There are many ways of experiencing Formula 1 races around the world, and everyone will have their own feelings and memories about it. Here are five favourites of Martin Whitaker, Managing Director of Sportique88:
- On a shoe string – British Grand Prix
Camping at Silverstone is a must for every dyed-in-the-wool motorsport fan. You haven’t lived if you haven’t experienced Silverstone and Formula 1 from soggy ground level. By this I mean camping and you can’t have endured the camping experience at Silverstone without it raining or being stuck in the car park for hours on end. I know times have changed, but some of my fondest memories are of watching the likes of Jackie Stewart, Emerson Fittipaldi and Ronnie Peterson after a night under canvas, queuing for the showers and eating donuts from a kiosk at the back of the Woodcote grandstand listening to the dulcet tones of Ian Titchmarsh.
- Following the circus round Europe
Those with a misspent youth will know what I mean. That first summer holiday after finishing school was a perfect opportunity to take off for a grand tour of Europe following the F1 circus. For me it was three mates in an Alfa Romeo GTV6 and visits to Hockenheim and the Osterreichring with a mandatory stop at the Nürburgring. Rock-aping it around the Nordschliefe and laughing at the poor bloke in his black and gold JPS-liveried Mini who had thrown it off and into the catch-fencing are ingrained in the memory. The fact that the owner of the Mini had three girls on board at the same time was an interesting one. We didn’t stop to ask how he went off!!!
- Working for McLaren – a young man’s dream
Dressed in red from head to toe thanks to Mr Philip Morris and slumming it at the back of 747 Pan Am transatlantic flights alongside Jo Ramirez, Peter Stayner and the Gypsy Kings may not be the thing of dreams but they are some of the most abiding of memories. Falling into hotels in far flung places such as Mexico City, Montreal, Suzuka and Adelaide fill me with an abundance of stories; all of them overshadowed by the opportunity to be with a team that was winning most things and a driver who was Brazilian as well as the greatest to have ever graced a race track. Turning up for work every day at McLaren was amazing (even if RD did make me park my 1943 Willys Jeep “round the back and out of sight!”) but being at the races with such a great bunch was something I will never, ever forget.
- Monaco – both ends of the spectrum
I have done Monaco from the back of a car, from some fairly grotty hotels and the Hotel de Paris. I can therefore, honestly, say that I have endured and enjoyed the most glamorous race on the calendar from all angles. Memories – plenty of them. Jumping on the track to celebrate Ayrton’s victory as he swung by on his celebration lap after beating Nigel in 1991 is one. Writing off a Golf hire car in the Columbus Hotel underground car park and having to own up to Jo Ramirez is another alongside meeting the legendary René Dreyfus. However, Monaco is both my favourite and least favourite race. The sound of race engines pulsating around the Principality is like nothing else you will experience at a race track – so was watching Barry White perform at the Sporting d’Eté Club! Over the years though I dread to think how many miles I have walked. It is the place where travelling the short distance between A to B means going via X, Y and Z.
- Kid as a grown-up – Bahrain
Organising the 60th Anniversary of Formula 1 in 2010 at Sakhir with Peter Foubister. Bringing together 18 of the then 20 surviving World Champions and the cars in which they won their titles. Only Nelson Piquet and Kimi were unable to make it. Standing at the exit to the garage as Emerson Fittipaldi, complete with iconic “Café do Brasil” helmet and behind the wheel of his championship winning JPS Lotus 72, powered past giving the thumbs-up. Heaven!