Is Motor Racing Better Today?

I enjoy watching motor sport on TV, especially F1 and the World Rally Championship.

The incredible technical achievements now involved in F1 are unbelievable. Everything seems to be computerised and so many items on the car can be adjusted from the pit wall, which to my mind makes the driver and the computer technician of equal standing as far as the race is concerned.

Unfortunately (maybe fortunately) I’m of an age who can remember Grand Prix racing when the likes of the maestro Stirling Moss and fellow drivers, Mike Hawthorn, Peter Collins, Innes Ireland, Graham Hill would not simply drive the Grand Prix cars. During the Daily Express Trophy meeting at Silverstone, Moss would drive a Jaguar in the saloon car race, an Aston Martin, Maserati, Jaguar or Lotus in the sports car race, then leap into the team Vanwall, a Cooper or his own 250F Maserati for the GP race.

In one year alone, Moss drove in 62 races in no less than 84 different cars!

I remember Stirling Moss donned thin cotton racing overalls whilst Mike Hawthorn seemed to wear whatever he wore for the journey to the circuit, usually a thin jerkin, a pair of suede’s, and his trademark spotted bow-tie.

I remember great Grand Prix drivers like Jean Behra, Masten Gregory, Harry Schell, Ivor Bueb, Olivier Gendebien, and the lady GP driver Maria Theresa de Fillipes!

I recall the thrill of reading Dennis Wilkinson’s article in Motor Sport, in which he told about his jaunt as navigator alongside Stirling Moss when Moss won the Mille Miglia in the team 300SLR Mercedes. He crossed the line half an hour ahead of team-mate Juan Manuel Fangio. The race was staged on open roads, was 1592 klms in length, and it took Moss just 10 hours and 8 minutes.

I seem to recall a story about Stirling Moss driving in the Indianapolis 500. It was at the time when Indy cars were built with the offside wheels offset more than the nearside, obviously to combat the constant left hand bends. Moss drove the Eldorado Special, a supe’d up 250F Maserati (complete with decals) which had conventional wheel settings. Evidently, according to the story, it rained during practise and all the Indy cars pitted. The Indy drivers stood in amazement at Moss as he continued his practise session.

I remember walking past the original Lotus works factory next to Hornsey railway station in North London the evening before the 1957-8 Grand Prix and seeing the Ferrari cars on their transporter. Can you imagine Ferrari offering McLaren such hospitality today?



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