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Archive for the category “My neg scans”

The Elan

When I was a kid in Sydney, Australia, there were, for brief periods of time, very few grey areas.  You were either a “widgie” or a “bodgie” – although thankfully I was well into my early teens when that choice became null and void. You either played football (rugby union) or else you played soccer and were forever cast as a reject. You were either a “surfie” or a “bikie” – no explanation needed there – and, yes, you liked either Holdens or Fords (although the Chrysler Valiant was in there for a while, causing confusion).  Then the Jaguar E-type arrived and a whole new battle began. You could pick your opponent without fear of retribution. MGB? TR4? Sprite? Mini Cooper S? Healey 3000?  Many of my mates, believe it or not, preferred any of these five to the super-snooty E-type, and many a beach barbie was spent with detailed analysis of how the mighty E-type would be slain by any of the smaller, more nimble, opposition. Me? I became an avowed Lotus Elan man overnight. For one thing, Jim Clark drove one.  For another…I loved them. (I loved Honda S600s and S800s when they came out, too, plus Fiat 124 Coupes, but they comprise another story). I was pretty much alone amongst my mates, although Freddy Gibson and Niel Allen very quickly supported my claims with some brilliant drives at circuits like Warwick Farm and Catalina, where their lightweight Elans were every bit a match for Bob Jane’s lightweight E-type.

Anyway, in early 1967 I was lucky enough to join my parents on a three-month trip to Europe (“it will be good for his education,” my Mum said to my unamused Headmaster).  Their itinerary included things like the Parthenon in Athens, the Louvre in Paris and Westminster Cathedral.  Mine included Edington Mains farm in Scotland, Brands Hatch, Snetterton, Motor Books and Accessories in St Martin’s Lane, Charing Cross Road (sadly closed as recently as this month)…and the Lotus factory.  I mentioned all this, on a sunny Australian Sunday in late February, to our local vicar in Manly, the Rev Bryan King.

“We’re going to the Lotus factory,” I said, after a particularly uplifting Matins.  “Ah. In that case,” replied the Rev, “you’ll be wanting to meet my brother.  He works there.”

It was one of those moments with which you will always live.  I can still see the glint in his eye, the smile on his face as he saw my legs tremble in shock and surprise.

Indeed Warren King worked there. He welcomed us.  The Rev’s brother was one of the key accountants at Lotus, working under Fred Bushell. Even then, before Bill Gates, the world was very small.

So here’s a picture of my Mum talking to Warren outside the still very new Lotus factory in Norfolk in March, 1967. That’s a very early, Renault-engined Lotus Europa in the foreground – I always thought it would be mine, given its registration – and below that is a shot I took of what for me just about constituted my idea of heaven – a line-up of yet-to-be-finished Elans.  They were in S3 form then (soon to be S4) and had come a long way from the 1962 prototypes and then the big-production S2s of 1963-64.  I also took (with my new Fujica Half-frame) a shot of the new building and of my Mum standing by the new headquarters.  I was very impressed, of course, that Colin Chapman had built it in green and yellow. It made me treasure even more the green pullover with the yellow stripe down the middle that my Mum had knitted for me the previous winter. I never did get to buy a Europa – although I still might, because the attraction remains strong – but I did finally buy my Elan.  It was 1974, shortly after Nigel Roebuck so kindly hired me to write for Competition Car magazine in England.  I found it in the Classic Car classifieds and paid £750 for it. It was only when I opened the log book that I discovered that its first owner had been Jim Clark’s manager and mentor, Ian Scott-Watson – and that Jim had driven the car many times.  I’m chatting here in my Williams days to another great Jim Clark man from the Borders, Bernard Buss.

So here’s to the Elan. Still beautiful after all these years. And here’s to St Matthew’s, Manly. Thanks for making it happen.8-24-2010 17-50-32_16208-27-2010_48-6-2010 18-57-52_00608-27-2010_365 Elan S3

Postscript

Yes, I did persuade my Mum and Dad to drive all the way to the Borders.  Here’s one of the highland cattle I saw very near Edington Mains; below that is the view of the Clark farmhouse as we drove past; and finally I’m saying good-bye to God’s Own Country, with a tear in my eye, peering out the back of our rented Ford Cortina at the famous red barns.  Note our “Australian Visitors” roundel – UK drivers beware! – and my Clark-esque “Esso put’s a tiger in your tank” sticker8-24-2010 19-7-12_25408-26-2010_458-24-2010 18-17-47_191

 

Friday Flashbacks

 

04-29-2012_36As we’re going to be hosting the ebullient Alastair Caldwell on next week’s edition of The Racer’s Edge, I thought I’d include this neg scan of AC in conference with the Goodyear brass (specifically Leo Mehl, left) and Lee Gaug (right). Leo always made me smile;  he had this knack of always being able to mix racing politics with a true grasp of real life.  And, through Leo, I discovered one of my favourite authors – Herman Wouk.  “What’s that tome you’re reading?” I asked Leo once, at some airport.  “War and Remembrance,” he replied.  “It’s got just enough fiction to make it sizzle and more than enough history to be real.  Can’t put it down.” How right he was.  Lee was also a player.  A pipe-smoker and an ex-marine who flew Brewster Buffalos from flat-tops, Lee always used to joke about his wives:  “They’re all homekeepers.  They’ve kept every one I ever owned…”  Alastair, meanwhile…well…you can find out for yourselves what makes Mr Caldwell tick on next week’s show.  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

04-29-2012_38For good measure, here’s another AC shot. This time we’re taking part in the annual Grosse Pointe sailing regatta that preceded the Detroit Grand Prix every year.  That’s the largely under-rated and multi-talented (F1, Indy, WRC) Chilean driver, Eliseo Salazar, on Al’s right and on his left is Dieter Stappert, who for many years wrote for the magazine with the greatest of all titles – Powerslide.  Dieter was always impressive, I think:  small note book in his hip pocket, nice pen, astute questions.  He later worked for BMW.

Now let’s drop in on Mario Andretti, wearing one of his favourite t-shirts as he talks set-up and engine revs, 06-15-2013_7and, below, on the Reutemann family and friends, seen here enjoying an early-evening game of soccer in the back yard of Carlos’ home on the Circuit Cap Ferrat, South of France.  That’s Cora Reutemann, who would in time become a first-rate photographer, looking as though she’s about to score a goal.  Jose-Maria Candiotti, one of Carlos’ mates – and tennis doubles partner – from Carlos’ home town of Santa Fe, is on the right.  I used to stay at Carlos’ place before the Monaco GP – and sometimes before the French GP, too.11-27-2012_28

Finally, below, here’s Ayrton Senna, sipping a Segafredo coffee while he talks safety with Rafael Grajales-Robles, the very talented Panamanian heart surgeon.  Rafael was a personal F1 doctor to drivers like Emerson Fittipaldi, Carlos Reutemann and Nelson Piquet long before Syd Watkins arrived on the scene and was the first medic of importance to ensure that helicopters were in place before practice sessions began, or that marshals’ posts were properly equipped with medical equipment at regular intervals. As such, he wasn ‘t flavour-of-the-month amongst the F1 power brokers for very long, as you can imagine.  As the politics of the 1980s grew in intensity, Rafael – and his stringent safety demands – were inevitably shuffled sideways.  He nonetheless remained close to drivers like Ayrton, and Nigel Mansell, for several years thereafter. 06-21-2013_25

Australian interlude

As some of you will know, I  was raised in Sydney, Australia, where, looking back now, the sun usually shone, the air was scented by eucalyptus and Warwick Farm was the heart and the soul of motor racing in all its forms.  I grew up in the knowledge that, every summer, I would see a bunch of F1 drivers competing in the International 100 and that, in between times, I would see five national race meetings of extraordinary quality.  Drivers like Frank Matich, Leo and Ian Geoghegan, Greg Cusack, Kevin Bartlett, Niel Allen, Bib Stillwell, Johnny Harvey, Spencer Martin, Max Stewart, Brian Foley, Peter Manton, Norm Beechey, Allan Moffatt and Bob Jane were my “national” heroes;  Sports Car World, Modern Motor and Racing Car News were my regular fare.

Then there were the F1 drivers in their Tasman-engined F1 cars. 

I still find it hard to capture accurately what motor racing was like back then.  Was it the way the Warwick Farm paddock was laid out, by the lake, with the marshalling area opposite the huge grandstands?  Was it the colour- and word-perfect attention to detail of the Australian Automobile Racing Club (AARC)?  Was it the relatively safe circuit layout, designed by the immaculate Geoff Sykes?  I know not the answers, even now.  All I know is that it was motor racing.  Nothing, since, has compared. Not even Monaco on a good day.  Not even a packed Brands Hatch.  When I was at The Farm, first as a young kid, smuggled into the paddock area in the boot of a car owned by a marshal who worked with my Dad, then as a marshal myself and finally as Press Officer, I was at one with the world.  Flags would flutter in the breeze.  Jim Clark and Jackie Stewart, sun-tanned and shirtless, would laugh their famous laughs.  Then the sun would set, the beer cans would pour and, over the PA, they would play The Long and Winding Road.

I have lots of photos from that era.  Some I took with a black-and-white Kodak Box Brownie.  Then, in 1967, I bought a half-frame Fujica. The quality from both was not great, but for me that didn’t matter.  I had captured the moment, cut a slice from time. That was all I needed.  I had been there, seen it happen.07-16-2013_0

Kevin Bartlett, in blue Nomex, sits on the front wheel of Alex Mildren’s 2.5 litre Tasman Brabham-Climax.

The Mildren team was a mid-1960s staple at The Farm.  The cars were always painted yellow; Glenn Abbey, the team’s Chief Mechanic, was a master.  Kevin’s car control was superb.  To this day I’d put him up there with Le Mans winners and GP2 front-runners. He could balance an Alfa GTA on the outer extremities of opposite lock through Paddock Bend and then in the next race glide the Tasman Brabham through Homestead with fingertip precision.  That’s actually the Mildren Alfa GTZ behind the Brabham;  and there, in the background, smiling, is Fred Gibson, whose yellow lightweight Elan (shown here, not Mildren yellow) was both gorgeous and very fast.07-16-2013_11 I don’t recall its inside front wheel touching the road very often.  I know you think the cars in the background have not been parked with FOM-like precision but that’s what I liked about The Farm: it was neat but natural and retained lots of grass.  Note the Mini Cooper S and the two Holdens. You were in one of two sectors back then:  the Mini brigade or The Rest.

And here’s a shot of said Alfa GTZ lined up and ready to go.  The genius that is Frank Matich is on the pole in one of his first races with the big Elfin sports car he developed in 1966;  Alan Hamilton, who always seemed to have access to exotica, is in the middle of the front row in his Porsche Spyder; and KB is there in the Alfa.07-16-2013_4 Two lovely, white Lotus 23Bs fill the second row (I think driven by Frank Demuth and Niel Allen) and on the outside of the third row you can see David McKay’s famous Ferrari 250LM, driven by Spencer Martin. From memory, Hamilton jumped this start by a mile and was leading by about 100 yards when the flag dropped!  This is a typical Warwick Farm scene:  packed grandstands, perfect weather, stunning collection of cars and drivers.

My last picture today is one I’ve always treasured.  I watched the 1965 International 100 from the spectator bank at Creek Corner.  Jim Clark won the race in his green and yellow Lotus 32B-Climax, with Frank Matich a brilliant third in the Total Team Brabham.   All was right with the world.  Then came The Moment:  as one, the crowd jumped the wooden fences and swarmed onto the track, there to greet the winner on his parade lap.  I remember standing there, hot and sweaty, so nervous that I could barely breathe.  I was going to see Jim Clark!  He was going to be driven right past me, mere feet away!

The white Sprite shimmered into view.  I could pick out the light blue overalls of the winner, black hair glistening in the afternoon sun.  Who was that next to him, though, in  the red-and-white checked shirt?  I was mystified.  I didn’t know whether to line up the camera or to keep peering at the slowly-approaching car, trying to identify The Other Guy.  Then suddenly it hit me:  Mike Spence!  Mike Spence!  Jim Clark’s F1 team-mate.  He hadn’t raced at The Farm that day. I didn’t even know he was in Australia.  In a panic, I raised my camera and fired.  The result wasn’t very pretty.

It was, though, The Moment.07-16-2013_40

Briefs and de-briefs

I haven’t had much time for neg-scanning recently but managed to squeeze some in a few moments ago whilst watching a replay of Ashton Agar’s amazing innings at Trent Bridge in the first Ashes Test (cricket, for those of you unfamiliar with this sport of sports).  The idea was to scan a further ten pictures or so but I have to confess that I stopped after only two or three:  the sheer natural talent of this 19-year-old Australian spinner-batsman, combined with his humility, is just captivating.

Cricket?  Motor racing?  Jim Clark was an excellent cricketer;  let’s not forget that.  

Anyway: back to motor racing.  Here’s some more from the glorious days of the Kyalami Ranch, South Africa:  06-21-2013_46That’s Alain Prost, now looking up from his copy of L’Equipe; 06-21-2013_43and this is something you wouldn’t see today – two Italian F1 drivers having a laugh (Riccardo Patrese and Andrea de Cesaris).  Back then, the concept of there being no Italians in F1 was about as laudable as an F1 season without the Kyalami Ranch.

Here are some de-briefs, too:  06-21-2013_56Alain Prost lunches with McLaren’s John Barnard; 06-21-2013_16Tyrrell’s Brian Lyles confers with the brilliant Stefan Bellof on the Detroit pit wall; 06-21-2013_55and we eavesdrop behind Frank Williams as Neil Oatley (right) takes notes and Jacques-Henri Laffite and Keijo Rosberg think Williams-Honda 

Rosbergmania

06-21-2013_53This being the week of Rosbergmania, especially in Germany, let’s have a look at Nico’s Dad, Keijo “Keke” Rosberg, in full yellow (ICI Fibres) regalia at Hockenheim, 1984. That’s Alan Henry and Nigel Roebuck in the background; both of them, to this day, remain close friends with Keke. Note Keke’s attention to detail: he was always immaculate.  When he wasn’t in race kit he was usually seen either in a Hard Rock “Save the Planet” leather bomber jacket (long before the rest of the world discovered them) or with something from Etienne Aigner or MCM. Nor is it  difficult to see from where Nico’s yellow colour-coding (helmet, gloves, etc) originates. Continuing the Rosberg theme, how about the shot below for good measure?  I took this at the Kyalami Ranch, South Africa, also in 1984. Alain Prost’s reading L’Equipe; Nelson Piquet Jnr’s Mum, Sylvia, is walking out of picture in the red bikini;  ace photojournalist, Jeff Hutchinson, is thinking about his next story for Autosport; and  Nico’s Mum (also walking) and Dad can be seen to Jeff’s left.

06-21-2013_47

Alain Prost – racing driver

06-15-2013_10On our YouTube Channel (http://youtube.com/peterwindsor) you will find a short conversation I had today with Anthony Rowlinson, Editor of F1Racing magazine.  We speak about The Verdict (enough said!), about the gentleness of Murray Walker – and about Renault’s new F1 engine (correction: “Energy Power Unit”) for 2014.  Fresh from the creative RenaultF1 press conference at Le Bourget, at the Paris Air show, Anthony reported that Alain Prost believes that efficient cornering is going to be even more important from next year onwards, which prompted me to suggest that some teams could do a lot worse than to employ Alain again as a driver.  I joke, of course, but the topic is a vivid reminder of how good Alain used to look in Renault turbos in the early 1980s;  and this, in turn, induced me to scan another neg or two.  The first is of Alain receiving some routine physio after a practice run at Imola in 1983.  There were no closed doors or darkened windows back then;  on the contrary:  here was a chance to do a bit of sun-bathing.  I particularly like this photograph because there in the background, interviewing Alain, is one of my favourite F1 writers – the French journalist, Gerard Flocon.  Gerard used to write for the fabulously thick and glossy L’Automobile and was both astonishingly productive and studious in the way he went about his business.  It was daunting, indeed, for someone like me to see just how much work was involved if ever I was to have a hope of becoming someone like him.  The other shot is one I took of Alain unfastening his GPA helmet a few seconds after winning the 1983 Austrian GP for Renault Elf.  I was a huge Prost fan, I have to confess – right from the days when he dominated the European F3 Championship.  I got to know him well during his first McLaren years and we spoke a lot, back then, about the ins and outs of his switching to Renault.  I don’t know for sure if Alain is smiling right at me in this photograph, but I like to think he is.06-15-2013_40 

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