Around and about, November 1972
Comment on the Racing and Club Scene
Rondel F2 Car Announced
Several months ago in this column we announced the news that the go-ahead Formula Two team, Rondel Racing, had formed an alliance with Denys Dobbie and that with his backing they would construct and race their own Formula Two car and, possibly, also a Formula One. Since then Rondel have recruited Ray Jessop from Motor Racing Developments to design a car for them and the prototype was finished in time to be unveiled in October. Just a week before, Denys Dobbie had withdrawn his support from the programme following “policy disagreements with other members of the Board over the company’s areas of involvement in the future”. As Rondel seem to be doing exactly what they said they would when Dobbie joined them this is all rather difficult to understand, unless Dobbie has changed his mind—something he is rather prone to do. Meanwhile he has announced plans to back a works GRD sports car next season which will be driven by John Miles. Last year Miles led Dobbie’s two-car Chevron B19 sports car team and collected the now defunct British Sports Car Championship.
Meanwhile back at Rondel things still look good as the City group businessmen, led by Tony Vlassopulos who were instrumental in helping working directors Ron Dennis and Niel Trundle get the whole project off the ground in early 1971, have increased their involvement.
Until the advent of this new F2 car, Rondel have run Brabhams and while relationships with the Weybridge firm were very close, when it was run by Ron Tauranac, things haven’t gone so smoothly this year. Building their own racers was a natural step and, as well as manufacturing cars for their own needs (there will be a three-car works team) further examples will be built for sale. The new car is known as the Motul M1 in deference to French Oil company which helps Sponsor Rondel Racing. Although the M1 is fairly “British Standard F2” Jessop has paid special attention to safety and ease of maintenance. Extra protective sections are included in the cockpit to protect the drivers legs and, with regard to maintenance, an engine change should be possible in half-an-hour. Tell that to your local garage! The chassis is a full alloy monocoque with a tubular engine bay. Front radiators are employed and an interesting feature is the upper rear suspension mountings which are located on a removable cross member so that changes, that may be necessitated by varying tyre diameters, can be carried out by fitting alternative cross members.
One of the three works cars will be shared by graded drivers Tim Schenken and Henri Pescarolo whilst two non-graded drivers, yet to be announced, will drive the other two Motuls. One could well be Bob Wollek who has driven for the team this year, but Carlos Reutemann is leaving the team although he may well be seen in Formula Two but in a works Brabham BT40.
Grovewood Award Winners
The annual Grovewood Awards, which carry a great deal of prestige, were awarded on Tuesday, October 31st. The Guild of Motoring Writers panel adjudged that Britian’s most promising young racing driver was Formula Two man Dave Morgan who has raced Ed Reeves’ private Brabhams this year. Morgan has been a controversial figure in British racing for some time. He originally started racing in Minis for fun and then progressed on to various uncompetitive Formula Three cars. But in 1970 he found a sponsor and raced a March 703 Formula Three car with considerable success and a lot of cut and thrust. He was involved in the now infamous Crystal Palace “punch-up” with James Hunt following an accident within yards of the finish, and was briefly banned from racing. Last year he did occasional races in Formula Three and Atlantic without much success but it was in March of this year that he really hit the headlines. He pulled off a surprise victory in the first. F2 race of the year driving a 1971 Brabham backed by a friend, Ed Reeves. Since then he has had a later Brabham to race and, although he hasn’t repeated the early success, he has continued to be one of the front runners in Formula Two. Morgan receives the £1,000 award,
Taking the £500 award was another Formula Two driver and someone else who has shot back into the limelight after looking as if he had been forgotten. That man is John Watson, the bearded driver from Ulster who has raced the Tui and latterly Chevron F2 cars, and has just signed a three-year contract with Brabham. Watson, the first driver front Ulster to win such an award, has been racing for six years, starting when he was 18. He progressed from sports cars to Formule Libre cars in Ireland and then in 1970 and 1971 had seasons of International F2 which was punctuated by a very bad accident at Rouen in 1970. All this was sponsored by his father, a former racing driver himself, but this year the kitty ran out and after the season started with Watson out of a drive things got better and towards the end of the season he has started to fulfil the promise that has been there for some while. He even briefly drove the Eifelland Formula One car at Phoenix Park in Dublin, getting a new lap record.
Third, after a tremendous season in Formula Ford including cleaning up the big British Oxygen Championship as well as that sponsored by the Daily Express, is Dulon driver Ian Taylor. The Berkshire man who has been around in Formula Ford for four seasons now got it all together this year and has been consistently the fastest in Formula Ford. The award should help him make the overdue move into Formula Three. The new commendation scheme which was started last year is continued and the winners are two of Taylor’s closest rivals, Derek Lawrence who drives a Titan and Bob Arnott who has raced a Merlyn all year. Grovewood Securities, whose varied interests include ownership of the Brands Hatch, Mallory Park, Snetterton and Oulton Park circuits, are to commended for continuing this scheme.
It has come round to Castrol Quiz time again and this popular competition, which keeps motor clubs entertained all winter, commenced its first rounds last month. The 1972/73 version has no fewer than 382 motor clubs competing in the twelve different areas. The area finals will take place in mid-February and the final will be in April. Expect to see Liverpool Motor Club (Winners in 1969/70 and 19701-71) back in the last three again this year. Their resident wizard, Liverpool solicitor and part-time motoring journalist Ian Titchmarch, has come out of retirement following a year as an area chairman. The quizes provide good entertainment for spectators—more details front the Quiz press officer, Derek Hill, at Wolverhampton 31970 or 36140.
• Wolverhampton driver Trevor Scarrett has won the extremely closely fought Monoposto Championship with his Brabham BT18. Scarrett is a sales manager with GKN’s Eslok division and has been racing Monoposto for three years. He clinched the championship with a round to go but second, third and fourth places were still in the balance as we closed for press.
• Both Vic Elford and Alex Sole-Roig have announced their retirements from motor racing. Elford, a one-time top line rally driver who turned to racing with great success in sports cars and also looked promising in Formula One for a while, will continue in the sport in a managerial position. He has been appointed a European agent for March sports cars and is currently establishing a base in Dijon. Backed by the French fuel concerts Antar and by Scudetia Filipinetti he will run a team of March-BMWs in 2-litre Championship events next year. Soler-Roig, who has raced Formula One and Two cars without much success but sports-cars with rather more in the last few years, has decided to give up racing and concentrate on running the clinic his father founded in Barcelona. — A. R. M.