Ladies bikes, 1974
Once again at the Dutch Grand Prix I had a little meeting with a World Champion on a motorcycle, only this time I could not help, as I did with Jackie Stewart in Monte Carlo. With the Zandvoort circuit being on the very edge of the town it is pointless commuting each day from the hotel to the paddock by car. On race day it is as quick to walk and a lot less trouble, but this year I joined the Dutch and hired a pedal cycle, which I found even less trouble than walking. Cycling quietly along towards the circuit on race morning I was overtaken by a small Honda mini-bike (I can’t bring myself to call it a motorcycle) carrying two people. At the controls was Emerson Fittipaldi, and behind him sat Teddy Mayer, his team manager, who made a rude sign as they putt-putted their way by. Within 200 yards I saw them stopped by the roadside, so I rang my bell derisively as I cycled by, but then stopped as I realised they were in trouble. Poor Fittipaldi had been running with the choke out and had filled the engine with petrol, the plug calling it a day. Now normally I would have a plug spanner not far away, but being on a push-bike I did not even have a shifting spanner with me, and as there were no tools on the mini-bike the World Champion and his mate were stuck. We tried all the usual tricks to clear the engine, but to no avail, so while I bicycled quietly on my way I left them to push their evil little contraption to the circuit. I could not even offer Fittipaldi a lift on my crossbar, as I had rented a ladies’ bicycle, Dutch male bicycles being built for people over six feet tall.
Denis Jenkinson was our famous Continental Correspondent for more than 40 years