Rob Widdows

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Current page

141

Current page

142

Current page

143

Current page

144

Current page

145

Current page

146

Current page

147

Current page

148

Current page

149

Current page

150

Current page

151

Current page

152

Current page

153

Current page

154

Current page

155

Current page

156

Current page

157

Current page

158

Current page

159

Current page

160

Current page

161

Current page

162

Current page

163

Current page

164

Current page

165

Current page

166

Current page

167

Current page

168

Current page

169

Current page

170

Current page

171

Current page

172

Monaco, the Hesketh way

I was sitting at my desk at ITN in London in May 1974 when life suddenly got better. A lot better.
“You know a bit about motor racing,” said my news editor. “We need someone to get down to Monaco and do a piece on this bloke James Hunt. You’ll be going down there in Hesketh’s transporter so you need to be in Southampton tonight.”
The transporter wasn’t hard to find, a large yellow teddy bear logo standing out in a line of trucks on the dockside. The fun began on the ferry, where mechanics and truckies gathered in the bar.
After an overnight stop in Lyon we became involved in a truck race to the coast. This was for position in the paddock, which was then on the Monte Carlo harbour front. We did well, beaten only by Lotus. Crawling through the traffic I handed out many a teddy bear sticker to fans clamouring for any souvenir of Hunt or Hesketh.
Accommodation was aboard the yacht Henry Morgan. Lord Hesketh, wearing a jacket emblazoned with ‘Le Patron’, asked what I needed for my film. An interview with James, he winced, could be tricky. “He tends to be preoccupied, a little bit tense, before the race.” When I found the man, on the morning of first practice, he was surrounded by photographers, looking a little uneasy. But I waded in. He was edgy, but helpful.
After final practice he came to the yacht, with fans, mainly female, trailing behind him like the Pied Piper. It had been a hot afternoon, he looked pensive, distracted. Shrugging off his overalls, he called for a drink, looked at me and asked what I wanted to know. About the car, how the race might go, how was life with Hesketh?
“We have a lot of fun, and Monaco is, yeah, you know…” he ruffled his hair and looked at the girls on the quayside. “But the racing is serious. The car is OK, not great, too many retirements. The Firestones don’t work so well in hot weather but anything can happen here.” A silver tray with glasses of champagne arrived and someone handed him a sheet of paper. He lit a cigarette. “Seventh on the grid. I worked hard for that but you need to be higher up, there’s nowhere to pass here, it’s pretty stupid, really. And in case you’re wondering I’m not talking about girls, parties or tax exile in Marbella, I’m here to race and we need to start gaffing results. Ask Alexander about the fun and games.”
So we went in search of Alexander. Sitting on the deck, champagne in hand, Hesketh was charm itself. The world faced recession, oil prices were rising, stock markets falling, but Hesketh Racing was in full swing. “It’s our first anniversary in Formula 1, we’ve shaken things up a bit, and we intend to party,” he smiled. “James, bless him, is terrific and he’s right we are serious about results. But we want to do it with style and have some fun.”
The party that night, aboard the yacht Nefertiti, was not the kind of event to which I was accustomed. I’d never seen so much champagne, never mind a yacht with a swimming pool. I made conversation with lots of tall, glamorous and scantily-clad people.
Race day brought another retirement. “Bloody driveshaff broke,” said Hunt, striding along the waterfront, “and I think Stuck hit me up the back in Casino Square. Things can only get better.” We followed him back to the boat where Hesketh asked if I’d like a lift to the airport. I assumed he meant by road, but I was shown to a launch that took me across the harbour to a quay where stood Le Patron’s white Jet Ranger helicopter.
“Hi, the airport, right?” asked the pilot. “Let’s go, I’ll show you the Cote d’Azur.” He did, at fairly close quarters, as we flew fast and low along the coast to Nice. Turns out my chauffeur learnt his trade in Vietnam. “Fun, huh?” he said in my headset. Yes, it was.
James Hunt, as you will learn from my colleague Eoin Young this month, was a complex character. But he was a Boy’s Own racing hero, the camera loved him, and we all rejoiced when he won the title in Japan two years later.