The agony of Brands 1976, or love at last sight

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Sir,

My last visit to Brands was to the British GP 19721 and it was pleasurable. The entry cost was modest and if one did not want to afford the expensive luxury of a stand seat then the space available to view the racing around the track was reasonable. The sun shone on everyone present and Fittipaldi won for JPS. That was 1972.

I can also remember Brands in the days of Surtees and bikes. 1976 is a different story. Progress has reared its beautiful head.

The entry charge was £5 and included in the heist was the privilege of sharing a Belsen-style enclosure along with at least twice as many customers as should reasonably be expected to fill the space available. Not only was this initial delight available but, once in the enclosure you were in for good. Exit was impossible through either of the 8 ft. wide passages because they became crammed with hostile vertical sardine-style customers who could not find space in the enclosure. If the needs of nature occurred then you had the choice of holding what you had for five hours, or risking the displeasure or disgust of the other prisoners in the pen.

Someone should look at such abominable lack of crowd-control which borders on criminal negligence. If a “penned customer” had a heart attack or was seriously injured in some way then they stood an excellent chance of dying in situ. A medic would have found it impossible to reach the patient in time. But who cares. Certainly not the organisers.

This was just the hors d’oeuvre to the feast of pleasure. More delights were thrown in gratis.

To take care of the needs and discipline of the customers there was a dispersed regiment of Hollywood-style security men (what else could they be?) presumably hired at great cost to show that the organisers are responsible people who care for their bread and butter providers. The pity is that these flashy gentlemen deserted their posts once the idiot customers were crammed into their allotted spaces. If a riot had happened (and it almost did during the deliberations about the shunt) then these pretty boys didn’t want to know.

The address system couldn’t be faulted and kept up an incomprehensible sonic 1,000 decibel car-bushing by courtesy of some euphoric lunatics in a remote ivory tower. I think it was for the commentators’ personal amusement. Certainly not for the Customers’ edification.

Then there was the 100 yards queues of ecstatic cross-legged women with deliriously agonised faces waiting to gain access to little entertainment huts called toilets. It must be good, otherwise why queue. Perhaps they are still waiting.

What about the magnificent food and drink vendors giving continuous demonstrations of how to practise extortion of those fools who had not the strength or the sense to ‘carry their own rations the country mile from car park to trackside. Nothing is forgotten. Every trick a winner.

To keep the orgy on the boil there was the chaotic hour of indecision following the first lap shunt—all contrived to give “for free” added tortured agony to the imprisoned customers. They think of everything these days.

To add visual lustre to the whole scene there was an almost uninterrupted ground level display of used hut glittering metal cans. Enough to build a dozen Concordes or 2,000 Monocoques for McLaren. Perhaps they serve as slow-acting fertilisers because the organisers leave them for years just where they drop.

There was much else to be seen in the way of devices to shock the sight and to extract money from pockets without immediate pain and all told (seemingly) the extraneous activities laid on by the astute organisers almost swamped the purpose of the place. Small wonder that Jenks’ disenchantment has shown through visibly for several years.

To try to he fair—and it’s difficult after such a tortured day—the performers did try hard, and sonic even went so far as to give a skilful display of carving each other up in their eagerness to win. But it all ended up how it should with a British triumph over the European dagos, told, to boot, for an American-sponsored petrol and fags vehicle. What could be more impartial?

The star of the show was a little red hi-plane which farted its way about the Sky with faultless precision like an electronic wasp blowing a Continuous raspberry at the proceedings below. A close runner-up was an airship which had the courtesy to keep fairly quiet about it all. Good-fer-yer!

I will not go to Brands again. Not even for James Hunt’s sake, and I hope lots of other motor racing enthusiasts will feel likewise. But I will go to see the little red biplane or the airship, wherever they go next. I’m rather fond of raspberries and a good fart.

Long live The Sport. Death to the disorganisers.

PS: I almost forgot: The Duke of Kent (bless ‘im) came along and presented a prize to the winner who now turns out to have shamefully accepted something he may not he entitled to. What a wicked lad Hunt is! Never mind. It will keep the press and TV lads stocked up with working fuel for months, and the committees locked in sessions ad infinitum

PPS: Who cut the Duke in on the deal? You can’t trust a soul these days’.

Wilmslow A. R. NEWELL.