Will Motorsport continue in the next decade or will it run out of fuel?
- Credit: Archant
As Lewis Hamilton tries once again to equal Michael Schumacher’s record of 93 Grand Prix wins, Boris Johnson is expected to announce Britain will bring forward the date on which we will cease to sell combustion powered vehicles to 2030.
When I was a young man at school my father introduced me to motor racing.
Juan Manuel Fangio was dominating the sport and had won the World Drivers Championship five times but, in 1958, two Englishmen were vying for the Formula 1 drivers’ number one position.
Totally different in style, Mike Hawthorn, who drove for Ferrari and Stirling Moss, who drove for Vanwall, had come to the final race with Hawthorn ahead on points and Moss having to win and Hawthorn to finish lower than second for Moss to take the title.
Moss won but Hawthorn was second and he became Britain’s first Formula 1 World Champion.
Britain has had many winners of this title but none has been as successful as Hamilton, who has won the title six times and some believe is the greatest Formula 1 driver of all time.
One other great driver who I had the pleasure of meeting when he joined Ford was Sir Jackie Stewart, who campaigned tirelessly until he improved safety for the drivers at the circuits.
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Ford had become truly interested in motorsport in 1966 when Henry Ford II had failed in his bid to buy Ferrari and gave Carroll Shelby an open cheque book to win Le Mans in 1966 with the GT40s.
If you haven’t seen the film (its available on DVD), you should. It’s a fascinating story.
In the 1970s, after Ford introduced the Escort RS and Vospers became Ford Rallye Sport dealers, the rally world gained massively in interest.
Timo Makinen in winning the RAC Rally in Britain in a Ford in 1973 (the first of three on the trot), and the ability of a local driver, Chris Wathen, inspired Vospers to form its own rally team and compete at the highest levels alongside the many works teams.
Our best achievements were finishing seventh in the Portuguese Rally in 1976, and tenth in the Avon Tour of Britain in !975. Unfortunately, we gave it up when it became almost fully professional and would have cost more than was available or justified.
There can be no doubt how much the sport has contributed to the cars we drive today.
The technology, the safety, the economy and fuel efficiency have all benefitted us all.
Even the construction of a strong central cockpit flowed into today’s modern cars, saving many lives.
Motor clubs which had grown after the World War Two flourished and enthusiasts gathered at famous circuits and rally courses throughout the country.
Spin-offs such as autocross, hill climbs and stock car racing provided entertainment and thrills for Devon and Cornwall with their own champions.
The most famous was Johnny Marquand, from Notter Bridge, near Saltash. I am sure some of you will have seen him at the circuit at Newton Abbot.
Sadly, as rallying was seen as damaging to the environment and dangerous on the roads, its popularity waned but Formula 1 has continued to prosper with more countries keen to provide circuits and the income that comes as a result.
Will the sport be required to join the majority of the world and do its bit, perhaps changing to electric powered cars which already are making their mark, or will the thrill of the noise and smell of the combustion engine continue to be a dominant factor in its success?
Whatever happens, I wish Lewis good luck in equalling and ultimately establishing a new world record of Grand Prix wins. In my opinion he deserves it!
Keep safe, keep smiling and we will catch up next week.