“Is now the time for a his­toric su­per­li­cence?”

Motor Sport News - - Racing News - AGREE/DIS­AGREE? mn.let­ters@hay­mar­

Hap­pily, there was a live stream of the Monaco His­torique – a bi­en­nial high­light on the his­toric rac­ing cal­en­dar – last week­end. That meant I could catch the ac­tion in be­tween the in­creas­ingly dra­matic events un­fold­ing in Barcelona.

There were some ex­quis­ite mo­ments too. Andy Mid­dle­hurst’s han­dling of the Lo­tus 25 he now races reg­u­larly was su­perb, smash­ing his pre­vi­ous best lap from 2014. And he com­pleted his Monaco hat-trick, some­what ironic given Lo­tus hero Jim Clark’s fail­ure to score a Monaco suc­cess dur­ing his il­lus­tri­ous ca­reer.

From the same era, there was a fine Porsche F1 demon­stra­tion by Jacky Ickx and Bren­don Hart­ley, even if the ap­pear­ance of a pre-war Bu­gatti and Ben­telys dur­ing the same run seemed a lit­tle odd.

See­ing Alex Caffi put the un­der­rated Ensign N176 on pole for the later Dfv-en­gined F1 split was also fan­tas­tic. The Ital­ian never re­ally had the chance to show his best in F1, though he did score a fourth in the 1989 Monaco GP for Scud­e­ria Italia.

He duly won last Sun­day’s race. Throw in a great fight be­tween Katsu Kubota (March 761) and Joe Twyman (Shadow DN8), and Emanuele Pirro’s fourth in a glo­ri­ous Fer­rari 312B3 and the qual­ity at the front was clear.

One the down­side, how­ever, driv­ing stan­dards fur­ther back were once again called into ques­tion. The num­ber of cars in­volved in in­ci­dents – par­tic­u­larly in the later F1 ma­chines – was pretty high, caus­ing red flag and safety car pe­ri­ods. Per­haps it is not sur­pris­ing, see­ing as F1 aces through the decades have de­scribed Monaco as one of the great driver chal­lenges, that some am­a­teurs find it dif­fi­cult to keep their 500bhp rac­ers off the walls…

Given the se­ri­ous ac­ci­dents at Good­wood in March, it got me think­ing once again about the need for a uni­fied su­per­li­cence for his­toric rac­ing. The prob­lem is noth­ing new of course, but his­toric cars aren’t get­ting any slower. Or cheaper. Or all that much safer.

Pre­vi­ously, I had thought the li­cence sys­tem should be based purely on the machin­ery in­volved; driv­ers should gain ex­pe­ri­ence in lower-pow­ered categories be­fore step­ping up to the cars from the his­tory of the sport’s pin­na­cle. But now I won­der if cer­tain cir­cuits need to be in­cluded. Han­dling a His­toric For­mula Ford on the Sil­ver­stone Na­tional cir­cuit, for ex­am­ple, is not the same as driv­ing a 1970s F1 car around Monaco, or a 1960s Can-am ma­chine at Good­wood.

One key prob­lem to im­ple­ment­ing this would be get­ting all ASNS and or­gan­is­ers to play by the rules, but an­other would be the com­peti­tors them­selves. How many rich own­ers would be pre­pared to do the time to get up to speed, rather than pay to get into the most pres­ti­gious events? Some would, some would not, but I am not con­vinced that is a rea­son to leave things as they are.

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