no charge. I collected the Elan after her check-over to find all that was required was the normal mileage service. After the sheer punishment that that car absorbed, I am both amazed and delighted. The £20 of spares were returned in their original box. A delicate car ? Rubbish! I am glad I bought it. And I’ll have another one, please.
I have no connection with Lotus or the Trade. More’s the pity. I should like a few of that concern’s shares.
Edinburgh. D. O. MCLAUCHLAN.
During the past few months I have been following the correspondence in your columns about Lotus and its service with great interest, as it was mainly your road test report on the Elan that finally persuaded me to buy one.
I acquired a 1963 model with some 17,000 miles behind it in much above average condition but I have had two mechanical failures of the type which one does not expect from a car of this calibre.
Whilst pulling away briskly, but by no means fiercely, from some traffic lights in Paris, a rubber doughnut broke. On arrival at the local agents I was told that it was not the fault of the doughnuts but of the retaining bolts having a too shorter plain portion hence causing them to shear through the threads. Lotus have since brought out bolts of a different design, which, I was told, have cured the problem. Whilst in England on holiday the same thing happened again. It was a bolt that had sheared causing the doughnut to break up. Incidentally, a Hillman Imp Rotoflex coupling at £2 3s. 3d. is exactly the same as the Lotus part which costs £2 17s. 6d. [Yes, the same (if later driveshafts).—ED.].
This brings me to the second breakdown which was very much more expensive and also attributable to a design fault.
Driving to Brussels on the autoroute from Ostend, whilst cruising at 4,500 r.p.m., with a sump full of fresh Castrol 20/50 and normal oil pressure, a connecting-rod broke which completely wrecked the bottom half of the engine. When I eventually arrived at the Lotus agency in Gent I was told that the “throwing of a con.-rod” was by no means uncommon! [It happened on C-engines (revs limited) up to 1963.—ED.].
I wrote to Lotus explaining the situation and enquiring about the possibility of using various Cortina GT parts I had in my possession, but received no reply. After two attempts at phoning the factory from Brussels I eventually got the department I wanted but they had neither a crankshaft nor con.-rods in stock. I decided to go to Cheshunt anyway; I was politely received and told that they had intended to strip an engine to give me the parts I required but the person who was arranging this was not there, so I left, minus a crankshaft and two con.-rods. I then contacted most of the London agents but still left England without a crankshaft. To add salt to the wound, on giving the parts I had obtained from Lotus to the agent doing the work, he told me that the bearings, although in a box marked Lotus, were in fact standard Cortina GT bearings and did not advise fitting them.
I am prepared to accept water cascading in the door, windows that will not stay up, tremendous wind noise over 60 m.p.h., and gear ratios neither suited to driving in heavy traffic nor on motorways, but I am not prepared to accept deficiencies in design which lead to serious mechanical failures. Testing the design should he done by Lotus before the car is put on the market not by the customer afterwards. The purpose of my writing this “petite histoire” is not to complain about or criticise the Elan but merely to enlighten prospective customers of some of the difficulties they may well encounter and especially to advise all owners of the earlier 1,558-c.c. engines to ensure that they are fitted with “C Type” con.-rods, which are broader with larger big-end bolts [I agree.—ED.] because sooner or later it could cost a lot of time and money when the craving of these components for daylight and fresh air finally overcomes them and they burst through the crankcase to fulfilment.
Brussels. C. A. FUCHTER.
[We understand this correspondent has, nevertheless, ordered a new Elan.—ED.].
As I have now been waiting four months for one nut and ferrule for the wiper motor on my Morris 1100, may I suggest that, rather than dismiss all their motor industrial workers, they employ them to produce spare parts for the vehicles that they have already produced.
Tonbridge. PETER J. NEWENS.
VIEWS ON GROUP 7
D.S.J.’s “Continental Notes” about Group 7 two-seater racers left me cold. Group 7, with its scant regulations, seemed a sideways step away from the prototype, sports car, GT car line of thought,” I believe to be a not well-considered statement. Has D.S.J. forgotten about the amazing, romantic success of the “two-seater” Chaparrals—their victory at Sebring (1965) and subsequent victory at Nurburgring (1966)? Is this not an example of a step towards “the prototype, sports car, GT car line of thought?” Surely the “know-how” gained from the Chaparral Sprint Cars was not wasted at the Ring and at Le Mans!
London, S.W.7. ANDREW NELLESTYN.
I was both interested, and disappointed, in D.S.J.’s article regarding Group 7 cars, and their demise.
Whilst I am prepared to agree with him that technically they were leading nowhere, he seems to ignore the fact that they were attractive to the crowds. Their money also happens to sponsor motor racing.
Some of the racing with these cars has been “follow-my-leader” stuff, but even under these circumstances the sheer sound of the V8 was a joy.
D.S.J. continues his criticism in the report on the Guards Trophy race on August Bank Holiday. His dislike of the “big-bangers” has caused him to miss one of the most spectacular pieces of racing we have had in some time, the Surtees/Amon battle in the rain. Surtees passed (yes passed) Amon (at full speed) on the approach to Paddock, on the inside!
Fortunately, we are not going to see the last of the big-engine cars; it looks as though both Lotus and Lola are going to produce Group 6 cars based very much upon their Group 7 experience. It is my sincere hope that we are going to see more than the one event so far organised for these cars in this country! It is also, I think, relevant to record here that the French, via the F.I.A., have put on the pressure to have Group 7 dropped in favour of Formula 2. Formula 2 for the last couple of seasons has been particularly tedious, and even the new “Formula” looks as though it’s going to bring a dominant Marque with it.
London, N.W.7. S. PAYNE.
CAR v. HELICOPTER
This morning I read a letter by Mr. Arthur Rees, Chief Constable of Staffordshire, in one of the national “dailies.” In his letter Mr. Rees says of the 70 m.p.h. speed limit on motorways, to quote, “Finest step towards accident prevention I have known in my thirty years service.” Fair comment. Mr. Rees is entitled to his opinions, but, unfortunately, he goes on to comment, to use his terminology, on “Fliers,” who drive cars capable of 120 m.p.h. To quote further, “These fliers should really fly. The people or firms that buy super cars could well afford helicopters or light aircraft. Time means money to these people—and safety means lives to us.”
At this juncture I would like to point out that I own an old Mk. 1 Healey 3,000 capable of some 115 m.p.h. This seems to categorise me as a “flier”; as such it seems that I should be placing an order for my next light aircraft. For a man in Mr. Rees’ position to make such inane comments, truly amazes me.
To come to the point of this letter, is it not time that we, the readers of Motor Sport, who I feel sure must hold strong views on the subject of motorway speed limits, did something constructive in an effort to have this law evoked? I must point out that my feelings in this matter only apply to the limit on motorways. I do not consider a 70 m.p.h. speed limit on other roads as an unreasonable proposition.
Will anything ever be done unless someone, somewhere, makes the views of the motorist known? Should the 70 m.p.h. speed limit ever be evoked, however, the British motorist must be prepared to show the “Powers that be” that he/she is worthy of the privilege.
Ridgmont. B. A. CHASE.
[B. A. Chase should bear in mind, I think, that whereas the E-type Jaguar is priced at £1,967, as far as we can ascertain the cheapest helicopter available to the general public is priced at £11,000.—ED.]
LONG DISTANCE RACING
Never a month goes by but your Continental Correspondent grumbles about the lack of long races in this country, and makes disparaging remarks about our numerous “50-mile sprints.” Certainly we have disappointingly few classic marathon events, but this is hardly surprising considering the present state of motor racing in Britain. Race organisers are totally dependent upon paying spectators to make major meetings a financial proposition, and the average British racegoer doesn’t care tuppence for long-distance racing any more. The present generation of spectators has been raised on a diet of five-lap blinds and ten-event programmes at Brands of a Sunday afternoon. Unlike his Continental counterpart who is lucky to see two or three races a season, and who treats his visits to the circuit as something of an occasion, the British enthusiast can go to two meetings per weekend all summer long. It is club racing which dictates the character of all levels of competition in this country.
The other factor which militates against the success of longer races in Britain is the lack of a decent circuit to hold them on. The thought of spending 24 hours at, say, Mallory Park or Silverstone would send a thrill of horror down the spine of the most ardent fan. Le Mans and the other great Continental events owe their universal popularity to many factors apart from the race itself; the latter is only the focal point of interest at an occasion of much broader appeal. In order to enjoy long races the spectator must be able to escape from the scene of action now and then, to eat or rest, or seek other diversions. British circuits are quite uncivilised in this respect.
So how about it D.S.J? A word in the car of the powers that be to get us our new classic circuit, to be used for only two or three major events a year. Here’s hoping!
Cambridge. ROBERT H. GORDON.