Posted 21 June 2012 - 09:48
Interesting that Gary Davies should have started buying Motorsport magazine in 1962, the same year I did. I have been a Jenks fan ever since.
Perhaps I was luckier than Gary in that I did have the good fortune to have met Jenks on a number of occasions. From 1965 right through to it's last year as a World Endurance Championship event in 1973, I met Jenks almost every year at the famous Targa Florio in Sicily. I actually entered the famous race in 1972, but that's another story.
I also met Jenks on 3 occasions, 69, 70, and 71 at Montecarlo during the Monaco GP. As Dunlop distributors in Malta we always had a ready supply of passes to anywhere at an GP, so Monaco was a natural favorite, and I also met Jenks again at the Nurburgring 1000 kilometres - can't remember whether it was 70 or 71.
In those days travel ,like all else, was reasonably affordable. On one particular year, a friend joined me in my Mini Cooper S for one of our annual trips. We started off with the Targa Florio, arriving there the Thursday before the big race, and thus having plenty of time to mingle with the racers, particularly the British teams. We all spoke both English and Italian so we were always very handy interpreters for the Brits. From the Targa in Sicily we drove up Italy to Monaco for the GP, after which we carried on for the 3rd weekend at the Nurburgring for the 1000Ks. I was to meet Jenks on all 3 weekends.
Incidentally, the 3 week trip cost us our ferry passage Malta to Siracuse, which in those days was something like 6 quid, and we each took 150 pounds spending money. This paid for fuel, hotels, meals, and drinks, since our entrance fees for all 3 events were courtesy Dunlop. Try doing that today. You wouldn't even pay for the entrance ticket to one event.
But my first encounter with Jenks was much earlier than all that. In 1963, aged 16, I blew my first bit of saved pocket money going across to Syracuse to watch the Syracuse GP. It meant taking a plane from Malta to Catania, then a train back South to Syracuse. We booked into a camping site fairly close to the circuit, and lo and behold, we hadn't been there a couple of hours when a British registered VW Camper van towing a racing car turned up. The occupants of said Camper were Bob Anderson, his wife and young daughter, and one mechanic/friend. And this was Formula 1.
Naturally we got chatting, and our knowledge of Italian immediately came in handy. We stayed we Bob and the team throughout the weekend. Every time Bob went to the circuit we would join him, laying flat on his Lola's trailer between the wheels, covered by a tarpaulin. Bob would reverse the trailer into his pit garage, and we would then get out. Jenks was of course there throughout the weekend, and as Bob was the only British competitor there, Jenks would spend a fair bit of time with us, in Bob's pit.
Marriage and kids, and the fact that the Targa Florio lost it's World Championship status in 1973, meant far fewer trips to GPs, but I still kept in touch with Jenks via Motorsport magazine. He regularly was the subject of conversations when I was to meet British vintage car and motorcycle enthusiasts here in Malta in later years, and shortly before he died he sent me a lovely photograph, autographed, of himself at Shelsley, competing on his Norton. It hangs, framed, in my "den" at home, and brings back so many happy memories.
I have a couple of books by Jenks, but couldn't get hold of his biography, A passion for speed, until only last year, hill climb enthusiast and facebook friend Al Raynor found a copy and gave it to my son Josh, who was visiting Shelsley, to give me. It brought so much of those wonderful old days back, and I couldn't help thinking how "artificial" top flight racing has become these days.