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V-16 BRM - two opinions


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#1 sandy

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Posted 19 February 2010 - 11:49

Stirling Moss "... I rate the V16 BRM as the most dangerous car I have ever driven...". (Sports Cars of the World).

Juan Manuel Fangio "...the BRM was the most fabulous car he had ever driven". (His autobiography).

The joy of being a motor racing hstorian.

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#2 Rob

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Posted 19 February 2010 - 12:03

Stirling Moss "... I rate the V16 BRM as the most dangerous car I have ever driven...". (Sports Cars of the World).

Juan Manuel Fangio "...the BRM was the most fabulous car he had ever driven". (His autobiography).

The joy of being a motor racing hstorian.


We'll have to call it a fabulously dangerous car.


#3 kayemod

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Posted 19 February 2010 - 12:11

Stirling Moss "... I rate the V16 BRM as the most dangerous car I have ever driven...". (Sports Cars of the World).

Juan Manuel Fangio "...the BRM was the most fabulous car he had ever driven". (His autobiography).

The joy of being a motor racing hstorian.


That's hardly conclusive, one of the dictionary definitions of fabulous is 'almost unbelievable'


#4 David McKinney

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Posted 19 February 2010 - 13:45

The joy of being a motor racing hstorian

The joy of being a motor racing historian always accepts differing opinions

#5 Eric Dunsdon

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Posted 19 February 2010 - 14:00

Stirling Moss "... I rate the V16 BRM as the most dangerous car I have ever driven...". (Sports Cars of the World)


I have always been puzzled by Stirling Moss's constant criticism of the Mk.1 V16. He never misses an opportunity, and yet less talented drivers like Ken Wharton, Reg Parnell and Peter Walker seemed to cope with car better as did Ron Flockhart in his one race with the Mk1 at Goodwood. I appreciate that the Dundrod road circuit in the wet in 1952 was hardly an ideal place for a race debut with the car but even so!. Fangio and Gonzalez seemed to relish all of that V16 power and used it to full advantage.

#6 Terry Walker

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Posted 19 February 2010 - 14:28

Moss set out his opinions in detail and at length in The Design and Behaviour of the Grand Prix Car, Pomeroy and Moss.

Very briefly: the trailing arm front suspension was woefully inadequate for its job (the same basic design as in the VW beetle, okay as we know for a Formula Vee these days, but not up to the astronomical power and speed of the BRM). The power curve on the supercharged engine was so steep that just a few hundred rpm extra could double the power.

He based this opinion on a lengthy test drive when his opinons were sought by BRM. A long time later, when he drove it a second time after "development", there had been no significant changes to the major problems he had pointed out.

It was raceable, but as we know never a real winner, and Moss knew it. He also saw, from that experience, that BRM was too slow, too bureaucratic and too dismissive of drivers' concerns ever to improve the car enough. He was right.

I wish I'd kept my copy of that book. The combination of Pomeroys theory, Moss's practical experience, and the superb cutaways is unmatched.

#7 Eric Dunsdon

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Posted 19 February 2010 - 15:25

[quote name='Terry Walker' date='Feb 19 2010, 14:28' post='4157399']
Moss set out his opinions in detail and at length in The Design and Behaviour of the Grand Prix Car, Pomeroy and Moss.

Very briefly: the trailing arm front suspension was woefully inadequate for its job (the same basic design as in the VW beetle, okay as we know for a Formula Vee these days, but not up to the astronomical power and speed of the BRM). The power curve on the supercharged engine was so steep that just a few hundred rpm extra could double the power.

He based this opinion on a lengthy test drive when his opinons were sought by BRM. A long time later, when he drove it a second time after "development", there had been no significant changes to the major problems he had pointed out.

It was raceable, but as we know never a real winner, and Moss knew it. He also saw, from that experience, that BRM was too slow, too bureaucratic and too dismissive of drivers' concerns ever to improve the car enough. He was right.

Fangio and Gonzalez just got into the thing and wrung its neck!. They won races in it too as did Wharton and Parnell.

#8 Philip Whiteman

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Posted 19 February 2010 - 17:29

Er… that would be the same 'inadequate' trailing-arm IFS you'd find on the C and D Type Auto Unions, and Aston Martin DB3S and DBR1?

#9 Ray Bell

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Posted 20 February 2010 - 14:10

Yes, I think Moss was frustrated that his suggestions weren't tried...

One in particular was the suggestion that they use rack and pinion steering.

#10 Terry Walker

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Posted 20 February 2010 - 15:07

Moss's view, as I recall, was that the trailing arm suspension on the BRM was bad. He didn't comment on the other Grand Prix cars which used trailing arms as he had no experience with them. The book was about (a) Grand Prix cars and (b) Grand Prix cars which Moss had driven in anger. All post-war of course.

His complaint was not so much the trailing arm system, as the poor results from it on the BRM. I can't remember Pomeroy's comments on the trailing arm system, but doubtless he had a few. Probably very abstract.



#11 sandy

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Posted 20 February 2010 - 20:43

Stirling has said (Sports Cars of the World - Pederson Publishing Coy - 1972) "...that the engine was quite the smoothest piece of machinery I have ever experienced in a racing car, with an almost indescribable amount of power at the top end..." but "...the chassis..was quite unbelievably bad." "There was so much play on the on the steering that you had to wind it on several inches to try to get the car to "lean" on the steering, then hope that you didn't have to put on any opposite lock because if you did, it meant sawing a good foot on the rim of the steering wheel".

Also "...the front wheels pattered and vibrated so much that the car would simply plow it's way wide on nearly every corner. Yet with so much power going through those narrow rear tires, the back end was liable to break away viciously quickly at almost any time"

From Stirling's report to BRM after testing at Monza: reprinted from "Stirling Moss, by Robert Raymond (Motor Racing Productions Ltd.).

"On watching the front wheels closely while cornering I found that they wobbled sideways as well as the usual up and down suspension movement. This wobbling was apparent on the track rods as well as the wheels. ...I found that one could move the steering wheel 5" to 7" without the car's direction being affected. While the car was on the ramps I turned the wheel 10" with only 1" movement at the road wheels. Could rack and pinion steering be applied?".

"The car has a dangerous trick of understeering excessively on a trailing throttle".

#12 LittleChris

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 00:12

Went all right at Albi until it ran out of rubber ( I type as I sit looking at a Michael Turner painting of Fangio in the V16 and Ascari flying through the horseshoe start/finish area :wave: ).

#13 Roger Clark

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 01:14

People fprgat how inexperienced Moss was when he drove the V16. The most powerful single seater he had previously driven was the HWM, with perhaps 1/3 the power. He was probably correct in his analysis of the car's handling but you can understand Bourne people listening in preference to drivers with more experience. Moss recommended rack and pinion steering to Tony Rudd; he said that any racing car worthy of its name was so equipped. "What about Alfa Romeo and Ferrari?" replied the engineer. Rudd claimed to have reduced the free play in the steering from 90 deg to 10 deg during the 1951 Monza tests.

Rudd also remarked on the lack of feedback given by Fangio to help improve the car. Fangio apparently believed that the driver's job was to do the best he could with the machinery he was given. It was up to the engineers to improve it if they felt it necessary.

#14 sandy

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 05:35

[quote name='Roger Clark' date='Feb 21 2010, 02:14' post='4163315']
People fprgat how inexperienced Moss was when he drove the V16. The most powerful single seater he had previously driven was the HWM, with perhaps 1/3 the power.

This is significant I would think. In the "Sports Cars of the World" article he writes: "... the brakes had been known to fail and this was a slightly unnerving thought as you barreled it down the back straight at Monza and towards the relatively slow Curva Parabolica at something like 185mph!"

Fangio of course had two full seasons of throwing a 158 Alfa Romeo around on some of the most demanding circuits in the world.

#15 sandy

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 06:46

Ray, your right - keep it related to the V16s.

Edited by sandy, 21 February 2010 - 08:14.


#16 Ray Bell

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 07:11

Of course a lot of that's nothing to do with the V16...

Behra, Schell, Gurney, Hill, Salvadori, Flockhart, McKay Fraser and I think Brooks only drove the 4-cyl car. Without checking I won't say that of Hawthorn and I know Collins drove the V16.

#17 sandy

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 07:23

Of course a lot of that's nothing to do with the V16...

Behra, Schell, Gurney, Hill, Salvadori, Flockhart, McKay Fraser and I think Brooks only drove the 4-cyl car. Without checking I won't say that of Hawthorn and I know Collins drove the V16.


I agree but as the solicitor says in "The Castle" it is the vibes of the case and I don't say that as a putdown - Stirling said at the time that he had lost all enthusiasm for the BRM, partly because the car was dangerous and partly because too many politics seemed to be involved in the operations of the team. Of course they proved to be a brilliantly successful team but at the time of Moss's V16 involvement he was not over enthused - going by what he has written.

Edited by sandy, 21 February 2010 - 07:41.


#18 eldougo

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 08:22

Posted Image
Thought i would enter the debate with a picture of said car. Also on the Cutaway thread there are two such pictures of this car on Page 9 and Page53 showing you can see the problem area.
What I see is the different Front Dampers position has been changed and the rear trailing arms went from Pressed metal to Rod type at the back end.seen in the pictures. these are courtesy of Tony Matthew and Macoran.


#19 Sharman

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 08:53

Posted Image
Thought i would enter the debate with a picture of said car. Also on the Cutaway thread there are two such pictures of this car on Page 9 and Page53 showing you can see the problem area.
What I see is the different Front Dampers position has been changed and the rear trailing arms went from Pressed metal to Rod type at the back end.seen in the pictures. these are courtesy of Tony Matthew and Macoran.


I've asked the question before and had nothing but dusty silence in response. A key figure in the development of the V16 was Ken Richardson, he was involved in ERA pre-war and must have had May's confidence as he also raced the V16. I never thought to ask him in the early 60's when I knew him and have kicked myself ever since. He was a seminal figure in racing and rallying but background is very thin. Can anybody fill it out?

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#20 David McKinney

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 09:30

A key figure in the development of the V16 was Ken Richardson, he was involved in ERA pre-war and must have had May's confidence as he also raced the V16. I never thought to ask him in the early 60's when I knew him and have kicked myself ever since. He was a seminal figure in racing and rallying but background is very thin. Can anybody fill it out?

Don't recall Richardson racing the V16, though he did test-drive it, and he had earlier raced the Thin Wall Special through Mays's influence, and did again in 1952. Better-known perhaps working for Standard-Triumph and racing factory TR2s at Le Mans and in the TT

I'm sure one of the mags - Classic & Sports Car? - did a story on him a few years ago, perhaps through one of his sons


#21 hansfohr

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 10:05

I've asked the question before and had nothing but dusty silence in response. A key figure in the development of the V16 was Ken Richardson, he was involved in ERA pre-war and must have had May's confidence as he also raced the V16. I never thought to ask him in the early 60's when I knew him and have kicked myself ever since. He was a seminal figure in racing and rallying but background is very thin. Can anybody fill it out?

After leaving BRM Ken joined the Standard Motor Corporation, playing a major role in developing (and racing) the Triumph TR2 and TR3. His whole career can be found on this excellent site: http://www.historicr...mp;fromrow=2474

BTW Ken was the first ever to drive the BMR V16, that historic moment took place on 27. November 1949 at 11 pm on a road just outside the premises in Bourne. The next day he drove 13 laps with the brutal car on the Folkingham airfield circuit (where the car was officially presented on 15. December 1949).

Ken Richardson and Maus Gatsonides in the 1954 Mille Miglia, driving a near standard TR2. They finished a splendid 27th overall and 7th in the 2L class. It showed the huge potential of that little British sportscar.

Posted Image

Edited by hansfohr, 21 February 2010 - 10:09.


#22 Eric Dunsdon

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 10:14

Of course a lot of that's nothing to do with the V16...

Behra, Schell, Gurney, Hill, Salvadori, Flockhart, McKay Fraser and I think Brooks only drove the 4-cyl car. Without checking I won't say that of Hawthorn and I know Collins drove the V16.



Peter Collins only raced the V16 in its revised Mk11 form, winning races at Goodwood and Aintree in 1955.

As described in Volume 1 of Doug's BRM history, Mike Hawthorn tested the MK1 V16 in August 1952 prior to the Turnberry meeting for which he decided to drive Vandervell's Thinwall-Ferrari. Ironically, the race was won by Reg Parnell in a V16!.

Ken Richardson was the nominated driver for the second V16 at Monza 1n 1951.

#23 hansfohr

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 10:26

and he had earlier raced the Thin Wall Special through Mays's influence, and did again in 1952.

Ken shared one of Vandervell's 125 at the 1949 British GP at Silverstone with Raymond Mays who drove virtually the whole distance. Near the end of the race the car was handed over to Ken who crashed it heavily at Abbey into a spectator area. Fortunately nobody was seriously injured.....

Edited by hansfohr, 21 February 2010 - 10:28.


#24 Bauble

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 10:58

maybe the V16 was not the most successful racing car ever, but it was a genuine attempt to put Britian into the top echelons of the sport, probably frustrated my an inadequate management structure.(?)

I saw it race on a number of occasions and when it went well it was spectacular, and at Albi (I was not there) it showed just how fast it was. Many of it's problems arose from a design that was ahead of it's time, when high quality materials were hard to come by, however, never mind the quality, the sound was truly FABULOUS.

I remember that at Aintree you could track it's progress all around the circuit by the engine note rising and falling from corner to corner. Acceleration, flat out, braking, all perfectly heard over a lap.

Memories I would not swap for any other from over sixty years of following motor sport.

Eric is right, the good guys just drove the thing - regardless.

Kind regards to you all.

Bauble.

#25 Roger Clark

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 13:18

After leaving BRM Ken joined the Standard Motor Corporation, playing a major role in developing (and racing) the Triumph TR2 and TR3. His whole career can be found on this excellent site: http://www.historicr...mp;fromrow=2474

An interesting biography, but did Richardson really drive in the 1949 International Trophy?

#26 Doug Nye

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 17:53

'The BRM Saga - Volume 1' remains available from the right people, telling the whole story and including the reasons why Moss is so anti, the team appeared so political, Fangio was so relaxed about the whole matter, and the car in its early form was indeed pretty much as bad 'as they say'... :cool:

DCN - (thanks to Talk Talk/BT currently on dial-up 'dongle')


#27 hansfohr

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 18:14

An interesting biography, but did Richardson really drive in the 1949 International Trophy?

He certainly did, although it ended in tears at Abbey (read my 11:26 post).

#28 David McKinney

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 18:39

He certainly did, although it ended in tears at Abbey (read my 11:26 post).

I have read your 11:26 post again and again, and can see no reference to the 1949 International Trophy

(perhaps you could add reputo primoris to your signature :) )

Edited by David McKinney, 21 February 2010 - 18:42.


#29 Roger Clark

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 18:55

I have read your 11:26 post again and again, and can see no reference to the 1949 International Trophy

(perhaps you could add reputo primoris to your signature :) )

My understanding is that Mays drove an ERA, R4D, in practice for the International Trophy but did not start. It was in the Grand Prix that Richardson crashed at Abbey.

Does anybody know how many laps Richardson drove in hte Grand Prix? It can't have been many.

#30 Doug Nye

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 19:38

Without checking, I believe that Richardson went off on what today would be described as his 'out lap'. The spectators he hit included several members of Napier's design staff. Ken was notoriously very full of himself, widely regarded as a BS merchant, very much over-promoted by Raymond Mays who was much impressed - and possibly attracted - by him, and later extremely self-promoting.

DCN

#31 Roger Clark

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 20:11

Without checking, I believe that Richardson went off on what today would be described as his 'out lap'. The spectators he hit included several members of Napier's design staff. Ken was notoriously very full of himself, widely regarded as a BS merchant, very much over-promoted by Raymond Mays who was much impressed - and possibly attracted - by him, and later extremely self-promoting.

DCN

I thought that might be the case. He also crashed on the first lap of his race in the Thinwall at the 1952 Goodwood Easter meeting.

#32 ndpndp

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 21:20

An interesting biography, but did Richardson really drive in the 1949 International Trophy?

Roger,
No he didn't (nor did he practice)

I am certain the above biography is getting confused with the 1949 British GP, where Richardson took over from Mays in the Vandervell/Thinwall Ferrari.
According to the Black Books he crashed on lap 81.

BTW AFAIK Richardson never drove Mays' R4D in competition.

#33 Vitesse2

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 22:42

ndpndp: you can guarantee than when Roger asks a question like that he is trying to gently suggest that he has found an error. But I think he likes to try to hook people with them: as hansfohr found and David followed up - also without revealing the actual mistake.

But the ones to be really afraid of are the ones that start "I wasn't aware that ..." Especially if they refer to something you've written yourself! ;)

So, Mr Hook: may I introduce you to Messrs Line and Sinker? :cool:

#34 Pink Snail

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 23:42

Stirling Moss "... I rate the V16 BRM as the most dangerous car I have ever driven...". (Sports Cars of the World).

Juan Manuel Fangio "...the BRM was the most fabulous car he had ever driven". (His autobiography).

The joy of being a motor racing hstorian.

Dear old Tom Wheatcroft rated it to the point of having that exact number plate on his road car `V16BRM`. :love:

#35 hansfohr

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Posted 22 February 2010 - 09:49

I have read your 11:26 post again and again, and can see no reference to the 1949 International Trophy
(perhaps you could add reputo primoris to your signature :) )

I meant the British GP, sorry for that. At 57 years of age some blond streaks in my hair are still there. LOL


#36 hansfohr

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Posted 22 February 2010 - 10:08

Ken Richardson was the nominated driver for the second V16 at Monza 1n 1951.

Ken qualified 10th, but his racinglicense was regarded 'incorrect' and therefore he was unallowed to compete. What was exactly wrong with his license, wasn't it granted by the governing body or the organizers?

Edited by hansfohr, 22 February 2010 - 11:47.


#37 Tim Murray

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Posted 22 February 2010 - 10:44

According to DCN in BRM Vol 1 Richardson did not have the necessary full International visa in his competition licence. I'm guessing this meant that he could take part in International events inside the UK, but not in other countries. Would this make sense?

#38 Roger Clark

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Posted 22 February 2010 - 12:41

According to DCN in BRM Vol 1 Richardson did not have the necessary full International visa in his competition licence. I'm guessing this meant that he could take part in International events inside the UK, but not in other countries. Would this make sense?

It seems that his total racing experience at that time was a part lap (to Abbey) of Silverstone. Admitted, the pits were between Abbey and Woodcote so he had almost completed a lap but it's hard to see how he could have a licence to drive in the Italian Grand Prix. If the ACI were looking for an excuse, I wouldn't blame them.

#39 Vitesse2

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Posted 22 February 2010 - 14:20

It seems that his total racing experience at that time was a part lap (to Abbey) of Silverstone. Admitted, the pits were between Abbey and Woodcote so he had almost completed a lap but it's hard to see how he could have a licence to drive in the Italian Grand Prix. If the ACI were looking for an excuse, I wouldn't blame them.

And he'd only got the Silverstone drive because the RAC had - after initial concerns over calling the car a "special" - politely rejected the entry of the original reserve driver. That reserve did at least have racing experience, although I would doubt he still possessed a competition licence in 1949, his final season having been in 1924.


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#40 Doug Nye

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Posted 23 February 2010 - 00:06

Ken spent quite a time telling me in great detail how he had set a faster lap time than everyone else including St Peter the Apostle during the V16s' brief practice appearance at Monza. It was a jolly good story. I was too polite to correct him at the time...but it was hard to watch someone of such experience, but so little apparent common sense, dig himself into an ever deeper hole. Nobody is perfect, but I must say I was not very impressed by his objectivity as a witness. His record as a racing driver was microscopic before he joined Standard-Triumph. Didn't he then became the unfortunate driver involved in the accident which so impaired his boss, Sir John Black's faculties...effectively changing the course of S-T history, admittedly (perhaps) for the better?

DCN


#41 Ray Bell

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Posted 23 February 2010 - 06:05

The same 'older I get the faster I was' tale, eh?

A shame as you say. You needed someone else in the conversation to help you help him out...

#42 JimBradshaw

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Posted 23 February 2010 - 07:31

Just an observation


But did Raymond Mays know Alick Dick of Standard?

JB

#43 Sharman

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Posted 23 February 2010 - 08:09

He certainly knew a great deal about Benzol

#44 Barry Boor

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Posted 23 February 2010 - 08:49

Pointless post here but, what a super thread this is!

Just what TNF is all about; keep the V.16 chat coming gentlemen.

#45 sandy

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Posted 23 February 2010 - 23:46

Stirling Moss in the Sports Car of the World article: "On the second lap (Dunrod), after I had passed a few of the slower people, the gear knob came off in my hand. I think I slung it at someone as a souvenir.

Someone, somewhere has got a bit of history in an old box in the attic!



#46 Michael Ferner

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Posted 24 February 2010 - 08:34

Or a lump on his head! :D

#47 AAGR

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 17:17

Without checking, I believe that Richardson went off on what today would be described as his 'out lap'. The spectators he hit included several members of Napier's design staff. Ken was notoriously very full of himself, widely regarded as a BS merchant, very much over-promoted by Raymond Mays who was much impressed - and possibly attracted - by him, and later extremely self-promoting.

DCN


Oh what a relief. So I am not a lone voice....

AAGR
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#48 AAGR

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 17:20

Ken spent quite a time telling me in great detail how he had set a faster lap time than everyone else including St Peter the Apostle during the V16s' brief practice appearance at Monza. It was a jolly good story. I was too polite to correct him at the time...but it was hard to watch someone of such experience, but so little apparent common sense, dig himself into an ever deeper hole. Nobody is perfect, but I must say I was not very impressed by his objectivity as a witness. His record as a racing driver was microscopic before he joined Standard-Triumph. Didn't he then became the unfortunate driver involved in the accident which so impaired his boss, Sir John Black's faculties...effectively changing the course of S-T history, admittedly (perhaps) for the better?

DCN


Yes he did. The car in question was a prototype Swallow Doretti, and the accident took place outside the gates of Standard's Banner Lane factory in Coventry.

AAGR