Business of F1

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Sir, After several years of subscribing to your excellent magazine, and during that time having steadfastly regarded D.S.J.’s views and comments on the present state of Grand Prix racing as being perhaps a little unfair. I have returned trom the John Player (nee British) Grand Prix with a rather more jaundiced outlook on the current state of this particular branch of motor “sport’.

I fear that motor racing at its higher levels has now become primarily a business undertaking, with the consequence that monetary considerations have overtaken the more basic considerations to the spectator. As long as the show is a success on the day, then the organisers seem to think that the mere spectator will be happy and content to pay his money to them no matter what.

For example, I consider that the programme offered on the Sunday was, quite simply, had value for money, and had I had the foresight to ascertain the nature of this programme beforehand, instead of relying on the fad that in previous years the Grand Prix programme had been reasonably entertaining, I would not have attended Brands Hatch for the race. The basic admission was £5 on the day (IA in advance), for which we, the spectators, were treated to a total of three races; a modest seven-13p Escort race, Group One outing, and, oh ves, a Grand Prix, the restart of which was delayed for one hour to allow the stewards to keep changing their minds until they reached what was an eminently sensible decision, which should have been made in the first instance anyway. Never mind the parachutists, the helicopters and the Stunt men provided for the crowd’s entertainment over lunch; we attend motor race meetings to watch motor racing.

The invitation to see the stars and their cars in “specially organised-paddock walkabouts (at extra cost, of course) were fine had there not been a large throng of other like-minded spectators, all wishing to examine the goods, thereby allowing one only a cursory examination of the machinery on offer.

The camping facilities were hopelessly inadequate, involving as they did, hour-long queues for water; and disgraceful toilet facilities which stank by Sunday. I know there was no Camping Charge levied, but I contend that if the organisers can arrange to have a brand new pits complex erected in record time at no extra cost to those who used it, then surely they could have contrived to install some fixtures on the camp site displaying a certain degree of permanence for the benefit of the campers, many of whom spent mud), time (and money) at the circuit over the three days.

And finally, surely the organisers could have come to some arrangement with the GPO, so that it was not necessary to queue for almost an hour to use the only public telephone at the circuit? I noticed that the pits were not lacking in such facilities, such is the degree of care given to the big boys.

I have never previously written any letters to your magazine, but feel that this one is very necessary, in view of the poor treatment I (and the party of 13 friends with whom I spent the weekend) think was handed out by MCD. Through your columns I should like to express some concern of the fact that although the superstars of the racing world are continually pampered and treated with kid-gloves, the mere spectator seems to receive a very poor return for his twines. It is as if the organisers (and, regretfully, the sponsors to some extent) see the spectator only as a creature to be attracted in vast numbers, in order that as much money as possible can be drawn from him.

I would, as a spectator, ask that the organisers alter their perspectives slightly, and include the spectator’s view in their, considerations.

I have sent a letter to MCD, detailing these and other complaints arising over the weekend.

Coventry C. BAILEY

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