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How You Became a Fan



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Ah, we could have guessed it... All of you were practically born with the smell of Castrol R buried deep in your nostrils, while your tiny ear drums were battered by the noise of racing engines. So, most of the time, our parents were to blame! Nice one, dads. Really, if there would be sense in defining a deciding moment for us to become addicts, than it would be our conception. (Or Gilles' death for two of you.) After that, we acquired our tastes through a variation of track, cars and drivers. (Which made us stuff the silly categories we proposed!) What's more, we stay true to our first loves as we turn more nostalgic by the day. But let's get on with business and move on to your first memories of the moment the racing bug bit you. Here they are, in order of arrival.

David Ryman

My first memories of 'racing' are from family outings to Mallory Park, to watch Mike Hailwood battle against Giacomo Agostini's MV Agusta. Prior to that, from birth, I have had a fascination with the motor car. At the age of 4, I could recognise any road car in the UK. Must be genetic. If you have ever read Edgar Cayce, the first thing a child wants to become is what they have been in previous lives. My first desire was to be a race car driver, and not a train driver like everyone else. I just love bikes and cars, and F1 is the pinnacle of motor sport. I'm too young to remember Fangio, but I have a picure in my scrapbook of Jim Clark, I've owned a Lotus (Esprit), Senna was something else, Schumacher is in the same league, and although he is German, I think he is doing a grand job for the sport. My personal favoutite is Jean Alesi, because he can handle wet/dry/on the edge conditions. I believe my fascination with motor sport is genetic!

Huw Jenjin

I watched racing cars from when I was able to look over the spectator fencing. Sitting on the Canvas seats at Silverstone watching a team of Morris 1100s in a relay race caught my attention, but seeing the black and gold striped JPS Lotus 72 in Motor Sport magazine was what glued me to F1.

Mark Alan Jones

Most of my early life is a blank. I have memories of starting school, but beyond that only one memory on the young side of age 6.

And that was the final lap of the 1977 Bathurst 1000.

While the memory of the helicopter shot of Allan Moffat and Colin Bond barrelling down Conrod Straight the last time has been reinforced by subsequent re-screenings over the years it remains my formative memory. When school started I used to take matchbox cars with the numbers of the top touring car drivers, written on the roof of cars I thought looked like the tin tops of the time, in crayon. And at Sunday school while other kids used the empty cigarette packets to make craft things I had Peter Brock in the Marlboro packet versus Allan Grice in the Craven Mild packet and Allan Moffat in the Camel packet and John Harvey in the Marlboro mild packet, racing across the floor.

Perhaps the real moment though was three years later when 8 year old Mark was watching, again, the Bathurst 1000, and Dick Johnson, like me a fellow Queenslander, seemed set even at such an early stage as 10% distance to be on his way to be the first Queenslander to win Bathurst when he struck the wall avoiding a recovery truck and a huge rock on the road. Like thousands of viewers across the country I was enthralled by the drama, and forced my parents to donate to the telethon to get Johnson back into racing, after his entire life savings were left in a steaming wreck below the Reid Park gates.

From then on I was hooked on motor racing. My first Formula One Grand Prix was Keke Rosberg winning the 1984 Dallas Grand Prix. For years I believed it was Detroit and wondered why the track layout looked different. Watching Keke manhandle that Williams-Honda grabbed my attention, and by 1986 I was watching every race.

In 1981 I was given as a present a book on the history of the Bathurst 1000, the landmark Australia's Greatest Motor Raceby Bill Tuckey. Since that moment I've wanted to be a motorsports writer. In the following years I found myself envious of people like Tuckey, Murray Walker, Ray Berghouse, etc. who could earn a living by being able to portray their love of motorsport to other people, and I wanted to be one of them.

Since then I've been trying to absorb anything I can on Bathurst, Formula One, touring cars, and motor sport as a whole. Today I'm happiest crouching behind a camera lens at a dramatic corner, getting that quote from a driver, watching and being a part of the chaos in a press room at a major race meeting, and the sights, sounds, colours and drama of a race meeting unfolding around you. And the more I see, the more I want....

J Hope

I was always around race cars.

When I was not even 1, my dad brought me to the Canadian GP in 1978. I don't remember a thing about it, but I know I was there through the pictures my father took. I remember being there in 1981, 1982 and 1983. But what made me obsessed with Formula One cars, was a special event that occured at the 1983 race. Back then, the paddock was located at the old rowing basin at the East end of the circuit. About a five minute walk from the old pits. My dad knew some Williams mechanic named Rob. He knew him back from the 1960s when they used to race old Austin Minis around Snetterton. Anyways, because of Rob, my dad got a chance for me to sit in Jacques Laffite's Williams. I was 4 1/2 years old at the time. I was in Awe. The minute I sat inside the cockpit, I was touching buttons left and right, playing with the wheel, and just doing things children would do. As I was ready to touch the button that fired the fire extinguisher, one of the mechanics removed the battery just in time. My dad told me some years later that his heart was going to stop beating in a minute once he saw me doing that, and that Rob's face went totally white at the same time. Now that I'm able to think about my actions, I just imagine what that would have done for Williams that weekend! Looking back at it, I could have easily ruined Keke's weekend, but I guess my lucky touch ruined Jacques' weekend. He had gearbox troubles.

While I was there, I met some of my heroes at the time. Being little, I didn't know many drivers. That day I met the ones I knew and the ones I didn't. Keke Rosberg was one, Jacques Laffite, René Arnoux, Patrick Tambay, Niki Lauda, Nigel Mansell and Riccardo Patrese were others.

Since then, I have been so personally involved with Formula One, people question me about other activities that interest me. I just tell them to that nothing else in my life means more to me.


HDT Bathurst dominance of 81 to 83 got me hooked. The passion dies a litle for a while but returned with a vengeance once I got my own wheels 5 years ago.

Ray Bell

After devouring every book on ships in the school library when I was 13, every book on trains when I was 13 and a half, every book on planes when I was 14, I then started on cars and haven't stopped since. Westmead Speedway wasn't that far from home when I got a bicycle, so when my younger brothers were induced by the children of ex-neighbours who had relatives with the food concessions to start going, I followed. By the end of 1961 I was commuting by train to work daily and started reading car magazines in the train. Fellow travellers would talk about racing at Warwick Farm, so it was only a matter of getting to the next September that I planned the first trip to Warwick Farm.

Unfortunately I missed that meeting, but not the October 14 one, and none after that. In June of 1963 I got my drivers' licence and some of the freedoms associated with that (my parents were a little restricitve), and so by September I was at Oran Park and October at Bathurst. 1964 saw me start travelling to interstate meeetings for the Tasman Cup series (Sandown and Lakeside), and henceforth I did an awful lot of miles to see the events that caught my fancy (which was most of them), in that period through to about 1968 about 32 race meetings a year.

In the middle of 1965, having been a member of the AARC for a year or so - along with my friend, Bob Levett - Geoff Sykes discussed with us how we might like to be officials at the Farm. To be honest, I don't know if he brought up the subject or we did, but anyway, we were at the July meeting that year, which became the August meeting after an overnight deluge - Bob racing around the pits with hurry up messages for competitors and I was there directing traffic in the marshalling area.

The next meeting we achieved the highest level of motor racing satisfaction, being appointed to wave flags at Point M, in the middle of the fast ess bend between the Northern Crossing and the Causeway. For five years we delighted in this until there was a rationalisation of flag points and we moved along. In 1966 I co-wrote (with Bob) a letter to Racing Car News that turned heads for its candour. Subsequently, editor Max Stahl and I frequently discussed me writing a column from the spectator's point of view, but it never came to fruition. Graham Howard, however, recommended that Autosportsman give me a story or two to write, and then after I had done a bio on Niel Allen for them Max came back to me and had me start writing the odd personality story.

In June, 1972, I dropped in to Max's home with my newborn son to show off... He said to me that I should come and work for him as Assistant Editor and a week later I was...

I guess that gives the beginning of each step I've taken along the way... except for 1996 seeing me take over the production and editorship (with Max in the background) of the National Historic Racing Newsletter. I enjoy that a great deal, despite its frustrations...


All my parents' fault, as usual. At six months of age, touring around Tasmania in the vintage car, kicking it out of gear in nasty corners. Spent most of my childhood maintaining the car in various ways (amazing how strong you get trying to find TDC when you're turning the engine over on a crank). Attended lots of Maldon Hillclimb, Templestowe Hillclimb, Geelong Sprints and other historic racing events. Highly addictive, that Castrol R. Went to Monza with my family in 1981, lonely Alfa supporters in a Renault stand opposite the tifosi. Witnessed first-hand exactly how scary a Brabham-BMW at full boost was. Other confirming experiences include being attendant/gopher for an Alfa Monza for a day - a remarkably untemperamental car, one person could push start it in about 50 metres. And after you've had that magic Alfa 8 fire up in your left ear, you're pretty much hooked. Hanging around at the first Adelaide Grand Prix in the historic garage was pretty amazing - the Mercedes mechanic who was looking after the 300 SLR Fangio was driving started it up, a pure scream that rent the air and our ear drums. And then, having an Alfa F1 car in a trailer in your driveway for a weekend probably means your sporting preferences are set fairly early on.

Don Capps

I cannot remember not being interested in racing cars, aircraft, and those sorts of things. I am told that my first race was at the Lakewood Speedway in Atlanta in about 1949 or 1950 when I was two or three. However, after I sat in a Maserati 250F at Torino in 1955, it was all over... This was it for me!

I still dauble in military history (working on a massive project right now as the result of a request) and aircraft (also doing a personal project on US military & naval aircraft designations and serial suited to my way of processing data...), plus my continuing work at Atlas and 8W.

Dave Ware

I figure I was born with it, the passion. I have vague memories of watching Indy type races on TV, and even of of a Can-Am (or USSRC) in the sixties. There was a go-kart track near our house that I wanted to go to; they closed down before I got big enough.

Got distracted with other childhood and adolescent things until the fall of 1971. I would have been 13. I had ridden my bike to the local drug store and had purchased whatever candy or whatever I had gone there for. Rather than leave immediately, I was just standing near the door, next to the magazine rack, letting my mind wander. My eyes fell upon the September issue of Road and Track. The cover depicted the Le Mans-winning 917 or Marko and Van Lennep. It hit me like a lighting bolt. I bought the magazine (a bit expensive for me, at 75 cents) and devoured every racing article - reports on the Monaco Grand Prix (a steeple chase for Stewart), Holland (you're Pedro Rodiguez, you're leading the race, and - Jacky Ickx is this far behind you), Le Mans (it's a cruel race), an interview with Ronnie Peterson and an article on Denny Hulme (she'll be right). That's what got me on track. Haven't stopped since, and I doubt that a day has gone by that I haven't thought about racing.

Caíco Caralho

As a Brazilian, it's obvious that the first impulse to become a F1 fan was a Brazilian driver achieving good results. In this case (and that time) Nelson Piquet was him, and I started following F1 in 1983, watching his interesting battle for the title against Alain Prost. My first memory about F1 (an event that I remember I saw live or few moments after it happened) was Gilles Villeneuve's fatal accident in '82 (I wasn't 6 years old yet). Unfortunately I don't remember anything more about that season, which was certainly amazing. But I could see special moments, unforgettable races that occurred between '83 and '88, after which the competitive era in my opinion finished. Senna's performances at Monaco '84 and Suzuka '88, Piquet's overtaking of Senna in Hungary '86 (the most beautiful manoeuvre I've ever seen), the battle for the title in Australia '86, Mansell pushing his Lotus in Dallas '84... good times. I always admired the black-and-gold Lotus, in my opinion the most beautiful livery of a F1 car. And I miss some other teams with nice cars: Brabham, Renault, the first Benetton, Williams (Rothmans)... I wished I was born early, to follow F1 in the 60s and 70s, when it was really competitive... Now F1 is a piece of crap, without overtaking and races being decided through pitstops... But hope never dies, and we continue following, by inertia or a love which is difficult to explain...

Igor De Canck

A little background info: I was born October 6, 1975 so I already missed 25 years of F1! I was born and lived in Belgium.

OK, now, I have no recollection of my younger years, but my babysitter (when I was 4 or 5 years old) told me that at such young age one particular day, I wouldn't shut up about the Monaco GP. My baby sitter then told my parents she would have to watch the next race so that next time, she could at least talk back to me. (I don't know if she did that!) This Monaco race had to be 1979 or 1980 I think.

When I was 5, I was in hospital, and my mother had to talk to the nurses to get a TV in my room so I could watch the race. As I said before, I have no memory of this, but it's what my family tells me.

My earliest personal memory of F1 on TV is the death of Gilles Villeneuve which was on the news, and was in my country. But this is obviously not what sparked my interest; only something that stuck in my memory.

I also had a book for collecting photo-stickers for F1 in 1980. I don't know how else to explain this. In those days, you usually had these things for soccer, with a photo for every player. It's sort of like trading cards. But this was for F1.. every team had 2 pages or so with 10 pictures, which you could collect. I am sad I don't have this book anymore. It's probably too long ago and ended up in the trash. I know I had all pictures except 1 or 2 of the rare ones.

I also made my own toy F1 cars. I drew them on paper (very detailed with sponsors and everything), cut them out, and played with them.

I could continue a long time with stories, but the point is, I was into F1 earlier then my brain can remember. I can therefore not tell you 100% what it was that got my first interest, but I suspect it had to be the first race I saw on TV... My father probably watched it, since he watches a lot of sport. But he is not such a F1 fan like me. Anyway, I don't know what race that could have been (whether it was special or not).

So there is my story.. I don't know if it is any good to you. I have tried a long time to remember more, but my brain can't access it.. maybe I should try hypnosis :)

Chris Watkins

I have always found it ironic that the race that sparked my interest in Formula 1 was perhaps the least significant of its time. In 1983, at twelve years of age, I had little interest in F1. As a Brit, I had been aware of Watson's title challenge in 1982, and had seen the coverage of Villeneuve's death, but the start of the 1983 season had passed me by. Yet this Sunday, 10 April 1983, I found myself watching the BBC highlights of the Brands Hatch Race of Champions. With the typically hyperactive commentary of Murray Walker and the laconic James Hunt setting the backdrop, I watched engrossed as a race-long duel for the lead unfolded between the Williams-Cosworth of Keke Rosberg and the Tyrrell-Cosworth of Danny Sullivan. Early on Hunt had spotted that Rosberg's characteristically press-on style had badly blistered one of his rear Goodyears, the huge black band plainly visible on the TV coverage. It seemed inevitable that Sullivan would be able to force his way by as the handling of the Williams deteriorated, but the 1982 World Champion held off the American to win by half a second at the close of the 40 laps.

I somehow missed the French Grand Prix the following week, but my interest had been stirred and I watched as the next race in San Marino reached its exciting conclusion, with Patrese's Brabham chasing down and passing Tambay's Ferrari in the closing stages only to get wide on the marbles and crash out only two corners later. Hooked, I bought my first ever F1 magazine, the San Marino GP copy of Grand Prix International, and so began a passion that continues to this day.

As a postscript, some 12 years later I answered an advert from a man selling his collection of Motoring News race reports going back to 1978. He asked whether I wanted some books and videos as he was clearing some space. When they arrived, the tapes proved to be a complete set of the BBC coverage of the 1983 season. So now, when the high-tech money fixated manufacturer dominated world of present day F1 gets a little too much, I play that race and remember the simple excitement of a twelve year old boy watching breathless to see nothing more than if the green car could get past the white car...

The Race of Champions proved to be the last non-championship F1 race held, a state of affairs perhaps explained by the sparse attendance. Along with Rosberg, only Arnoux's Ferrari could be called a top-flight runner. Bernie Ecclestone was heavily criticised for running a Brabham-BMW with Hector Rebaque (his last F1 race) at the wheel instead of Piquet or Patrese. Alan Jones finished third in the second and final race in his abortive Arrows deal, followed home by Brian Henton (also his last F1 appearance) taking a one-off drive in the Theodore. Sixth, behind Boesel's Ligier, was Jean-Louis Schlesser in the RAM-March, who would fail to qualify in France a week later and who would not be seen again in F1 until that fateful encounter with Senna at Monza in 1988. And finally, an inauspicious start in an insignificant race marked the first appearance of the turbo Honda engine in the back of Stefan Johansson's Spirit. With the car retiring smokily after a handful of laps, Honda would return for good at the British GP at Silverstone. I wonder now how many recall the humble beginnings of the modern day Honda success story of the 80's?


The first thing about GP racing I remember is my father saying: 'You shall probably be next von Trips'. I was five and had just wrecked his WV 1302S Beetle (a beauty with 52 BHP). But I fell in love with GP cars even before I knew anything about racing. My first darling was Lotus 79 model, followed by Lotus 72 (unfortunately, also a model). But my passion for Lotus 49 in British racing green (you guessed 1/72 scale model) which I was occasionally allowed to look at, but never to lay my fingers upon (since I had a reputation of car-wrecker, as if I was to blame I had too short legs, but that beetle was the first and last car I ever wrecked or even damaged past scratching a bit of paint) lingers to the present day. To the wonderful world of nine-tenths motoring I was introduced even before I could properly speak English - by pictures in 'All but my life' by Stirling Moss and 'Cruel Sport' by Robert Daley.

Gary G

I was 11 years old and it was 1961. I was in the local pharmacy with my father and I saw a copy of Road & Track on the magazine rack. I was smitten on the spot. I begged my father to buy it for me and was I completely hooked. I remember there were three F1 articles in that issue written by Henry Manney. I think it really helped that an American, Phil Hill, was challenging for the WDC. He probably was my first hero.

'Marco 94'

My very first memory of Formula One was my father telling me he would go to Zandvoort. That was 1975. James Hunt had won and naturally for a 4-year old, Hunt is then your favorite driver and Zandvoort is the only place where the Grand Prix is driven. Then one year later Lauda crashes. I see this on television and ask my father if it is James Hunt. "No," he says, "It's Niki Lauda." I am sorry to report my answer was "Oh, then it's OK."

The one occasion that really started everything going, was the South African GP of 1983. I had been hearing some things about this new TTE turbo engine for McLaren, and decided to watch the final race of 1983 to see what it was all about.

The race was broadcasted live (or at least the final part) and was commentated by Jan Lammers, in my opinion one of the greatest lost talents of F1. At first there was the usual fuss about the championship, but towards the end of the race, Lauda started making good progress. Very good progress actually and Lammers went almost wild. His enthusiasm somehow rubbed off on me and it stuck forever. I was horrified when Lauda's engine stopped, as was Lauda himself if I remember well. It's the only time I can remember him being really pissed off after retirement.

Of course the net year was even better. Total domination in 1984. A beautifull car, top class drivers, top class designer (that got me wanting to work in F1) and a hotly contested WDC. Funny really, that McLaren has been practically the only team for the past 15 years that was able to absolutly dominate _and_ provide an exciting WDC.

Gustavo Temudo Cianfarani

My first F1 memory is watching Brazilian 1980 GP on TV, Emerson Fittipaldi in his own team. It is just a flash, because at the time I was just 5 years old. Here in Brazil most of the races are on Sunday mornings (the European ones) and I remember to wake up early just to watch the race. At that time Emerson had retired and Piquet was winning championships. I was a child and nobody in my family was a F1 fan, but I remember to like cigarette advertisements on F1 cars, I even recorded some on video. I always liked the whole sport, and I had many favourite drivers. In 1986 I started to buy F1 magazines, It was called "Grid" and was a poster magazine. (It was a great period for Brazil with Piquet at his best and Senna starting to put in some impressive outings.) Before that I remember to collect F1 stamps in the "Ping Pong" gum in 1982. It was a very good album with a stamp for every F1 champion, the active drivers, teams and cars and with points, wins, pole positions and fastest laps totals for drivers and teams. One of the first "Grid" magazines that I bought had a little book with all F1 stats, called F1 File, with maybe 80 pages. That little book taught me so many things I didn't know at that time as like Graham Hill is the driver with most starts (176) and all the statistics of all the others, including the names of the drivers with just 1 GP start. So, as I started to refresh stats after every race, writing it on paper by myself! In 1993 I started to buy my first Autosprint and later that year also the Autosport magazines. Every week! In 1994 I went to my first race at Interlagos. I went with a college friend who was making Marlboro T-shirts and we arrived in a car pretending we were working there and we managed to enter with the car inside and stayed at the back of the boxes. I got some autographs from Prost, Alesi, Laffite, Mac Surer (not racing at the time, but there), Michael Andretti, Christian Fittipaldi, Katayama, Damon Hill, Brundle and Herbert. I went for the 3 days and stayed at the opposite straight. I remember the first car I saw on track: Wendlinger's Sauber. I took at least 5 minutes to move again - I was paralysed just to hear the cars downshifting and braking at the end of the straight. On Sunday I watched in front of me the accident with Irvine, Verstappen, Bernard and Brundle. I did not leave when Senna spun - like 70% of the people did. I returned in '95, '96 and '97. I stopped buying magazines very often in '98 since they became too expensive, so now I'm just buying F1 Racing (once a month) when I find it. It was in an issue of F1 Racing magazine that I found out about your site and started playing 8W. Since then I moved twice, so I had to take two breaks from your game. Also now I don't refresh the stats by myself, cause FORIX do it for all of us...

I would like to congratulate you all on your site and say that after some 8W games I turned into a much better informed F1 fan.

Keep up the good work.

Hans Swart

The First Time...

The Kyalami air was still crisp just before nine o'clock on that Saturday morning, 6th of March 1976. Since dawn, a thirteen-year old boy had been huddling coldly next to the fence at the exit of Leeukop bend to secure his spot for the day's Grand Prix. But now, with the morning's warm-up session approaching, he could feel the warmth of excitement welling up inside him. Today, after all, would be the first time that he would see, hear and smell a real live Formula One racer being driven in anger. For some years he had been worshipping Grand Prix racing through the pages of Autosport and Motorsport, studiously assimilating particulars of cars, drivers and circuits: today this imagined world was to become a reality for him.

Unexpectedly the morning calmness was shattered by the sound of a Formula One engine firing up, and although the pits were out of view hundreds of metres away, the boy could clearly hear the engine's raucous response as the throttle was being blipped. Abruptly the noise died, silence... then the engine coughed into life again, settled into an undulating idle, and finally brought the car into motion.

From his viewpoint, the boy's first sight of the track was the exit of Sunset bend, then Clubhouse and the run-up to the Esses, followed by the climb through Leeukop to the Kink just before the pits. He could hear the note of the engine growing fainter as the car negotiated Crowthorne, Barbeque, the sound almost vanishing... but still his eyes remained fixed on the exit of Sunset bend.

Then, suddenly with a new burst of sound, there it was: a small red projectile hurtling out of Sunset. The boy's knowledge made identification easy - the dart-like Martini-liveried shape could only be that of a Brabham Alfa-Romeo BT45, and the black helmet with yellow markings: Carlos Pace. The boy caught brief glimpses as the combination rounded Clubhouse, the Esses, and commenced the climb up to Leeukop.

Although it was only his first lap, and on cold tyres, Pace already had his head down and his foot hard on the throttle. The Brabham loomed swiftly up the hill with the harsh bark of the Alfa Romeo flat-twelve echoing off the advertizing boards. Then it was sharply down through the gears and hard on the brakes, the Brabham's nose dipping down and diving towards the apex of the corner, briefly clipping the kerb. The boy watched in awe: all this spectacle was taking place mere metres from him.

Now Pace's right foot was planted firmly once again, the Brabham's tail wriggled and stepped wide, there was a small flurry of Nomex gloves over the steering wheel, and the car catapulted out of Leeukop towards the Kink. Only then did the full blast of the Alfa Romeo flat-twelve hit the boy - the sheer noise was more than mere sound; it was a force that took hold of his body, overwhelmed him, and made his head swim.

As the car howled out of sight towards the pit straight to start its second lap, the boy became aware of a stinging sensation in his eyes, a tightness in his throat, and his entire skin was covered in goose-bumps.

Today, twenty-one years later, I still get the same feeling when I relive these moments.