1955: Complicated membership
* The 64th congress was held in Düsseldorf (Germany) from 10 to 13 May 1955. The International Sporting Commission decided that the 1956 Road Racing World Championship would be held for riders and for manufacturers. Manufacturers were invited to formally declare their intention to participate before 1st January. Promoters of an event counting for this Championship now had to pay minimum prize-money as follows: 125cc/£200; 250cc/£250; 350cc/£300; 500cc/£450; side-car/£300. Six international classic events were scheduled with four results taken into account for all the classes on the program.
* The autumn congress took place in Paris from 18 to 21 October, once again at the Automobile Club de France, place de la Concorde – for the 25th time in 43 years – welcoming the FIM with 23 countries in attendance.
* The general council examined the issues concerning the ban on compressors in international races and maintained it for 1956. Detail: German and Italian manufacturers had compressor-equipped racing machines, the British had not… The regulations for fuel were also retained for road-racing and for motocross: petrol from the pump.
1956: The Situation in South America
* Upon the invitation of the Norsk Motor Klubb, the 1956 spring congress took place in Oslo. No less than twenty-seven countries were represented including Argentina (by the president of the Moto Club Argentino Pedro Vaccario) and the Saarland (by the president of the Motor Union Saar F. Bungart and the sports president G.W. Stenger).
* It was the year to elect the members of the central board for a new mandate of three years. President Augustin Pérouse was re-elected as were vice-presidents Groutars, Löfström, Low, Count Lurani and Don Rodil del Valle. Elected vice-president for the first time were the German Koether and the Swiss Michel Barambon.
* A request for membership from the Motor Club of the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics was unanimously approved.
* The difficulties with the South American Federations – Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Venezuela – were discussed, but it was considered that these were internal problems and since the loyalty of each country towards the FIM was not in question, no action was necessary. A full report was still annexed on this subject. But it is worth noting that the CBM (Brazil) had settled its debts and recovered its member status.
* The international sporting committee discussed the revision of the safety measures put in place in 1953. These measures were communicated to all the NMFs wishing to organise a championship event in order to “appreciate the situation”.
* Concerning world records, a serious review of the regulations was proposed with a reduction in the number of records recognised:
Distance records: 1 km standing start and 1 km rolling start, 10, 100 and 1000 km standing start.
Duration records: 1, 6, 12 and 24 hours.
* A certain number of questions were discussed during the joint Sporting/Technical Commissions’ meeting. Concerning helmets, a label or an internationally recognised stamp should be distributed to the NMFs to denote helmets recognised as offering satisfactory protection. Visors were accepted if they were flexible and could be removed.
• The Situation in South America: A memorandum signed by secretary general T W Loughborough gives a fairly accurate idea of the problems faced by the four countries already mentioned. Three cases were quite similar: in Argentina, Uruguay and Venezuela, it was quite simply a power struggle and a desire to steal from others what they had spent time building up. The secretary general had therefore received a large number of requests for membership from federations and other clubs in these countries. This was the case for Argentina, where the Moto Club Argentino was quite literally bypassed by the Comision Deportiva Motociclista which had become the Federacion Argentina de Motociclismo (FAM) and which had persuaded the controlling body (Confederacion Argentina de Deporte – Comité Olimpico Argentino) to suspend the MCA for five years! In Uruguay, the Federacion Uruguaya de Motociclismo which had been created in 1953, was trying to take over the activities of the Centro Motociclisto del Uruguay and the same type of confusion was present in Venezuela except that two groups were fighting for power within the FMV itself. In Brazil it was a different situation with problems arising following the promotion of international races in January 1954. “Following extremely generous financial incentives, riders came from several foreign countries. The meetings were organised in deplorable conditions and in many cases the amounts promised to the foreign riders were not paid – and have not been since. A letter to the CBM in June 1954 was never answered. It was only in August 1955 that a letter from the Centauro Motor Club de Sao Paulo – a club not involved in the organisation of the races – stated that several clubs were going to put pressure on the federation of Sao Paulo and the CBM to resolve the situation and reorganise the CBM. In September 1955, following this action from the Centauro MC, the CBM sent a letter shifting the financial responsibility to a certain Arnaldo Borghi who had apparently financed the races in the name of the FPM and against whom the CBM had issued a writ but with little hope of success”. Since then, a representative had been appointed by the Brazilian national council for sport to reorganise the CBM. The annual membership fee had been paid with a request to cancel the suspension. Don Rodil del Valle was requested to contact all the parties to try and resolve the problems.
* The autumn congress was held in Paris, in the presence of delegates representing 23 member countries including the USSR, Venezuela, Uruguay and the Saarland.
* The subject then turned to the repayment of registration costs for the Swiss GP in Berne. Since the cancellation was a consequence of a government ban, the FIM could not do otherwise than to reimburse these costs.
* The sporting commission reviewed the results of 1956 and the calendar for 1957. Following a discussion, during which Count Lurani revealed that the dialogue with the manufacturers had not provided the expected results, it was decided that in future no difference would be made between the championship for riders and for manufacturers. The road racing world championship would be based on the best results in half of the races plus one for at least the next three years. Seven GPs were on the calendar: France (Monthléry), Tourist Trophy, Dutch TT, Belgium, Germany, Ireland and Italy. In speedway following the victory of Ove Fundin, the first world champion not from the British Empire, and therefore automatically qualified for the following final, the number of continental riders to qualify would be 5 instead of 4.
* The European motocross Championship became a world championship for 1957. It would be run over nine races with the best five results taken into consideration: Switzerland, France, Italy, Great Britain, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark. It was also decided to award a silver medal from the FIM for the best performance on a lightweight machine not exceeding 250cc in a series of races organised within the 500cc events and in the same conditions: this was the beginning of the European 250cc Championship.
* An extension of the Western Europe zone to include the USSR as proposed by Poland, was rejected. The official reason was that the zones had been created to facilitate the international integration of smaller countries with less means. In fact it was nothing more nothing less than the fear of creating “an FIM on the other side of the iron curtain”.
1957: The end of Fairings
* FIM delegates met in Venice from 9 to 13 April 1957. No less than 25 countries were present or represented including five by proxy. The 1956 accounts were approved. It was decided to maintain the various membership fee rates for 1958, except for that of the USSR which upon its own request, was increased to the maximum (£60). Registration rates for the calendar also remained unchanged. The problems between Canada and the United States – riders from each country racing in the other country without licence or authorisation – was the object of temporary arrangements for Canada, while awaiting a direct request for membership of the FIM from the United States in the near future. A new request for membership had been received from Mexico (Asociacion Nacional Automovilistica) and was approved, upon the condition that it was accepted at the autumn congress. A new request from East Germany (ADMV) was postponed until the autumn for discussion. The request to withdraw from the Motosport-Union of the Saar was accepted since this region would be reintegrated into West Germany.
* The permanent sub-committee for speedway races became the permanent sub-committee for track racing, incorporating not only speedway but also all kinds of races on a closed track other than road races and motocross.
* The UAMK offered to organise the Six Days of 1957; it would take place in Spindleruv Min from 15 to 20 September. For motocross, the solution of nine races for the 500cc championship was adopted, but in 250cc, other international races could be included if communicated to the secretary general two months in advance. Finally the offers for a second “Bonacossa Trophy” for the ISDT and a new Cup of Nations for motocross, the “Chamberlain Trophy”, were accepted.
* The autumn congress took place in Paris from 21 to 26 October. Secretary General Loughborough was ill and in hospital. His new assistant, Major Goode took notes in his place.
* The sporting commission discussed the withdrawal of certain Italian constructors from road racing. Details were given by Count Lurani. Constantly increasing speeds were resulting in more danger. The costs of the machines was growing higher and higher, but it seemed even more difficult to impose restrictions upon manufacturers. There was also the importance of public support, but the danger of government intervention in the sport remained if the FIM did not succeed in improving safety. It was agreed to acknowledge that there was a challenge for the federation, “which had to make sure that the condition did not become critical”. Count Lurani suggested that limits on the size of the fairing should be imposed. This extremely important point would be the subject of long discussions in collaboration with the Technical Commission, and result in one of the most visible changes in the history of motorcycling: the disappearance of integrated fairings covering the front wheel. A discussion ensued between Count Lurani and CTI members concerning the definition of a machine without fairing. Three categories were defined: the machines without fairings (“totally naked” in Count Lurani’s own words), machines with unregulated fairings (for world records) and machines with regulated fairings (the “Lurani definition”): limitations were basically the following: nothing should exceed the vertical plane running through the axis of the front or rear wheel; the whole of the front wheel should be visible; the rider should be completely visible from every angle, except the front; the maximum height for the rear part of the machine was fixed at 90cm, so a corresponding measure should be set for the front part and the legs of the rider should not be wedged in (sic). These rules were not applied to world record attempts.
* Another problem concerned the ban on road racing in Switzerland imposed by the government itself. The CSI gave its agreement to the creation of an Italo-Swiss zone so that Swiss riders could go to Italy to race.
* A discussion then ensued on the subject of a minimum weight for riders in road races. This idea had been mooted for a while and Count Lurani embarked on explanations: “I find it a little incongruous to impose a minimum weight for side-car passengers while saying nothing about the riders. You know very well that nowadays with the very popular lightweight small machines we are in the process of encouraging races for little “dwarfs” (sic), who are thin, do not eat (re-sic!) and the only ones with a chance of racing. You know very well that Anderson, or Serafini or Bandirola have no chance at all (!) because they are twenty or thirty kilos heavier. In Italy we have riders weighing 40 kg and I think it is unfair”. At one time, riders were obliged to wear leather clothes and boots for protection. But now “we have outfits that would suit people going to Mars or the Sputnik (sic!)”. It was decided on 60 kg with leather clothing and boots. There was then a question from Mr Lenfranc: “I also agree, but I would like to know how we are going to control it. It if it’s during scrutineering there’s nothing to stop them changing for the race. They ought to be weighed before the start”.
* The events of 1957 were reviewed track by track and a discussion arose upon the consequences of a new track on the number of accidents. This was the case for the new circuit at Assen, which was more modern and safer than the old one, but with the result that the number of accidents was higher this year than in previous ones (there had even been a fatality). CSI president Nortier: “It is curious to note that at Assen, the Dutch federation has done all in its power to build a circuit where it is practically impossible to injure or hurt oneself. So competitors now think they can do anything on this track and we have had a maximum of accidents because people say to themselves it’s impossible to die here and they are over confident”.
* Against all expectations the 250cc motocross races had proved extremely successful and a separate calendar from 500cc was drawn up. This European Cup would take into account the six best results for each rider. The track racing sub-committee spoke of a European Championship for races over 1000 metres, the ancestor of the “long track” which was beginning to be organised.
* The exclusion of the Federacion Guatemalteca de Motociclismo y Automovilismo and the admission of Mexico were confirmed. The bureau decided that the admission of the ADMRV from East Germany would be put to the vote (according to the statutes two thirds majority was necessary). The result was 16 votes in favour, 8 against and 2 abstentions. The ADMRV was therefore admitted as a member of the FIM.
1958: The secretary general leaves
* The International Sporting Commission met in an extraordinary session on 6 and 7 February 1958 in Paris. The minutes contained the following note: “All the decisions must be confirmed by the general council during the forthcoming Warsaw congress. But for safety matters, the decisions will come into force immediately, in anticipation of acceptance”. Three formulae were envisaged concerning the sports machines in road races: Formula Grand Prix, Formula 1 and Formula 2. Each formula included the existing classes in category A. In order to increase the safety element in terms of performance, it was proposed not to crown an individual world champion for more than 350cc and at the 1959 autumn congress, the engine capacity classes could be modified.
* Then the general council met the next day on 8 February in an extraordinary session. The subject of discussion was the resignation of Major Thomas Wynn Loughborough. He would be replaced as secretary general by Major F.D. Goode. During the Warsaw congress, the board would propose to the general council to determine the exact address of the general secretariat from 1959 between London and another location such as Geneva which the central board was recommending.
* The FIM congress took place for the very first time behind the iron curtain, in Warsaw to be precise from 15 to 18 April. The congress was made up of 38 delegates who signed the register for the first session and 29 for the second. 24 federations were represented in person and three by proxy. Mr Pérouse presided over the session, assisted by five vice presidents. The general council adopted the revised budget during the February session following the decisions taken concerning Mr Loughborough’s retirement and the consequent transfer of the secretariat from Hawkhurst (at Mr Loughborough’s home) to London, to the RAC premises. It accepted Mr Loughborough’s resignation as of 30 June 1958 and conferred upon him the title of secretary general emeritus.
* The question then arose of the location of the FIM secretariat. The board opted for Geneva, with its grand tradition for neutrality and the presence of numerous international organisations. And there was no doubt that Geneva was more easily accessible than London (in 1959). The move would take place as soon as possible after 1 January 1959 and it was hoped that during this period Major Loughborough’s essential collaboration could be counted on.
* The sporting commission examined several matters, including – surprisingly – the withdrawal of the 500cc class from 1960 onwards. Sports production motorcycles were divided into formulae (1 & 2), according to strict technical regulations which were about to be approved. Fomula 1 was defined for the 1959 season. A homologation form would be prepared and anything not featured on this form would be free. A machine entered in Formula 1 had to be that sold to the general public by the manufacturer. It should be described as a Formula 1 model and homologated by the FIM during a congress. No optional equipment could be fitted except for safety bolts for the tyres. Current restrictions concerning supercharging, fuel specifications, fairing etc. were applicable to this Formula. At least 50 units of the model in question had to have been produced and sold to the general public.
* The Sporting Committee also decided to definitively separate the 250 cc and 500 cc motocross championships in order to prevent a rider taking part in both classes for reasons of starting bonuses for example. The success enjoyed by motocross, particularly in England, also tended towards a separation of the events, with a view to satisfying the general public. So from 1959 onwards, no rider could take part in the 250 cc and 500 cc category in the same season.
* An extraordinary session of the ISC was organised on 27 September in Garmisch Partenkirchen in West Germany. Up until that moment, no request for homologation had reached the secretariat. It was therefore decided not to make any exceptions to the regulations for Formula 1 as accepted in Warsaw. The following proposal was made to submit to the autumn congress: for 1959, each “classic” or each road racing GP should include at least one race for Formula 1. These races would not count for a championship for the moment. If there were less than 15 entries, the FMNR had to the right to cancel the race. As for Formula 2, it was decided to abandon this term and establish a sports motorcycle category for racing in general: “sports machines”. That all seems very confusing, and it was.
* The autumn congress took place in London from 10 to 14 November at the Royal Automobile Club. It preceded the opening of the motorcycle and bicycle show at Earl’s Court on 15 November. 61 delegates signed the attendance register during the general council with 24 NMFs represented in person and three by proxy. A farewell speech was made by Major Loughborough, who was fêted with dignity by the delegates present. He had been 46 years at the service of the FICM/FIM, from 1912 to 1958.
* The Fédération Royale Marocaine de Motorcyclisme (FRMM) was admitted as a new member.
* Then several changes were lined up. Count Lurani proposed to offer honorary status to Pieter Nortier who was retiring from the presidency of the CSI after 12 years at the helm. Count Giovanni Lurani Cernuschi was elected president of the CSI and Mr Vorster and Colonel Tavernier vice-presidents. Concerning the Formula 1 class, the ACU declared it was willing to organise a Formula 1 race at the 1959 Tourist Trophy. The commission therefore decided to review the decision: “In 1959 each “classic” race should include at least one race for the Formula 1 category and it was recommended that the promoters include such a race at each GP. In 1960 Formula 1 races should be part of the programme for classic races and GPs. These races would not as yet count for a championship. If there were less than 15 riders entered, the FMNR could authorise its cancellation”. The changes for Formula 2 were accepted, but for F-1, the minimum number of bikes sold was reduced from 50 to 25.
* At the meeting of the tourism commission, it was noted that some countries were beginning to provide facilities for motorcyclists. This was the case of France, Spain, Monaco, Switzerland and Germany.
1959: 500cc or a new formula?
* An extraordinary meeting of the sporting commission took place at the Automobile Club de France in Paris from 14 to 16 January. The first day was devoted to motocross. The dates of the 250cc and 500cc should be different.
* On the last day a representative from the manufacturers’ permanent board was present at the start of the session and accepted the invitation issued by the CSI to attend the spring congress and renew the dialogue. Formula 1 was still creating work. According to Mr Anstice of the ACU, the English manufacturers were not proving very enthusiastic about collaborating in the production of machines for this formula and it seemed that there would not be enough machines homologated in time for the TT. The rule was therefore amended for 1959. It was decided that a limited fairing could be added to a Formula 1 machine.
* The CSI meeting with the manufacturers’ permanent board took place on 6 April in Paris, before the start of the congress. The permanent board considered that the Six Days race was outmoded and would not be sorry to see the event disappear. Count Lurani indicated that for historical and sentimental reasons, it was highly unlikely that the FIM would abandon this event. Concerning the world championship, the constructors were clear and expressed their wish to continue with the 500cc category. For Formula 1, the report is written with particular finesse: "The permanent board regards the proposals submitted in a positive light, but considers that the project needs to be reconsidered and it would not regret to see Formula 1 disappear”.
* The Belgian vice president Henry Groutars had died unexpectedly and a serious political problem had arisen: it was in fact the time for the elections, and Messrs Nortier and Groutars were candidates for FIM presidency. Mr Augustin Pérouse had already stated that he would not be standing. It was therefore a vote either for or against Pieter Nortier and the secret vote resulted in 15 to 13. So Nortier was elected FIM president.
* Discussions then turned to the legal dispute between the FIM and the constructor Triumph, concerning the validation of a world record attempt, a dispute that was going to end up in court, much to the anger of the members of the board (unless the firm made contact with the CSI, which the British judiciary had advised). The company had not contacted the CSI after being rejected by the courts (it had published a non-recognised record which was considered a serious offence). If the issue was not resolved, other companies might be tempted to do the same.
* The sporting commission began with the report of the session with the permanent board. Each FMN had planned races for Formula 1. The CTI recommended that the machines BMW RS 500cc and NSU 250cc should be homologated as Formula 1. The Japanese Honda was a sports machine and the secretary general had received instructions to write to the company in this respect. (It was the first mention of a Japanese make in an FIM report). The same reason applied to the Mondial, built under license in Spain. Concerning Velocette, information was missing for the homologation.
* The secretary general broached the subject of the entry of the army in the ISDT, following a friendly held between the British and Swedish armies. The initiative was accepted and Major Goode was asked to follow the contacts. Concerning world records, a proposal made at the Venice congress to introduce a rule of 1% improvement to beat a record would finally come into force on 1 May 1959.
* The sub-committee for Track Racing adopted the idea suggested by Mr Vorster of creating a European team championship. A test event would be held in Germany next September. In future all the circuits on which championship events would take place had to be approved by the stewards appointed by this committee, taking into account public and rider safety.
* An extraordinary session of the sporting commission was held on 7 September in Milan. Conversation turned of course to the topic of Formula 1 and its entry into force as well as the existence of the 500cc category with the two things being linked. It transpired from the discussions that the number of entries for 1959 was low and was likely to be even less in 1960. The situation was reviewed by Count Lurani and Mr Palin, president of the Manufacturers’ board said he was sure that these decisions would satisfy his members and thanked the CSI for maintaining the 500cc class. The homologation subject would come back only in 1987 for Superbike…
* The Barcelona congress took place from 19 to 24 October. Forty-four delegates signed the attendance list during the first general council session; 24 federations were represented by their delegates and seven by proxy. It was therefore the first time that more than 30 federations were represented at a congress.
* At the Sporting Commission meeting, the future of Formula 1 was once again discussed and it looked bleak. These races had not lived up to the CSI’s hopes. Retaining the 500cc class seemed preferable.
* There was then talk of a GP in South America, in Argentina to be precise. An inspection and an international event had to take place there before the FIM could give any authorisation, but the idea aroused great interest.
* A proposal from the RFME for a series of endurance races was examined by the CSI. The idea was to introduce an FIM endurance cup from 1960 onwards, according to the regulations drawn up between then and the spring congress. The speedway team world championship was officially scheduled for 1960. The Soviet Union federation (CAMCSU) presented a proposal to introduce an ice-racing world championship.
Photos FIM Archives - Caption from top to bottom:
-1 Geoff Duke - Gilera 500, 1955
-2 Carlo Ubbiali , 1956
-3 Sammy Miller, 1956
-4 René Baeten - Motocross 500, 1958