Back in the 1960s dyed-in-the-wool race fans would regularly pile into Brands Hatch to watch the prime home international of the year. And it wasn’t an F1 race either.
No, the legendary BOAC 1000kms endurance race pitted works teams from Ferrari and Porsche against each other and a horde of their privateers made up the supporting cast. No matter that the day inevitably ended with dusk falling over the glutinous public car parks and half the paying customers bogged down to their axles, this was one of the greatest races on the calendar.
Watching as international sports car racing donned its best clothes for this year’s classic 24-hour Le Mans marathon seemed to offer an instant flash-back across the decades to the days when endurance racing would stand toe-to-toe with F1 in the credibility stakes.
The race also served as a graphic reminder that endurance racing programmes are of huge value at cementing the manufacturers’ relationship with the buying public. Perhaps even offering a bigger bang for the buck than F1
Anybody driving for Ferrari in the 1960s would have signed on knowing that that only in the second half of the season would the F1 programme be given maximum attention. Once Le Mans had been dealt with, they really rolled up their sleeves.
Dropping the occasional hint that Ferrari might try sports car racing again certainly ensures that Luca di Montezemolo holds more than his fair share of attention when it comes to discussing how to evolve the future of the F1 world championship. Perhaps then endurance racing and F1 could share equal billing on the international stage.