Matters of Moment, September 1964
Although some race organisers maintain that a meeting devoted to a series of short races is a better spectator attraction than a long-distance race, the fact remains that to those who are real enthusiasts for racing, the latter has a great appeal. Pit-work, tyre life, race tactics, and car and driver stamina all contribute, building up to a climax as a long race draws to a close and genuine appreciation is felt for the deserving winner of a contest which has been waged, with many changes of fortune, some unexpected, for several hours.
So it is good to know that long duration races are still popular, on the Continent—Le Mans, Targa Florio, Nurburgring 1,000 km., the revived Reims 12-hour, the Spa 24-hour race won by Mercedes-Benz with their 300SEs; in America, where they enjoy 500-mile saloon-car races, Sebring, etc.; and in England, where we have the 750 M.C. Six-Hour Relay Race, Motor Six-Hour Saloon Car Race, while the R.A.C. Tourist Trophy this year was run over a distance of 312 miles.
In an age when Grand Prix races are of comparatively moderate duration, it is good to find races for saloon, sports and/or GT cars remaining in something of the classic tradition of the great motor races of the past.
THE WILLMENT AFFAIR
The affair of Willment and Basil Tye has received so much publicity that we would have preferred to ignore it. But if this means that Willment will have to surrender his Competition Licence and we shall see no more this season of his highly devastating (to Jaguar dignity) Ford Galaxies and very fast Ford Cortina GTs, we are prepared to announce that, as ordered by the R.A.C. Competitions Committee he has sent us an apology to that Committee, worded as stipulated.
People are divided about the Willment/Tye fracas. Some there be, who point out that motor racing is a dignified sport and that it is also a dangerous sport, so that it is absolutely essential that competitors should not interfere with the R.A.C. or race organisers’ control of it. The Jockey Club, faced with a similar situation would, these pundits say, have been at least as strict.
But it must be remembered that the incident arose due to an error of start-line procedure and Motoring News was bold enough to say that it is the R.A.C. which owes an apology to Willment.
Our feeling is, taking account of the fact that Willment did not interfere with the official who was displaying the black flag or any marshal actively concerned with actual race safety or control, and that no blood was actually shed, that a hand clasp at the close of the day should have been sufficient to put matters right.
After all, the R.A.C. is in control of motor racing, not the Chelsea Flower Show. Tempers are naturally sometimes close to boil-over-point in a sport (or business) so exacting, demanding and hazardous. It will be a thousand pities if, in some future Grand Prix, Clark, or Hill, or Gurney or Brabham or Willment or old Uncle Tom Cobley or someone is disqualified after receiving the chequered flag, and no protests, because his team mechanics were heard to say a bad word—” actually, I believe it was damn, old man “—while toiling in the pits.. . .
MORE HELP FOR THE MOTORIST?
For a long time we have felt sad at the numbers of criminals, thieves, yobs and robbers who are at large while the Police deploy large numbers of their attenuated constabulary trapping wicked drivers for exceeding often out-dated speed-limits by a few m.p.h., apprehending them for causing “obstructions” in wide deserted thoroughfares and generally making the existence of otherwise law-abiding motorists precarious, if not downright miserable.
Now that the prison authorities are unable to hold criminals delivered to them for safe-keeping, there seems no point in the police wasting their time arresting people.
So we suggest that all policemen, in order to justify their existence, are put on to motoring affairs—not persecuting drivers, but sorting out traffic jams, helping with breakdowns and accidents, controlling traffic, sanding roads and so on. Hunting criminals is apparently a dead loss, so why not ? We are joking, of course!
We were invited by Kenneth Neve to a pleasant party at Castle Combe on August 25th, when five Grand Prix cars—a Humber, a Mercedes, an Opel and two Sunbeams—celebrated their 50th birthdays. More about this, next month. Incidentally, Neve’s Type 35B Bugatti was in good form at the V.S.C.C. Prescott Hill Climb, clocking 50.53 sec., whereas G. S. St. John’s Type 35B took 51.58 sec.