A surprise photograph
turned up out of the blue recently, and it was like piecing together an important part of New Zealand motor-sporting history abroad.
It showed a very young 20-year-old Chris Amon talking to my suave, sunglassed goodself in the paddock at Monza in 1963. Half a century ago! Chris wondered whether it was Monza as there was no sign of a pit counter but it was on the cobbled paddock area with the Parnell Lola in the foreground.
“If it is Monza ’63 then on the Saturday I ended up in the trees at the second Lesmo followed by a long stay in hospital, firstly in Monza and then in St Thomas’s in London.”
In Forza Amon, the biography I wrote on Chris 10 years ago, he remembered that crash. “I’d done about three laps when I fell into the trees in the second Lesmo. I just plain lost it and this was before seat belts. I remember going off sideways. The front end hit a tree and the back end hit a tree and I carried on over the side. I was taken to hospital in Monza with broken ribs and a general knocking about and I was the focus of attention for all the other patients when they found out that I was a racing driver.
“I had one night in hospital and then they put me on the plane back to England with the rest of the teams on the Sunday night. Everybody feels sorry for you when you’ve hurt yourself and they try and cheer you up and make you laugh. And believe me, laughing with broken ribs is no laughing matter…”