Letters, October 1986

Opinions expressed are those of the correspondents and not necessarily those of Motor Sport


Formula One Regulations


The rule makers in international motor racing have long been concerned about speed and costs. Their attempts at containment have, at best, met with partial, transitory success and the result of successive layers of rules is a lack of logic. The current outstanding example is that which limits both total fuel and the size of engines. I suspect that the engine size limitation must stay in a vain attempt to restrain qualifying performance. This one illogicality is compounded by another. If a sensible alternative to qualifying were to be applied designers would feel free to discard the turbocharger. The sound way to restrain performance is to limit the quantity of fuel—or better “energy” available. Using this simple restriction and released from the requirement to produce qualification specials, designers would be encouraged to use whatever size and type of power unit satisfied their performance requirements. Attempts to restrain costs have always failed and in an activity which demands the use of advanced technology such attempts are irrelevant.

Before making changes the rule makers should, perhaps, explain their objectives, lay out the academic support for their case and show precedents.

G.D. Mason,

Tunbridge Wells




I recently came across an interesting article by Denis Jenkinson which appeared in your November 1973 issue, entitled “On Timekeeping”.

He was referring to the practice at the British GP of quoting lap times to one tenth of a second. The reason for this apparent “primitive” practice was that timing beams were in use at the time and it was not possible to “split the seconds” on a totally scientific basis when two cars crossed the finish line side by side. Nowadays of course Longines employs some pretty sophisticated machinery which can deal with situations where two cars are so close together that a timing beam would not be able to give two individual times.

In 1982 at the Austrian GP, you will remember that de Angelis just held off Rosberg to win his first GP. Apparently the magnetic strip on the finish line could not distinguish between the two radio frequencies of the transmitters on board their cars. Longines had to resort to using the photo-finish video tape which runs at 100 frames per second in order to determine the approximate time lapse between the Lotus and the Williams.

Nowadays we readily accept as gospel times issued by Longines, but are they always 100% correct?  In particular, how do they deal with the situation where two cars cross the finish line simultaneously’? Do they, as George Hall suggested in 1973, just ignore those lap times? Why do lap charts still suffer from inaccuracies such as at the 1984 South African GP where Boutsen “lost a lap”?

It would be nice if Jenks could do a similar story today, 13 years on, for a lot of problerns then apply today, albeit in a more sophisticated way.

A.J. McClarty,

Plumstead, Cape Town.


Horticultural Hints


I realise that your hallowed pages are not a sounding board for horticultural hints, but as we are in the midst of our so called British summer, I feel that the following suggestion might be of interest to your readers.

Like most of you, I would much prefer to spend my leisure hours tinkering around with old cars or watching others having fun amusing themselves in theirs. Unfortunately, around our house there is a green thing which my neighbours accuse me of having the temerity recall a lawn. This has to be attended to with monotonous regularity and to make the task a little less burdensome have taken the following step. To every gallon of petrol I add two egg cups full of Castrol R30. The Briggs and Stratton seems to suffer no ill effects, the lawn could not care less and I’m at VSCC Prescott every weekend!

I have thought about running the thing on “Faust Gemisch” but get comments of  “Got tired of the wife then, eh?” when I try and buy ether from my local chemist!

M.N. Rushton,

Little Budworth, Cheshire.


Smog and Steam


I found your June article on the Pellandine steam car fascinating but boggled at the contention that Adelaide in South Australia  “has a smog problem similar to Los Angeles”.

In case the time elapsed since I was in either city had affected my memory, I have just asked my 23-year-old son about the smog in Adelaide during his 4-day visit there this week. His reply of “what smog?” confirms my view that at best (or worst) Adelaide might be seen to have a future smog problem if nothing is done to reduce the hazard — which is common to many cities, and does not justify giving a very false impression to many of you readers by comparing Los Angeles.

The description of the Pellandine steamer as using (naturally) no gearbox but a “modified Mini differential” to cope with 95 calculated BHP and 1200 lb-ft of torque is interesting and merits further explanation. I note that a standard Cooper ‘S’ 1275 can put about 253 Ib-ft maximum steady torque into the differential (as opposed to what happens when the clutch is “dropped” at high revs) and obviously racing “S” differentials take more — but with such a low steam engine rotational speed as implied by the quoted power and torque figures, where does any reasonable car speed come from?

Alan Buttolph,

Mount Macedon, Victoria.


Segrave’s 3-litre Sunbeam


Your accountof the Birthday Party for 3-litre Sunbeams in your September issue brought on an acute attack of nostalgia. In 1928 or 1929 I worked on the Weymann stand at the Olympia Motor Show and one of our exhibits was a beautiful sports saloon on a 3-litre chassis.

It was used as a demonstrator and personal transport by Sir Henry Segrave who had connections with the Weymann Company at that time.  The car was finished in light blue pebble-grain fabric (Zapon) with the characteristic cycle-type mudguards turning with the wheels.

Very, very few original Weymanns have survived, but as this one was rather special; I wonder if any of your readers ever carne across it? It was a beautiful car and its performance gave the 3-litre Bentley of the period quite a lot to think about.


Moseley, Birmingham.


Our Morgan Plus 4


I thought you would be interested in the enclosed photographs, because I understand at one time this was your car.

You will be pleased to know it is now in very good hands and is treated with loving care, and last week won its class at the Bugatti Owners Club Members Day.

The owner is Mr C.W.B. Nash, of Guildford.

D.J.C. Bowles,

Poole, Dorset

[Yes, it was once my editorial fast transport. How nice to know it has survived—Ed]