I found this thread while browsing last evening and watched the show. I also recall that the period in question was when, after first Moss's accident and then Clark's death, I began to lose interest in motor racing. My era as a (fairly young) spectator was the period 1954 - 68/ 69 and I vividly recall the sneering from those who did not drive racing cars at the likes of Jackie Stewart, 'pious Scot with beady eyes'. (Q: How do you find Jackie Stewarts house? A: Fly to Geneva, leave the airpiort and follow the Armco barriers. Ho ho ho...)
How different is our perspective now.
But one question came again to my mind that I have often wondered and never seen satisfactorily answered: did Colin Chapman simply not care about the lives of those who got into his cars? So many drivers died (or were badly injured) due to mechanical failure in Lotus cars designed and built under Chapman compared to - well - just about all the others put together that it must have been obvious to even the most blind observer that there was something seriously amiss. (And the courts, the programme revealed, evidently would have thought so too - or Chapman would not have settled out of court with the private purchaser who sued him.) There is the famous story of Stirling Moss, presented with a cake in the shape of a Lotus at a post-race dinner in the States, cutting off the rear wheel and having it very publicly sent across to Chapman's table. Chapman, the story goes, did not think it very funny.
In the programme Chapman, in response to a question on camera that pre-echoes my own, says 'there are so mnay things that can go wrong with a racing car that the unusual ones are the one that finish', which would seem to indicate that to him the fatal (to someone else) consequence of something 'going wrong' was just one of those things. He might have regretted the death of his driver (he was reportedly so upset over Clark's death that he just wimped-out of the consequent clear-up and left it to others, notably Graham Hill) - but it does not seem to have prompted him to channel his much lauded engineering genius into making his cars stronger or safer. This seems to me 'genius' of a very flawed nature.
I did do a Forum search to see if this subject has been much discussed before (I assumed that it must have been, probably exhaustively so) but all I could find was http://forums.autosp... chapman killer
which seems very quickly to degenrate into a discussion of the rather bizarre notion that he faked his own death and is now (was then) living in Brazil. I confess I had not heard that one before.
So: did Colin Chapman simply not care about the lives of those who got into his cars?