I guess I’m one of the few Brits still around who watched the 1957 Pescara Grand Prix. Prudently taking a friendly welder with me, we set off in my home-made 1172 side-valve Formula car with the intention of visiting as many circuits as possible in two weeks, but also to follow much of the Mille Miglia route, not realising that the race held two months earlier was to be the last. The other objective was to pause on the way at Pescara to take in the GP. Delayed slightly by a gearbox rebuild in the Swiss Alps, we made it in time for practice, which we watched up in the hills with Denis Jenkinson, before bedding down on the seashore and cooking fish dragged onto the beach by the locals. Up in good time for the early start, we took our seats in the grandstand opposite the pits – and when we cheered the Vanwall victory I thought we’d be lynched!
Continuing along the Mille Miglia route over the Appenines to Rome then up towards Pisa, we made a detour to Monza where we collected large chunks of tyre from the recent ‘Monzanapolis’ race, then across to Monte Carlo to explore the circuit I planned to race on, though it took me another seven years to do so. Then up the still war-damaged roads to Paris, where major welding was required to reattach the rear suspension to the axle. The Pescara GP certainly left an impression on me.
Tony Goodwin, Warlingham, Surrey
September’s feature on Pescara brought back a lot of memories for me. In 1959, four of us in our early 20s decided a visit to the GP was a must, so my friend Bill Pinckney (of Lotus 11, 20 and Elite fame) persuaded his mother to lend us her old Hillman Husky. After 10 days of camping across Europe, we finally arrived in Pescara ready for the GP, only to be told it had been cancelled two weeks beforehand.
Crestfallen, we sat on the beach for a few hours, then decided to go over the mountains to Rome and Naples, but that is another story.
Tony Barrett, Wellesbourne, Warwick
The good old days
Simon Arron’s piece on Formula 2 in the ’70s brought back memories. I worked for the YPF team of Carlos Reutemann and Carlos Reutsch in 1971, running Brabham BT36s (with two BT30s as spares). I was mechanic, truck driver, interpreter… You name it. I had lunch with John Watson in Sweden and got to know the late Alan Henry, as well as Andrew Marriott.
Simon mentioned Tulln-Langenlebarn. I remember it well: it rained all weekend, we had to do an all-nighter to change an engine and during the race I was standing in pouring rain with 22 cars slithering towards me and only a straw bale for protection. Later, I got back in the truck – still soaked – to drive to the next round. Motor racing can be glamorous…
Jeff Heselwood, Hong Kong
I was very touched to learn the full story of Gerry Birrell’s short life (October). My friends and I used to be hugely entertained by the Birrell brothers racing at Ingliston in the 1960s, especially in their highly modified Ford Anglia. Returning home to Glasgow in my mother’s Mini Countryman after one meeting, we were overtaken at some speed by the Birrells – with Graham towing Gerry in said Ford Anglia on a very short rope. Needless to say, we never caught up.
Graeme Brown, Symington
When the boat comes in
I have a fond memory of Shadow founder Don Nichols, who died recently. At Silverstone in 1975 I got talking to Don and his wife in the paddock. I think it was his wife’s first visit to the UK and she was asking about London and sights to see. At the end of the conversation Don asked if I was going to the Monaco GP, to which I replied ‘yes’. He told me I must visit his boat and, assuming this was perhaps a throwaway line, I thought nothing more of it.
Courtesy of Page & Moy I duly arrived in Monaco and was walking along the harbour front when a voice shouted from one of the larger yachts: “Hi – come on board.” It was Don. I was welcomed aboard and royally entertained. I don’t know how he remembered me, but it certainly made my trip.
Michael Cookson, Audlem, Cheshire
Racing with added Spice
Your Lunch with… Gordon Spice took me back to Brands Hatch in the late ’70s. I was watching a great dice between Gordon and Tom Walkinshaw, both in Capris. On the final lap Spice led into Paddock. From my vantage point it appeared that Walkinshaw made no attempt to turn in and rammed Spice amidships. Spice retaliated at Druids and the pair continued their stock car tactics for the rest of the lap. Vettel/Hamilton powder-puff stuff it wasn’t!
I saw Walkinshaw in the pits a few minutes later and thought of saying that I hadn’t been impressed with his Paddock approach, but thought better of it when I saw the steam coming from his ears. About 20 years on I met Gordon socially and reminded him of this battle. He told me that he and Walkinshaw had to concoct a story to explain the ‘incidents’ and thus preserve their competition licences.
John Hindle, Penshurst, Kent
A book at bedtime
What a lovely surprise to see Gordon Spice as your Lunch with… guest. In 2011 I was fortunate enough to be invited to race at Bushy Park in Barbados, where I met Gordon – he was there as a special guest to commemorate his own racing trips to the Caribbean some 40 years earlier. A few polite words were exchanged and we continued on our different ways. Some hours later I was summoned by name from a hotel balcony – it was Mr Spice who, with a bottle of rum in hand, invited me for a drink. I sat in complete bliss and a growing level of intoxication listening to Gordon’s stories, every one of them more fantastic than the previous. Eventually, with the Bajan sun reappearing, it was time to call it a night and Gordon offered me a signed copy of his autobiography – “£20 please”. As he says himself, businessman first!
Barry Rabbitt, Tara, Co Meath
Tales of Spa… and the M62
Here’s a little-known fact that helps explain Spa’s fickle weather: Eau Rouge, which is the lowest part of the track, is 40 metres higher than the most elevated point of the M62 motorway near the Yorks/Lancs border.
Jonathan Moorhouse, York
Reactions to our new look…
I like it. Congratulations to you and your team, Nick. When I read that you were ‘tweaking’ the magazine I have to admit to a certain amount of unease. What was considered broken enough to require fixing?
I like the cover; it reflects a magazine that I have been buying for some 45 years but has an up-to-date feel about it.
I am impressed that the two people I enjoy reading the most, Doug Nye and Gordon Cruickshank, have been given slightly more editorial space – along with Simon Arron, who always has something to say that I appreciate. The Garagista feature I can see becoming another new favourite, too.
The actual content of the magazine has not been sacrificed in the slightest and, again reflecting the 45 years I have been reading, the typeface is excellent for eyes that are not as sharp as once they were.
So hearty congratulations to you all, from one very relieved and pleased subscriber!
Paul Butler, Codsall, S Staffordshire
The new cover is fine, but why oh why does the magazine keep on having to change from time to time? The original was fine and a magazine of Motor Sport’s quality can stand proud without the need to constantly change its identity. Having been a reader for more than 40 years, I would love to stay!
Mike Menhenitt, by e-mail
[From a packed mailbag about the magazine changes, we have picked one representative message each way. However, the overwhelming view was positive by a good margin. Ed]
I applaud Douglas Anderson’s efforts to revive the Rest and Be Thankful hill climb and create a Scottish National Motor Sport Heritage centre but I can’t help feeling that £25m ought to produce something of real significance in the hillclimb world. Something to compare with the legendary continental hill climbs or Pikes Peak. Now that the restrictions on the use of public roads have been relaxed, Scotland has the space and the scenery to host a hill climb of at least 5 miles that could become an international attraction.
Kirk Rylands, Crookdake Farm, Aspatria, Wigton, Cumbria
End of story
Richard Williams states in his article on McLaren that Honda pulled out of Grand Prix racing in 1968 due to ‘a lack of success on the track’. The reason Honda withdrew at the end of 1968 was due to the tragic circumstances surrounding the ill-fated air-cooled car. Honda France entered the car for Jo Schlesser in the French Grand Prix at Rouen, against the wishes of John Surtees, who had tested the car for about 25 laps at Silverstone. He advised that it should be returned to Japan for further development, but Honda France wanted it to run at Rouen to help publicise Honda’s air-cooled technology. The unfortunate Jo Schlesser was incinerated in the car on lap 2, and the resultant negative publicity, plus the cost of building it in the first place, which impacted on the funds available for the lightweight V12 car for 1969, is the reason for Honda’s withdrawal.
Bill Granger, Nuthall, Notts
Along for the ride
I’ve just finished reading the September issue (I always read the magazine cover to cover). In the Parting Shot picture, can anyone tell me what is lying on the passenger seat of Mike Parkes’ Ferrari during the race?
John Cleland, by e-mail
Neat and Tidy?
Loved the Parting shot in the Sept 2017 magazine but maybe somebody can explain why the 275PFerrari is leaving the pits with a roll of garden border fencing trim rolled up on the passenger seat? Were they partly sponsored by a ‘hedge fund’ or ‘trimming’ the aero package I wonder?
Neil Leigh, Spa, Belgium
Hot shot’s pots
Re the ‘lobster pots’ in the passenger seat of the Ferrari 275P in September’s Parting Shot, were they for getting out of the notorious Le Mans sand banks? Maybe Parkes’s experience in the 1962 race had something to do with it. Driving the Ferrari 330 LMB he ended in the sand banks, and it took him well over half an hour to extricate the car and he finally arrived back at the pits, exhausted, to hand over to Lorenzo Bandini.
So chastened by that experience I presume Parkes wanted to be well prepared should the same happen in the ‘64 race and kept these nets to aid traction out of the sand. He’d probably also have a shovel or spade as well – he certainly didn’t have that in ’62!
David Fox, Schwenksville, PA, USA
Well done in adding Dickie Meaden to your column regulars. His no-nonsense direct comments, from a person of hands-on experience, are brilliant. Could I add further to his September issue as to how with historics in Australia we deal with this delicate issue of overtaking lapping cars with safety? Our rule is simply that the responsibility is in the hands of the overtaking car. To make this work, when the situation arises, whilst lapping cars the overtaking cars competing together will maintain position until the overtaking has been completed. In other words no advantage will be exploited during this period which allows a period of safety and then resumption of ‘full noise’. This was a gentleman’s arrangement for several years but has now been so successful that our governing body (CAMS) has written this into the rule book.
Richard Carter. Sydney.
Halo – and goodbye
Well, this is my last year watching F1, with the advent of the halo, ridiculous-looking cars, daft rules, hybrids etc. Lucky for me that I have a back catalogue of all the races since 1976 – I can now spend my remaining years scouring the past. And of course my monthly supply of this magazine. I’m so glad to have seen F1 live at some fantastic tracks, but alas, bye bye F1.
Warren Webster, Warwick, Queensland, Australia
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