Letters from readers

Dumbed down


I was unable to attend the Goodwood Festival of Speed this year, but felt that I would be able to read a full report of what I missed in Motor Sport. It was with keen anticipation that I opened the August issue to find a mere 100 words and three and a half pages of pictures covering the greatest historic motor race gathering in the world.

Nowhere have I been able to read of the fascinating cars which I understand were there, or to read the opinions of the Indy legends who made the trip. I realise current trends are towards ‘dumbing down' to cater for today's youth whose attention span precludes them from reading more than a paragraph before reaching their boredom threshold is reached, but I cannot believe Motor Sport’s readership falls into that category.

On another note, I was interested to read your article on the Reims circuit in the July issue and to note, from the photographs, that the saplings and shrubs which had grown up in front of the grandstand, present at my last visit a couple of years ago, have been cut down in what appears to be the start of a tidying up scheme presumably in anticipation of last year's projected Reims 12 hour revival meeting which failed to come to fruition. I had heard that it was still proposed to run this in 1999. Any more news on this front?

I am, yours, etc.

Stuart Davidson, Middlewich, Cheshire

(The Retrospective is scheduled to be run again but, as yet, no set dates are available. Watch this space... AF)

Rolls-Royce attacked again..


In the wake of Bill Boddy's article "Deep Regret" in the July edition, I wrote a letter criticising the attitudes which led to the sale of one of our most famous car companies. I refer, of course, to the 92 year old Rolls Royce Motor Cars Ltd. In the same issue as my letter (August '98) there appeared a letter from the Chief Executive of Rolls-Royce plc apparently placating my fears about the company's future, especially with reference to what must be the single most famous brand name in the world. I wonder who gives him his information?

As I write we have been advised that the brand name had been sold by the parent company for what appears to be a pittance, VW will soon be unable to produce any further Royce cars at Crewe and the owners of the Trade Mark (now BMW!) seem reluctant to state what they will do, although the rumour is that cars will be produced in the UK. Or did I dream the whole ludicrous episode.

It seems that in their rush to divest themselves of the company, Vickers has committed industrial and historical vandalism on quite a large scale. I suppose this is the result of 'pleasing the shareholders' who appear to give not a toss for the company, its workers, its future or the proud traditions of excellence it has engendered. I hope they are satisfied. In truth, they should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves or are my sentiments totally out of place in this modem high powered world?

I am, yours, etc.

Brian Wylie, Bicester, Oxon

…and again


I write after reading the letter from Sir Ralph Robins, Chairman of Rolls-Royce plc, in your August issue. What pompous hypocrisy.

Rolls-Royce Ltd was succeeded not by Rolls-Royce plc, as Sir Ralph writes, but by that company and Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Ltd. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Ltd continued the business which Rolls-Royce was founded to carry out, the manufacturer of motor cars. Rolls-Royce plc was rescued from the aircraft engine activities which had grown up around car manufacture and which plunged the original company into bankruptcy.

Sir Ralph makes much of the fact that Rolls-Royce plc is more than 15 times larger than Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. That is not a measure of efficiency, but a measure of the financial scale of the aircraft-engine industry.

But it is Sir Ralph's final comment which is unbearably hypocritical: "Rolls-Royce plc... has the rights to remove the marque, should the company be sold to an overseas owner." Subsequent events have suggested that what Sir Ralph actually meant was that an overseas owner would be acceptable so long as it was already allied to Rolls-Royce plc. One wonders whether the decision to take engines from Mercedes or BMW was also influenced by Rolls-Royce plc's idea of what constitutes an acceptable overseas company.

Much had been said and written about the fact that Rolls-Royce and Bentley are now in foreign hands. If Rolls-Royce plc's actions are an example of British efficiency and ethics, British business doesn't deserve to have them.

I am, yours, etc.

Ian Norris, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire

In praise of Sam Posey


Regarding Sam Posey's splendid article on Mark Donahue I agree with your editorial (July 1998). I am lucky in that I get Speedvision and Sam is a joy to listen to. He is both knowledgeable about racing, intelligent and possesses a quick wit. Grand Prix coverage is handled by him, Derek Daly and David Hobbs who make Murray Walker sound like a schoolboy. If you want a good read, beg borrow or steal a copy of Sam's book The Mudge Pond Express.

I am, yours, etc.

David Morgan-Kirby, Ontario, Canada

A short story


I was interested to read the article by Trevor Taylor (August '98) as I am almost sure the young lad offering advice on the way to take the hairpin at Mallory was my friend John, unfortunately killed in a motor cycle accident some time later. The story behind this belief would be almost as long as Trevor Taylor's article itself so we won't waste any more space on that.

I am, yours, etc.

R Field, Rushden, Northants

Chain reaction


I wish that the tip from David Boshier-Jones to Trevor Taylor (August '98) had reached my ears for it was about that time, in 1957, I bought my first Frazer-Nash. I have been running one for most of the time since and how useful it would have been to know about those half-tooth sprockets.

The Nash has four on the back axle and half tooth ones would have rendered not only ratios but chain tensioning so much more precise. I am not clear how the chain copes when confronted by a half tooth but if it worked for drivers of the calibre of the above I wonder whether any readers know if they are still made and by whom?

I am, yours, etc.

Jim Boyce, Burton-on-Trent, Staffs

Jewellers resign


I write to advise you that International Motor Sports Ltd (IMS) is no longer in the forthcoming 'Jewel of India' classic car event. The IMS withdrawal follows a decision by the organisers not to run timed regularity sessions on the event.

The IMS team of Mike Summerfield and Russell Douglas, who were to have acted as Rally Manager, Clerk of the Course and Rally Adviser, will therefore play no further part in the event.

International Motor Sports Ltd is a division of the Royal Automobile Club Motor Sports Association, motorsport's governing body in the UK

I am, yours, etc.

Russell Douglas, IMS Lightstone, Warwickshire

SWB corrections


With reference to the article in the September issue on Moss' Ferrari 250 SWB 1961 TT winner, there are a couple of errors which I thought should be put right for good order's sake.

The first race for the car was at Le Mans, where Hill and Moss drove together. The car lasted until after midnight, not three hours as stated, with Moss taking it to third place ahead of all bar two sports-prototypes, four laps ahead of the next GT contender.

Following the overheating of the engine at Le Mans, it went to Modena for a re-build and was collected from the factory by David Joliffe, one of Rob Walker's mechanics. The article inferred that it was the 1960 TT winner that David drove across Europe, but this trip took place with the '61 car.

The Ferrari was one of the rare Comp/61 SEFAC hot rods, indeed, the only right-hand chive one, and for this year's meeting at Goodwood, the car has been returned back to its original specification, with the original style high-lift cams, heads, and most importantly, 46 DCF Weber carburettors. The car is not, as stated, in a wilder state of tune than it was originally, rather, in recent years I have run it in a milder state of tune as it is infinitely more pleasurable to drive on the road.

The article also mentions how the leather seats showed a "patina of nearly four decades use" when, in fact, that patina is closer to 15 years of use. In the 1962 TT, Chris Kenison's co-driver, Robin Benson, lost it and spun off into a rather expensive gathering that had been caused when John Surtees' GTO and Jim Clark's Aston Zagato had earlier crashed at Madgwick, so causing considerable damage to the Berlinetta. The outcome was the car was converted by Kerrison to a Drogo body and it remained in this form until 1982.

The Short Wheelbase is an old charger that has certainly been through the wars and has now been restored to her former glory. In recent years, Tony Brooks and Moss have both put many miles on her at Goodwood, though I am particularly relishing the prospect of Moss actually racing her again.

I am, yours, etc.

Clive Beecham, London

Too little, too late


I believe that the RAC Motor Sport Association and the Automobile Club de l'Ouest allow ten days for one to submit an appeal, so in waiting some 61 years before querying Sammy Davis and Dr Dudley Benjafield's Le Mans victory on a Bentley in 1927 your correspondent Mr Chris Draper may be out of time!

I would also query Mr Draper's statement that the French press credit Salmson with victory since George's Fraichard's French report of the race recorded: "The Sammy Davis/Dr Benjafield Bentley, winner on distance", and continued "The small cars, whose minimum set distance had been reduced, were at the head of the final in the Third Biennial Cup, a Salmson driven by Georges Casse and Andre Rousseau claiming first place".

There were two victors then, one outright and one first in class.

I am, yours, etc.

Richard McCann, Olney, Bucks

Brooks, Bell & Bognor


I read with great interest the reminiscences of Tony Brooks' of his first races at Goodwood. I remember that he was not always lucky with his return home. Early in 1954 as a newly recruited marshal I was stationed on the stand at the end of the Chicane when I saw Brooks driving slowly towards me on three wheels, preceded by the rear offside wheel which fortunately lost its pace against the concrete barrier. We both squatted down to inspect the wheel and the offending stub axle at a gap in the barrier where we were observed by the Duke of Richmond and Gordon himself who, as soon as the race was finished, sent one of his entourage across to give us a rollicking.

Incidentally I should mention that Derek Bell and I both became marshals through membership of Bognor Regis Motor Club with whom the BARC had an arrangement to supply trackside officials.

I am, yours, etc.

Graham Butler, Beckenham, Kent

Following the D50


I am gathering information on Ferrari Grand Prix cars during the 1954-60 2.5-litre era and I wonder if any of your readers can help me with chassis numbers.

It is accepted that in July 1955 six complete cars out of eight were handed over to Ferrari from Lancia. I have reason to believe D50-0004 was put into the harbour at Monaco and never rebuilt and D50-0005 was retained by Fiat leaving us with D50-0001, 2, 3, 6, 7 and 8.

Can anyone confirm my hypothesis and also perhaps supply me with the chassis numbers used by the works during the 1956-57 Grands Prix?

Alan Henry's book Ferrari Grand Prix Cars fills in some gaps but unfortunately not all, hence the letter.

I am, yours, etc.

Colin Scott Richardson, South Africa

Elva appeal


I am writing a book with Jeff Allison telling the story of Elva. if any of your readers have any stories about Elva or its founder Frank Nichols, I would be most grateful if they could contact me at the address below or, alternatively call or fax me on 01903 823710.

I am, yours, etc.

Roger Dunbar, Worthing, West Sussex

Rat trap


Surely I cannot be alone in smelling a socially unacceptable rodent when I see in the same issue that the Editor so smugly raises the price of his estimable organ by several times the rate of inflation he, virtually in the same breath, provides in some detail the expense involved in his foray into historic motor racing.

The question must be posed as to whether the extra revenue generated by the poor subscriber such as myself is being appropriately used keeping the Editor in the six-point harness to which he would like to become accustomed.

It may be, of course, that my favourite read is in no-way subsidising Frankel's weekend outings and he is guilty of no more than the poor judgement usually reserved for Cabinet ministers who publish details of service cuts and their expense accounts simultaneously. Either way I think we should be told.

I am, yours, etc.

Fenton Buckingham, Coin de Sud, France