On a motorcycling trip to the Belgian GP, John Horsman found himself mixing it on the road with the factory Ferrari Dinos
Before he became a race engineer and manager for John Wyer’s team, John Horsman was a motorcycle enthusiast. After graduating, he and a friend, Richard Hardman, set off on a camping trip to see the 1958 Belgian Grand Prix, on the latter’s Vincent Black Shadow.
“We found a good site to camp, just below the KLG hoarding above Eau Rouge. We were able to roam freely among the race cars throughout practice despite not having a pass.
“On Saturday we rode down to Stavelot where the Ferraris were garaged, and I jumped off the Vincent to take the shot of the two cars rolling through the cobbled street en route to the pits. We then followed them along the public road.
“For the race we reserved a table bordering the track at the La Source cafe, which included lunch — excellent food and a tremendous view, all for 10/- each.
“What great talent Britain possessed then: Moss, Brooks, Hawthorn, Collins, Lewis-Evans — great drivers, all of them.
“Strangely, in later years Spa was my most successful circuit: wins in 1967-68, ’70-71 and ’73.
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Living as he did in Edinburgh, it’s unsurprising that David Baxter’s first visit to a race meeting took him to Charterhall, in 1953. “Even now the noise of Wharton’s winning BRM V16 is unforgettable.” Then, at Winfield, “I met Mike Hawthorn, my hero, got his autograph, and watched him open a tractor rally organised by Jock McBain of Border Reivers.” Things were so different then…
Especially on the autograph front, as Baxter comments: “Nigel Roebuck’s astonishment that someone would pay £900 for a Monaco GP programme with eight signatures reminds me how easy it was, pre-Bernie, to acquire autographs. I collected around 70 without much trouble between 1953 and ’75.
“The only driver who refused to sign was Duncan Hamilton, at Aintree, while Graham Hill, passing by when another driver gave me his signature, laughed and indicated that the driver should sign on his (or my?) backside, not my book.
“Without a camera I’m sure I could have collected Many more autographs.”
Perhaps, but signatures don’t illuminate the past in the way album shots like these do.