1976: The Tourist Trophy cast out
* The first meeting of the year was held in Torremolinos (Spain) early February. The central board met at the hotel Castillo de Santa Clara. Mr Michel Barambon had died a short time before, and the president proposed to appoint Mr Ladame as interim president of the finance committee (he had already held the post of treasurer and lived near Geneva and the FIM headquarters). The calendar registration fees were adapted according to the expenses incurred for each event (homologation, jury president, etc).
* Then the main subject was the riders’ representation for the CCR, the CMT and the CCP. Mr Soriano’s project was discussed for a long time since some members felt that the FIM should only have contact with national federations. So there was a certain reticence, even though, as some members pointed out, the riders were the first to be concerned about what was going on. They should therefore take part in the decision-making process.
* An article had appeared in a review (in the form of an open letter to the FIM) proposing to give riders numbers according to their ranking from the previous season. The president proposed to accept this in principle and to submit the idea to the commissions for a decision to be made during the autumn congress.
* The secretariat was gaining in structure according to proposals made by the new executive secretary Mr Chevalley with permanent secretaries for each commission as well as a series of administrative improvements making the work more efficient. The president proposed to accept Mr Chevalley’s project which also aimed at simplifying the writing of reports and reviewing results forms which should contain all the necessary information. He also suggested that the FIM should create a jurisprudence. The president proposed that Mr Chevalley should be appointed secretary general and the members of the board accepted.
* Talk then turned to the Tourist Trophy, which some wanted to see removed from the GP world championship. The problem was how to avoid losing the TT tradition and therefore create a separate world championship. It was also proposed that the 750 formula should be given the status of world championship. Taking into account the boom in motorcycle racing, it was necessary that the events should be controlled by qualified officials and so more seminars for international officials needed to be organised.
* The central board met again in the first week of April, this time at the Hotel du Rhone in the context of the spring meetings. The Tourist Trophy was once again discussed. After ascertaining the position of the ACU (maintaining the TT) and the RFME (exclusion), and after a long discussion during which “we took into account the new regulations for the road racing world championship (including fundamentally different norms from the Tourist Trophy characteristics), its importance, the tradition attached to it, and the services which the TT races have rendered to developing motorcycle racing, the central board considers that purely and simply removing the event from the classic event calendar, even though this decision would be legal, would be detrimental to the Tourist Trophy itself, and in particular to motorcycle racing in general. As a consequence, after long deliberations, the central board decided to create a new world championship based on the TT and to which other events could be added in the future which have the same characteristics. This decision would come into force in 1977”.
* Concerning the Motocross and the Trophée des Nations, it was decided to retain their respective denominations and add as a subtitle “world championship per country”.
* The proposal to discard “Le Mans” type starts in endurance provoked numerous protests from the organisers and the CCR decided to leave the choice free. Concerning the 200 miles of Daytona and the origins of the 750 formula, Mr Hansen, the American delegate, explained that so that the winner did not invest too much in a machine which would cost too much and give an advantage over the others, the components of the bike (such as the engine, the cylinder head, crankcase or transmission) should be able to be purchased by someone else.
* * The technical commission once again considered the problems of the F750, the over-powered engine, the tyres that didn’t last, in short, the machine was going beyond the technical frontier, but also the physical and psychological capacities of the riders. In order to reduce engine power, it was suggested to reduce intake, or intervene on engine capacity and circuit schema. The minimum weights for cross machines were once again modified: 80 kg for a 125, 88 kg for a 250 and 95 kg for a 500 cc (starting from 1 January 1977).
* The promotion committee proposed to introduce the “FIM motorcycling merit” award which would be awarded in recognition of people or associations who had distinguished themselves in the practice of motorcycling, or in the promotion, circulation, organisation and development of it.
* The autumn congress was held in Bruges (Belgium). The central board began by examining the situation of the FMNs. Of the 48 member federations, 40 had the right to vote.
* Don Rodil explained that with his mandate coming to an end in 1977, he was prepared to stand again in order to make some modifications to the statutes which could only come into force in 1978 or 1979 and to publish a recap of all the world records together with the history of the member FMNs with their collaboration. He announced that in 1979, the congress for the 75th anniversary would be organised by the FIM.
* Modifications and additions to the statutes were proposed for ratification in 1977 and entry into force on 1 January 1978, in particular, eligibility criteria, withdrawal of mandates, resignation and replacement of officials during illness.
* There then arose the issue of the central board’s proposal to promote a Tourist Trophy world championship from 1977 onwards, the regulations of which had been drawn up by the CT and the CCT and accepted by the ACU. But several voices of opposition to this measure were heard, mostly stating that the regulations were not known and that an event could only become a world championship after three years had elapsed. The proposal was put to the vote and the TT world championship which would exist for barely more than ten years before being replaced by superbike, was accepted by 42 votes to 31. The regulations contained the following points: current production machines, at least 200 models homologated, working starter and electric generator, the following elements could not be modified: type of engine, number of cylinders, piston stroke, moulded parts material (cylinders, cylinder heads, crankcase, gearbox), intake and exhaust system (number, type and dimensions), maximum number of gears were six. The classes were the following: Formula TT 1, from 350 to 500 two strokes and from 600 to 1000 four strokes, fuel tank of 24 litres; Formula TT 2 from 250 to 350 two strokes and from 400 to 600 four strokes, fuel tank of 20 litres; Formula TT 3 from 125 to 250 two strokes and from 200 to 400 four strokes, fuel tank of 18 litres; Formula TT 4 from 50 to 125 two strokes and from 50 to 200 four strokes, fuel tank of 15 litres. Tracks had a minimum length of 10 km and there was no maximum. Most of the facilities were similar to those of GPs except for the typical TT staggered start as well criteria relating to the track itself where the regulation was specific.
* The 750 FIM Prize would become a world championship from 1977 onwards after a favourable vote from the general council. President Rodil asked the promotion committee to find a solution for the prize-giving since most of the world champions did not show up.
* The last point on the agenda was the Venezuelan federation’s official request to stage the 1977 congress. This position was defended by president Rodil: “the FIM will only become an international body when its activities extend across all the countries in the world (races and meetings); Latin America is a continent with a great future from a motorcycling point of view”. The problem was financial for a minimum of 25 federations had to be present for the congress to take place. The FMV secretary general, Mr Teodardo Estrada, explained in detail the travel and organisation plans. The decision was put to a secret ballot: 32 countries present, 50 votes for, 9 against and four void ballot papers. For the first time in its history, the FIM congress was going to leave Europe, 73 years after it was founded.
* In road racing, apart from the TT and F750 world championships mentioned previously, there was one important point. From 1977 onwards, every race would count for the GP world championship. The same decision was taken by the CMT for motocross (individual and side-cars), trial and the Two Days of regularity. Complicated calculations were over.
* The CCR examined a thorny issue: the Formula 750 event in Sao Carlos, Venezuela, in March 1976. Several protests had been lodged by the riders Gary Nixon (winner of the first leg, present during the session to give his point of view), Steve Baker (winner of the second heat) and John Newbold, as well as Cliff Carr’s manager. These riders had contested the results (produced by adding the two heats together with one single ranking). The jury report had been received by the secretariat on 14 July… and made no mention of any protest. These had been made to the AMA, who had transferred them to the FIM according to the stipulations in the code. The protests concerned the stoppage time in the pits for refuelling: according to Gary Nixon, Steve Baker had stopped in the pits; Ceccotto had a lead of 18 seconds, he himself had completed another lap and Baker was still at a halt and Ceccotto still first. Ceccotto and Nixon had completed 39 laps and Baker 38 which should have put him fifth. The big problem was that no timing data were available and it was impossible according to the report to say who was right and who was wrong. So the CCR decided not to homologate the results. The winner of the “1976 750 “Prix FIM” remained Victor Palomo (if Gary Nixon had won his appeal, he would have won it).
1977: The first overseas congress
* The spring meetings were held in the Hotel du Rhone (Geneva) at the end of March. The central board was in its entirety, with Mr Ladame as president of the promotion committee and interim president of the finance committee, and it examined the treasurer’s report. The 1976 books were not so good as previous ones due to the rise in costs for staff, administration, congress and meetings, travel and interpreters. Since the purchase of the new premises, the house at Chambésy, it had become necessary to sell the apartment on the avenue du Champel, since according to Swiss law, a federation could only be the owner of a building for its own use.
* The modification of the statutes continued. The subject of official languages was left aside for the issues of financial reasons and increase in workload, already raised previously. The make-up of the central board was specified: president, treasurer, vice presidents and commission and permanent committee presidents. One of the vice presidents would be appointed Deputy President by the board and this person would replace the president should the need arise. All the members had the right to vote except for the committee presidents (finance, promotion and medical) and the FIM president who only had the casting vote in the event of a tie. There could not be more than two voting members of the same nationality on the board. The secretary general was the secretary of the board and took part in all the meetings, without voting right, and drew up the minutes.
* Concerning the secretary general, once again the issue was far from resolved. Mr Chevalley had refused to accept certain conditions in his contract and problems had arisen within the secretariat. After a long discussion, the board decided to dismiss Mr Chevalley and to appoint Ms Cevey as first secretary. An official request from the Belgian federation had been made to the central board, asking that the FIM headquarters should be transferred to Brussels. It was decided to study the matter and make proposals to the general council during the Caracas congress.
* The sponsorship by the company Camel was the subject for discussion. The contract was agreed for four years and the exclusivity clause only concerned tobacco and did not apply to countries with restrictions (or problems) with this kind of advertising.
* At the CCR, the homologation of closed circuits was refined in every detail. It stated that it did not apply to open roads or to the TT. The drawing up of priority lists was examined for a long time since the choice of criteria would probably never satisfy everybody. But that was better than nothing at all. It was also decided to discard professional organisations who wanted to take the riders under contract.
* The American delegate, Mr Hansen, presented a request in the name of the AMA: a 17 year-old rider, a certain Randy Mamola, was asking to ride in categories other than 250cc and in countries other than the USA. He had received invitations to race in Italy and France and his manager was requesting an international licence for 250. Mr McMaster confirmed that he had issued a restricted licence for this rider but only for the USA. The problem was emphasised by Mr Youngblood who said that there was a reason to limit the age and if an exception were made then others would also have to be made and the regulation would be useless. Mr Mamola would therefore have to wait for his birthday before arriving in Europe.
* On the basis of a calculation concerning riders’ costs, Mr Luigi Brenni proposed that the appearance money should be increased, which provoked an outcry in the commission with some delegates stating that the organisers could not constantly be expected to pay more. Mr Brenni also noted that paying the riders by cheque meant the riders had to wait for the banks to open on Monday morning, that sanitary facilities were unsatisfactory in the paddock and that the FIM identity cards and passes were not always respected. At the end of the discussion, the president said that this question should be examined in the future, but the CCR supported the request from the FMS to increase appearance money. Mr Brenni also proposed a new structure for the road racing championships: a world championship for 250, 500, 750 and side-cars, with the others becoming continental championships. Riders would only compete in GPs and those competing in continental championships would have the possibility of being promoted. Finally he thought there should be a fairer distribution of events among the countries.
* The technical commission established new maximum noise levels from 1979 onwards: road races 110 dB/A; track races 105 dB/A; motocross 105 dB/A; trial and reliability 100 dB/A in 1978 and 98 in 1979. In Track Racing a change from methanol to petrol was “too complicated” because it required the engine to be completely modified. The reduction in the diameter of the carburettor seemed simple, cheap and easily controllable and the reduction in the size of the tyres would mean less grip and less acceleration.
* On 22 June 1977, president Rodil sent a letter to the members of the central board, the CCR, permanent delegates and the FMNs. Following several fatal accidents in three months of racing, the president was taking action. Over the years, the speed of the bikes had increased and the tracks had become less and less adapted to these speeds. During the summer of 1975, new standards had been established for circuits particularly where world championship events were held. If these regulations had been applied immediately, some circuits would have been dropped or modified more rationally. Following discussions with the riders at the French GP at Paul Ricard, it seemed that the new regulations had not been applied at all. The modification of some circuits had been so limited that there was no fundamental effect on track safety. The warning was clear: officials, the road racing commission, the technical commission and medical committee would have to face up to such a situation.
* A meeting between the CCR and the organisers was held at the Hotel du Rhone in Geneva on 15 July. Some CCR members were cited in the report as representatives of their federation or a circuit. Even an FIM vice president, Oldrich Haken, for example, was present as the organiser of Brno. The discussion began with the calendar and the number of world championship events. Should the F750 be grouped with GPs? The organisers were divided and so were the FMNs. Some of the safety conditions agreed at the Bruges congress could not be applied overnight or it would mean that some facilities would have to be closed. Mr McMaster explained that the pressure on the CCR was enormous, that some commission members were accused of being biased, which he formally denied. The problem of the yellow flags was also raised and it was noted that riders did not slow down in spite of the yellow flag. The question of public access to the paddock was also raised, since it was a source of revenue for organisers.
* So the first FIM congress to be held outside Europe took place in Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, from 8 to 15 October 1977 at the Anauco Hilton. Forty one countries were present or represented, including 39 with voting rights (78 ballot papers). The treasurer, Mr Schmit and the vice president Haken were absent for illness. All the other members of the central board were present.
* Then the main subject of the federation’s economic policy was raised linked to the question of official languages. Don Rodil explained that if the FIM was to become a world body, the new tariffs must be accepted. The federation did not need money for itself, but to supply more services. If the new tariffs were refused, the FIM would remain a bureaucratic institution on a small scale with limited services. Some delegates were against, taking into account that the budget was stable and the financial reserves sufficient. Then came the question of official languages. If Spanish and German were added, then the costs for interpreting would increase and people would have to be hired for the secretariat. Don Rodil suggested postponing the subject for another year, but the delegates thought it was time to break the linguistic barriers and German and Spanish should be introduced. An added remark is that Russian had also featured in one request. Since there were still a lot of issues, Don Rodil suggested that an extraordinary meeting of the central board should be held in December in Geneva to discuss these two issues.
* They then moved to elect the FIM president. Mr Matuszak was entrusted with the presidency during the vote. A delegate requested a secret ballot (he is not named in the report) and Don Rodil was re-elected with 47 votes. He thanked the assembly for their confidence and stated that you could never have unanimous backing “but as long as I am captain of the ship, it will go forwards”. Mr Petinelli presented the 1978 budget, with an increase in the cost for riders’ licences (from 12 to 25 francs).
* The two vice presidents were then elected (Mr Lesueur was elected in the first round and Mr Dixon in the second). During the counting, Barry Sheene asked to speak on behalf of the riders present and made some remarks about certain tracks where the 1978 world championship events would take place. He wanted to know which tracks would not be used the next year. “As far as we are concerned, the circuits of Salzburg, Opatija, Barcelona, Spa-Francorchamps, Dijon-Prenois, Brno, Imatra and Mugello should not be included in the 1978 world championship, because the safety measures are not adequate”. The riders also requested that more attention was paid to safety, especially concerning Dr Costa’s team whose work was often hampered. The president thanked Mr Sheene for his comments and asked him as stipulated in the FIM regulations, first to discuss the problems with the commission responsible for their discipline. This was correct, but the riders had got their message across. Trouble was brewing…
* The participation of the riders in the sporting commissions was strongly recommended by the central board. Two riders in each commission would have the role of spokesmen for their colleagues. They would be put forward by their FMN and would be elected by their colleagues in a postal ballot. The elected riders would be included in the commission during the spring meetings and their mandate would be for two years.
* Two membership changes were accepted by the general council: Uruguay (Federacion Uruguaya de Motociclismo) and Norway (Norges Motorsykkelforbun). The AICP had not settled its fee as an associate member nor its admittance fees but the central board decided to investigate further.
* The road racing commission studied the problem of circuit homologation and requested that a list of circuits already homologated over the last five years should be drawn up and published in the directory, and that homologation certificates should be introduced. The CCR prepared a plan to include the formula 750 in the GPs which had been a topic of discussion for some time. The conversion of the European Endurance championship into a world championship was put on hold for the moment. The CCR was in favour of closer co-operation between the riders and the international jury and recommended the organisers to authorise the riders to take part and to give their opinion during the control of an event. The mentality was slowly changing, there was less talk that the FIM should only communicate with the FMNs…
* Next on the agenda was the election of the president of the CCR and there were two candidates. The Dutchman Jaap Timmer won the election over the Irishman William McMaster (7 votes to 5). The riders were then invited to enter the meetings: Pierpaolo Bianchi, Johnny Ceccotto, Mario Lega, Angel Nieto and Barry Sheene. The discussion was lively as you can imagine, but at least a dialogue was established (if it had been done so earlier, a lot of problems could doubtless have been avoided). The riders thought it was too easy to wait until there were deaths at a circuit to find fault or to ban racing. Each circuit should be examined listing its faults and its qualities, the changes that needed to be made, the improvements to be undertaken or even banning it altogether.
* A proposal from the ACU concerning the interruption of a race and a re-start was refused by the commission who believed a strict observation of the signals was sufficient (sic).
* In track racing, the creation of the team ice racing world championship was proposed for 1979 as well as a European grass track championship for 1978.
* The regulation for the Formula TT was amended as follows: minimum quantity of machines produced increased from 200 to 1000 units before homologation. It was forbidden to modify the number of valves, the cylinder, the crankcase, the engine sump and the gear box casing. A very detailed document concerning riders’ protective clothing made from new materials with reinforcement at the shoulders, elbows, both sides of the torso, the back and the knees was then examined. These clothing prototypes were produced in Germany and had been shown to riders during the F750 round at Hockenheim and all were convinced it was a good way in which to improve safety. For the moment, the FIM code prescribed for speedway and for ice racing, padding on the knees, elbows and shoulders, but nothing for road racing. It was proposed to modify and complete the article in question.
* As announced in Caracas, an extraordinary meeting of the central board took place in Geneva in December. The aim was to examine and confirm – or remove – the modifications to the sporting code, the main thing being the introduction of a jury president appointed by the FIM for world championship and FIM Prize events. He had to receive the nominations of all the members proposed by each FMN for the jury, the event secretary’s report and that of the race director, ensure that scrutineering and medical controls were conducted according to the regulations and that the safety measures were in force on a medical level. He also had to ensure that the track was manned 100%, etc. Interrupting a race and holding a re-start was finally included in the code. Concerning the riders’ age, an enquiry would be made with each FMN to see what the minimum age should be to deliver a licence (for road racing, motocross or track racing).
* The definition of an FIM long term policy was based on the following proposals which depended on an increase in the budget: introduction of new official languages, creation of a compensation fund (economic assistance for events, organisation of congresses, development of activities, etc), creation of a sports co-ordination group and a committee for codes and jurisprudence, establishment of contacts with the international manufacturers’ board and between the CCR and the AICP, creation of an insurance pool within the FIM to include all the FMNs, promotion of international tourism on an individual and collective level, organisation of CCR, CMT, CCP and CT seminars and a sub-committee for research into accidents and safety which would have a consultative role in investigating safety problems and would make recommendations to the central board. It was composed of 13 members: three vice presidents and two delegates from each commission or committee (CCR, CMT, CCP, CT and CM).
* Concerning the participation of riders in the sporting commissions, a procedure was established so that the riders could be present at the spring meetings. A list of candidates had to be proposed before 8 January 1978 and communicated by the emergency Commission on 11 January. A postal ballot would be held with votes to arrive no later than 5 February and the count and declaration of elected representatives would be made by the emergency committee on 10 February. The riders’ mandate would begin at the spring meetings and would last for two years.
1978: Riders in the commissions
* In spite of the very short timeframe, ten FMNs presented no less than 56 candidates for rider representatives (22 from road racing, 22 from motocross, trial and reliability and 12 in track racing). The secretariat sent the ballot papers for each commission to all candidates on the list and to all riders ranked in the final results of the 1977 world championship events with an explanatory letter. A total of 428 ballot papers were sent out and 217 were returned by the deadline of 10 February. At the CCR, 108 ballot papers were returned, all valid, with 216 votes: Barry Sheene was way out in front with 56 votes, ahead of Mick Grant (32), but since it was stipulated that the two riders elected could not be of the same nationality in the same commission, it was the third rider German side-car rider Werner Schwärzel who was elected (17, just ahead of Angel Nieto). At the CMT, 78 ballot papers had been received including 10 null and void, 65 valid and 129 votes (one ballot paper only contained one vote). Two motocross riders were elected: Dutchman Gerrit Wolsink and the Finn Heikki Mikkola. Finally at the CCP, 34 ballot papers were received including 7 null and void and 27 valid with 54 votes. New Zealander Ivan Mauger (17) and the Dane Ole Olsen (10) were elected. So there were four world champions (Sheene, Mikkola, Mauger and Olsen) and one future world champion (Schwärzel) and one who never got the title but was nonetheless a motocross great (Wolsink), so people had chosen the top riders.
* The spring meetings took place in Geneva at the end of February. The first session of the central board began in force with a regulated attack led by vice president Norman Dixon against the appointment of jury presidents by the FIM. Mr Dixon thought this decision had never been discussed by the general council (who had therefore not approved it) and that even the central board had not discussed it at length and considered its implications. He said he had recently learnt “that there is considerable hostility to this proposal and the general consensus was in favour of the FMNs continuing to appoint the jury presidents for good reason. A national federation knows better than anyone else which are the delegates who would make good jury presidents and they choose them as a consequence. What does the FIM know about the qualifications of the presidents it will designate? I request that this so-called decision (sic) be cancelled!” Or that it should not come into effect until the general council had examined it. Mr Dixon requested that this decision should be put to the vote and Mr Youngblood seconded the motion. But before voting, Mr Soriano explained that “the president of the FIM had explained at length that only the new increase in tariffs for 1978 would concern the riders’ and various world championship licences so as to cover the expenses of jury presidents appointed by the FIM.” Don Rodil reminded board members that the federation would nominate the presidents from among the delegates and international officials presented by the FMNs and chosen by the commissions: “To put the FIM in a neutral position, we should nominate the jury presidents and pay their expenses. If there had not been any problems in road racing we would never have had to take such a decision. In the past, the CCR organisers nominated their own jury president and he executed all the orders given by the race director and the organiser. He had very little authority, if not any (sic)”. Then it went to the vote. The proposal was accepted, but only just with 7 members in favour of maintaining the central board’s decision for 1978 already, and six requesting the decision be deferred to the general council in the 1978 congress and one member abstaining.
* The promotion committee proposed that the prize-giving ceremony should not take place at the end of the final general council session, but in the evening during the final banquet. Concerning the minimum age for riders, the medical committee had refused any compromise in Caracas, but several FMNs had been very insistent and the said committee had therefore proposed the following regulation: 16 years up to 125cc for international events except GPs; 17 years up to 125cc for international events including GPs. Dr Rodenburg pointed out that in spite of this compromise, the CM preferred to maintain the decision taken in Caracas. The central board was for the main part against this compromise, but Mr Soriano believed that youngsters aged under 18 on the small capacity machines were completely capable of taking part in international races. With the advantage of hindsight twenty five years later, this seems obvious.
* For events taking place mostly on open roads during normal traffic (trial, reliability), riders had to have a driving licence. Concerning the FIM’s future policy, the question was on the agenda for the extraordinary meeting to be held in Geneva on 21 and 22 June. The secretariat would also have to be expanded to cope with more documents to be produced especially if the federation were to have four official languages instead of two.
* At the CCR, everyone was satisfied with the participation of the two riders, especially Barry Sheene, who had taken part in all the discussions. The CCR agreed to warn manufacturers three years ahead of time on any new formula to be introduced. The problem of the number of world championships was raised. Some believed that the F750 was a failure and should be dropped, others thought that it had only existed for two years and was only now beginning to have some success. The question was how to weed out the calendar. After a long discussion it was possible to draw the following conclusions: in GP, classes 125, 250 and 500; the classes 50 or side-car could be chosen as an addition by the organisers. The 350 class would be dropped. The F750 should not be included in GPs but continue either separately or as part of endurance (which would incite the manufacturers to look for reliability rather than power). Finally the majority of CCR members were in favour of leaving the number of cylinders free.
* The 1979 GP calendar had 12 events: Salzburgring, Hockenheim, Imola, Jarama, Assen, Spa-Francorchamps (new track or Nivelles or Zolder), Karlskoga (provisional), Imatra (provisional), Silverstone, Brno (provisional), Rijeka (new track) and Le Mans.
* Barry Sheene requested that the presence of a helicopter should be obligatory at each GP. The helicopter should be capable of transporting two people lying down. Some preferred to opt for a mobile clinic since some injured riders could not be moved. Barry Sheene then raised two questions: first that of starting bonuses which had not been increased over the last three years and were not always paid. Then he suggested that races should be organised in Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro which were both very good circuits and charter flights could be organised for the riders which would greatly reduce travel expenses which were currently very high just to go to Venezuela.
* The CMT president, Mr Bruneel, regretted that neither of the motocross riders had come to the meetings, one due to previous commitments and the other because of … fog. During the next election he hoped to have a motocross specialist and a trial specialist. The CMT refused to reduce the engine capacity for side-cars. An extraordinary meeting would be held in Brussels to simplify the regulations for the Six Days and the Two Days of reliability.
* According to its president the CCP had very much appreciated the collaboration from Mr Olsen (Mr Mauger was absent due to prior commitments). A plan was drawn up to better distribute the world championship events among the FMNs. The CCP would hold an extraordinary meeting at Wembley on the occasion of the individual speedway world championship on 2 September. It would be the “European Golden Jubilee of Speedway”, the 50th anniversary of the first official speedway race in Europe organised in 1928. Letters of congratulations would be dispatched to Mr John Hoskins, one of the founders of speedway, aged 86, and to the ACU.
* Mr Lechner reported on the work of the CCT in particular the preparations for the FIM rally which this year would be held in Lido di Iesolo, near Venice in June. The CCT proposed to create an “excellence” category in the “meritum” distinctions for taking part in 25 rallies. Some members of the BC found the term “excellence” to be too ecclesiastical (sic). Would it not be possible to find a different term or give a more significant reward than just a medal and a diploma? Mr Lechner replied that it is too often forgotten that the FMN’s activities corresponded to 80% tourism and 20% sport while at the FIM it was the opposite.
* The medical committee met at the secretariat at Chambésy. It was decided to adopt the same definition for doping as that taken by the medical commission of the International Olympic Committee and to add in the sporting code the banning of all substances considered by the FIM to be doping.
* The extraordinary meeting of the central board took place on 21 and 22 June. It was now time to define FIM policy; its priorities and to give it the means to implement this policy. The sub-committee for research into accidents and safety would be charged with gathering all the information relating to accidents, rider clothing, circuit configurations, and to make a kind of synthesis to communicate the results to the commissions in the framework of progress in the sport and improving safety. Those opposed to this project thought that the FMNs were perfectly capable of doing this work or a reduced emergency committee could also perform it.
* The central board asked Dr Rodenburg to make the following recommendations to Dr Claudio Costa: to contact each organiser at the beginning of the season to offer his services, to make contact with the chief doctor appointed by the organisers to set out the collaboration between the local medical services and the AGV ambulance. He should not impose his criteria but seek to establish mutual collaboration, offering his services as a friend to the riders but not as an FIM doctor. “Dr Costa’s enthusiasm and his devotion to the riders are formidable and he possesses an incredible psychological effect over them”. But the problem still remained of the legal position of foreign doctors during the events.
* For the 75th anniversary of the FIM, a book containing the world records would be published. President Rodil complained that he had received only a few responses from the FMNs to the circular requesting historical information on the member federations. Then he informed the meeting that the situation of the house in Chambésy was in order, the FIM was the legal owner.
* The following report is that of the congress in Poznan Poland which was held from 21 to 28 October. Forty federations were present or represented (including three by proxy), but 38 had the right to vote, making 76 votes. The articles in the statutes approved in Caracas (central board, FIM president, incompatibility) were ratified and would come into force on 1 January 1979. The other modifications to the statutes (co-ordination between the different commissions, cancellation of a mandate, elections to the general council, eligibility, mandates) would be ratified at the 1979 congress to take effect on 1 January 1980. All the other modifications concerning the internal regulations were also approved by the general council which amounted to an approval of the FIM policy for the future.
* Concerning a possible move, the situation with the Swiss authorities was now clear, both properties were 100% in order. The president thought it would be dangerous to leave Switzerland at this time in the sport’s development which was confirmed by Mr Brenni who added that it was guaranteed that no tax would be paid and currency could circulate freely. Mr Bruneel announced that he was ready to withdraw Belgium’s application. A delegate requested a secret ballot. The result of the vote was 52 votes against moving, 24 for. So the FIM would stay in Geneva.
* A long discussion began on whether Spanish and German should be introduced as official languages. In the first instance it seemed that the proposal would be accepted, but when the returning officers came back with the results, there was disappointment. 44 votes against the introduction, 30 for German, 24 for Spanish and 10 for Russian. English and French would remain the two official FIM languages. The general council judged the increase in the costs of licences to be too high. Mr Werner Haupt (OMK) proposed certain modifications to the budget to allow the federation’s policy to develop.
* Next for discussion was the riders’ age limit. The central board was against this measure but the general opinion seemed to tend towards allowing 16 year-olds to compete on the same basis. Mr Zerbi proposed the 50 and 125 cc. President Rodil explained that the decision was of a general order. It would therefore have to be studied in detail in the 1979 spring meetings to come into force in 1980. The motion was accepted by 25 votes to 11.
* Gérard Ladame then explained that the congress for the FIM’s 75th anniversary would take place in Montreux from 19 to 27 October 1979. The following congresses were also agreed: in 1980 it would be Malta, under the supervision of the ACU; in 1981 the MFJ proposed to organise it in Tokyo and in 1982, the congress would be held in Opatija (Yugoslavia).
* Then President Rodil made a brief report of the central board’s discussions. There would be no change in the system of starting bonuses the next year in road races. The CCR and the CCP had established a list of circuits and tracks which could receive an FIM licence. For the CMT, the procedure was more complicated since only 15% of motocross circuits were permanent. The licence had to be renewed every three years or after important modifications to the track or its facilities. The president pointed out that negotiations had taken place with the FIA with a view to developing motorcycle tourism.
* At the CCR, the 1978 season was reviewed with the riders’ representatives. According to the report, all the tracks with the exception of Nogaro (France) were considered to be in order, with a few remarks: starting bonuses in Spain, payment of side-car passengers in Italy, race secretariat in Holland, problems with the rain in Belgium (really?), a few problems with rider entries in Sweden, a part of the circuit at Imatra which was too narrow, the circuit at Brno on the limit (the new one was under construction) and finally, compliments for the new track at Rijeka.
* In the European endurance championship, the changes in teams led the CCR to award points to each rider individually, which meant there could be one or two champions each year. The report mentions that this system would also be applied to riders and passengers in side-cars which was not the case. The CCR decided to sanction riders who did not respect the yellow flag and recommend they be excluded. The ACU reminded the meeting that a film showing the use of the flags was available for FMNs. Mr Timmer proposed that a compulsory meeting for the riders be held on the first day of practice.
* Concerning the future of the road race world championships, a working group presented its findings to the CCR which approved the following points: maximum of 15 events in GP and abolition of the 350cc class, endurance world championship (point for each rider, maximum of 15 races, every race counting, minimum of 600 km). The dropping of the F750 floundered against the intervention of the FMI delegate Mr Zerbi. The introduction of continental championships was raised, basically following the GP model – same machines, same classes.
* At the CMT, the development of snowmobile events was such that it was necessary to draw up full regulations for three types of racing: cross country, endurance and ice racing. The priority was to create a world championship in 1980. Modifications were proposed for the Six Days of regularity, such as the percentage for calculating how medals would be awarded in each class (gold medal: 10%, silver medal: 40%) and the marking of four parts (frame, engine sump, wheels and number plate), etc.
* At the CCP, a tribute was paid to Harry Weslake, the engineer who had created the four valve engine which bore his name, and Charles Foot, the speedway specialist, who had both tragically lost their lives on the day of the final in Wembley. The ice racing world championship for teams would take place in 1979 on an experimental basis with two riders and a reserve per team.
* The technical commission studied the regulations for the GP side-cars and introduced more precise regulations concerning essentially the chassis and the front suspension, the handlebars and the system governing the steering. The CT decided to retain two cylinder engines in 125cc (and not reduce it to one). In endurance, the proposal was to create a prototype class with the TT formula forming the basis for a world championship.
* The promotion committee examined the development of a press service at the FIM secretariat and a computerised library to respond more quickly to requests for information on current and past activities, especially concerning sporting and tourist results. The CP proposed to complete the 75th anniversary celebrations with a presentation of the federation’s history (documents, books, films, posters, riders, etc), as well as the technical and sporting aspect.
* The medical committee established a list of illegal substances (which already included cannabis) and set out the control procedure (the winner and two other riders). If there were several categories, there had to be controls in at last two classes. The regulation would have to be developed during the 1979 spring meetings. No less than eight rounds were needed to elect the CM president, Dr Soldati against Dr Rodenburg.
1979: B2A and B2B Sidecars
* The spring meetings took place from 16 to 20 February in Geneva. President Rodil explained that the affiliation of the FIM to the Brussels Committee against violence in sport was the federation’s contribution to fight this phenomenon on an international level. A request for membership had been received from Cyprus. The ACU was requested to explain the exact status of the island in terms of the Commonwealth. Mr Schmit suggested that the FIM should follow the example of other sporting federations who recognise as an independent member and valid candidate for membership, all countries who deliver their own passports to their citizens.
* The sporting committee would present a series of proposals including the presidents of the jury, control of the activities of international juries, the fact that the FIM had to indicate as quickly as possible the international officials officiating at world championship events, the implementation of continental championships, anti-doping messages (very onerous) and the presence of CM members at jury sessions.
* Sanctions proposed against drugs were as follows: first offence: loss of all the points obtained in the championship and exclusion from the next three FIM events; second offence: withdrawal of the licence for two months; third offence: loss of the licence.
* At the CCR, the events of 1979 and the calendar for the 1980 season were reviewed. The main subject for discussion concerned side-cars and the creation of two classes, B2A (fixed axles, one single steered wheel) and B2B (articulated suspension, one or two steered wheels), which would enter immediately into force and separate races (some B2B races were to be staged within the framework of the F750 and even an international race in Germany). The sporting committee came out against introducing permanent racing numbers for riders “because this would engender a loss of sales of around 2000 programmes for the organisers” (sic). In spite of the opposition from the medical committee, the CCR ended up accepting the lowering of the minimum age to 16 for the 50cc and 125cc. A second event was entered into the TT world championship: the Ulster Grand Prix on the track at Belfast-Dundrod.
* At the CMT, the minimum age for racers remained 18 for 250cc and 500cc motocross and side-cars, as well as for snowmobile, and 16 for 125 motocross, trial and regularity so long as this was in line with the law in the organising country. The commission also reviewed the classes in the European regularity championships.
* Concerning helmets, they must have undergone tests corresponding to the specifications of at least one of the norms in force at the time (Europe, Great Britain, Australia, West Germany, USA, Scandinavia, the Netherlands, France and Japan). The helmet should be suitable for the type of race in question: road races and endurance: integral; races on tracks, cross-country and motocross: full face helmets; controlled trial: at least open face (preferably full face). Norms for clothing were also established and strongly recommended (special protection for the shoulders, knees, elbows, ribs and the hips and the spine). The characteristics for the material were non-inflammatory, scratch resistant, friction co-efficient on all types of asphalt, perspiration absorption, medical test (non toxic, non allergic).
* The Montreux congress was the one to celebrate the FIM’s 75th anniversary. It was held from 19 to 26 October in the rooms of the Montreux Palace Hotel. The central board met on 20 and 26 October. President Rodil welcomed all the members and delegates. Forty two countries were present or represented at the congress including 7 by proxy. Following a decision by the central board, all the FMNs had the right to vote (84 votes).
* The introduction of the “Motorcyclist Merit Prize” was accepted. Five requests for membership were presented: El Salvador, Cyprus, Senegal, Hong-Kong and China. Hong-Kong’s request even came as a surprise to the ACU. Mr Shierson, ACU secretary general, asked for explanations on this request, for “this country (sic) already had a federation affiliated to the ACU”. Mr Guy Maitre, new FIM secretary, explained that the request had come from the Hong-Kong Automobile Association and that it had been accompanied by a long letter from the Hong-Kong government’s home affairs secretariat which acknowledged the Hong-Kong Automobile Association as the only body controlling motorcycle sport in this country (re-sic). President Rodil asked the council if this matter should be suspended until the next congress. The general council voted by 21 votes to 19 to consider Hong-Kong’s membership with the other requests which were also accepted.
* President Rodil noted that interpreting costs had doubled in one year (a necessary investment if everyone was to fully understand the proceedings). Following Mr Soche’s proposals, the central board proposed to form a working group to study the FIM’s operational reorganisation. FMNs would be invited to forward their suggestions before 31 December and the working group would present its conclusions at the spring meetings. Concerning the election of riders, the emergency committee would meet in January to declare the result of the votes. The contract between the FIM and Reynolds Tobacco was due to end in 1980, but the company wanted to continue its sponsorship activities and was considering extending its programme in trial and dirt track. The president finally announced that the central board had decided to appoint Mr Guy Maitre as FIM executive secretary.
* At the CCR, the main topic for consideration was the Belgian GP and Spanish GP. Problems related to the application of regulations concerning the payment of starting bonuses were exasperating some riders. Kenny Roberts, the winner of the 500cc Spanish GP, had refused the trophy offered to him by president Rodil del Valle during the prize-giving ceremony, showing his disagreement with the organisers. At Spa-Francorchamps, the completely new surface had proved to be very slippery. Most of the riders had been in agreement to start the race, but only for an international race and not a GP, which was not accepted. As a consequence, many riders, including the majority of the stars in the 500 class, had refused to start. Sanctions had been inflicted but they were cancelled by the Montreux amnesty. Barry Sheene asked for the points to be cancelled but the CCR, took a vote and decided that the race would count for the championship. All the other GPs, in particular Venezuela, England and France were considered to have an excellent organisation. Concerning track homologations, the old Nürburgring was on the list once again for according to Mr Haupt from the OMK, the new track was running late and would not be ready for another two years. Barry Sheene found the track very dangerous and was totally against renewing its homologation. He pointed out that if accidents should occur, the CCR would be responsible. In fact Barry Sheene was literally out of control. But it didn’t help. After the vote (two rounds were necessary), the CCR decided to renew the homologation of the old Nürburgring track for three years. The CCR formed a special commission entrusted with homologating tracks with a new procedure. All members agreed that the opinion of several riders was important and even a determining factor. The working group for safety measures was made up of Messrs McMaster, Brenni and Cooper.
* Thirteen GPs were planned for 1980 (Canada and the United States were cancelled). The GP 350 class was still on the programme. However the 750 formula was abandoned. GP starting bonuses were increased for 1980 with indemnities for riders who didn’t qualify.
* At the CMT, following a proposal from the FMI, the number of classes for the Six Days was reduced to six from 1981 onwards: 80, 125, 175, 250, 500 and more than 500cc four strokes. Penalty points were adapted and the championship retained its “European” status. Concerning trial, around twenty riders had made proposals to Mr Bruneel on the subject of an individual control card to be given to each participant. Bikes had to be fitted with lights front and back, a horn and a tachometer and had to conform to the highway code of the country where the event was being staged. In Motocross, an FIM Cup for country competitions was proposed for the 125cc along the lines of the 250cc Trophée and the 500cc Motocross des Nations. This competition would start in 1981 and be exclusively reserved for riders competing in the 125cc class and elsewhere, with the exception of those taking part in the 250 and 500. The same proposal for side-car motocross was rejected. The minimum weight for cross machines was changed once more in agreement with the CT and this time it was increased: 125/88kg, 250/98kg, 500/102kg (from 1980 onwards).
* The technical commission recalled among other things the maximum number of cylinders in GP: 1 in 50cc, 2 in 125cc and 250cc, 4 in 350cc, 500cc and sidecar. All machines had to have a maximum of six gears. Minimum weight remained unchanged. The side-car regulations were adapted to retain only one class, which condemned the B2B class to posterity.
Photos FIM Archives - Caption from top to bottom:
-1 Paul Ricard circuit, 1976
-2 The Michelin truck in paddock, 1976
-3 Nürburgring, 1976
-4 Barry Sheene - 500 World Champion, 1976-77
-5 Olsen leads Wembley - 1978
-6 Don Rodil del Valle & Hakan Carlqvist, 1979
-7 Ivan Mauger - World Final Winner. 1979