I have recently spent a couple of very enjoyable days as Medical Officer at the International Historic Festival and the Bentley Drivers Club meetings at Silverstone. The great appeal of these events was the sight and sound of the older sporting vehicles being used as they were intended and this makes for a considerably better day out than say a visit to Beaulieu.
However, at both events a driver was unfortunate enough to roll his car and as a result be sent to hospital for in-patient treatment for moderately severe injuries. In both cases the cars were sufficiently old not to require roll bars or harnesses and in each case the drivers were thrown clear. Each was indeed fortunate not to be crushed either inside his upturned car or as a result of his car landing on top of him. Equally neither driver was run down by an oncoming vehicle.
Now if I chose to race my TR2 I have to accept the rule that the car must be fitted with a roll bar and harness despite the fact that neither would have been fitted in the Fifties. I cannot accept the supposition that since this car is twenty years younger than another it should be more likely to roll; so why do we have different rules for cars based purely upon age?
I seem to recall some years ago an article in The Observer on Grand Prix racing in which Stirling Moss pointed out that one reason it was harder to progress these days was the advances that had been made in safety. In his day an average of four drivers were maimed or killed each season. Now such injuries are quite exceptional.
Whilst I sympathize with owners who feel that roll bars spoil the appearance of their valuable cars, surely it would take no more time to fit a roll bar for racing than it would to remove the mudguards and lights.
Let us not wait for another fatality but let common sense prevail and let us see the introduction of mandatory bars and harnesses for all cars irrespective of age. Owners who really are concerned about appearance might well indeed be better off polishing their cars for static exhibits.
Christopher R. Pearson.