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Motorsport memories and tales?
#1

I have been watching motorsport for more years than I care to admit and have many memories from races I have attended, not just the actual racing but the things that went on around it.

I can share a few of them here but what are yours?

First off - my one and only visit to the Monaco GP in 1987. It was an expensive trip even then, which we were unlikely to repeat, so we were determined to do the job properly and booked the full works; posh apartment in Nice and race seats in the garden of the Hotel Mirabeau, situated just before the tunnel, with a five course lunch thrown in before qualifying and the race.

On the Sunday, having drunk the first free bottle of a very good red wine we chatted up the waiter and worked our way through a second, followed by a third to consume during the race. There was also a pay bar and a visit to that produced the following exchange with a man in the queue who had just paid £8 for a small gin and tonic: " I bet that is the most expensive G&T you have ever bought."
"No, I was in the TipTop bar last night and it was £10!" This was 1987 remember and the price in an English pub was about £1.

About 3/4 of the way through the race my good lady needed to visit the facilities and descended the steep steps from our seats, never to return. After the race I went looking for her and found her in the bar, apparently she had been unable to reascend the steps because she was more than a teensy bit inebriated and had watched the rest of the race on the TV!

So there you have it - a trip to the Monaco GP costing more than £1000 and she watched it on the telly! Great weekend though and a tale to embarrass her with for many years after.

Anybody else like to chip in with their memories? Not the racing, but the stories related to it.
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#2

Back in 1987 or 88 we were spectating on the RAC Rally, supporting the Lancias.
As we were heading home and driving through the small town of Walkerburn we spotted a Delta being worked on at the side of the road. Naturally we stopped to see what was going on and found Markku Alen pacing about as the team worked to open up the flattened exhaust pipe. After a few minutes, my wife asked our hero Markku for an autograph. Markku scowled "No" and walked away. We were a bit shocked by his grumpiness. A chap came over and told us he was part of the press crew and that Markku had had a significant excursion off a forest road and it had been a struggle to get the car back on the track. In fact the service point was an emergency one and they had not expected any cars to arrive.
Back home, watching the TV coverage it became apparent that Markku had lost some serious time in slipping into a ditch and had only been able to get going again thanks to spectators who had man-handled the Delta up a steep slope back to the track.  At that point my wife forgave Markku's grumpiness.

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#3

In 1983 we moved to Southeastern Michigan, about a 40 minute drive from Michigan International Speedway.

My father had always been a NASCAR fan and also enjoyed Indy Car.

Up to that point he had been commuting Monday to Friday to Michigan from our home in Ohio, meaning i didn't see him much during the week (he left before I got up on Monday and got home after I was in bed on Friday).

Now even back then the cost of the race was too high for us. I think it was 50 USD$ which is almost 130 USD$ today.

However the regional restaurant chain "Big Boy" was the caterer of the track so the gave away tickets to practice and qualifying on Friday and Saturday.

Michigan, despite its many lakes is a continental climate so when we headed out at 8 AM it was often in the low 50s F° (10° C) but it would get up to the 80s °F (30s C°) by noon.

I remember walking from the parking lot, nearly frozen teeth chattering and walking up literally hundreds of steps to get a good view of the whole track... sitting on cold aluminum bleachers only to come home after 7 PM with a sun burn!

In any case, you couldn't walk around the paddock but you could get close and with so little going one the drivers were accessible. I have many autographs.


The IROC series were the only races I got to see but I enjoyed them as it was easy to follow and I liked the Z-28 and later Dodge cars.

Most importantly thought I spent all that time with my Dad. Alone.

He put up with my non-stop questions and made often an important statement about this or that driver or how things were going.

In time I leaned more towards Indy car. At the time they raced on alcohol the the Chaparral was king, often doing 200 MPH out of turn 4.

If you saw the car coming it was often too late as they were so fast you didn't have time to cover your ears before they zoomed by only a few yards (meters) away...

Michigan International Speedway is not very close to any major city. If it goes so does the whole region.

My Dad is gone but I remember those times, sitting talking, getting sun burnt.

For me, motorsport is much as a family event as it is entertainment.

I have been lucky enough to drive race cars on tracks in anger and I have so much respect for those guys and gals.

I say every person who wants a driver's license should be taken to some track and ideal get up to 160 or 180 MPH.

I think motorsport would become relevant again...
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#4

An embarrassing lunch with Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve.......................

One day in 1996 I received a phone call at work from a friend asking if I would like to go to a midweek F1 test at Silverstone as guests of the Williams team. I did wonder how he had managed to blag this but didn't pursue the question as I was too busy pleading with my boss for a day off at very short notice!

Arriving at Silverstone the next day I was given the magic 'access all areas' badge and spent a wonderful morning in the pits watching the team at close quarters as they went about their testing. Lunch was served in an adjacent pit garage and we sat down at a large table with the entire crew. Damon was wonderfully chatty and happily signed autographs, Jacques was significantly less accommodating and spent the time conversing with his race engineer.

As the coffee was served we were approached by a lady who started to give us the lowdown on sponsorship deals they could offer to large organisations like ours. The sums mentioned were eye-watering and I didn't have a clue why we were getting this hard sell but my friend seemed to take it in his stride and made appropriate non-committal noises although I knew he had no influence on this sort of thing.

He explained afterwards that his firm supplied British Airways with their disposable items such as toilet rolls, plates, cutlery etc. Williams were pitching for sponsorship from BA at the time and had sent the tickets to them. Somehow they had bypassed the relevant people and found their way into my friend's possession so he had to pretend we were actually from the BA advertising department.

Soon after lunch we 'made our excuses' and left for home. Happy days and I still have Damon's autograph on some Williams publicity material. British Airways never did sponsor the team but it wasn't our fault - honest guv.
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#5

Jacques raced in the EuroNASCAR series and I stood next to him doing crowd control at Hockenheim.
He was talking with his manager about where to go to dinner because the previous night's meal had been, as you say in French "meh..."
So yeah I could totally get that he was stand offish...
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