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Mike Salmon and Team Ensign saved my weekend!


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#1 Twin Window

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Posted 26 June 2004 - 23:33

A little story from an as-was sixteen year-old I thought I'd share with you...

For the 1974 Race of Champions, I'd expected to be able to stay with a friend in Purley on the Saturday night, having travelled to Brands from the Midlands by train etc, and met him there on the Saturday morning. However, it transpired that there was only one problem; they were abroad! There was no way I was going to miss the meeting, so I went anyway - having told my folks all was well - but my secret plan was to kip in the pits in a sleeping bag. Imagine my horror, therefore, when I discovered that (and for the very first time) there were guard dogs patrolling them...

So, after the day's activities had concluded and with few options availble (actually, none) I went to the old pre-Kentagon bar (more accurately described as 'the Shed') on the Saturday night and luckily for me a rather drunk Mike Salmon - having heard of my predicament - offered to put me up in his tent. As by that stage of the evening I'd already suffered an indecent (and these days, extremely prosecutable) proposal from the then chief paddock marshal while I was in the loos, you can imagine my increased relief at being offered salvation; I was only 16, after all. It was very kind of Mike to help me that way, but I have to admit that I couldn't get out of that one-man tent fast enough in the morning; his feet smelled sooo bad! Once I'd returned to fresh air, I headed straight for a fry-up at the 'Cholesterol Castle' cafe at the top of Paddock Hill.

As we all know, the day was a weather horror story but, undeterred, I still got into the pits and onto the grids by merit of the fact that the day before I'd ('illegally', as was my habit) entered the Press Office behind Graham Macbeth (Press Officer of the time, IIRC) just as he dropped a big cardboard box full of passes. They went everywhere, and as I was first on the scene I naturally helped him gather them up. Fortunately, one just 'happened' to slip into my pocket...

The main race was great - possibly even thanks to the weather - apart from a BRM win! And, like everyone else, I was sodden by the end, but I was still in my element as I sidled up with the Lotus personel, Chapman, Warr, Dennis and co, as they went to greet Ickx at the completion of his slow-down lap. I will never forget how Chapman - a man I considered almost God-like at the time - sounded so insincere as he spoke to Jacky while he was getting out of the car. Really; it sounded like he was reading from a script! Warr simply mimicked Chunky, and as anyone who's ever seen his grovelling performances on 'If you're not winning, you're not trying' will appreciate.

Here's a pic of that very moment. I'm in it, and so is 'Harry' - but I think he's worthy of a thread of his own!

Posted Image

So, with the racing over I'm feeling cold, literally soaked to the skin, facing several hours of public transport and not relishing the prospect one bit. A last lap of the paddock was in order, and whilst doing so I had an idea... It occured to me that as the Ensign team were based only a few miles from wher I lived, perhaps they could give me a lift home? I approached Mo Nunn and politely popped the question. "Yeah, that should be no problem." came the reply, "Just check it out with him" as he pointed to one of his men. Sorted!!

Posted Image

The trip was long, but brilliant. The route took us right through central London (the M25 was a decade away) and I felt so proud to be travelling in this 'enormous' transorter with 'Team Ensign - Formula One Grand Prix Team' emblazoned in huge letters down the sides. Of course in those days it would have meant nothing to most folk who saw it passing, but that wasn't the point!

Plus I was now warm, dry(ing) and in the company of blokes whose conversation well and truly kept me awake the entire trip. To my astonishment, as we neared closer to home, the driver asked where I lived. I named the town, to which he said "No, which road?"! The guys duly dropped me about a hundred yards from my house... Unbelievable.

My folks had given me a bottle of wine to hand over to my theoretical hosts for Saturday night, so the Ensign truckie was handed that and I was more than happy that I had something, anything with which to show my appreciation for their kindness towards a complete stranger.

And so, another personal 'epic' to record in my racing memories ended. And, as I guess these words prove, one that wasn't going to be forgotten in a hurry!

TW

PS I hope that wasn't too boring chaps!

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#2 fines

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Posted 27 June 2004 - 11:55

Originally posted by Twin Window
PS I hope that wasn't too boring chaps!

Not at all! A wonderful story, thanks!

#3 David Beard

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Posted 27 June 2004 - 12:42

More!

#4 angst

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Posted 27 June 2004 - 13:53

Great story. Give us more, please.
Seeing as Max and Bernie want to know how to 'improve' the show, maybe you should send them some stories like this to them. Maybe then they'd understand what the show should be about.

#5 Ruairidh

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Posted 27 June 2004 - 14:02

Good story of a time that has sadly passed!

Who (or what) is "Harry"? :clap:

#6 RTH

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Posted 27 June 2004 - 16:44

Nice story, Peter Warr in that '73 video was, well , a bit embarassing to watch.

#7 FrankB

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Posted 27 June 2004 - 17:28

Originally posted by angst
Seeing as Max and Bernie want to know how to 'improve' the show, maybe you should send them some stories like this to them.


That is obviously a quite ridiculous idea - if so called "fans" were allowed to get near to team members (or even worse, a driver) the amount of time for celebrities to have their photo opportunities would be seriously curtailed. We all realise that today publicity for the few is more important than interest and involvement for the many, don't we?


Excellent story TW, please share any other similar ones with us.

And echoing Ruairidh "Who (or what) is "Harry"?"

#8 Twin Window

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Posted 27 June 2004 - 19:33

Chaps

I promise I'll do one on 'Harry' in due course! It won't be lengthy, far from it, but it requires research for pics first...

Glad you enjoyed this one.

TW

#9 Twin Window

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Posted 28 June 2004 - 16:02

Originally posted by angst
Great story. Give us more, please.
Seeing as Max and Bernie want to know how to 'improve' the show, maybe you should send them some stories like this to them. Maybe then they'd understand what the show should be about.

You know what the next thing Brands did, angst and FrankB?

As if the pitlane being guarded with dogs at night weren't bad enough, for the '74 Grand Prix they introduced the first ever...F1 Paddock! :eek:

That made it a bit more difficult to get places - but not impossible!

To be continued...  ;)

TW

#10 Ray Bell

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Posted 29 June 2004 - 09:54

Top tale, Twinny... looking forward to the sequel(s)!

As one who has scaled a fence, bummed a pass, bludged a ride and all that stuff... I know where you're coming from... shame you weren't there for the AGP winners' parties of 1965 and 1966... but I've told those stories before...

#11 Twin Window

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Posted 30 June 2004 - 00:22

Originally posted by Ray Bell
Top tale, Twinny... looking forward to the sequel(s)!

As one who has scaled a fence, bummed a pass, bludged a ride and all that stuff... I know where you're coming from... shame you weren't there for the AGP winners' parties of 1965 and 1966

I wish! In my element, I'm certain to have been!!

Nevertheless, I've been fortunate enough to have found myself in attendence at more than my fair share of other great 'bashes' during my time...

In fact I've recently posted a couple of pics on the 'TNF members - then and now' thread which illustrate racing-orientated celebrations of sorts. Unfortunately though, Ray, they're of the rather more civilised variety!  ;)

Cheers,

Twinny :wave:

#12 Ruairidh

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Posted 10 August 2004 - 03:16

Originally posted by Twin Window
Chaps

I promise I'll do one on 'Harry' in due course! It won't be lengthy, far from it, but it requires research for pics first...

Glad you enjoyed this one.

TW


Is it "Harry" time yet?

#13 Muzza

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Posted 10 August 2004 - 03:55

:up:

If there were a "TNF New Member of The Year" award, Twinny, you would win it by miles.

Absolutely fantastic tale. Keep the coming.

Cheers,


Muzza

#14 rdrcr

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Posted 10 August 2004 - 05:31

Another great story Stuart... I was off for England when this one hit TNF.

Keep them coming, as they are great little remembrances of a fantastic time in racing. 1974 - This was just before I started to actively go to GP's and other racing events. Truly, important days in F1 - of great drivers, teams and the transition of the sport. I remember them well, even though I was just a teenager.

Is this guy the candidate for TNF's Moderator or what?

;)

#15 nick stone

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Posted 10 August 2004 - 08:39

Thanks for sharing with us TW.

#16 Twin Window

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Posted 12 August 2004 - 00:13

Thank you, chaps, for your most humbling comments... :blush:

Originally posted by Ruairidh

Is it "Harry" time yet?

Well, the really funny thing is that ever since I made that remark I've specifically kept an eye open for shots with Harry in them - and I haven't seen a single one...! The real irony is that, back in the day, the whole deal about Harry was precisely that; he was in all the photos, all the right places etc, etc!

But rest assured; I'll find them eventually...

Twinny :) :up:

#17 Macca

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Posted 16 August 2004 - 13:43

Is 'Harry' the bloke Robin Herd referred to as 'The Lurker' in 'Four Guys and a Telephone'? The bloke who was in every picture, so that RH knew March had made it when the Lurker appeared in the first pics of the 701 tests with JYS and CAA at frosty Silverstone?



Paul M

#18 Twin Window

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Posted 18 August 2004 - 21:03

Well, Paul, the description certainly fits! I'll give Robin a ring and swap notes, but I think you're probably right!

Twinny :)

#19 Racer.Demon

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Posted 01 September 2004 - 12:20

This story, along with additional TW-copyrighted pictures, is now up on 8W.

http://8w.forix.com/mem-roc74.html

Cheers, TW! :clap:

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#20 philippe7

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Posted 01 September 2004 - 13:01

Originally posted by Racer.Demon
This story, along with additional TW-copyrighted pictures, is now up on 8W.

http://8w.forix.com/mem-roc74.html

Cheers, TW! :clap:



Great to see the story posted on 8W ( and therefore given a broader audience )

I was there too that day, but only stood in the mud behind the fences , unlike TW .... Lucky TW !

"Just for the sake of accuracy" ( and pedantry) , there are two small mistakes in the list of "Whats" :

I'm certain Pescarolo was driving a P160 ( not a P 201 )

...and I think (quite strongly so ) that Revson was driving a DN3 ( not a DN1) .

#21 Racer.Demon

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Posted 01 September 2004 - 13:07

Very probably! I'd done the list by heart which, I admit, isn't a very accurate method! Don't have the means to check where I am now, but seeing the Brazilian and South African GP entries I'll believe you to be right.

#22 Derek Lees

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Posted 25 February 2008 - 23:48

Hi Everyone,
I have just noticed this thread regarding Stuart Dent's story of his day out at Brands Hatch for the 1974 Race of Champions.
I was the mechanic working for Team Ensign who Mo Nunn (Brother-in law at the time) referred him to to get a lift back home. Although the momories of the day have now faded, one thing that stood out was this young boy and his vast knowledge of F1 motor racing and the teams involved. All the time during the journey back home, he was constantly asking the rest of the team in the transporter questions about F1 and to be honest working in F1 you do not take as much notice of the detail as an avid supporter as he obviously was/is. He did leave a lasting impression on all of us on his amazing knowledge for someone so young.

Regarding "Harry", as everybody who knew him from that era, he was always to be found hanging around F1 Teams. His heart was in the right place, although he could get on your nerves with some of the stories and "fiction" that he spoke about. He hung around for a few years with us at Team Ensign. One of the most amusing stories about "Harry" was when he used to work for Ralph Broad at Broadspeed, famous for the racing Anglias. During one of the Silverstone F1 meetings he threw a "sicky" from work and attended the race instead, he blagged his way onto the winners lap of honour truck, waving to the crowd. Unfortunately for him, Ralph Broad was watching the race on TV and saw him. When he went to work on the following day he was subsequently sacked. He was a character all the same and the current racing fraternity misses people of his kind.

Derek Lees



#23 macoran

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Posted 25 February 2008 - 23:55

Phew !!! that WAS Formula 1.......................................... :up: top story !!

#24 Twin Window

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Posted 25 February 2008 - 23:58

Derek, I was both amazed and delighted to receive your message the other night, and am now somewhat humbled by your post above.

It was an amazing experience for me as a lad, and something I still reflect upon with great affection. I just hope I didn't bore the pants off you guys! :D

Thank you.

#25 Scuderia SSS

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Posted 26 February 2008 - 01:32

Originally posted by Twin Window
[B]but I have to admit that I couldn't get out of that one-man tent fast enough in the morning; his feet smelled sooo bad!

Hehe,
I'll have to remind Mike of that next time i speak to him. I'm sure he'll be relieved it was only his smelly feet that made the "young lad" leave his tent so rapidly...:)

Oh and Derek, as a mechanic for the Ensign team, i have probably got a fair few photos of you working on the cars then. I'll try and post some up soon.

#26 arttidesco

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Posted 05 October 2011 - 12:10

As stories go this one certainly has it all, has anyone bought the film rights ?



#27 Twin Window

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Posted 05 October 2011 - 13:22

Haha - hardly!

Similar ramblings below, if you're interested.

British GP '77
Working for Alexis
F1 bodywork I blagged
Making decals at Le Mans
Scoring a goal for Italy at the Birmingham Superprix.

All nonsense really!