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'Twas ever thus


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#1 Barry Boor

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 06:55

It is interesting to hear the views of retired Grand Prix drivers when they speak about their sport AFTER they have stopped participating. Here is what one such individual has to say:

"It is a thousand pities, but motor racing today is a rat race in which most individuals are chiefly concerned with screwing as much money out of the game as possible."

"I am firmly of the belief that now is the time for the powers that be in motor racing to take a good, long, hard look at what they are doing to the game. Just now they have formula'd the thing almost to the point of oblivion."

Mika Hakkinen looking back to the good old days? No.

Maybe Nigel Mansell recalling happier times? No.

How about Nelson Piquet? Well, no again.

These words were written in the mid 1960s by Innes Ireland and I'm quoting from 'All Arms and Elbows', which I have just re-read for the umpteenth time.

True that Innes felt that F.1 had treated him rather roughly, what with being dropped by Lotus then having B.R.P fold when he was expecting to drive for them in 1965 so perhaps his views are a little skewed but I'm thinking that so much of what he said is being repeated these days, over 45 years later.

Hence the thread title....

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#2 Terry Walker

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 07:14

All Arms and Elbows - what a great book that was. I don't have my copy any more - probably loaned it, or sold it on one of my house moves.

#3 Vitesse2

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 07:40

Charles Jarrott said much the same sort of thing in "Ten Years of Motoring and Motor Racing". ;)

#4 Ray Bell

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 08:33

I think Alan Jones only spoke of the dangers and the desperados...

One thing that does shine through with him, though, is that he had great respect for Gilles Villeneuve as a competitor.

#5 f1steveuk

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 08:47

Didn't LJK Setright dispair at the sight of the first Gold Leaf Team Lotus, "That's it, give the sport a while, and it will implode upon itself",

I've forgotten how many times I thought the predicition was about to come true!

#6 arttidesco

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 08:55

Ah, but were Colin Chapman et al wearing snake skin shoes while being chauffeured about in their Thames pick up trucks back in the rose tinted days ?

#7 Sharman

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 09:45

Didn't LJK Setright dispair at the sight of the first Gold Leaf Team Lotus, "That's it, give the sport a while, and it will implode upon itself",

I've forgotten how many times I thought the predicition was about to come true!


I rather think it has come true. It is no longer possible to consider it as a sport, only as a spectacle, and the sporting loss can all be laid at the door of a greedy little man.

#8 Roger Clark

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 10:33

In 1924 there was great debate about the feeling that racing cars were becoming too light and too powerful. Many leading drivers said that the cars were almost impossible to hold on the straights. William Court reports on this in Power and glory, Vol 1 and adds:

"the inevitable Heath Robinson in the shape of one E A Hellstrand with this suggestion for improving road adhesion:

Would it not be practicticable to fit light racing cars for track use with a couple of ailerons one projecting each side of the car about the back of the driver's seat and at a level with the chassis frame...the adjustment could be partly by hand and interconnected with a pointer and scale in view of the driver so that settings found suitable...could be quickly be made with certainty.
Has any reader tried devices on the lines indicated?
"

Court added: "Well if any of the Autocar's readers HAD, they certainly were not owning up to it in print and to this day no racing car has been fitted with ailerons."

To which I can only say "thank goodness".

#9 kayemod

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 10:52

AILERONS, I've seen this term used so often, and it's wrong, so here's the definition, "aileron, a flap hinged to the trailing edge of an aircraft wing to provide lateral control as in a bank or roll". It's derived from French, and is the diminutive of aile wing, ie part of a larger wing that it's attached to. In this automotive context, 'winglet' would make more sense. I remember when Peugeot used to refer to spoilers on the rear of 405s and 309s as 'ailerons', and that's another incorrect use of the term, but I suppose they thought that to refer to them as 'spoilers' was a bit common, though the French term 'becquet' would be more elegant.

#10 Hamish Robson

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 11:22

Would it not be practicticable to fit light racing cars for track use with a couple of ailerons one projecting each side of the car about the back of the driver's seat and at a level with the chassis frame."


So "ground effect" wasn't new in the 70s then...

#11 ry6

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 11:24

Is it a sport or is it a form of entertainment?

#12 nicanary

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 11:53

Is it a sport or is it a form of entertainment?


It depends whether you're taking part. Most racing is for the entertainment of the driver, especially at club level. The spectators are there through personal choice, but do not have a bearing on the enjoyment of the participant.
Thus, in my book, Caterhams and the like - sport. BTCC and F1 - entertainment.(VSCC definitely, sport)

#13 Herbert Austin

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 13:31

(VSCC definitely, sport)

Rather subjective give the amount of 'Specials' appearing and cars significantly faster now than they were in period.

#14 RJE

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 16:06

Was motor racing ever a true sport, I seem to remember the first Grand Prix being won by a Renault from a Fiat? Then in the years that followed, Mercedes, Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Bentley, MG, Riley, Ford, the list goes on, all trying hard to promote their own product or ideology. Does this really detract from it?

#15 Jim Thurman

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 17:00

Stateside, I've seen articles where Ralph DePalma and Fred Frame both wondered how any drivers of the current era (30's and 40's, respectively), could possibly make a living at racing. DePalma strayed from nostalgia by admitting he never liked the board tracks, that he thought there was no skill at all in simply planting one's foot on the pedal and keeping it pressed down.

Edited by Jim Thurman, 05 April 2012 - 00:02.


#16 D-Type

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 20:52

Barney Oldfield in the Blitzen Benz, 'the world's fastest car' racing against the fearsome Christie was most definitely 'entertainment'

The Principality of Monaco hosting a grandprix to extend their season also counts as 'entertainment'

Colin Chapman etc racing Austin 7 based specials ranks as 'sport'. It was sport for the participants and although spectators would be entertained, they would probably consider they were watching a sport.

Is Chelsea and Benfica kicking a ball around 'sport' or is it 'entertainment' ?

#17 Ray Bell

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 21:14

Originally posted by 'erbert Austin'
Rather subjective given the amount of 'Specials' appearing and cars significantly faster now than they were in period.


You have it all wrong, sir!

That enhanced speed you see today is purely the result of improved circuits being kinder to the suspension of the ancients...

Edited by Ray Bell, 04 April 2012 - 23:28.


#18 David McKinney

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 21:21

Either your tongue is in your cheek, Ray, or the Australian scene is quite different from the UK's...

#19 arttidesco

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 22:27

Is Chelsea and Benfica kicking a ball around 'sport' or is it 'entertainment' ?


According to Wiki sport is any form of physical activity which aims "to use, maintain or improve physical fitness AND provide entertainment to participants."

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#20 Ray Bell

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 23:37

Originally posted by David McKinney
Either your tongue is in your cheek, Ray, or the Australian scene is quite different from the UK's...


Or is it that the drivers try harder?

After all, when the cars were new, a good man still couldn't break the 4-minute mile.

#21 Speedy27

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 05:52

Or is it that the drivers try harder?

After all, when the cars were new, a good man still couldn't break the 4-minute mile.


I would estimate that you are spot on as regards improved track surfaces and, most likely more so, tyres with dramatically improved compliance ability.

#22 cheapracer

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 07:11

Was motor racing ever a true sport, I seem to remember the first Grand Prix being won by a Renault from a Fiat? Then in the years that followed, Mercedes, Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Bentley, MG, Riley, Ford, the list goes on, all trying hard to promote their own product or ideology. Does this really detract from it?


Problem is now it is an owned, closed shop. Those manufacturers can't just decide "ok we'll build a car and enter F1 with it ...", I question the FIA's right to allow that.

F1 is a business, racing cars are just the business vehicle.


I think Alan Jones only spoke of the dangers and the desperados...

One thing that does shine through with him, though, is that he had great respect for Gilles Villeneuve as a competitor.


Well Jones profited nicely from F1.

AJ was mostly in front of Gilles - I always wondered what his opinion of him would have been around the other way and I also consider Jones smart enough not to say too much about one of the fans most adored drivers ever. Gilles was also slight and AJ was aggressively burly - that may have made Gilles wisely cautious around AJ as well.

#23 Allan Lupton

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 07:38

That enhanced speed you see today is purely the result of improved circuits being kinder to the suspension of the ancients...

That's not new either.
So far as I recall it, when the Maserati 250F first became an Historic Racer, and raced at Silverstone on the GP circuit, the likes of Charles Lucas and Angus Clydesdale got round faster than Fangio ever had.

#24 Barry Boor

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 08:35

There, I always said Fangio wasn't that good.  ;)

#25 Eric Dunsdon

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 08:41

That's not new either.
So far as I recall it, when the Maserati 250F first became an Historic Racer, and raced at Silverstone on the GP circuit, the likes of Charles Lucas and Angus Clydesdale got round faster than Fangio ever had.

Fangio never raced a 250F at Silverstone. The fastest race lap by a 250F around Silverstone was by Stirling Moss at 102.04 mph during the 1956 British Grand Prix. I was present at the circuit on the day that Charles Lucas lapped at over 100mph at (I believe) an AMOC race meeting. The way that Lucas wearing an open faced helmet and short sleeved shirt drifted through Woodcote that day was truly memorable.

#26 Geoff E

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 09:37

Is Chelsea and Benfica kicking a ball around 'sport' or is it 'entertainment' ?


If you're partisan, it's a sport. If not, it's entertainment.

#27 Stephen W

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 10:08

After all, when the cars were new, a good man still couldn't break the 4-minute mile.


It took 4 good men to get Bannister through the 4 minute mile barrier!

I would estimate that you are spot on as regards improved track surfaces and, most likely more so, tyres with dramatically improved compliance ability.


You have to ask the question how is it that when a race track is resurfaced a lot of the existing records get broken.

So far as I recall it, when the Maserati 250F first became an Historic Racer, and raced at Silverstone on the GP circuit, the likes of Charles Lucas and Angus Clydesdale got round faster than Fangio ever had.


However both Charles Lucas and Lord Angus Clydesdale were not competing in a GP but in a 10 lap sprint!

If you're partisan, it's a sport. If not, it's entertainment.


I beg to differ - if you are partisan then Benfica versus Chelsea is more tribal battle. Whilst if you are not partisan it is boring!

:well:


#28 D-Type

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 10:10

A year or two back, Motor Sport made a comparison of Goodwood lap times 'back in the day' and now. Some cars were significantly faster while others were about the same. Unfortunately I can't remember which.
In the case of Goodwood, the circuit layout is exactly the same. The surfacing may be grippier, tyres are definitely grippier. Cars have been developed: handling optimised, engines more powerful, in some cases markedly so. Driver ability varies: the top historic drivers are probably comparable in ability to a 'journeyman driver' or top clubman driver in period, but not to the top liners - Fangio, Moss, Brabham, etc.

Edited by D-Type, 05 April 2012 - 10:13.


#29 Allan Lupton

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 13:40

Fangio never raced a 250F at Silverstone. The fastest race lap by a 250F around Silverstone was by Stirling Moss at 102.04 mph during the 1956 British Grand Prix. I was present at the circuit on the day that Charles Lucas lapped at over 100mph at (I believe) an AMOC race meeting. The way that Lucas wearing an open faced helmet and short sleeved shirt drifted through Woodcote that day was truly memorable.

I stand corrected, of course, but on the evidence I'd say that there was little to choose between JMF and SCM when it came to making a fast lap in equal machinery - best over race distance was usually in Fangio's favour of course.
My point that surface (and probably tyre) improvement allowed club level drivers to get round at former champions' speeds is still valid I think.

#30 kayemod

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 14:00

I stand corrected, of course, but on the evidence I'd say that there was little to choose between JMF and SCM when it came to making a fast lap in equal machinery - best over race distance was usually in Fangio's favour of course.


I'd agree with your first part, but certainly not the second. If no team orders were applied, my hero was every bit as fast over a race distance as was yours.


#31 stuartbrs

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 14:15

I have a Nigel Roebuck article where he gushes with joy over the "new" Hungaroring and how wonderful it is to see modern Grand Prix cars sliding on a slippery surface again... instead of being rails, etc etc etc

#32 D-Type

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 15:04

I'd agree with your first part, but certainly not the second. If no team orders were applied, my hero was every bit as fast over a race distance as was yours.

It depends which year.
In 1954 SCM was still learning his trade and it would only be when ambition and adrenalin helped that he'd have finished ahead.
In 1955 I'd back Fangio. Although SCM seemed to have the edge in the 300SLR, I think this was a case of JMF being more prudent
In 1956 it's difficult to say. The 250F was probably the faster car but the Lancia-Ferrari in JMF's hands was more reliable than the 250F in SCM's
By 1957 I would say that SCM was as fast since JMF was feeling his age - he seemed to alternate virtuoso performances (Rouen and the 'Ring) with less stellar ones (Aintree, Pescara, Monza). Particularly I would have thought he would be in his element at Pescara.

But if you asked Sir Stirling I suspect he'd say something different.

Old hand vs young (and hungry) charger: Caracciola and Lang; Fangio and Moss; Lauda and Prost; Prost and Senna; Button and Hamilton ... 'Twas ever thus

Edited by D-Type, 05 April 2012 - 19:21.


#33 kayemod

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 11:27

I wouldn't take issue with a single word of that assessment Duncan, as we all know Stirling was entering his prime at around the time that Fangio retired, but what I had in mind was some kind of fantasy season encompassing races at Pescara, the original Nürburgring, a non-chicane Monza etc, with both men, undeniably two of the greatest-ever, at the peak of their powers and driving equally competitive cars. I'd have bet my house on the boy from West Kensington coming out on top by a whisker in the races. Of course, I'm just dreaming, but isn't that a large part of what TNF is for, for those of us with long enough memories?

#34 Charlieman

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 17:31

That enhanced speed you see today is purely the result of improved circuits being kinder to the suspension of the ancients...


I was reading the Bira book _Bits and Pieces_ the other day. Bira reckoned that the new fangled Dubonnet independent front suspension (and other IFS flavours) gave an advantage to some cars on bumpy circuits. And IFS was retrofitted to many chassis that raced before and after WWII. I have no doubt that it made a difference for a while. But when tracks became smoother, a simple beam front axle worked a lot better than an IFS that pointed the wheels at strange camber angles.