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The Last

By John Watson
It seems possible that this year's German Grand
Prix will be the last time we run on the full 14-mi1e
Nurburgring circuit. For reasons of safety and
economy there are plans to reduce it to a mere five
That makes me sad because frankly I'm a
Nurburgring fan. I like all road circuits because
there's a feeling about a road circuit that an artificial
circuit can't give a driver. I was raised on road
circuits during my early days in Ireland-they were
literally road circuits with no protection whatsoever.
I feel that they teacb a driver a certain amount of
respect for his business. On road circuits you learn
things about the craft of racing that you'll never learn
on an airfield or on a place like Nivelles.
While I'm sad that the full Ring will no longer be a
GP circuit after this yearlmust say thatI'm delighted
that they are shortening it and preserving something
of the road circuit challange rather than making us
run at Hockenheim. That's a circuit that does nothing
for me at all. It's a dodo.
I guess that racing on the Nurburgring and liking it
is a very selfish thing. It's feeding your own ego
without considering the spectators. I've never
understood the fascination of the 'Ring from the
spectators point of view. To me it's ludicrous to stand
and see a Grand Prix where you get 14 looks at the
action with seven minute intervals between.
I understand that a lot of money has been spent on
the 'Ring in reshaping the circuit and bringing into
line with current safety standards. It's inevitable that
with a circuit this length its costs ofmaintainence are
going to be much higher than a normal circuit. You
know before you start that its costs must be seven
Readers Speak Out
Cruse's Vindication
I am writing you concerning the article pu blished in
Autoweek covering the Thompson Pro FF and FV
weekend of 8-9 November, 1975. In your story on that
race in the 6 December issue you reported that after I
had won the Vee race, I was impounded and found to
have an illegal engine in my Lynx. The article also
states that I was disqualified and that prize money
was awarded to the next three finishers.
At the time of the information was correct,
but the court of appeals held a hearing on 24 January,
1976, and issued a report which stated that standard
SCCA procedures were not followed during impound.
I was awarded first place and all prizes that go with it.
I feel that the article has damaged my name in racing.
I can't place the blame on Autoweek because your
story was correct at the time of printing, but I
strongly feel that a second article should be printed,
not to correct the first, but to extend the first to cover
all facts and resuUs that in the end clear my name of
foul play.
Bill Cruse
Wheeling, W. Va.
Mr. Cruse is correct. Autoweek regrets the
misunderstanding and is happy to publish the
SCCA's final decision awarding him the win.-Ed.
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between ten a.m.
and five p.m. at
times higher just because it's about seven times
longer than the average circuit.
Circuit safety and the requirements are constantly
changing. We try to stabilize them as much as
possible. At the ' Ring there are more than 30 corners
which are taken in 3rd, 4th and 5th gears and that
means at speeds in excess of 120 miles an hour. We
now know that in order to make these corners safe we
need it run-off area on the outside of the corners.
In many places around the ' Ring the steel barrier is
hard up by the circuit and there are trees growing
within feet of it. Last year in the Grand Prix driving
the JPS I had a suspension failure on one of the really
fast sections where I was doing around 170mph and I
was very lucky not to hit anything. But this was an
area where there was no spectator or driver
Looking after drivers is one thing but looking after
spectators is another. One thing we are all very
conscious of that we can not allow another
Barcelona incident to happen. We must never allow a
situation where cars fly into the crowd. Having said
that I appreciate that with a circuit like Nurburgring
there is no way it can be a viable commercial
proposition to make it spectator safe all the way
I would love the cirs::uit to be made safe all the way
round so that we could continue to race on it. But that's
not possible so I'll happily settle for a smaller version
that is safe.
On this matter of circuit safety and the
specifications I would like to point out that in the past
some people have criticized the drivers and the G PDA
for making heavy demands on circuits' owners.
The situation now is very different. We, the GPDA,
have now got a very much closer working
relationship with both the Constructors and the CSI.
All circuit inspections are now carried out by a three
man team with each body represented. I think our
working together on a much closer basis with the
constructors is a wise thing. The new set-up has our
secretary and the Constructors sharing an office; so
the two bodies are now working as one.
Monza is another circuit with a problem. I don't
know how dangerous it is, all I know is that I wouldn't
like to have a serious accident there. The approach
Drivers' Addresses
I am an avid and interested 15 year old racing fan and
would like the addresses of Niki Lauda, Tom Pryce,
Carlos Pace, J. P. Jarier,JamesHunt, andH.J. Stuck. I
wonder what Lauda' s cars will look like when he
finally retires and starts building them ... maybe I'll
get a chance to drive one someday.
Glenn Simjian
San Marino, Calif
We get dozens of letters asking for drivers'
addresses, and while like to oblige, we can't for
two reasons: first, it would take more time than: we
have, and second, some of the drivers resent being
"bothered" by fans' letters. If this makes you wonder
who they think is responsible for their popularity-
well,we couldn't tell you. Sorry.-Ed.
914-6 Victory
It is fashionable these days to criticize institutions
as being unresponsive to the little guy. I'm sure some
complaints arejustified, but in the case of the SCCA I
wonder if we, the members, have made honest efforts
to get our points across. Recently 914-6 Porsche
have had a seemingly impossible request
approved by the SCCA. Our group, without factory
assistance, managed to get the allowable ·
displacement for the 914-6 increased from the as-
delivered 2.0 liters to 2.4. Through a tremendous
amount of work by many of the 16 914-6 owners who
responded to my ad in Autoweek, we were able to
show the Competition Board, the director of club
into the Lesmos is so fast and you're heading into steel
barrier at right angles behind which is just a mass of
trees. There' s no room there to give us run-off area.
The local authority won't allow the trees to be cut
down-they are the subject of a preservation order of
some sort-and so we're in a stalemate position.
If they can't solve the problem I think we (the
Constructors and the GPDA) will have to seek an
alternative circuit for ths year' s event. Frankly that
doesn't bother me too much. I'm not a great fan of
Monza, it's not a circuit that has ever thrilled me.
Drivers aren't supposed to have favorite circuits
but that doesn't stop people wanting to know which
are my favorite circuits. It's a question I'm frequently
asked. The question was recently put to me in another
rather interesting way. I was presented with the
hypothetical situation; if there could only be five
Grand Prix events this year and you could choose
them where would they be?
I'd choose them this way: Interlagos in Brazil
because it's a good long circuit, fast, tricky and safe.
Monaco because it's pure road circuit and it's a
unique challenge. Safer than it looks and of course
quite slow really.
I must include the 'Ring, even in its revised five
mile form.
because even. though it's an artificial circuit
I've always enjoyed racing there.
And then Brands Hatch which, although it's not a
road circuit as such, was built to resemble a road
circuit. It's got ups and down and bends of all sorts and
it's about the right length.
Maybe shortening the 'Ring, which is what we
started to talk about before we got distracted, will
have a hidden bonus for the organizers there. It is
popularly believed that the attendance figure at tlie
'Ring is the highest for any circuit. They talk about a
quarter of a million spectators but when you actually
see their audited figures you see that in 1973 they had
123,880 people paying and in 1974 it was 116,910.
obviously lots of people get to watch without paying.
Maybe wHh a smaller circuit it will be possible for
the organizers to establish a more efficient . way of
marshalling the spectators and collecting admission
fees from more of them. It's money as well as cars that
makes this sport of ours go ' round.
racing, and the Board of Governors that the car was no
longer competitive with the Datsun Z and 911
Porsche, the engines of which had grown to keep pace
with EPA smog requirements. I'd like to thank the
competition board, Hank Thorpe and Dave Frellsen in
particular, the board of governors, SCCA in Denver,
and, finally, Autoweek for having the vehicle that
enabled me to reach more than 900/0 of the active 914-6s
in the country.
A Race Fan
Mike Milvain
Greenwood, Mo.
A true race fan is a person who enjoys watching or
reading about two or more vehicles attempting to
reach a destination first. Before subscribing tb
Autoweek, I enjoyed only oval racing, but since then I
have developed an appreciation for road racing, drag
racing, offroad racing, and many other types of racing
covered in your publication. Keep up the good work;
us true race fans are behind you all the way.
T. J. Culbertson
Warren, Mich.
Thanks. One of the rea.sonsA utoweek has expanded
its. coverage is to introduce people to forms of racing
with which they're unfamiliar. While the political
climate against racing seems to have moderated since
the "gas crisis" was at its worst, there are still those
uninformed people who think racing is a major
consumer of petroleum. Anything that creates race
fans of any sort ultimately puts us all in a better
position if push comes to shove.-Ed.

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