1950: Germany is re-admitted
* The Madrid congress was held over four days, a duration which now became official: from 9 to 12 May 1950. Fifteen member states were represented including six by proxy. No delegate from an Eastern country was present which was a surprise to no-one. According to the statutes, the first thing to be done was to elect an FIM president and five vice presidents for the next three years. The only candidate, the Swiss Marcel Haecker was elected unanimously (by acclaim) for a further three years. Messrs Groutars, Löfström, Pérouse, Bruinsma and Low were elected vice presidents.
* The question of Germany’s re-admittance once again provoked long discussions. The two delegates who had met members of German clubs in Frankfurt, Messrs Nortier and Löfström, made their report. The sporting argument won out in the end and by 13 votes to two, the OMK was readmitted as a member of the FIM, but was only able to organise an international event from 1951 onwards. It was supposed to represent the whole of the German territory, but one can imagine, that would prove very difficult in the East.
* Things were also moving in South America: Uruguay was admitted, but Venezuela’s membership was deferred through lack of documents.
* The International sporting commission held its 50th meeting since its creation in 1924 and Mr Nortier emphasised the good collaboration with the technical commission (which was no longer a sub-committee but a fully fledged commission), presided over by Mr Violet, the French delegate.
* The delegates then met in the Lombardy capital Milan from 28 November until 2 December for the meetings of the central board and the general council (two meetings each), the international sporting commission (no less than five meetings!) the international tourist motorcycle commission and the international technical commission (two meetings each). 17 nations were present or represented.
* Concerning the admittance of Germany, the OMK explained that it was only representing the Federal Republic of Germany and requested that its membership be modified accordingly. Upon the recommendations of the president, this was widely accepted (only one vote against). Other applications for membership were examined: Bulgaria was re-admitted and Japan was admitted together with Venezuela.
* A clarification was made concerning the number of races counting for the Grand Prix World Championship: a minimum of three races per class was necessary (all counting for the Championship), each meeting had to have a race of a specified length for each class in which at least six machines had to start. From four to seven races, only four would count, if there were eight races or more only five would count.
* At the Sporting Commission meeting, the Belgian Federation proposed that an individual motocross championship should be organised. A long discussion followed with the principle accepted but since the organisation in 1951 was contested, the proposal was finally carried over to the next congress. The definition of an international race was modified (races open to riders of more than one country; no race could be designated “international” if it was not registered in the calendar).
* Talk turned to fuel once again. “For 1951 pure petrol with octane level between 75 and 80 without additives of any kind except high capacity (sic) lubricants conforming to the following conditions: all commercial oils, mineral or vegetal (!!!) or compound (?), graphite or not, without addition of any products susceptible of modifying the octane level in the fuel in which these oils could be diluted. Oil manufacturers had to submit their product to the FMN in the country of production to be certified as conforming to this specification”.
1951: A European Motocross Championship
* The 56th FIM congress (in fact it was the 57th, since the 1905 meeting had never counted) took place in Stockholm. The president’s seat had been vacant since February following the sudden death of Marcel Haecker. During the general council meeting on 24 May, Mr Pérouse was elected FIM president for the two remaining years of the mandate. The vacant vice president position was taken by Count Lurani Cernuschi.
* The request for membership from the Royal Automobile Club of Egypt was accepted. It was also agreed that a meeting should be held in the near future with the permanent international bureau of motorcycle constructors – who had sent an invitation – to discuss matters of common interest.
* To avoid the problem of dates published too late, the CSI decided to fix the provisional dates for the so-called classic events for 1952 (Grand Prix). From this time onwards, the provisional calendars were determined during the spring congress for the following year – a habit hardly maintained today.
* The autumn congress took place in Paris. The number of delegates present was constantly increasing. More than 50 people gathered on the premises of the Automobile-Club de France. The congress was made up of 17 federations.
* A request for membership had been received by the secretary general from the Democratic Republic of Germany. However, according to the statutes, only one representative per country could be affiliated to the FIM. This issue was undoubtedly only in its infancy.
* The Sporting Commission meeting began with the 1951 Grand Prix season: The Spanish race would take place on the circuit of Montjuich which at the time measured 6.033 km. Following a few remarks, Don Rodil del Valle, president of the RFME, announced that they were in favour of reducing the length to around 4 km. Yet Montjuich was the shortest of them all at the time: Berne/Bremgarten measured 7.28 km, Spa-Francorchamps 14.12 km, Assen 16.536 km (the longest on the continent), Albi 9.895 km and Monza 6.3 km. As for Belfast-Clady (to be replaced by Dundrod, the following year) it measured 26.554 km and the 60 km of the Tourist Trophy were covered by the 500 cc machines seven times!
* Next on the agenda was the report from the meeting with the permanent international bureau of motorcycle constructors, chaired by Major Watling. The reasons for holding a World Championship were explained but during a second meeting when the FIM announced that nine Grand Prix would be held in 1952 (including Germany at the Solitude), some constructors’ representatives were not in agreement and thought that five races would be sufficient.
* The regulations of the Six Days were slightly amended (including the strong recommendation on the use of a helmet) and the 1952 edition set for Austria. The Motocross of Nations had enjoyed great success. It was decided to reduce the number of riders per national team to a minimum of three and a maximum of six. The speedway final in Wembley had taken place in front of a crowd of 93,000 spectators and had been won by the Australian Jack Young.
* The European motocross Championship received its first regulations: no constructors’ ranking (for the moment), four events would count for the championship (the four best results), the length of the race should be at least 40 km if there were qualifying heats and at least 45 km if there were not. Maximum engine capacity was 500cc.
* The Technical Committee was working on the definition of the various vehicles under the aegis of the FIM (leaving either one, two or three tracks). The sporting code received several amendments, concerning riders’ licences, specifications for three-wheeled vehicles, changes of rider and passenger, and rider insurance. One of Count Lurani’s remarks is interesting: up until then, no article had ever covered what should happen if a race was interrupted by a serious accident (at the time, rain was apparently not seen as a reason for interruption). Should the race be considered over and at what distance? Agreement was made on 50% covered; if less than this, the race was cancelled.
1952: Do motorcycles (already) go too fast?
* The spring congress took place in Geneva on 19 May. The first discussion focused on the request from the international moto club of Tangiers – an independent city at that time – concerning international licences. Everyone was aware of the delicate situation in relation to Spain and France (Morocco was still under French protection). It was decided to postpone the decision and to wait for a request for membership. The application from Mexico (Asociacion Mexicana de Motociclismo) was accepted and recommended to the council.
* The meetings of the international sporting commission covered several points, in particular the European Motocross Championship for which the following Grand Prix would decide the final result: Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg, Sweden, England and France. The main issue was safety on road circuits following fatal accidents which had occurred during the Swiss Grand Prix in Berne (organised at the same time as the car race). The accidents were examined as was the state of the road, in particular at a certain spot where several falls had occurred. A serious discussion on safety ensued, considering the erection of warning signs for bends and braking and even the possibility of run-off areas on certain dangerous corners. The secretary general suggested introducing a safety check in three stages: rider (capability, protective clothing, medical check, obligatory insurance, etc.) vehicle (power, construction, etc.) and circuit (route, width, surface, corners, etc.). The president also asked whether motorcycles were not going too fast. Mr Chamberlain defended the ban on car racing taking place at the same meeting as bike racing. The Dutch vice president, Mr Bruinsma, reported that an international congress of circuit administrators had taken place in Paris and although essentially considering problems related to cars, it had covered issues interesting for the FIM. The discussion on this point ended with the president saying, “This issue of safety should be foremost in all our minds so that at our next congress, we are in a position to decide whether precautions currently undertaken should be reinforced.”
* At the end of the council meeting, the president announced that a letter had been received from the motorcycle section of the Democratic Republic of Germany repeating their request for membership made the previous year. The letter had arrived too late to be placed on the agenda, but president Pérouse confirmed that “we would be happy to see them join the OMK”.
* Paris, Automobile Club de France, place de la Concorde: October 1952. This is where the meetings took place for the central board, the sporting, tourist and technical commissions, and the general council. The central board members were all present, delegates from 17 federations were there and three NMFs were represented by proxy. The problem of East Germany was raised once again. Messrs Vorster (DMV) and Koether (ADAC) explained that they had tried to come into contact with their counterparts in the Russian zone, but without success. President Pérouse suggested that they should try again since Germany had only been re-admitted on condition that it represent the whole country. The rivalry between the two clubs forming the OMK was also considered a handicap to sporting interests with the ADAC offering to hold the FIM spring congress in Garmisch and the DMV in Heidelberg!
* The 1953 calendars were drawn up with nine road-racing Grand Prix (TT, Dutch TT, Belgium, Germany, France, Ulster, Switzerland, Nations and Spain). Clarification was given to the regulation on dead heats. If the number of races held did not enable a dead heat to be settled, then the number of first places, then second places, would be taken into account. If there was still a dead heat, the times would be added together from the same races where the competitors in question were ranked.
* Eight motocross Grand Prix were scheduled: Switzerland, the Netherlands, France, Europe (Imola), Great Britain, Belgium, Luxembourg and Sweden. Qualifying heats for the speedway final were introduced for 1953; the regulations would be published later.
* Safety issues were not neglected. Machines of 125cc or less were not to practice or run at the same time as the more powerful machines. It was also suggested that the blood group and any allergies should be entered on a record for the rider or on his licence (like in France). It was agreed that during any classic road event, the honorary doctor should have an amount of group O blood at his disposal. The straw bales used as protection should also be bound and fixed from behind to that they would not break up on impact.
* Concerning the technical commission, the decision to ban supercharging was confirmed and the definition drawn up as follows, after numerous endless discussions, by the secretary general: “any engine, whether two or four stroke, belonging to a certain class, will not be considered supercharged if all the geometrically engendered cylinders for a motor cycle by the infusion mechanisms, including the engine cylinder, if applicable, do not exceed the highest capacity of the class in question” (sic).
1953: Storm clouds brew between the FIM and the constructors
* The 60th congress took place in Rome in May 1953. Peru, through the Inca Motor Club of Lima, and Guatemala (Federacion Guatemalteca de Motociclismo y Automovilismo) were admitted as new members. There was nothing concrete concerning the United States where organisations seemed more preoccupied by the motorcycle business. Vice president Löfström reported that in Stockholm, the USSR ambassador had made overtures to the ministry of sport, suggesting that ice racing and motocross events could be staged between the two countries. Mr Löfström had suggested the Russians should request a special permit from the FIM, but they said there were not ready yet in spite of their interest.
* The main subject was the election of the president and vice presidents for the next three years. Mr Augustin Pérouse was re-elected president by acclaim. Re-elected as vice presidents were Messrs Löfstöm, Low, Groutars and Count Lurani. Elected vice presidents for the first time were Don Nicolas Rodil del Valle (Spain) and Mr James Quinclet (Switzerland).
* The financial committee’s report was examined, in particular the problem of the £1306 which, being of German origin, had been confiscated by the British Government which was refusing to return it on the grounds that the FIM was not one of Her Majesty’s subjects. Since the FIM had been constituted under French law from the start (this had never been changed until then), there was possibly a way of obtaining the sum from the French Government.
* At the international sporting commission, one of the main topics of discussion was track safety. It was decided that the jury, accompanied by representatives of promoters and riders, should make a preliminary inspection prior to each event. The federations had to contact their national Red Cross organisation with a view to determining and recording the blood group of their riders and enquiries should be conducted concerning colour blindness (sic). Insurance against personal accident would now be obligatory for riders in all international road races from 1 July. The minimum sum to be insured was £500.
* Following the death of Count Bonacossa on 30 January, the Italian Federation proposed to offer the FIM a trophy to be awarded to the NMF with the most road racing world championships together with replica trophies for the individual champions.
* The autumn congress took place in London from 10 to 14 November. Under the presidency of Augustin Pérouse, twenty federations were represented.
* The revision of the statutes was on the agenda: the proposal to abolish proxy voting was rejected. “Each NMF could be represented at the council by one or several delegates, either permanent or provisional. The permanent delegates on the council would include a) any former member of the FIM board to whom the council had conferred an honorific title, b) any delegate duly appointed by the council as from the central board or as a member of a council permanent commission. The central board of the FIM was composed of the president and the vice presidents, who alone had the right to vote at board meetings”.
* Another request for independent representation for East Germany was received. The president believed that it could not be accepted since the OMK had been created and affiliated with a view to representing the whole of Germany and should tackle this problem “more energetically”.
* A preliminary meeting of the ISC had been held the previous month in Paris, in order to examine the safety issue and discuss the future of the road racing world championship with the constructors’ permanent international bureau. Concerning safety, it was agreed that for the moment, no modification would be made to the technical regulations for machines, but a new formula could be introduced from 1957 onwards, thus respecting a three year warning. For the track itself, a first attempt at establishing norms for the circuits stipulated a maximum length of 7 to 27 km, a width of 7 metres, a start in the middle of the straight with 250 m straight ahead after the start, a modern and anti-slip (sic) surface, obstacles such as rocks, trees, telegraph poles, public lavatories (sic), walls, etc., located at less than five metres (!) from the track had to be removed. In exceptional cases, where it was not possible to remove the obstacles, they had to be protected by straw bales. Raised kerbs on both sides of the track were considered dangerous (!) Signage had to be present at each track. The minimum distances as mentioned in Appendix M had to be increased by 10%. Each rider could not take part in more than two races on the same day (!). Practice sessions should be organised over two days for a minimum of three hours. Concerning the approval of the tracks, no new circuit would be approved unless three international races had taken place on the track for three years in a row, the circuit was completely in line with the current regulations and the circuit had to have been examined during an international race meeting by a commission from the FIM comprising of three members.
* More interesting are the notes on the existing tracks at the time, which give food for thought:
- Isle of Man: A vast improvement in current safety measures should be investigated. A shorter and less dangerous track needs to be found.
- Dutch TT: All the trees should be cut down. The track surface should be improved on a uniform basis.
- Belgian GP: A far greater number of straw bales are necessary. The level of the surface at the juncture of the three roads should be examined and if necessary improved.
- Swiss GP: A large part of the track needs resurfacing especially at the places where there are paving stones (!!!) and on the section leading to Liesgrube.
- Monza: The trees located near the Lesmo corner should be cut down. The two last corners should be resurfaced.
- Dundrod, Ulster: Additional straw bales are necessary.
- Barcelona: This track is not satisfactory and a better circuit should be found (sic!)
- Germany: The Schottenring is not suitable, Solitude would be suitable with a few modifications, the Nürburgring is too long (!!!)
- France: Rouen: kerbs to be removed. Reims: probably satisfactory (?), an inspection is required.
* The problem of the costs for organisers and the bonuses paid to riders was raised. The riders did not appear to be very satisfied with the formula, since the riders’ interests were often directly opposed to those of the team they represented. After long discussions, the CSI decided that for 1954 only, the individual championships would not be held but the constructors’ titles would be maintained on the same basis as before (four races counting for the Championship). But the constructors themselves only wanted a total of six events in the Championship. The general council entrusted the CSI with pursuing negotiations with the constructors’ permanent bureau which was to meet on 30 November in Milan. Whatever the decision taken, the championship had to be maintained and the CSI could even reinstate the individual championship if necessary.
* In Milan on 30 November, the permanent bureau decided that, if the FIM was not inclined to reduce the total number of races in the world championship to six, the constructors would withdraw and refuse permission to their riders to take part individually. Count Lurani, the CSI representative, received the “good” news at the end of session.
* The Sporting Commission met on 10 December in Paris, and decided that since the permanent bureau was withdrawing from the constructors championship, it would reinstate the individual championship for 1954 with the nine classic races and the four best results taken into account.
1954: The Stand-off increases
* On 18 March in London, a technical meeting was held in the presence of representatives from the British manufacturers, Messrs Gilbert Smith and Jock West, and Messrs Violet, Nortier, Chamberlain and Loughborough. The manufacturers insisted on the fact that the FIM should accord to riders the right to withdraw their participation, in other words, enable them to declare that they did not wish to take part in the Championships. The manufacturers believed that “most of the riders would certainly renounce their participation and it would be better to completely abandon the idea of Championships”.
* This was the situation going into the 62nd congress which was held in Scheveningen (the Netherlands). The board and the council were complete with 21 national federations including six represented by proxy. A tribute was made to Mr Peter Chamberlain, CSI vice president who had passed away on 20 March, just two days after attending the London meeting. Mr Emil Vorster, DMV president and vice president of the OMK, succeeded him as CSI vice president.
* The conclusions of the Technical Commission meeting which had been held in Geneva on 21 December were studied in detail. One proposal was the gradual elimination of high capacity machines beginning with the 500 cc (!). It was decided to discuss this matter more fully with the constructors, since in terms of safety, accidents were more common in smaller capacity categories.
* Then the discussion turned again to the 1954 Championship. Mr Nortier proposed that the decision taken in December should be confirmed, in other words, only an individual championship over nine races with a minimum of three races in each class and if there were four races or more, the four best results would count, and with no right for the rider to renounce his participation. The only modification would be to adapt the number of races counting for the Championship to four, five or six. The discussion was declared closed and that the decisions taken by the CSI on 10 December in Paris were confirmed (decisions taken outside the confines of a congress, apparently, for the first time).
* Mr Löfström (Sweden), who was president of the Speedway sub-committee, had many times insisted that the Sporting Committee should take over the control of the discipline from the ACU. According to him, the regulations and financial conditions had already been printed without the sub-committee having reviewed them. He declared that the regulations did not conform to the decisions of the London congress and he refused to accept them. After discussion, an effort was made by the Board to persuade the ACU to accept the financial conditions the sub-committee were insisting upon, in order for the championship to take place as planned.
* More confusion ensued as, at the end of 1953, the secretary general had received from the CBM (Brazil) a request to register five international races in 1954, organised by the Federacao Paulista de Motociclismo in Sao Paulo, on the track at Interlagos. Authorisation had been given by the CSI in London the previous November. But since then, having learnt that irregularities had occurred, the secretary general had sent a telegram to Brazil asking for a full report, but no response had been received. Complaints had been received from Swedish representatives (present with their riders in Sao Paulo), from the United Kingdom, Italy, Austria, Spain, Switzerland and Chile. No general regulations or financial incentives had been respected…
* The following congress took place in Paris in October, with twenty-one federations present or represented. Curiously, following the list of federations and before preliminary report, there is an historical summary of the foundation of the FIM in the minutes:
“In 1904, the Motocycle-Club de France, upon the suggestion of the Marquis de Mouzilly St Mars, offered a cup for an international race. A meeting took place at Patzau, Austria, on 8 July 1904 and the nations represented were Germany, Austria, Denmark, France and Great Britain. The race took place on 15 September and was won by France, but tarred (sic) by claims that nails had been intentionally strewn on the road.
The most striking point of this event resides in the fact that the sporting powers of five different countries joined together and devised the idea of an international federation, with countries having paid their membership fees numbering only four in 1905, three in 1906: Germany, Austria and Great Britain and in 1907, Great Britain remained the sole contributor”.
This document is dated 8 September 1954, but is not signed. There are a few anomalies. To this day there is no document referring to a meeting on 8 July 1904 in Patzau and the race of 15 September, in fact took place on 25 September… at Dourdan (that is where the nails were strewn on the road). A meeting did take place in Patzau on 8 July, but in 1906. The problem is that based on this a story would grow of the foundation of the FIM at Patzau on 8 July 1904 and event federation documents from the 1950s onwards, referred to it – although that had never been the case beforehand.
* Nine road-racing events were planned for 1955, with a minimum of four counting for the riders’ and constructors’ rankings, as was the case for 1953. Curiously, this solution was not unanimously approved: the ACU was against holding championships in 1955.
* The technical commission noted that a solution to the problem of fuel would be to use aviation fuel and the question had to be examined quickly. The sports motorcycling regulations contained the following essential characteristics: minimum number of mass produced machines, machines conforming to road regulations, exclusion of supercharged or injection machines, limitation of intake parts, limitation of modifications permitted, presentation of homologation documents. It was also decided to devise strict rules on fairings, width of the handlebars, ground contact, etc. These proposals and decisions were approved by the Committee. There was also talk of silencers: the results obtained during a competition organised by the FFM proved that it was possible to mount silencers without reducing the engine’s power. It was decided “to encourage the manufacture of silent motorcycles and to eradicate the bad reputation currently hanging over motorcycling due to some noisy machines”.
* An extraordinary meeting of the CSI was held on 17 and 18 December in Paris, with invited members from the CTI. Concerning the 1955 Championship, it was decided, considering the position of the manufacturers’ permanent bureau, that the manufacturers’ championships for 1955 would be based on the four best results and that, contrary to what had been published in the press, manufacturers were not obliged to take part in all the races. As the first two races in 1955 would take place before the spring conference, no change could be made. The CSI was therefore willing to discuss with the riders and manufacturers the make-up of the championship for 1956 which would satisfy all interested parties.
* The regulations for the Six Days of Regularity were modified to a certain extent: an FMN was no longer permitted to organise the Six Days in two consecutive years.
Photos FIM Archives - Caption from top to bottom:
-1 Umberto Masetti, 1950
-2 Motocross, 50s
-3 Ronnie Moore - Jack Young - Fred Williams, 1951
-4 Brian Stonebridge - Motocross 500, 1952
-5 Enrico Lorenzetti Guzzi, 1952
-6 NSU record, 1952
-7 Werner Haas - NSU 250, 1954