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Mike Lawrence writes:
The Olympics is under way and I have no idea why motor racing is not an Olympic sport while synchronised swimming is. Thanks to computer-controlled machinery, it is possible to prepare a set of cars to the same standard, which is one criterion for most sports.
There is one notable area of exception, the equestrian events. The horses are not identical and they make all the difference.
There are sailing events and they make use of equipment. Every so often there seems to be a breakthrough in bicycle technology, in other words, someone gains an advantage with equipment within the rules.
Motor racing is a natural human activity. It goes back to I can run faster and further than you, I can lift heavier weights than you, my horse is faster than your horse.
Synchronised swimming is not a natural human activity. First known as water ballet in the late 19th Century, it was initially an entertainment. It does require skill, but so does juggling flaming torches on a unicycle while reciting Eskimo Nell.
I believe that the content of an Olympic Games is decided seven year in advance, and one new sport is permitted as a trial. That rules out one additional real sport for Rio de Janeiro, 2016 where Interlagos is so handy.
The organisers of the London Olympics missed a treat because not far from the main venues, there is the glory that is Brands Hatch.
Anyway there is one element of motor racing that is present at the Olympics and that is the use of the construction Team This and Team That. Team Lotus was the first and if you want to be specific it was at the British Empire Trophy, Oulton Park, 10th April, 1954.
At the time some British teams added a bit of continental glamour to their names. Ecurie Ecosse was the famous one, but there was also Ecurie Bull Frog. Tommy Sopwith (son of that Sopwith, Snoopy's machine of choice when battling the Red Baron) entered cars under the banner Equipe Endeavour.
Lotus used the French and Italian construction, it was tongue in cheek but was proud to be English.
This I have been reminded by Mike Anthony who, with Peter Gammon and Colin Chapman made up the very first Team Lotus. Mike and Peter both had Lotus VI-MGs while Colin had the prototype Lotus VIII, also with an MG engine. Colin's car was the first to have an aerodynamic body designed by Frank Costin, who played an enormous part in the early years of Lotus.
Frank was not an aerodynamicist, as is often said, he was a stress engineer who applied the rules of hydrodynamics. He never used a wind tunnel for any car design, and he was responsible for dozens, he used a slide-rule and had no truck at all with all that metric nonsense.
Team Lotus came to everyone's attention at Le Mans in 1956 when the works Eleven had Team Lotus writ low on the sides of the car, the words interrupting a coachline. Denis Jenkinson was tickled by it and a photograph duly appeared in Motor Sport with a caption. The photo was not of the car, it was of the sign writing.
Lotus was the first to put the noun in front and the construction caught on.
As a postscript. Mike Anthony became particularly well-known for his Lotus X-Bristol and then fell out with Chapman who wanted to charge him a thousand pounds (considerably more than the average annual wage in Britain at the time) for a set of disc brakes Dunlop had given to Mike free of charge. He reckons he might have been the first private owner to race a car with four-wheel discs.
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