POSTCARD FROM EUROPE
The weekend of 3/4/5 May saw my historic race season belatedly get underway at the Donington Historic Festival after the snow interrupted meeting at Oulton Park at the end of March. I was out in the McLaren M1C sports car, Mercury Comet Cyclone in the pre-1966 touring car race, sharing the Lotus Elite in a 75 minute race for pre1963 GT cars and racing the awesome Lancia LC2 Group C car which had been on pole and set fastest lap at Le Mans in 1984.
The Donington Festival is one of those great events that seem to tick all the Sometimes it takes a tragedy to remind us that motor racing can be dangerous. In New Zealand the historic racing fraternity was shocked by the recent loss of Stan Redmond in a Formula 5000 accident at Teretonga. It is easy to forget that despite the safety of circuits and facilities having improved, sometimes things can still go wrong boxes. Lots of access to great machinery for spectators and tons of mouthwatering machinery to view, a circuit for the drivers that everyone loves and the type of relaxed low stress organisation that makes it a pleasure to be a part of and a most enjoyable event to race in. For me, any meeting with longer races is always a preference so an opportunity to do hour plus races on a circuit I love, will be high on my to-do list. Also from the competitor’s point of view it must be better to watch high quality grids in longer races than a programme crammed with a load of 15 minute sprint races which some organisers seem to favour.
Friday and Saturday were fantastic fun and despite the usual mechanical maladies to be expected from cars up to 50 years old that we are trying to thrash within an inch of their lives, it was a great meeting. We also did the usual historic race stuff – big barbeque Saturday night shunning the special (read stuffy) drivers’ dinner party, a few beers and glasses of wine and a lot of banter with fellow competitors.
Sunday carried on from where Friday and Saturday had left off and the fun continued. But this all came to an abrupt end with the tragic death of a fellow competitor in the pre-1966 touring car race on Sunday afternoon. Despite finishing on the podium in second place, the race was marred when Christian Devereux lost his life in what seems to have been a freak accident between his Mini and a Ford Mustang rendering everything else instantly meaningless.
Obviously there is still a police investigation into the crash so I’m not going to comment or speculate on what may have happened. I was in the race and saw the crash scene after the race was red flagged. It looked like any other crash scene that you see in almost every race and you just expect both drivers to step from their cars and only worry about the damage to their pride and joy and of course their wallets. Deaths just don’t happen in historic racing or any racing come to think of it. It is all so safe now and nothing like the dangerous days gone by when these cars were new. Injuries are rare and deaths don’t happen. So the whole paddock was stunned when the air ambulance arrived, then a second, then a police car, and finally the announcement over the tannoy we all feared – Christian had succumbed to his injuries.
Doing what he loves, Christian Devereux lost his life in his Mini during a historic touring car race at Donington