I was delighted to read (Letters, August) Lothar Wiegand’s unstinting praise of that oft-overlooked driver, Hans Heyer.
As he quite rightly says, Hans was a touring car legend in the 1970s and 1980s, driving all manner of assorted racing machinery in the DRM, including some mighty Ford Capris and, as Lothar mentions, a Group 5 Lancia Montecarlo.
As well as driving for the works team at a number of races, including Le Mans and Daytona, Hans privately campaigned a series of ex-works Montecarlo Group 5s, beginning in 1980 with the 1979 ex-factory chassis 1001 in which he contested the 1980 Deutsche Rennsport Meisterschaft. His verve and car control were never more apparent than at the extremely wet Norisring round on June 22, which unfortunately he failed to finish due to a minor problem on lap four.
As a wrecked Montecarlo would show, Hans had issues which even his massive talent was unable to overcome. As a result Lancia was, somewhat reluctantly, dragooned into building chassis 1008 to replace 1001 in time for the Salzburgring race three weeks later. To the best of my knowledge this is the only car of the 11 built between 1979 and 1981 that’s no longer around.
Rod Shipley, Kilmington, Wiltshire
Easy on the gas
Derek Bell’s withdrawal from the Le Mans Classic on the basis of concerns about driving standards is his shout and fair enough, but I think a very important point was lost. Classic car events are mostly about owners having the pleasure of mildly competitive action in their terrific old cars. It is not modern GT, where the amateurs are there to fund a true pro career.
Some owners seek to get results their own talents can’t deliver by sharing with old pros. Some do the same for some extra attention. A few have pros exclusively drive their cars, but not that often, and normally then in the hope of furthering some commercial interest.
Event organisers love seeing old pros in the cars because it draws in the punters, but this brings with it a ramping-up of aggression on track as well as a reduction in lap times. Witness the shenanigans at the front of the TT field. This puts off quite a few owner-drivers without whom none of these events would get off the ground.
So, with due respect to the legend that is Mr Bell, if the pros could curb their competitive instincts a bit, driving with due respect for the machinery and their fellow racers, many more would continue to enjoy the pleasure of driving and seeing driven these amazing old cars on the circuits they belong at.
Andrew Beverley, Hever, Kent
It is great to see Formula Atlantic being recognised as a ‘legitimate’ class for vintage racing. As the original co-ordinator of the Players Challenge Series for Formula Atlantic cars in Canada (1974-76) the photo you used brought back lots of memories of some of the drivers who learned their trade in Atlantic.
In the photo, leading the pack into corner one at Trois Rivières, Quebec in 1976, is Gilles Villeneuve (who won) followed by Alan Jones, James Hunt, Vittorio Brambilla, Bobby Rahal, Patrick Tambay and Tom Gloy. Gloy was driving a Tui, an Atlantic car designed and built by Kiwi Alan McCall (who frequently appeared in your magazine as a crack F1 mechanic in the late 1960s and early ’70s).
In addition to Villeneuve and Rahal, several other regulars in the series went on to have pretty good careers. Howdy Holmes is mentioned in your article (Indy 500 Rookie of the Year) and others include Hector Rebaque, Bertil Roos, Bill Brack (three-time Canadian Driving Champion (it took Villeneuve to finally beat Brack to the title in 1976) and Price Cobb (Le Mans), to name a few. In 1979 Keke Rosberg competed as did Danny Sullivan.
I think the careers of the above give legitimacy to the inclusion of Formula Atlantic into the vintage car scene.
Rob Tanner, Muskoka, Canada
I have just seen the report of the Hall of Fame awards evening and was somewhat surprised by the picture of Damon Hill. It appears that he is morphing into Eddie Jordan.
Disturbing on so many levels.
Ian Page, Haslemere, Surrey
A brittle veneer
Lewis Hamilton’s behaviour immediately after the British Grand Prix demonstrated that his veneer of good manners is pretty thin. As to his abilities in the car, his was a very cossetted apprenticeship. I’m sure that there were any number of cadet drivers who could have developed the skills and experience afforded to Hamilton under the McLaren wing. And, on arrival in F1, unlike most, Hamilton never had the character-building experience of flogging round in something like a Minardi or a Simtek for a few seasons. Hence his brittle demeanour today when everything’s not delivered to him on a solid gold plate.
Amid all the blurb about drivers’ records at the British Grand Prix, it irks me that a driver like Hamilton is lauded more than someone like Jackie Stewart. In our contemporary era the sheer number of races skews the stats of course, but Hamilton’s career in these ultra-safe days surely cannot be equated with that of Sir Jackie. Never mind Sir, I’d say Saint Jackie Stewart. I have only seen him make two mistakes in his whole life: 1) Going off when chasing Peterson at Silverstone, 1973, and, 2) Being such a consistent advocate of one watch brand!
David Buckden, Walmer, Kent
On page 63 of the August issue you have a piece on the 1956 British GP. The picture isn’t of that race however, it’s the start of the Daily Express Trophy, a non-championship F1 race run earlier in the year. I know, as it was the first motor race I attended.
In the article you correctly state that Moss led the GP for some distance in a works Maserati. However, Maserati didn’t enter the earlier event, and he had his first race and win in a Vanwall. He can be seen at the extreme left-hand end of the front row in your picture, with Schell in another Vanwall alongside. Behind Schell is Collins in a Lancia-Ferrari. Hawthorn in a BRM and Fangio in another Lancia-Ferrari are just in front. Behind them is a B-type Connaught driven by Archie Scott Brown, one of my favourite drivers. Anyone who saw him driving the works Lister-Jaguar to win after win in British national sports car racing in 1957 knows why.
Andrew Everitt, Harpenden, Herts
The sidebar chronology accompanying the track test of the three Brabham formula cars in the June issue was most interesting, but somewhat incomplete. As a Yank who has followed the Indy 500, I feel Sir Jack’s efforts at Indianapolis have long been unappreciated, especially on your side of the pond. Besides his efforts with the Cooper, Brabham entered cars of his own creation on four occasions. In 1964 in his BT12-Offy he narrowly escaped the horrific crash in the opening laps. Brabham returned to Indy in 1968 with a BT25 powered by a 4.2-litre Repco engine. Jochen Rindt was the driver. Sir Jack and Peter Revson drove BT25s in 1969, Revson finishing fifth and later winning the Champ Car race on the IRP road course. 1970 saw Brabham back at Indy in an Offy-powered BT32, which didn’t finish. Lee Roy Yarbrough drove it later in the year, with an almost-win at the California 500.
This is little more than statistics. It would be most fitting for Motor Sport to tell the complete story of Brabham and his cars in USAC racing for all of his fans.
James Rice, Pekin, Illinois, USA
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