This letter is intended as a means of expressing my complete disappointment with the programme of motor racing that masqueraded under the heading of the British Grand Prix on Sunday July 16th 1978 at Brands Hatch.
Denis Jenkinson wrote an article, I believe approx, one year ago in an issue of Motor Sport, posing the question “When did you lose interest?” I have been prompted to examine my collection of British Grand Prix programmes from 1958 (attended all but three) in order to satisfy the doubts existing in my mind.
The examination revealed, in my opinion, an erosion in value for money terms probably unequalled in any other branch of sport.
My main points are as follows: –
1. The exorbitant cost of admittance
The programmes reveal that in 1958 (when!) a car with occupants (say 4) cost £1.25 total admittance charge, in 1973 the individual cost of entry was £2.
In 1978 individual admission cost £6. Surely, inflation, safety requirements and Bernie Ecclestone etc. do not warrant increases of 2000%, since ’58 and 300% since ’73?
2. Quantity/Quality of the supporting race events
In 1973 and 1975 when the Silverstone Circuit staged the Grand Prix meetings, no less than four supporting races were staged, ie:
Ii Formula Three
Ii Touring cars
iii Formula Atlantic
iv Historic cars in 1973 (Super saloons in 75)
In contrast, a pathetic 2 hours actual racing occurred on Sunday July 16th and if the Grand Prix (sorry Formula One) time is subtracted, approx. 40 min. of racing supported the main event.
Having been privileged to witness many great drivers at work since my annual pilgrimage began 20 years ago, I now unfortunately ask myself the question (as many other supporters well may) “is it really worth it?”.
Confronted with savage price increases, a reduction in racing time, and events, race commentators “waffling” commercial “ads” every few minutes, no generous opportunity to wander unhindered through the pits/paddock area (an experience “new” enthusiasts will find extremely difficult to achieve) on first day of practice, alas the answer is no!
Which ironically brings me back to Jenk’s original question, to which my answer is “on July 16th, at Brands Hatch watching the British Grand farce”?
Burwell, Cambs. I. RAPER