Readers letters, November 2009

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Ivy’s charm offensive

Sir,

Your piece on Bill Ivy (October issue) reminded me of a distant memory from my youth. In 1969 I was a 14-year-old schoolboy waiting for a bus outside the Adelphi cinema in Slough when an impossibly exotic Italian sports car parked half on the pavement and on double yellow lines, partially obstructing the approach to the traffic lights. Out of the Maserati Ghibli jumped a diminutive, dishevelled figure in a leather jacket with hair that, although aspirational at my school, was definitely not allowed. I recognised the driver as Bill Ivy, who scurried into town exuding an air of exotic indifference.

His return some minutes later was greeted by two incredulous female traffic wardens who seemed stunned into inaction by either the beauty of such a car in such a dreary place, the unexpected rock and roll appearance of the driver, or the audacity of the parking. After arguing his case with shrugs and smiles he merged ticketless into the lines of Cortinas
and Morris Minors. His death some weeks later at the East German Motorcycle Grand Prix brought home on a more personal level the carnage that seemed a weekly occurrence in motor racing of that era.

Michael Oades, Englefield Green, Surrey

Moss in charge

Sir,

I have been a Motor Sport subscriber for over 40 years, since my early teens, and always get a buzz from the latest copy dropping on the mat.

The latest, with Sir Stirling as guest editor, must rank amongst the best ever. I have just returned from the Monterey Historics meeting and had the privilege of seeing Sir Stirling in the paddock and racing the MkI Lola. One competitor spun and restarted just in front of him and didn’t use his mirrors. Sir Stirling made it clear how much he was being slowed – once past he put a quarter of a lap on his opposition in a single lap! He still draws a big following and has been a consummate professional for the past 60 years – a credit to himself, the sport, his country and a true knight!

Chris Kadwill, Harlow, Essex

My telegram from Stirling

Sir,

How brilliant to ask Sir Stirling Moss to edit the October issue. He has been my hero for 60 years, since I was 10 years old in fact. When I was married in 1960, being a member of his fan club I received a telegram (remember those?) from him wishing me all the best for the future, much to my surprise and delight. What a gent.

I’ve read Motor Sport cover to cover since the ’50s, and over the years it has just got better and better. I’m also a great fan of Bill Boddy, whose enthusiasm for the VW Beetle resulted in me owning one of the original standard models which had a ‘crash box’ and split rear window. Anyone with an interest in Brooklands should try and get a copy of his History of Brooklands Motor Course 1906-1940.

I feel privileged to have lived through an era with such characters as Sir Stirling, Peter Collins, Mike Hawthorn, Graham Hill, etc.

Steve Kent, Stapleford, Wiltshire

Frank words from Jenks

Sir,

Further to Nigel Roebuck’s absorbing article in your October issue, you may be interested in a small anecdote about Jenks.

In the mid-70s I used to run a 500cc Kieft in hillclimbs. One day I was waiting in the queue of cars at Prescott for a practice run. A voice in my ear, which turned out to be Jenks, said: “Keep that gearbox, which is from a Manx Norton, but the rest is rubbish and you can chuck it away!” With that he moved on.

A man who spoke his mind!

Chris Bird, Rushmere St Andrew, Suffolk

More F2 memories

Sir,

I thoroughly enjoyed the piece by Alan Henry and Ian Phillips in the September issue of Motor Sport. In particular, the memories of the 1971 Formula 2 season, in which I was involved, initially with Ron Dennis and subsequently with the Argentine team of Reutemann and Reusch.

Two minor points: I believe the team manager of the March F2 outfit was Peter Briggs, whom I see each year in Macau. Secondly, the Vallelunga final could have gone either way and in fact Peterson made a pitstop to refill his oil tank, which was against the regulations. I reported this to Hector Staffa (Reutemann’s team boss) but he took no action, not wanting to upset Ronnie and the March boys.

Great article all the same.

Jeff Heselwood, Hong Kong

The time traveller’s guide

Sir,

One of my favourite things about Motor Sport is the chance to witness what I haven’t seen. Once a month I get to be a spectator at Le Mans watching Jackie Oliver in a Porsche 917. I get to sit on a hay bale as Phil Hill runs wide in his Ferrari Dino, right in front of me. I am in the pits at Oulton Park, Denny Hulme has pulled in, his Brabham BT8 is billowing smoke. The details captured by the writers and the photography always make me feel a part of the story. I am transported, and for that I thank you.

But I must also thank Motor Sport for bringing me yet another opportunity to go back in time: the 27th Vintage Festival at Lime Rock in Connecticut. It was spectacular. One minute I was on the infield hillside in 1929 as a Bugatti 37A came through the Esses. Then at the top of the ‘Diving Turn’ in 1934, two Morgan trikes going side by side into the downhill right-hander. Then all of a sudden it was 1958 and a green Lotus XI was braking hard into the West Bend.

This was a marvellous event sponsored in part by Motor Sport, makers of the world’s finest motor racing magazine… and time machine.

Wade Devers, North Attleborough, Massachusetts

Don’t get them in a twist

Sir,

As soon as I receive Motor Sport, I scan through each page to check the contents and delights that await me. With Sir Stirling Moss editing the October issue, I expected some changes. I was delighted, therefore, to arrive at p85 to see what I understand used to be called in photographic parlance a ‘knicker shot’. Can you advise your readers whether we can expect more of this type of content and whether Motor Sport will be moving to the top shelf in the newsagents?

A very happy birthday to Sir Stirling!

Andrew Hodgson, Bury, Lancs

Even Stirling can’t influence our adverts – though way back Mr Tee might have objected. GC

Give Portimao a chance

Sir,

I do not understand the comments of Nicholas Bird (Letters, October) regarding the Portimao Autodromo. Portimao is a new circuit in its first year of operation. As it is a brand-new track it obviously needs time to evolve. The facilities are getting better and better as time and races go on. The thousands of trees that were planted are growing well and the building work goes on at a pace. Talking down a track that is part of the future of motor racing is no help to anybody.

Perhaps if Mr Bird decided to come out of the past and look to the future he might find that this new circuit is far from characterless. Its undulating track is fantastic for spectators, unlike many others where you can only see one bend or straight. And how many other circuits have a paddock where you can wander round and watch the race at the same time?
F1 testing this year was a resounding success, not only from the fans’ point of view but also the drivers’, who gave it a great write-up. We’ve had five top-class meetings this year with many spectators attending, but the circuit management needs time to market the facility further.

Finally, one of the best bits about this circuit is that the sun shines constantly. Even in the winter just a light jacket is needed. How many times have we been to Brands Hatch and Spa and got so cold and wet that the racing became secondary to worrying about being frozen to the spot?

Go back to Spa, Mr Bird, and leave the future to more positive people.

Barry Halls, Portelas, Lagos, Portugal

Karting is such sweet sorrow

Sir,

I have just finished reading ‘Lunch with… Julian Bailey’ (October issue). It brought back some memories, as I was one of the ex-pats who raced against him in Menorca. I was then in my forties, and along comes this cheeky whippersnapper of 15 and proceeds to win everything!

There was one driver in Menorca who used to have one or two beers before a race, and he usually won after Julian’s departure. This is probably frowned on today, although I seem to remember Duncan Hamilton having a couple of light ales in between races at Goodwood.

I never propped up the bar before a race – I would say race days were when I was sober! It was all meant to be a bit of fun, something to do on Sundays. However, it became quite serious and some of us went over to compete in the Spanish karting championships. I once qualified third next to a 16-year-old Spaniard who told me I was too old to be karting. “Well,” I said, “I’m alongside you, am I not?”

Anyway, this was Julian’s springboard to Formula Ford and then F1. I saw him at Silverstone in 1988 and it was good to see him in F1. It has been a privilege to have known him. Cheers old boy, and stick to the Red Infuriator!

Robin Jowers, London W11

More Interserie please

Sir,

I was honoured that you used my photographs of 1970s Croft in You were there (October). To think they are in the same issue of Motor Sport which applauds the life and times of the great Sir Stirling Moss!

It was sheer coincidence that 39 years after the amazing Interserie meeting at Croft (which starred the works March 707 of Helmut Kelleners), that my son and I would be watching the same car (albeit re-bodied in 717 guise) at the August Masters meeting at Donington. Those Can-Am cars never lose their magic, do they?

It was a shame that the crowd was so small at Donington; anyone who didn’t attend missed a rare treat. It was proof that Interserie had it all both back then in the ’70s and again in the revival – a mind-blowing mixture of the most mouth-watering sports-racing machinery from its heyday. The Interserie revival race was sheer spectacle. The cars at the front were at it like Formula Fordsters: how Richard Evans (B19) could mix it with the Can-Am cars of Richard Piper (M8F) and Frank Bradley (717) I don’t know. But Piper saw them all off. It was Interserie all over again, and it made present ‘formula spec’ motor sport look like Tesco’s car park with all its technical blandness.

Yes, Interserie organisers, it worked! Please can we have a lot more next year.

Paul Vickers, Redcar, North Yorkshire, England

Moss, Brooks and Froggatt

Sir,

Reading through your excellent collectors’ issue of Moss at 80, I came to the Jaguar XK120 story – and thought, “Bloody hell, that’s me!” In front of me was a photo of me racing my Triumph TR2 at Goodwood in March 1955. It was my first ever race, which I went on to win (I’m still racing, 54 years later).

This meeting had some significance for the Moss family as Stirling’s sister Pat was having her first race in her MG TF, encouraged by her brother. Also at that meeting was Tony Brooks in his Frazer Nash. So although I was unaware of it, it’s wonderful to be included as a small part of your tribute to Britain’s finest racing driver.

Happy birthday Sir Stirling!

Mike Froggatt, Nanpantan, Leics

Sunday driver

Sir,

I thoroughly enjoyed the ‘Lunch with… Derek Bell’ (September issue). I have fond memories of seeing him at the first Porsche Rennsport Reunion at Lime Rock Park in August 2001.

I was watching Paul Newman climb out of the 917PA and up comes a 962, parks and out bounces Derek (sans helmet) and chats up Mr Newman… It seemed he was cruising around the paddock like he was out for a Sunday drive. Great day, great cars and a great gentleman.

Kelly O’Kane, Princeton, New Jersey, USA

Keeping score

Sir,

With reference to John Stanton’s letter in the October issue regarding the Silverstone Classic, I can give him an answer on one point. I have been reliably informed by a senior BRDC employee that the electronic lap scorer at the complex has not been working throughout the summer because the fibre-optic cable feeding the screens was accidentally damaged during the British Grand Prix. A new cable is on order and will be installed as soon as possible.

David Robinson, Old Farm Park, Milton Keynes

Double indemnity

Sir,

Like John Stanton, I also felt ticket prices for the Silverstone Classic were high, but what really annoyed me was the ticketing policy. I ordered tickets online for Friday and Saturday, and was surprised to find that each day was treated as a separate transaction. I was charged a booking fee of £2 plus postage of £2.50 for each day’s tickets, which arrived in separate envelopes.

When I queried this ‘rip-off’ I was more or less told that this was the system and hard luck. While I enjoyed the event I will not be attending next year unless the ticketing policy changes.

Tony Dewynter, Orpington, Kent

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