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Season Review 2012 0

Gordon Cruickshank’s highlight of the year

Maybe I shouldn’t admit it but of my two 2012 highlights, neither involved racing. One was at Silverstone, though: on a wet Media Day ahead of the July Classic meet my job was to stick retired saloon ace Jeff Allam into a trio of restored Super Touring cars – that hi-tech, high-drama era of cut-down Cavaliers, aero-aided Alfas and money-gulping Mondeos – and see how he coped. The aim was to construct a feature on these super-saloons to promote the first Super Touring race for 12 years. And the first shock was that an era I’d seen come and go was now ‘historic’…

The next was that I had a paltry 30-minute slot to get Jeff into all three cars, trail round behind the photographer’s car, and then score some quick laps in each, all while 500 people packed the new pits and 100 or more cars competed for track time. And the rain poured down.

season review 2012  Gordon Cruickshanks highlight of the year

I felt like an overworked sheepdog as I tried to round up a BMW, a Nissan and a Mondeo, three owners, their mechanics, our guest driver, a snapper and an organiser or two, and clear a slice of pitlane to pose all three cars together, while disentangling Allam from old mates and rivals Steve Soper and Dave Brodie…

Despite the rain we’d got two cars in the bag and a third ready in the pitlane when I realised our driver was missing and we only had 4min left of our track slot. We retrieved him from the warmth of the Media Centre and dispatched him into the spray just before he was overwhelmed by a gang of historic F1 cars…

Hectic, but getting a complex feature sewn up against the odds was highly satisfying. However, I came away deeply impressed by two things. First, Super Touring’s tech levels – radical organ transplants and extreme engineering under the skin of a family saloon, something I’d missed at the time because I was getting excited about reconstructing Auto Unions. And then, how hard a few enthusiasts had worked to keep these ‘family saloons’ running during their period of forgotten exile. With so many one-off parts, one owner told me, they’re as hard to run as a Group C car. And I’d had no idea.

season review 2012  Gordon Cruickshanks highlight of the year

My other special moment was visiting, for the first time in 30 years, the grand but crumbling home of our late Founder Editor Bill Boddy to inspect the assemblage of books, photos, magazines, models, brochures, trophies and bits of old racing car he’d amassed in his 80-year career writing about cars. Ancient in parts, the listed building had had no maintenance for years so there was a background of mouldering timber and peeling wallpaper to the mounds of fascinating material heaped in room after room on tables, shelves and floors. We chose a photographer we reckoned would appreciate and capture the dust and dereliction of this slightly spooky building, crowded by tall trees; sure enough the pictures made an atmospheric memento of an overdue visit, and of a unique man.

season review 2012  Gordon Cruickshanks highlight of the year

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Gordon Cruickshank

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