I must take issue with Nigel Roebuck over his views on white lines. I believe they were first introduced at Le Mans to show drivers where the ‘black stuff’ ended and all sorts of problems — trees, walls, ditches and sheer drops — started. These were all things that would, at best, end a driver’s race and at worst end their life.
As a marshal I have always believed that black stuff is for racing and everything else is my domain, from where I take a driver and their car to a place of safety. Rumble strips, run-off areas and gravel beds were all introduced to save drivers’ lives. Drivers, being racers, took advantage of the extra safety to cut further corners and shave seconds off lap times.
If a driver goes off the black stuff their race should end. Their life is still available to them and their car intact (unless they hit the tyre wall).
Nigel also reminisced about the 1970s and what could happen to onlookers. If Jo Siffert had collected Nigel, would Mr Siffert have been able to restart or would he have ended up in jail?
Kerbs were unforgiving, as Jackie Stewart recognises. Drivers now use them to their advantage. Come off the black stuff and your race is over but you are alive. The piece about Luigi Musso reminded us about what happened to drivers who were racing for position and went, even marginally, over the white line. If, in the 1950s, Romain Grosjean had gone that far over the white line the stewards would not have had to consider a drive-through penalty. They might be considering a red flag to end the race ahead of preparing for another funeral. Let’s keep drivers alive without allowing them to take advantage.
Gwilym Owen, Holmes Chapel, Crewe