Matters of Moment, October 1956

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64

Congratulations, Fangio!

Warm congratulations to popular Juan Manuel Fangio of the Argentine, who has won the Championship of the World for the fourth time, and for the third time in succession, thereby proving that he is the greatest exponent of present-day Grand Prix motor racing.

Fangio’s triumph, this unique achievement in which Ferrari so deservedly shares, is something of a victory for age, over youth.

Before the 1956 racing season commenced there were many who felt that the Argentinian’s bolt was shot, his hands less sure on the wheel, his reactions waning. But Fangio has proved them wrong. In a season when he has been ill, when Ferrari has been by no means free from trouble. mechanically, this great driver, who is so absolutely calm at the wheel, in sure and perfect control of his nerves and emotions, has again won the Championship.

The promise of Moss bringing the Championship to Britain faded as the season advanced, and even Collins, who was in the running, didn’t manage it, although, whatever the true story behind his hand-over of the Ferrari to Fangio at Monza, it was nice to see him proclaimed a sportsman for this action – only the Sunday Express seems to have publicly disagreed, saying Collins had no right to hand the Championship so readily to Fangio, and their sports writer apparently does not know that Grand Prix motor racing is, and always has been, a team contest.

In considering the World Championship driver and the aura which rightly surrounds him, it is sometimes forgotten that Grand Prix racing is still a matter of make rivalry. There are those who dislike the rule permitting a car to be called in and handed over to another driver, but this is quite in accordance with the object of Grand Prix racing, which is for the best car to win, an object established in 1906 when the Grand Prix replaced the Gordon Bennett races, which were a matter of nation battling against nation.

Too many races?

Small attendances threaten to kill certain races and even to close circuits. The reason is that, floating on the present ebb-tide of popularity, there are too many motor races.

Too many races result in reduced entries, with the ace-drivers split up amongst different organisers, and, in consequence dull fields and, as a natural corollary, a small attendance. Poor gate money spells little or no starting money, unattractive prize-money and poorer entries and even smaller attendances.

This season, to quote but two instances, we have seen a mere five cars running in the closing stages of the classic Aintree 200 race and the last big Goodwood meeting confined to sports cars and a handful of out-dated F. 11 racing cars when formerly at that meeting such drivers as Moss, Hawthorn, Farina and even Fangio did battle in the fastest racing cars.

It is time to reconstruct the racing calendar and drastically reduce the number of important races, to ensure that full fields of well-known drivers appear in the latest racing cars. Only by such action can “gates” be expanded at a time when the value of money is still falling and to drive to a race meeting and buy tickets for driver and girl-friend absorbs quite a lot of ” lolly.”

Before the war the English “classics” were well defined – International Trophy, Nuffield Trophy. 200 Mile Race, British Empire trophy, 500-Mile Race, Donnington Grand Prix – and you could appreciate their relative importance, recall the history of each race, and long remember the winners. Not so today. Now it is a case of cut-the-calendar, so far as the big races are concerned, to stimulate the health of the greatest sport in the world.

The London Show

The big motoring occasion of the month will be the London Motor Show at Earls Court, which the Prime Minister will open on October 17th and which you can attend any day thereafter, except on Sunday, until October 27th.

New models are expected, although as we write Armstrong-Siddeley. Hillman. Morgan, Humber, Bentley and Ford are amongst the makes which will be exhibited in virtually unchanged form, while it is sad to have to accept the demise of that famous pioneer make of British car, the Lanchester.

Readers will be Welcome at the Motor Sport Stand, No. 77 on the Ground Floor, and our next issue will be published on October 23rd in order to be on sale during the period of the Show.

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