British Racing Driver’s Club
In more recent years, Howden has organized a luncheon for New Zealand–based members of the prestigious British Racing Driver’s Club — along with invited guests. Occasionally visiting BRDC members have attended, most notably Damon Hill in 2013, here when his son was competing in the Toyota Racing Series. A visiting BRDC member this year was Robs Lamplough, the owner of the BRM P180 that features on the cover of — being the very car Howden raced in the 1972 Monaco Grand Prix. Robs has lived one of those Boys Own–type lives, revolving around motor racing and historic aircraft. The 74-year-old has been racing since the ’60s, and despite racing pretty much everything (in the world’s first ever F5000 event he drove the very Lotus Jim Clark had used to win the 1966 US Grand Prix — except the H16 BRM had been replaced by a 4.7-litre Ford V8) but insisted that he’d only ever been a “bit player.” The BRM wasn’t just here for show — Robs raced against the 5000s, and shows no sign of slowing down. A skilled aviator, he’s attended Warbirds over Wanaka many times, and after the Howden Ganley Festival at Hampton Downs, headed back to the South Island to catch up with his old mate Sir Tim Wallis, the power behind the biennial Wanaka show.
Another European contemporary of Howden’s to have made the trip to Hampton Downs was Teddy Pilette. The diminutive Belgian first raced here in 1971, when piloting the Mclaren M10B for Count Rudi van der Stratten — Team VDS. The Count was part of the Stella Artois brewing family, and a fan of Formula 5000. Teddy returned here in 1972, and again with Peter Gethin in 1974. That year, armed with Chevron B24s, Gethin became Tasman champion while his teammate — ‘Tidy Pilot’ — was European F5000 champion in 1973 and 1975. Despite all those years driving the Count’s red 5000s, and clearly being an enthusiast of New Zealand whites, Pilette claims to have never had a beer in his life.
The BRDC lunch is a smaller version of the type of reunion of old drivers, mechanics, fans and friends that Garry Pedersen had envisaged when he and Brian Lawrence devised the Friends and Legends evening. A former NZ Sports Car Champion and top F5000 driver, Pedersen had long wanted a chance to get his old buddies together, other than a funeral being the cause. Garry is an arch-enthusiast and, ably supported by BL, took the financial risk of organizing the venue and hoping the support would come. It did, and I was delighted to be the MC for what is hoped to be a regular happening.
People came from far and wide, including Leo Leonard from Timaru, 1974–’75 Formula Ford champion Grant Walker and Jim Richards from Victoria, and Jimmy Stone from Queensland. It was an absolute who’s who of New Zealand motor racing, with over 200 people in attendance.
I bumbled about the room, microphone in hand, moving from table to table with the intent of chatting briefly to various famous names. With one exception, I’d met all of my ‘victims’ before, but the odd man out was former Mini and then Coca Cola–sponsored HB Viva driver, Alan Boyle. Typical of the New Zealand racing driver he was pleasant, modest, and somewhat surprised that his deeds from over four decades ago are still so warmly recalled.
Eoin’s Last Wish
The BRDC lunch provided an opportunity for mostly openwheeler drivers, and enthusiasts, of years past to get together. There is a rule that Howden imposes which requires all present to stand for one minute and tell a story. Historically the order has been ‘reverse alphabetical’ — meaning we started with (Eoin) Young and finished with (Chris) Amon. It was a poignant reminder when the ‘one minutes’ started that our old mate ESY was absent, but to prove there is life after death, the Eoin stories flowed.
Over the weekend of the Skope Classic at Ruapuna, Eoin’s ashes were spread by his wife Sandra and grandson Alfie, in accordance with Eoin’s wishes — ‘a bit of me in front of the Bruce Stand and a bit of me in front of the Denny Stand.’
In early January, the winner of the 1972 Monaco Grand Prix passed away — Jean-pierre Beltoise was 77. Of all the drivers who won but a single world championship Grand Prix, his