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Favourite Amon stories


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#1 Keir

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Posted 15 March 2000 - 03:45

Chris Amon, the "Golden Kiwi".
Legendary for his bad luck.
What's your favorite Amon story??
I'll chime in with mine after I give you all a turn.

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"I Was Born Ready"

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#2 magnum

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Posted 15 March 2000 - 03:52

The one when he's leading at Monza with 2 laps to go - for safety sake he goes to tear off his visor strip and lands up stripping off the whole visor! In tears, he finishes in 4th place (the tears because of the wind, not the emotion of having been foiled, again, i presume).
Even funnier is when he related the story of how, chasing jack brabham at silverstone in 67, the australian started throwing his rear-view mirrors back at Amon - he had, apparently, a vibration. Yeah sure :-))))


#3 Ray Bell

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Posted 15 March 2000 - 04:48

Just Jack letting him know he wasn't looking...
Warwick Farm, 14/10/62 - Hordern Trophy race, 101.25 miles. Upholding Scuderia Veloce honour in their second string 2.5 Cooper after team leader/owner David McKay had gone off the circuit and mowed down a hession outbuilding containing a smelly drum with a seat atop, Amon struggled to keep up with a new car on the scene, an Elfin with a pushrod 1500 Ford engine, driven by Frank Matich...

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Life and love are mixed with pain...

#4 luisfelipetrigo

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Posted 15 March 2000 - 05:49

Not really stories about Amon but here are my two cents:
1- When Pedro Rodriguez won in SPA 1970 Amon was second place. This race is one of the closest races ever. I did not see it because there was no TV coverage then (at least in Mexico) but remember reading about it since it was the first GP win by a Mexican.
2- The main character in the movie Grand Prix uses his helmet (By the way a nice design in my opinion) giving him a lot of exposure.


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Saludos
Luis Felipe


[This message has been edited by luisfelipetrigo (edited 03-14-2000).]

#5 Keir

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Posted 15 March 2000 - 07:50

Spa 1970,
As Chris tells it, he had to make up some serious ground on Rodriguez, so Chris decides to take he Masta Kink "flat out"
on the last lap. Now, no one and I repeat no one took the kink flat, not Rindt, not Stewart, nobody!!!!
So here we go, flat out, braking markers coming up, 300, 200, 100. Chris takes a single breath and flicks left, then right
and gains two seconds on the Mexican. At the end it was 1.1 seconds. Now that is a hard act to follow.

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"I Was Born Ready"

#6 Ray Bell

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Posted 15 March 2000 - 14:01

Brave or stupid?
He lived, made Pedro go harder, what's it matter.
I just loved the Pedro story in Motor Sport recently, the 1000km race in Austria just before he died.

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Life and love are mixed with pain...

#7 AUSTRIA

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Posted 15 March 2000 - 16:41

His Amon AF1 in 1974 - a strange looking car, never worth mentioning it's racing success - but a important station in his life; I think. I am very anxious, what you will tell us about it, Keir.

#8 Keir

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Posted 15 March 2000 - 08:30

The Amon AF101,
The end result of years of frustration.
It really wasn't an awful looking car,in fact it was ahead of it's time. All the fuel was placed in a tank between the driver and the engine, giving it a low polar moment of inertia. The brakes were inboard, the suspension used torsion bars instead of coil springs. The original aerodynamics were quite the cutting edge as well, using a wing placed over the front wheels in conjuction with a reverse curved nose section to counteract high speed lift at speed.
The shame of it all was that Amon never really had the money to make it all work.
Most of the concepts of his car are still used today, imagine what would had happened if the cash was there!!!
In terms of results, due to the lack of funds and the complexity of the car, the team was faced with changing the whole car around in order to compete. At Monaco, the car had a front radiator and outboard brakes, but poorly constructed wheels made the car a non-starter. By Monza, the car was back to side rads, but there was virtually no money, so a sad end came to a noble effort.

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"I Was Born Ready"

#9 Keir

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Posted 15 March 2000 - 08:41

Ray,
What's it matter?
Chris's taking the kink flat is right up there with Fangio's '57 Nurburgring feat.
Two cases of drivers doing what was deemed impossible or, at best, improbable.
Moments of passion!!!
Isn't that what this forum is all about??


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"I Was Born Ready"

#10 Fast One

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Posted 16 March 2000 - 10:40

Kier--

You seem to ahve the same feeling about Amon that I have about Surtees. Funny, that, because Amon more or less replaced Surtees at Ferrari (I don't really count Mike Parkes). Both were incredibly fast, great developmental drivers, and both had terrible luck, although Chris topped Fearless John in the misfortune department. Both designed potentially good cars that could never succeeed due to lack of money. And next to Surtees, Chris Amon was my favorite driver of the late 60s.

#11 Keir

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Posted 16 March 2000 - 10:51

Fast One,
You have very good taste.
Always liked "Big John" myself.
Also Mike Hailwood and Peter Revson, who with Amon, were known as the "Ditton Road Flyers".
Now someone out there must have a story from that era of the sixties???

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"I Was Born Ready"

#12 Ray Bell

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Posted 16 March 2000 - 15:23

The 'what's it matter' line was about whether doing that was brave or stupid.
Certainly it matters that he did it, because from that point on anyone who didn't wasn't up to that standard.
And as for Fearless John, he was always my favourite - always ahead of Clark and Hill and the others. Revson was also one I liked..
Nice to know there are some others with such taste.

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Life and love are mixed with pain...

#13 buddyt

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Posted 17 March 2000 - 09:25

Since I saw Revson's name in this thread on Chris Amon, I'll add something some may not know. In 1970 Chris Amon came to Indy to run a McLaren in the 500. It never got up to speed and Chris went home. Pete Revson got the ride and that started his relationship with the Mclaren team. Chis Amon's name is in the winners column in my heart's book on racing.

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"Speed cost money, how fast do you want to go?"

#14 Keir

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Posted 17 March 2000 - 11:16

Now that was a strange one. Amon and Indy.
1970 wasn't the greatest year for Chris, apart from getting screwed by "Mad Max" and the other MARCH hares, here he was at Indy and he just couldn't get comfortable. It wasn't a matter of courage, at Spa, Chris was doing 180mph between the houses and as Bruce McLaren said, "What we need to do to get Chris up to speed, is to paint some trees on the walls." Indy became just another distraction to success in F1.
So, he left, and Peter and Carl Williams stepped in. The rest is details.

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"I Was Born Ready"

#15 Ray Bell

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Posted 17 March 2000 - 13:50

Wasn't there some meaning to MARCH?
Mosely
Amon
R?
C?
Herd
Can someone fill in the blanks?

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Life and love are mixed with pain...

#16 Keir

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Posted 17 March 2000 - 08:41

Ray,
Mosley, Alan Rees, Graham Coaker and Herd.
Chris Amon wasn't really part of the acronym.

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"I Was Born Ready"

#17 ZippyD

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Posted 17 March 2000 - 22:42

Keir,
You must be the happiest person alive. You finally found a place to tell all those Chris Amon stories that were bottled up for all those years. Not that I minded listening to them. I must fell like having sex for the first time in years.

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"Pete, Do you sometimes get tired? Of the driving? Lately I have been getting tired. Very tired."

#18 Keir

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Posted 18 March 2000 - 00:47

Den,
That's a very strange comparison, but close to the truth.
This is just a great place to tell those stories to some new people. What I'm looking for are some new stories, but I haven't seen any yet. I figured Karl would have one or two. And what about the boys from "down under"? Some of them are close enough to drop by and visit Chris!!

It is fun re-visiting the old "Tales of Amon"

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"I Was Born Ready"

#19 Duane

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Posted 18 March 2000 - 00:54

I wonder if Chris has a PC?


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#20 ZippyD

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Posted 18 March 2000 - 01:08

Tell us about the Chris "woblies".

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"Pete, Do you sometimes get tired? Of the driving? Lately I have been getting tired. Very tired."

#21 KzKiwi

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Posted 18 March 2000 - 01:18

All talent and no luck!

Keir, have you heard this one, as quoted by Amon.

"...I did this Indy car race at Fuji in '66, with Hill and Stewart. It was us against the USAC regulars, and the whole thing was done
on a pretty tight budget -I mean, we were supposed to go up to the circuit by train and then bus! Happily though Graham knew the Rolls Royce agent in Tokyo, and he laid on a Siver Wraith or something for us, complete with chauffer. That was great, sweeping passed the USAC brigade in their bus, giving them a royal wave! They didnt like us at all.....There was a haipin at Fuji, and I dont think most of the Americans had ever had to deal with one before. At least it didnt seem that way. Qualifying was in their style, one at a time, and the first 6 or 7 just never made it round at all. Graham, Jackie and I sat in the pits, awaiting our turn and getting more and more hysterical. Every time we'd hear an Offenhauser screaming down to the hairpin absolutely flat, then a violent screeching of locked wheels, then a brief silence - as they ploughed over the grass - then finally 'boof' as they clobbered the bank! A couple of minutes would then elapse before some red-faced American would walk in, scowling at us..... In the race I was lapping a guy called Chuck Hulse, who was in one of those old Indy Roadsters - most of which didnt have mirrors! Not that mirrors would have made a lot of difference to this guy, actually, since it turned out that he was blind in the right eye and also deaf in the right ear! Yes, you've got it, I went to overtake him on the right....For reasons I never quite understood, he suddenly elected to turn sharp right, and that was the end of my race. He had absolutely no depth of vision whatever - apparently, they said, because he'd been on his head so many times. I wondered which had come first - the chicken or the egg..."

Oh for a bit of luck!!



#22 Pete Stanley

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Posted 18 March 2000 - 01:52

Isn't that out of Grand Prix Greats ?

#23 Keir

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Posted 18 March 2000 - 03:51

The wobblies were a Jackie Stewart invention.
You see, Jackie had this "thing" of finding some fault, no matter how trivial, with all of his peers. Jim Clark, for example, bit his finger nails!!!!
So, the "wobblies", as Jackie put it, were the various moods that Chris would experience when things weren't going right.
They progressed from the "white wobblies", where Chris would just shout "f*ing car", to the "rainbow" and finally to the "purple wobblies", where Chris would just explode and scream at everybody. Of course, Jackie
never had to deal with most of the nonsense that plagued Amon's career.
As great a driver as Stewart was in his prime, he always amazed me with his ability to "spin doctor" almost any situation to his favor. But that's another thread!!!

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"I Was Born Ready"

#24 Fast One

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Posted 18 March 2000 - 04:53

Kier--

Michael Schumacher seems to have that same ability to spin doctor any situation to make himself look good. I never liked Stewart or him. Jackie in retrospect was the first of the "portfolio" drivers who race for career enhancement rather than love. BUT he was damned quick, whatever his motivations.

#25 KzKiwi

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Posted 19 March 2000 - 04:35

Keir,
Interesting perspective on JY Stewart. Up until I had read your comments I thought I was the only one that thought that. In this case however there could be an element of truth in what he says.

Apparently in his March days his mechanics used to rate each day based on the number of expletives coming from Amons vocabulary.

Lets face it, Chris Amon had his problems just like the rest of us.

He had a reputation for being totally disorganised and taking the wrong options at the wrong time - in a business as well as racing sense. Apparently he was a great procrastinator as well.

At the end of the day though he was an exceptional talent behind the wheel.



#26 Keir

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Posted 19 March 2000 - 04:58

Kz Kiwi,
What I meant about the "wobblies" being Jackie Stewart's invention was not to say that they didn't happen, they did, and quite often during that 1970 season. It was more of a point that Jackie would even bring up a situation that was between Chris and his mechanics, just for the sake of "oneupsmanship".
Chris, for his part, was used to the fanatic loyalty of the Ferrari wrenchmen.
As for the other faults, Chris had them, and don't we all to some degree or other??
I think that's why Chris will always be my favorite.

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"I Was Born Ready"

#27 Keir

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Posted 19 March 2000 - 12:06

What was Chris' best race and why?

All you southern hemisphere people,
where are you???

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"I Was Born Ready"

#28 Ray Bell

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Posted 19 March 2000 - 15:10

It would fall between the support Sports Car event of the Warwick Farm International meeting of 1968 and the Australian Grand Prix at Sandown that year.
In the P4 he had some fabulous dices with Frank Matich, but the one at Warwick Farm really stands out in my mind.
At Sandown he gave Clark and the 49 heaps despite being well down on power. Sure, the Ferrari was a smaller car, but it was only a Dino V6 up against the Cosworth. And Sandown is a power circuit.
Neither of them got any credit the following week, however...

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Life and love are mixed with pain...

#29 KzKiwi

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Posted 21 March 2000 - 15:31

The 1972 French GP at Clermont-Ferrand was Amons best F1 race. On a real drivers track he was slaughtering the best drivers in the world until the air went to the top of one of his tyres. Even then he fought back to finish 3rd, in the process disposing of names like Cevert and Peterson, etc.

Once again JY Stewart poked the borax in, saying that Chris was overdriving as "...everyone knew about the danger of getting a puncture due to the debris and stones that littered the track...".

Amons endurance racing record was also pretty impressive and he had a well respected name for being mechanically sympathetic on his equipment. The fact that he won at Lemans and Daytona is testimoney to that.



[This message has been edited by KzKiwi (edited 03-21-2000).]

#30 Ray Bell

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Posted 21 March 2000 - 16:20

If all this pro-Amon stuff keeps on coming I'll be forced to elevate him in my personal standings. Hard to do that, I don't know where he rates at the moment - a real problem when Jenks wrote things like "...but they're fair weather creatures.." in the 1968 French GP report.

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Life and love are mixed with pain...

#31 Keir

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Posted 21 March 2000 - 08:24

As Chris put it, "I never know how I'm going to do in the rain until the race starts."
With Ferrari in 68, Chris was never given the proper rain tires, at Rouen, for example,
he was asked to start on intermediates, while Ickx started on the full rains. At the 'Ring, Ferrari asked Chris to hold up the other drivers so Ickx could get a good start.
But Chris had other ideas. On this a drivers circuit, in pouring rain and fog, Chris pulled away from Ickx and was going into second place when his diff packed up. So much for the "Amon can't drive in the rain" nonsense. The Ferrari was not a good car in the rain, but at Monaco three years later, Chris put in the fastest laps driving the Matra, while JYS stayed in the garage, so as not to get wet. Again at Monaco '73 in the rain, Chris put the Tecno third until things dried out.

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"I Was Born Ready"

#32 Ray Bell

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Posted 21 March 2000 - 21:35

Stop! Please stop! I'll soon be overflowing with tears for the ill thoughts I have had about this man in the past.
I'm now feeling glad that he won the Australian Grand Prix at least once (and that I saw him do it), and perhaps losing confidence in Jenks as a reporter of fact.
But then, I have often observed, it is very very difficult to know the whys and hows of a performance without knowing a little bit more than the number on the car. To know about those rain and intermediate tyres, for instance, gives a whole new dimension to Rouen - but what about Denny's miserable performance?
All too often people don't realise just what factors are coming into play, and all too often the facts don't surface for years, or ever!
So what were the man's failings?

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Life and love are mixed with pain...

#33 Ray Bell

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Posted 21 March 2000 - 21:42

Shall I answer my own question?
At Longford, just four weeks after winning the Grand Prix at Lakeside, Chris was (I am told) one of the drivers sitting in the corner hoping the race would not go ahead.
Now, there are some mitigating circumstances here. A super-fast circuit on public roads, rain pouring down, safety standards lagging behind the rest of the circuits of the previous seven weeks - even sabateurs setting fire to one of the two bridges.
Actually, if you saw the bridges you wouldn't want to risk it in the rain anyway!
But two days before, this same Amon had set the outright record for the circuit in the aforementioned Ferrari P4 - and without any opposition. He could not have possibly expected his record, even though it was set at an average of 122.2mph, to last out the weekend, for the Lotus 49 with the big wings had all the makings of a car that would rob him of that honour.
But the rain made all the difference to that, Piers Courage won the race in a 1.6-litre McLaren M4a and Amon goes down in history as the fastest man ever round Longford.
Having seen bits of it, I'm sure the Nomad will agree that was a feat in itself.
Shame he didn't go so well against Matich back in 1962....

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Life and love are mixed with pain...

#34 Keir

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Posted 22 March 2000 - 01:11

Ray,
My "well of knowledge" regarding Chris Amon is quite deep. I posted this topic to see if there were any other tidbits left on the table. So far, I'm still a bit hungry!!!
Going over the old stories, as Zippy said,
has been fun, but there must be some new stuff out there.
As for Chris's failings, he was human and never pretented to be anything else. He had himself a lifestyle and he enjoyed it.
I wish he had stayed at Ferrari, he truly was and is a Ferrari driver.

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"I Was Born Ready"

#35 karlcars

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Posted 23 March 2000 - 07:15

To a friend of mine in New York Ferrari team manager Eugenio Dragoni reported back after Amon's first test with the company: "Una bomba." -- he goes like a bomb.

Chris teamed up with Bandini to win Daytona in 1967; I was in the restaurant with the rest of the team that evening when he and his girl came in -- an electric moment.

Chris to me looked just like the photos of the young Fangio.

Chris told me that he was indeed the 'A' in MARCH. He had been part of the plan from the beginning. It all went sour when they sold cars to others -- especially Tyrrell. Chris had been told that they would concentrate on him.

Chris's own GP car was actually called the Dalton-Amon, in recognition of John Dalton's role in helping finance it. I last saw it in pieces in the early 1980s in a shed and greenhouse in Woldingham, Kent.

Does anyone recall Chris's drives for Tecno and, I think, Mo Nunn's Ensign?

Elsewhere I have commented on the origin of Chris's helmet design.

Don't miss Chris's excellent foreword to my book on Jackie Stewart. You do buy books, don't you? (joke)

Thanks for the many memories of a hugely quick but legendarily unlucky driver.

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Karl Ludvigsen


[This message has been edited by karlcars (edited 03-22-2000).]

#36 Keir

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Posted 23 March 2000 - 11:19

Karl,
Some day, you and I should sit down and swap "Tales of Amon".
Your comments regarding the "A" in MARCH seem to contradict Ted Simon's version in "Grand Prix Year". Max Mosley certainly didn't want Chris to be part of the team. That year at MARCH did more damage than good, if you ask me!!!
It's a shame that the Amon AF101 ended up in a shed. I thought it was bought by a German auto museum. In fact, I believe it's on display.
The Tecno business was the end result of "Mad Max" giving Chris the royal screwing , yet again!!!! What Chris was able to do with that piece of garbage was truly amazing.
Ensign!!!! Talk about a team having no money!! They were using four year old endurance motors that needed to be rebuilt yesterday and still Chris hauled that car to the front of the grid.

So, Karl, tell me about the GIRL!!!!

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"I Was Born Ready"

#37 ZippyD

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Posted 24 March 2000 - 01:04

Keir,
It's always sex with you isn't it??????
SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX!!!

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"Pete, Do you sometimes get tired? Of the driving? Lately I have been getting tired. Very tired."

#38 Jonathan

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Posted 24 March 2000 - 01:57

Karl -
"Does anyone recall Chris's drives for Tecno and, I think, Mo Nunn's Ensign?"

I recall reading about Amon in the Swedish Grand Prix (1976 ?)in Mo Nunn's Ensign. He was running somthing like 4th or 5th in a privately financed un-sponsoured team and running ahead of Lauda's Ferrari. Not bad.

[This message has been edited by Jonathan (edited 03-23-2000).]

#39 karlcars

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Posted 24 March 2000 - 04:17

I'm satisfied with Chris's version of the origin of the 'A' in MARCH.

The girl -- not tall, glisteningly blond, shy and a Very Good Friend of Chris's.

The Dalton-Amon was indeed rescued from the condition in which I saw it -- I was later informed -- and may well rest in a collection today.

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#40 Ray Bell

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Posted 24 March 2000 - 05:13

So who's going to start a thread on Mo Nunn, still very successful in dragging drivers through the rigours of CART racing to take titles year after year?

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Life and love are mixed with pain...

#41 Keir

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Posted 24 March 2000 - 06:41

Karl,
I guess Ted Simon was overcome by the "Mad Max" spin on life in his universe.

Speaking of girls, I remember Chris telling a story about a night in one of the usual watering holes. There he became enamored with a young blond girl, the only problem was that she was the current girlfriend of a local "Mafia" type. In the nick of time, Revson and Hailwood spirited the "very distacted" Chris out the back door and into hiding for two weeks.
Racing, Women, Racing and Women, The Good Old Days!!!!!

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"I Was Born Ready"

#42 ZippyD

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Posted 24 March 2000 - 22:14

I guess Leterman was right when he said to Sterling Moss "It's all about babes. Isn't it?"

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"Pete, Do you sometimes get tired? Of the driving? Lately I have been getting tired. Very tired."

#43 Ray Bell

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Posted 24 March 2000 - 22:18

Stirling revealed in 'All But My Life' that he used to avoid getting too close to the chicks the night before a race. Then, one night before a race, an untrustworthy woman seduced (yeah, yeah!) him and he still won the race. He had to rethink his ideas, and he was a man who had plenty of opportunities - from what I hear....;)

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Life and love are mixed with pain...

#44 Keir

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Posted 25 March 2000 - 06:26

Anyone out there have any early sixties stories to tell???
That was a great era in motor racing with all the drivers, who were about to become great, all living ramshackle waiting for the big break.
For a period of time Amon, Hailwood, Revson, Maggs, Eoin Young, Bubbles Horsley, Rindt, Stewart, Courage, Frank Williams and so many others. All lived within shouting distance of each other.
These are the Amon stories I'm looking for.
So, stroll down those cobweb laden memory banks and give me something!!!!!

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"I Was Born Ready"

#45 Ray Bell

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Posted 25 March 2000 - 09:38

Some of them were told that day it poured at Warwick Farm - 1969 Tasman series. Rindt wiped the board, although G. Hill set fastest lap.
But, for all the world, the day before I would have expected Courage to be quickest.
As it was, he wasn't, and Rindt's lap time in practice lasted for a couple of years before Matich wiped it. Then again, as it was the last time with the high wings at this circuit, you would expect it to survive a while.
But Courage and Derek Bell had us inspired at our vantage point in practice. The kind of sights only flaggies get, eh, Flagman?

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Life and love are mixed with pain...

#46 Uncle Davy

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Posted 26 March 2000 - 08:21

No great story, but I remember watching Amon valiantly hanging on to 2nd place (again) behind Jack Brabham at Monaco in 1970, driving the March, until the car let him down. That JYS gave March its only win that year instead of Chris breaks my heart, given his effort. Nothing against JYS, but Tyrrell was already planning its way out, and Amon was the de facto factory driver for a team with divided loyalties, goals, and interests.

I always liked him, but he never seemed to get the right car at the right time (1968 excluded, perhaps).



#47 Keir

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Posted 29 March 2000 - 07:46

Here we go!!!!
Karl mentioned that he had the origin of Chris's helmet design.
Now, since Karl wouldn't elaborate, does anyone else have the answer??

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"I Was Born Ready"

#48 Don Capps

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Posted 29 March 2000 - 11:25

The "A" in March thing: the initial story I got was that the "A" did indeed stand for "Amon." Then I read the "A" and the "R" were for "Alan Rees." This was, I was given to understand, news to Alan! I have always felt that had March placed its eggs in the Amon basket for 1970 & 1971, things would have Different for Chris. But, as I always remember both March & Maserati start with an "M."

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Yr fthfl & hmbl srvnt,

Don Capps

Semper Gumbi: If this was easy, we’d have the solution already…

#49 Keir

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Posted 29 March 2000 - 08:04

What would we have without conflicting stories??
Chris, of course, was led to believe that the "A" was for Amon. I don't think that Alan Rees cared very much about who the "A" stood for that chaotic first season.
In Ted Simon's excellent book, "The Checkered Year", he details the origin of the MARCH name. It seems that the boys were looking for a name for their new car, so they all wrote their names on a piece of paper. Mosley,Alan Rees,Coaker, Herd. As Simon wrote, "Anyone with an eye for anagrams could see it, MARCH!!!" Simon did pose the question, "Was the "A" for Amon?"
No answer was forthcoming. At least not from "Mad Max". It does stand to reason that Chris would believe then and now , that the "A" was for Amon, but taking into evidence that Mosley really wanted Rindt for the MARCH driver and having failed at getting him, began to "spin doctor" Chris. Max was, and is still a lawyer, and I believe he would have told Chris anything to get him to sign on the dotted line. Certainly, Max did sell Chris a lofty "bill of goods" that year and didn't deliver a bit of it!!!
As I have said before, Chris should have stayed at Ferrari.

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"I Was Born Ready"

#50 ZippyD

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Posted 03 April 2000 - 22:57

When Chris was with Matra, was he forced to speak French to the team or did the team speak English to Chris?

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"Pete, Do you sometimes get tired? Of the driving? Lately I have been getting tired. Very tired."