Was it the fascination of watching my cousin, John Way, double de-clutching and heel-and-toeing the family Ford Cortina as we thrashed through the roads from Stowe? Or was it the breathlessness of being squeezed up to the fence on the outside of Copse, catching glimpses of red and green as the loudspeakers boomed and we stretched ever higher?
The images remain: the inside front wheel of Vic Elford’s red Porsche 911 bobbing in the air as he hangs the back end out, lap after lap. Morris Nunn heading the F3 blur. Ferrari’s Mike Parkes winning the Daily Express International Trophy. I run onto the track as he begins his victory parade. I re my Fujica Half, but I’m not sure if I get him.
Days later, riing through the colour slides as I leave the chemist, my heart sinks. There are his Nomex-clad legs. There is his Firestone jacket. And there is the edge of the photo…
That was then – 1967. I was but a kid, visiting England from Australia, constantly badgering my parents into squeezing a Silverstone visit between the endless trips to museums and RHS gardens.
I was writing full-time when I returned. I climbed up to the press box, over the Woodcote grandstand. Michael Bowler ( Motor), Ray Hutton ( Autocar), Mike Doodson ( Motoring
Authority, wit and intelligence from the voice of F1 Racing
News), Paul King ( Autosport) and Mike Kettlewell (everything) were there, lap charts open, pencils poised. The 1972 F1/F5000 International Trophy was about to begin.
Below us, Emerson Fittipaldi thundered the Lotus 72 into Woodcote ahead of the pack. His Firestones skittered as he set up the drift. Tiny icks of the wrists held the moment. And then he was gone. A 240km/h black-and-gold blur.
We all trooped into the Silverstone café after composing our stories. I walked my tea and toast to a table in the corner to nd John Surtees next to me, laughing with his chief mechanic, Bernie Ferrie, and Mike Hailwood’s manager (and Surtees aide), Rod Sawyer. John had nished third. This was my chance for the post-race interview… here, over a cuppa.
Peter Revson won the 1973 British GP at Silverstone after Jody Scheckter spun at Woodcote and eliminated nearly half the