DOWN THE PUB WITH JIM WALSH

Motor Sport News - - Historics -

Age: 65 Lives: Cambridge 1970s For­mula Ford hero

He started with Jim Rus­sell “I had a lot of fun in For­mula Ford. We lived in Northamp­ton at the time and it was John Mur­phy who got me started as he used to work for my fa­ther as a me­chanic. I used to go and watch him race and then my fa­ther gave me the op­por­tu­nity to go through the Jim Rus­sell School.”

He had to learn fast “It was quite amaz­ing re­ally. There was John Mur­phy and Syd Fox and all those very quick driv­ers and when I started prac­tis­ing at Sil­ver­stone I thought I was re­ally late on the brakes into Beck­etts. But then John and Syd would come by me like I was a novice. That gave me a good goal to aim for and it was good when I got up on equal terms with them.”

He raced with the best “I used to love the car con­trol of those For­mula Fords and we had some great races. I met a lot of good friends like John Vil­lage and Rick Mor­ris and we had some great times. I also raced with Derek War­wick, Ge­off Lees, Bernard De­vaney and Derek Daly. It was a great time of my life.”

It ended in 1981 “I won the Sil­ver­stone For­mula Ford cham­pi­onship three times in 1976, 1979 and 1980. The first one was in a Hawke and then two in Royales. I stopped rac­ing in 1981. We were look­ing for spon­sor­ship to do For­mula 3 but I only man­aged to do one race. The spon­sor­ship deal didn’t get off the ground.”

He had a big ac­ci­dent “I was test­ing a Pacer at Snet­ter­ton and had quite a bad ac­ci­dent when a steer­ing bracket broke. That put me out of ac­tion for a few months and I was in hos­pi­tal in Nor­wich when I got the news that the F3 deal had fallen through. So I de­cided to con­cen­trate on work. I was 29 or 30 by then and that was too old. I didn’t start rac­ing un­til I was 24.”

He saw Senna start­ing his UK ca­reer “The only time I was ever on a cir­cuit with Ayr­ton Senna was the day I crashed at Snet­ter­ton. He was just start­ing in a Van Diemen and there were only a hand­ful of driv­ers who could take Rus­sell flat in top and he was one of them. I could see then that he was go­ing to be great.”

Walsh: For­mula Ford hero

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