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A Delicate Question - Mays and Stanley

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#1 Dennis Hockenbury

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Posted 22 February 2004 - 16:38

A passage in Tony Rudd’s “It was fun!” that I have been reading yet again refers to an event at the 1962 German Grand Prix. The passage refers to a big argument between Raymond Mays and Louis Stanley after the event that led to Mays not attending any of the team celebrations.

I recall reading somewhere that the argument was caused by an indiscretion on the part of Mays with possible charges having been put to Mays. Stanley, rightly so, was highly offended and there was a massive argument as a result.

Memories being what they are (or mine at least), I have been through countless books and the TNF search facility over the weekend attempting to reconcile this event without any success.

I am genuinely not interested in dredging up any negative feelings within the TNF community by posing this question, but can anyone point me to the source where this information is presented?


#2 Doug Nye

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Posted 22 February 2004 - 18:30

Dennis - not to put too fine a point on it, Raymond Mays's attention had been taken not so much by practice for that German Grand Prix as for the physical attractiveness of a young man working in the hotel at which RM was staying.

RM paid the young man such attention that the object of his interest complained bitterly to the management about the older Englishman's entirely unwelcome homosexual advances.

The management then complained bitterly to Big Lou on race morning - who didn't get the chance to confront RM about it until after the race, and Graham Hill's win in their team's car.

Big Lou then intercepted Ray in a walkway outside the marquee in which the team were celebrating immediately postrace.

Ray protested innocence, Big Lou exploded - voices were raised and the entire population of the marquee progressively fell silent, to listen intently...

Big Lou told RM he was an abomination and was damned lucky that strings were being pulled by the race organisers and by him to keep the boy and the hotel management from reporting the entire matter to the police. Ray eventually subsided into silence, but BL blistered him for several long minutes at the top of his voice. By the end of it everybody inside the marquee was roaring with unsympathetic laughter, really enjoying the incident - apart from those most closely associated with BRM who were by this time pretty accustomed to this kind of malarkey and were progressively drinking their way through the AvD's Champagne stock. Who cares! We've won the German GP!

This was quite a personal tragedy for RM...skewered by his own loss of control. He had golden memories of ERA's exploits pre-war at the mighty Nurburgring. He had envisaged BRM as a kind of green-painted Mercedes-Benz racing team. Now BRM had beaten all comers on what had once been Mercedes-Benz's home stage. That should have been a magnificent day for him - a dream come true - but for him it had been ruined by his own biology/psychology - whatever sexuality is...

In basics, by the 1960s Raymond Mays succeeded most of the time in keeping his mind above his belt. That weekend in the Eifel he fell from grace...and was quite properly burned for it. He was queer - the kid at the hotel was not.

RM had begun to launch a physical assault upon the boy before realising his terrible mistake and desisting before police intervention would have become unstoppable. It was a close run thing. Sorry for perhaps too much detail - but you did ask.


#3 Dennis Hockenbury

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Posted 22 February 2004 - 19:09

Doug, my thanks for your reply. My memory has not deserted me as of yet. I finally found the written reference for this event in a picture caption provided in V2.

It would seem from your post that this event was the cataylst for Mays' final fall from grace within the BRM orbit.

For all of RM's many failings over the years, he championed the birth of BRM and had remained the nominal figurehead for the equipe for so many years.

Sad that his actions as you described led to his personal humilation on what should have otherwise been a singular moment of triumph for RM.

One additional question if I may, was RM retained by Rubery Owen after this event?

#4 ensign14

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Posted 22 February 2004 - 19:55

There was a suggestion in Reggie Tongue's "High Speed Diary" that Mays had to be spirited out of Germany in 1936, following a telephone warning from someone in the Gestapo, after a personal matter went wrong. Reggie wrote that it was a personal matter and that "RM's behaviour could provoke strong reactions". I'm guessing that the former incident was a lot less disreputable than the latter, but wonder whether in 1962 RM had some memory of what happened 26 years earlier?

#5 Vitesse2

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Posted 22 February 2004 - 22:25

Quite a number of very tasteless puns come to mind here, but I shall refrain .....

Doug: you've typed "unwonted", which could be read as referring to Mays - I presume you meant "unwanted" [by the boy], since RM's proclivities are pretty well known?

Purely in the interests of accuracy :)

#6 Ray Bell

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Posted 22 February 2004 - 22:45

How times change, Doug...

Forty years pass, and while you and I might still use the word 'queer' you find that many use more acceptable terms for unacceptable behaviour. Use the term on ten-tenths and see how long it is before you're banned, for instance.

Raymond Mays has always been something of a minor hero to me for championing the BRM cause, for being instrumental in getting the marque off the ground. But that can't rewrite his personal life.

#7 Doug Nye

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Posted 22 February 2004 - 22:45

Originally posted by Dennis Hockenbury
...was RM retained by Rubery Owen after this event?

Yes indeed he was - for many years more.

Richard - valid point - 'unwelcome' is a better word.

Ensign - fantastic point - one I recall but had long forgotten, darn it.

RM's other famous misdirections included the lift boy in the hotel at Berne, Swiss GP 1954, and BRM's contemporary chief mechanic in the Rover on the way home. Obviously the hormones were seething that weekend....oh dear. It very nearly saw him imprisoned by the Swiss and it did get him punched in the nose.

When I knew Ray - late in his life - not only was I deeply unattractive (I suppose) but he was absolute charm personified, a really, really nice, charming and gentlemanly old man. Many who knew him in his pomp through the 1930s-40s-50s -60s have assured me that was a side he would display the majority of the time even then.

Like so many old queens, he had - and retained - a fantastic sense of theatrical timing, and would pause in the foyer of a restaurant for example, peeking round the doorway until he judged the moment right for a grand celebrity entrance. Only when he judged that moment had arrived would he hiss at his companions, "Right - come on! Right now!"...and in he would sweep with great pomp and ceremony. It was as if he was saying "Relax everybody - I, the great and fabulously famous RM, racing personality, have arrived...".

In later life, even with completely straight companions (as long as he knew them well and felt comfortable in their presence), he would still discuss the attraction of various young men he saw - e.g. waiters in a restaurant; "Oh he's nice, doesn't he carry himself well...?" - etc etc.

The usual thing in fact - reality is all shades of grey...