|Monoposto 1970's Style||
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Whatever happened to...Alan Baillie racing his F1 Lotus 24 (2nd from left) at Zwartkops, SA in 2002, about to win the race.
Brabham BT21, a popular 1966-1968 proprietary car. This is Peter Gethin in F3, to give an idea of the appearance of a BT21
We are fortunate to have received 2 complementary pieces from Alan Putt and Nigel Bland. Alan has moved on from his Monoposto position to become one of the most senior officials of the Historic Racing movement, with roles in the FIA, the HSCC and the Formula Junior Historic Racing Association. Nigel was winner of the prestigious Monoposto President's Trophy in 2003.
Let's set the scene. It's the mid 1970's. Harold Wilson was Prime Minister, a woman (with the aid of medication I forget the name) was elected to lead the Conservative party, the Carpenters topped the album charts and you could get a Fiesta for a little under £1900. If you fancied the same make as the forthcoming World Champion (1975: Jody Scheckter), a Ferrari 308 was under £12k.
Alan Putt writes:
I have discovered some negatives of Mono cars taken in about 1976 at
Croft. The cars illustrated are cars which were prominent in their day
and illustrate the special builders art very well - all were built by
their drivers or their teams.
Note on Chamox: The Chamox received a certain amount
of publicity outside Monoposto circles when the Chambers brothers put
their fabrication skills to good use by producing a range of lightweight
trailers. There was a picture in the brochure for the £199+VAT trailer
which showed the car being unloaded. I bought one for my hillclimb 500
and it is still in use today in widened form by Team Cameron. Clever engineers,
those Chambers brothers.
Nigel Bland writes:
Sunday, July 13 1975. I was a teenager, and had been going to races for around 7 years. My brother took me to Cadwell Park in his MG Midget to see a BARC meeting (80p admission). The attraction was race 5, the BP Super Visco British F3 Championship, won by Danny Sullivan in a Modus M1 Ford (Pinto). 5 of the F3 drivers got to F1. 3 races later we watched a Monoposto race. It's almost inconceivable today to think of us running with an F3 field, but those were different times. Commentators were Keith Douglas and Neville Hay.
For a start, as you will see from the entry list, the home built cars were in the majority. The car numbers are, up to 10, presumably their 1974 finishing order, again with home-builts holding their own. Number 2 (not racing here) was also home grown. Over 30 years later, I'm amused by car 16, the "FUBAR", which Ray Dackombe has explained on the forum stood for "Fouled [Oh really?- ed] Up Beyond All Recognition". I'm also intrigued by the complexity of the designations of the cars, with various mark numbers, year designators and suffixes. Obviously a lot of development went on and people were rightly proud of it.
The programme sets out a summary of the class regs. It is for home built chassis or proprietary chassis which had to be pre-1970. How a March 733 was eligible, I don't know. Perhaps it was an updated 693 or a homebuilt car which happened to be called a March? There was just one class at the time, for pushrod engines up to 1600cc with free development. The use of engines other than Ford was encouraged, but to be honest I don't remember whether there were any engines running that day apart from the trusty Kent. With just one class, and therefore one race, numbers were comparable with other races on the day at 21.
Other nuggets from the programme are that the championship was over 18 rounds with the 12 best counting; a few more than the current number of races in a season. Points were 15-12-10-9 and so on down to 2 for 11th, with a point for every other finisher, and 1 for fastest lap. Sponsorship was from Varley Batteries, a long time supporter of the championship, who had an advertisement in the programme with the wonderful slogan "Whatever you drive, Whatever the need, Don't be a Charlie, Fit a Varley." They only had 1/4 page, but a full page was taken by "Fossitt & Thorne", "The East Midlands Leading Independent Tyre Specialist". They sponsored the cup for the Monoposto race.
The grid, which I have set out below, was a 3-2-3, which bearing in mind the track width at Cadwell must have been interesting to say the least.
An interesting set of comparisons are lap times. Jim Yardley had fastest lap with a 1.34.0. I realise that there have been circuit changes since 1975, but looking at the Mono records the 2 litre is now 1.29.3 (or on the pre-2000 circuit, 1.28). Jason Timms has the "new" 1600 record in the Lola T644E at 1.32.5. Perhaps more relevant is a comparison with F3, a 2 litre class by 1975. The Modus of Dick Parsons achived a 1.28.8. In Formula Supervee, the best was a 1.33.2. So it seems that with a full race pushrod engine these were pretty competitive cars, and the home built ones driven by amateur drivers weren't that far shy of the professional F3 teams who included Gunnar Nielsen in a works March 753.