WHILE some people were getting on with a motor race at Monza recently, the British manufacturers of racing cars were meeting to try and decide how they could keep motor racing the way they wanted it, and not the way the F.I.A. had decided. The main gripe is about the new Formula for Grand Prix racing which comes into effect on January 1st, 1961, in precisely three months time. This new Formula was announced at the close of the 1958 season, and the date of its inception was given then, and it was said that it would be the new Formula for Grand Prix racing. Quite simply it restricts engine capacity to 1,500 C.C. (i.e., 1½-litres) unsupercharged and imposes a minimum weight limit. Since that time various people from drivers to manufacturers have been against this new Formula and have given numerous reasons, these often changing with the passage of time, and alternatives have been given ranging from keeping the existing Formula 1 to starting a new Formula for cars with engines of 3,000 C.C.
This group opposing the new Formula consists of people such as John Cooper, Colin Chapman, Tony Vandervell, Raymond Mays, and so on, all people closely concerned with the building of Formula 1 cars and some drivers. By enlisting the support of the S.M.M.T. these people thought they could use strong arm tactics to alter the plans of the F.I.M. and they issued an ultimatum which said in effect that those members of the S.M.M.T. who supported racing would withdraw their support if the new Formula was not dropped, or at any rate altered. The F.I.A. showed no interest at all in this ultimatum, but did agree to discuss the new Formula and made the concession of reducing the weight limit from 500 kilogrammes to 450 kilogrammes.
The British are still not happy and instead of getting on with the racing, or going away and designing new cars and engines ready for January 1st, 1961, they were down in Italy making more proposals, which are very unlikely to interest the F.I.A., but never-the-less, they will be presented to the Paris Congress in early October. It seems that by and large the new Formula 1 has been accepted but that they want to go on racing their 2½-litre cars as well in a sort of Formula Libre category. It is proposed that the 2½-litre cars shall continue to race on those circuits with a lap speed of over 180 k.p.h.. and that the new Formula 1 shall operate on circuits of lap speeds below that figure. Also that any country with two suitable circuits shall hold World Championship events on both circuits, as for example, in France where the 2½-litre Inter-Continental Formula would have a race at Reims, and the Formula I cars to the 1½-litre Formula would be raced at Rouen. Similarly Belgium could use the very fast Spa circuit and the new Bruxelles circuit, and so on.
Now all this makes me chuckle, for back in June 1958 I suggested just such an idea in an article in MOTOR SPORT that was aimed at doing away with the racing/sports car and replacing it by another type of Grand Prix car in addition to those in existence at the time. Naturally I can do nothing but support the manufacturers in their suggestion to the F.I.A. but I am afraid that it will not do much good, for the controlling body of motor racing have invariably been singularly disinterested in British suggestions in the past. As most of the happenings at F.I.A. meetings have been conducted in the French language, and as most British representatives are not exactly brilliant orators in that language, this lack of interest by the F.I.A. is perhaps understandable.
If the F.I.A. should take the suggestion of the manufacturers seriously then it would be a good thing for the sport and we would have a splendid series of racing categories through which budding drivers could progress. Beginning with Formula Junior, they could graduate to the new Formula I and then pass on to Formula Course, as the retained 2½-litres might be called. And as I suggested in 1958, if “cars for courses ” were encouraged we could drop the thinly disguised sports car once and for all and concentrate on pure racing cars of varying sizes. All this is by no means new, for when I suggested revising the classes for racing cars I was only using knowledge gained from American professional track racing, where they have a number of different capacity classes and each type is restricted to a certain sort of track, culminating in their biggest and best class which compete at Indianapolis. Through European eyes, American professional racing on tracks may not have much to commend it, but at least it is fairly well organised on a logical basis, which is more than can be said of European racing. Shortly after these words appear in print the F.I.A. will be meeting and presumably some decision will be taken over the immediate future of Grand Prix racing. In the meantime, there is only one thing to do and that is what Ferrari and Porsche have done already, which is to design and develop new cars ready for the new Formula I which begins in three months time.
Having a slight bearing On the foregoing are some interesting figures that were gathered up at the Solitude Grand Prix last July, which will be remembered was for 1½-litre cars. There was also a Formula Junior event, so a weighbridge was built in the paddock, as Junior cars have a strict weight limit, and as a matter of interest some of the 1½-litre cars were weighed as well. The new rearengined Dino 156 Ferrari was weighed and it came out at 544 kilogrammes. One of the works Porsches scaled 445 kilogrammes, and a privately-owned Cooper weighed 485 kilogrammes. The original weight limit for the new Formula was 500 kilogrammes and this has now been reduced to 450 kilogrammes, so that Porsche still have to find some extra weight. No Lotus was weighed as it was entirely optional and Colin Chapman said the weights of his cars were secret, as far as race organisers were concerned anyway. For those interested a kilogramme is equal to 2.2 lb.
We all know quite a bit about the Scuderia Ferrari, for it has been going for a long time, and equally the name of the Scuderia Centro-Sud is now pretty well known, while the comparatively new Scuderia Eugenio Castellotti is gradually making a name for themselves, one of their cars finishing fourth in the recent Italian Grand Prix. Now there is nothing magical about the name Scuderia, though many people seem to think so, and Italians must be just as intrigued by the name Team Lotus, or Cooper Works Team, or B.R.M. Racing Division. To each country its own designation of its activities, but this past season has seen some activity in Formula 2 racing of the Scuderia Colonia and one assumed at first that it had Italian origins but this was wrong, for it is German and a strictly amateur affair. It is the result of the enthusiasm of the more sporting types in a motor club in Cologne, or Koln as it is spelt in German, and the leading light and guiding hand is none other than Ferrari team driver Wolfgang von Trips. It seems that the local lads in the Club wanted to do competitions and individually they were not strong enough so they banded together, just like many little groups are formed in England for Club racing. As the Trips family castle is only a few miles from Cologne, Wolfgang naturally took an interest in these enthusiasts and led the formation of this racing group. Just as we find the word Racing Stable dull compared with Scuderia or Ecurie, so the Germans found their word, which is long and ugly, nothing like so fascinating as a “foreign ” word, and in addition they wanted to attract the attention of the townspeople so that they would be more sympathetic towards their activities, so they thought that a foreign sounding name would have more effect.
Someone discovered that the old original name of Cologne was Colonia, so what better than the Scuderia Colonia. Their activities started with Rallies and G.T. racing, but recently they have widened their scope into Formula Junior and Formula 2 and von Trips has encouraged this by buying a Formula 2 Cooper and having a Junior D.K.W. built and these he lends to likely members. No doubt it is as good a way as any of spending his money, and more important he is helping newcomers to get into racing. Nobody is keener or more sincere about the sport of motor racing than Wolfgang von Trips, and in numerous small ways he does a great amount to foster the sport in Germany and in particular he is continually lighting the anti-motor racing element which is rather strong in that country. We in England have a pretty easy time of it nowadays for the general public, the newspapers and the Government are all motor racing minded and providing we don’t do anything stupid they are on our side, but in Germany it is like it used to be in England 25 years ago, when motor racing enthusiasts were an isolated little group fighting for survival.
The victory for Phil Hill in the recent Italian Grand Prix was not only a popular one but a very justified one, for few people will argue that he has been the outstanding American road race driver for some time, and it is nice to think that his name will go down in the history books. America in European road racing is in a somewhat similar position to that of Great Britain a few years ago. We had a victory by Segrave with a Sunbeam in a Grand Prix in t923 and from then on we took a back seat in first-line Grand Prix racing until Dick Seaman won the German Grand Prix in 1938. That it should be Seaman who recorded the first Grand Prix victory after Segrave was all very right and proper, for he was our outstanding driver of the ninteen thirties, though there were plenty of arguments at the time that others were better.
Then in the post-war era our next victory came in the French Grand Prix when Mike Hawthorn won, once again a fitting win for he was very much a rising star in those days of 1953. American Grand Prix history is very similar for Jimmy Murphy won the Le Mans Grand Prix, before it was a sports car race, in July, 1921, with a Duesenberg; not as some people would have it in 1922 or even 1923 as has been quoted, but in 1921, Now in 1960 Phil Hill has recorded the second victory in a major Grand Prix bv an American driver, and just as we were all very pleased Dick Seaman broke the spell for us, so I am sure that all Americans will be pleased that it is Phil Hill who has broken their spell; I know that a lot of Europeans feel that way. A lot of people no doubt think that Masten Gregory or Dan Gurney are better drivers than Phil Hill, or that Carroll Shelby was better, or John Fitch, or any of the other Americans that have been over here, but for me Phil Hill was really the leader of them all, for he was the first American driver that made Europeans sit up and take notice especially after his epic drive in the great Mexican Road Race of a few years ago.
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During the past season of Grand Prix racing on circuits in Europe two little rubber tubes have been appearing stretched across the track about 100 yards apart, looking rather like those rubber tubes that the Ministry of Transport put down on the road to count the flow of vehicles when making an investigation in road improvements. These tubes appeared at Zandvoort and Nurbergring amongst other places, and were coupled to an electrical device that ticked off hundredths of a second, thus giving the time taken for a car to pass through the measured distance and a conversion table gave the speeds in k.p.h. or m.p.h. as you wished. At Zandvoort for example, the faster cars were reaching just on i150 m.p.h. before they shut off for the hairpin beyond the pits. All this was the work of Maurice Gatsonides. the Dutchman who used to compete in rallies and races, and he has been very busy perfecting this time apparatus which he calls the Gatsometer. Now all this was good fun and Instructive and it settled arguments and generally speaking did no one any harm and provided a lot of interest during the practice periods. However, I now find that the Grand Prix racing circus was merely being used as a guinea pig to perfect the mechanism before it was offered for sale. When I say that Gatsonides proudly announced that he had sold the design of his Gatsometer to the police forces of a number of European countries you will understand why I got hot under the collar and wondered whose side he was on. He gave me the rather fatuous answer that it was a very accurate instrument and that now when you got pinched for speeding there would be no question of error. Thanks very much Mr. Gatsonides, next time I am pinched for speeding in France or Belgium I’ll know who to blame ! The realisation that a speed trapping device has been designed by someone who I thought “was one of us” still leaves me rather incoherent. It is rather like coming face to face with the nonentity of a Civil Servant who actually drew up the master copy of some of those infuriating and idiotic forms we have to fill in now and then. You read through them and think ” who on earth could have spent time drawing up this little lot” and then with a shock you meet Mr. Jones from the Ministry who was responsible. It was with just a shock that I listened to Gatsonides telling about his device to catch motorists speeding; and to think he used the Grand Prix boys to perfect it ! Words fail.—D. S. J.