I WAS back in the UK last month for the British Grand Prix.
Regular readers of my witterings will know that one of the great jokes of the universe is my somewhat disastrous relationship with cars – I’ve been through four in less than three years, and car number five, the inappropriately-named Felicia, is making terminal-sounding noises as the ITV approaches, while The Tank is now only used to tackle the track to get to the Casita.
This is especially ironic as, back in the 60s and 70s my father was an international racing and rally driver of some repute, competing in a variety of exotic cars in classic events such as Le Mans 24 hours, the Targa Florio and even the World Cup Rally in 1970, racing pretty much non stop from London to Mexico. (They were 13th when they hit a huge rock 13,000 feet up in the Andes and that was game over).
Dad was sponsored by JCB, which also lead to Lord Bamford becoming my Godfather (I haven’t received a birthday present from him since I was about 12, so I’m hoping he’ll make up soon with a really big one. A yacht would be nice.)
In recognition of his achievements, Dad was also invited to become a member of the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC), which is basically a Who’s Who of British motorsport and includes Sir Stirling Moss, Jackie Stewart, Damon Hill and Lewis Hamilton as members.
The BRDC also own Silverstone Circuit and have two fantastic clubhouses there, complete with all the racing memorabilia a petrolhead like me could wish for, though the portrait of playboy world champion and sometime Marbella resident James Hunt beaming down on the stairs did raise a wry smile.
As a BRDC member and guest (me) we had passes to most areas during the weekend, even getting a pit walkabout on the Friday afternoon for a closer look. I grabbed a picture in front of Carlos Sainz’s car, though the drivers had retreated to the massive motorhomes in the paddock.
On the Saturday I brazened out a cold qualifying in the stands, enjoying the cheers when Fernando Alonso briefly topped the timesheets, and when Lewis took pole. Then it was back to the clubhouse for tea and overpriced catering (No change from ten pounds for a coffee and a Thai Style sandwich) and to watch Wimbledon on the big screen.
The Grand Prix itself was pretty much perfect, with Lewis speeding to victory from the start, and rival Vettel finishing down the order with a late puncture to huge cheers. Afterwards we had sandwiches on the lawn (brought in from Waitrose this time) and watched Federer effortlessly win an eighth title.
As I always do at races I became as excited as a four-year-old by the sights, sounds and sheer speed of the F1 cars and the only change I noticed was in the conversations of my Dad and his racing mates. When once they talked about bits dropping off their racing cars, now the talk was of bits dropping off them!!!