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Rob Walker (merged)


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#1 RJL

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Posted 05 September 2002 - 01:06

The 'Universally Liked Figures' thread over in RC got me thinking about Rob Walker. I grew up reading his GP reports in the back pages of Road & Track magazine in the 1970's, and I'm sure that his work there had a lot to do with my becoming a lifelong GP fan. Of course, I found his other articles in that publication ("Twenty One cars In My First Twenty One Years" etc) to be similarly entertaining. I always found Rob's connection to the past to be intriguing, as it seems to me that those days were a lot of fun. The story of Rob stopping for a glass of wine during a Le Mans race comes to mind. To me he always seemed like the ideal sort of fellow to have a lengthy conversation with into the early morning hours, preferrably with a glass or two of Johnny Walker.

Anyway, I'd be most interested in hearing stories/ opinions about Mr. Walker (and particularly his Grand Prix team days) from the esteemed TNF regulars.

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#2 Wolf

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Posted 13 September 2002 - 20:44

C'mon guys, have a heart... RJL is not the only one who craves the Walker stories.

I think that even I can come up with one to get things started... His team's first and Coopers first WDC win, of course. Moss won Argentine GP in grand fashion, and with style (as was his wont, and I believe was also Rob's trademark). The trick with wheels (team or Moss, opting for wheels that suggested them going for a change during the race) and catching Ferraris by surprise (who were confident they will indeed go for a change) , climactic end with canvas showing on tyres, and Maestro looking for oil-patches or clipping the grass to prevent them from overheating is classic stuff. But what really surprised me was, that the whole thing was of neccessity- the team had only one set of tires!

#3 Vicuna

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Posted 13 September 2002 - 21:32

I hope I have this right:

At the first Las Vegas GP Rob arrived in the pits and announced 'My word these Americans are lazy!'

Why? he was asked.

-Well, they must be, they shave in bed. My room has a mirror on the ceiling/

#4 VAR1016

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Posted 13 September 2002 - 21:56

My story is, you might say, "related".

In the early 1960's (now I am giving it all away) I used to work at a merchant bank in the City.

One of my colleagues there was someone who struck me as the height of urban sophistication.

This was Robert (R.V.E.C.) Walker. I noticed him doodling Facel-Vegas on his pad one day and observed (as a naive teenager might) "What a coincidence! Rob Walker has Facel-Vegas".

"Yes" he drawled, "He's my father".

Anyway, it transpired that he lived at his father's flat in Chelsea. For a suburbanite like me on £10 a week, this was style with a capital "S".

I asked him one day what he did for breakfast. "Three pink gins and a spoonful of Radio Malt" was the reply.

Evidently a chip off the old block - and indeed a stunning resemblance to the old man.

I got a Christmas card one year - a splendid Brockbank cartoon - I wish I had it now: it showed a Mercedes Gullwing registered "ROB 2" blasting along a road with the trees bending in sympathy as the car passed a sign stating "Welcome to Wiltshire". In the foreground, skulking in a side-road were the cops in a Wolseley reaching for the RT. One cop says to the other: "Never mind Dorset, get onto Somerset County Constabulary - and HURRY!"

Great days - even from the outside!

PdeRL :smoking:

#5 petefenelon

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Posted 13 September 2002 - 22:36

Originally posted by VAR1016
My story is, you might say, "related".

I asked him one day what he did for breakfast. "Three pink gins and a
spoonful of Radio Malt" was the reply.

Evidently a chip off the old block - and indeed a stunning resemblance
to the old man.

Great days - even from the outside!

PdeRL :smoking:


I thought RRCW was fairly abstemious himself - at least compared to his
father who he said "died of old age - at 35"? So his son might've been
displaying a family trait that had skipped a generation ;)

pete

#6 VAR1016

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Posted 13 September 2002 - 22:41

Originally posted by petefenelon


I thought RRCW was fairly abstemious himself - at least compared to his
father who he said "died of old age - at 35"? So his son might've been
displaying a family trait that had skipped a generation ;)

pete


Oh I doubt that Robbie (as he was known) was quite as wild as he liked to imply- I am sure that the pink gins story was for effect - but he was stylish - and that is why I saw him as a chip off the old block.

We were all teenagers then... and now we have the eyes of middle age!

PdeRL :smoking:

#7 RJL

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Posted 13 September 2002 - 23:59

Thanx guys,

As it turns out there is a fairly lengthy story on Rob Walker in this month's F1 mag (the one with Schumi on the cover). It is quite a good read, actually; I would recommend it.

#8 David Beard

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Posted 14 September 2002 - 06:24

This gives me an excuse to post this pic.....

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#9 Roger Clark

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Posted 14 September 2002 - 07:04

Originally posted by Wolf
The trick with wheels (team or Moss, opting for wheels that suggested them going for a change during the race) and catching Ferraris by surprise (who were confident they will indeed go for a change) , climactic end with canvas showing on tyres, and Maestro looking for oil-patches or clipping the grass to prevent them from overheating is classic stuff. But what really surprised me was, that the whole thing was of neccessity- the team had only one set of tires!


It was the 1959 Italian GRand Prix when Alf Francis coverted the Cooper to wire wheels on the rear and made Ferrari think they were planning a stop. It is strange that the Walker team fooled Ferrari into thinking they were going to stop on two separate occassions.

#10 Roger Clark

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Posted 14 September 2002 - 07:10

While at Cambridge he flew a Tiger Moth to a horse race meeting and flew a lap of the course, jumping the fences as he went. He was banned for life from flying. THe ban was lifted during the war.

At Le Mans in 1939 he drove during the night in a blue pin-stripe suit. When dawn came he thought that he didn't want to be seen in the morning in a dark suit, so he stopped and changed into a sports jacket.

#11 Ray Bell

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Posted 14 September 2002 - 19:06

Originally posted by David Beard
This gives me an excuse to post this pic.....

Posted Image


Hrummph...

There's been plenty of threads about Seppi... where were you then?

Who knows the detail on the story about the fuel tank full of diamonds?

#12 Doug Nye

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Posted 14 September 2002 - 23:23

Do you mean when Guy Jason Henry borrowed Rob's Delahaye 135 and had it impounded by HM Customs when they found its box-section mudguard farings packed with contraband - not with diamonds but watches????? GJH did porridge for that...and Rob had to buy his car back.

DCN

#13 Ray Bell

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Posted 15 September 2002 - 01:28

That would be the one... the passage of time!

At least it brought the story to the fore... was that published in R & T? I believe the same story related why Rob gave up competing and decided to be a team patron.

And diamonds in the petrol tank were mentioned in the story, right? Maybe about another car?

#14 P 4 Staff

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Posted 19 January 2007 - 22:36

I don´t think I´ve seen you guys discuss this man.

I know very little about him...what I know is that he wrote numerous articles about F-1 and other stuff.

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I´d like to hear what you have to say about him...

Best: Staffan

#15 MPea3

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Posted 19 January 2007 - 22:43

He was my introduction to Formula 1. It was his reporting in Road & Track that helped me fall in love with the sport. I also loved the idea of a privateer and moreso a gentleman who raced for the love of the sport. Was it his passport that listed his occupation as gentleman?

#16 mp4

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Posted 19 January 2007 - 23:01

Rob used to write for Road & Track about F1. He used to rate the loos at various circuits...
In 1986, I got to meet him in Montreal. The first thing I asked him was his impressions of the loos at this circuit. He just looked at me and laughed!
There was a wonderful article in R&T about his attempt at LeMans. Great stuff!
As well, there were a series of stories about the various cars he had owned over the years.

Rob was one of the good ones, ya know?

Perhaps Doug Nye could chime in here...

#17 Tim Murray

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Posted 20 January 2007 - 00:56

Here are a couple of earlier threads:

Rob Walker has died

Rob Walker

#18 P 4 Staff

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Posted 20 January 2007 - 02:48

Originally posted by Tim Murray
Here are a couple of earlier threads:

Rob Walker has died

Rob Walker


Thank you Tim....how could I miss that? :blush:

Staffan.

#19 vashlin

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Posted 20 January 2007 - 22:15

Ah, Rob Walker.

Like so many of us from the U.S., Rob's GP reports in Road & Track helped this budding F1 fan fall in love with the sport. I recall peddling my bike to the local drug store to purchase copies before I have my VERY OWN subscription. He really brought the world of Grand Prix alive to those of us in the states starved for info on our favorite sport.

Some years later (I can't recall the exact year but believe it was '77) my husband and I, along with a friend, were in the downstairs bar at the Glen Motor Inn several days before the race nursing our Molsons when I was thrilled to see Rob Walker come in and sit down next to us. We had a very pleasant conversation and I kept pinching myself to realize I was sitting next to one of my heroes. I recall my husband offering to buy him a whiskey and he declined, saying he didn't drink the hard stuff due to the untimely death of his father. It was beer only that night.

He said he had an F1 trivia question for us. Who, he asked, had won the first ever USGP? Both my husband and his friend turned to me. "She'll know the answer." Put on the spot, my brain retrieved the correct answer (Innes Ireland).

What a great evening that was! One of our favorite off-track GP memories.The finish line is just the beginning of a whole new race.

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#20 Vitesse2

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Posted 20 January 2007 - 22:23

Originally posted by vashlin
Put on the spot, my brain retrieved the correct answer (Innes Ireland).

If that was the correct answer, then the question was "Who won the first US GP held at Watkins Glen?" ;) :)

#21 stevewf1

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Posted 20 January 2007 - 23:12

How else could someone like me, now 57 years old, born, raised and still living in Indianapolis, Indiana (I grew up a mile from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway) develop a life-long interest in F1 which began in the late 60s?

Thank You, Rob Walker. :)

#22 Steve Carter

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Posted 21 January 2007 - 01:46

Yes the comsumate English gentleman racer team owner being a teenager from the 60s based downunder viewed him.

From downunder we could only admire from afar however a UK based friend of mine was lucky enough to work with him (filming) in the early 70s (along with various other team owners/drivers) and weve recently been fortunate to release some period programs from that time (A Gentleman's Motor Racing Diary, Motorsport Legends, Golden Years Of Motor Sport) - all have quite an amount of Rob Walkers talent and wit on show.......a wicked dry sense of humour. I have posted a link in 'for sale wanted' if anyones interested in viewing some video trailers.

#23 vashlin

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Posted 22 January 2007 - 17:35

Originally posted by Vitesse2

If that was the correct answer, then the question was "Who won the first US GP held at Watkins Glen?" ;) :)


You are right, of course, about the correct question.

The actual answer to who won the first USGP (1959 at Sebring, Florida) is (I hope) Bruce McLaren.

Moss won at Riverside in 1960 before the race moved to Watkins Glen in 1961.

I guess Rob let me slide by with that one!

#24 David McKinney

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Posted 22 January 2007 - 17:48

Bruce McLaren did indeed win the 1959 USGP
But Chuck Daigh had won the USGP in 1958
and then there were those races before the first World War

#25 Vitesse2

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Posted 22 January 2007 - 18:01

True, David. But vashlin did say that Rob had specified "F1 trivia" .....;)

#26 vashlin

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Posted 23 January 2007 - 15:51

Right. Rob was, I believe, interested in quizzing some American fans to see just what the extent of their knowldge on the subject of F1 might be.

I remember him as very warm, funny and charming and we had a terrific evening in his company.

:)