In my last couple of years at school before motor racing’s lure proved irresistible, I used to cycle at weekends to the rifle ranges at Bisley, where I’d work as a marker, cowering in the target butts. It was pretty good fun, with the supersonic crack of bullets whanging overhead, the buzz of the occasional ricochet, and the frequent bawling-out via the field telephone for not having marked a shot (which usually meant the relevant ‘marksman’ couldn’t hit a barn door and had missed by miles).
The big point was that my teenage job paid 30 bob a day, 30 shillings, £1.50 – pretty darned good back in 1961-62. It represents a 2021-22 value of £34.25 – so 68 quid for a weekend’s work, no overheads beyond a packed sandwich lunch and a bottle of Tizer. At 16-17, what’s not to like?
In recent months we’ve been working to finalise a new release of what to me has always been the wonderful Vanwall book written by my old friends and mentors Denis Jenkinson and Cyril Posthumus, and published by Patrick Stephens Ltd in 1975. Publishers Pat Stephens and Darryl Reach were also long-time friends. When I’d been given my first job at Motor Racing magazine, based at Brands Hatch, in 1963, Pat was the MD and Darryl my first and immediate boss. I owe them both one hell of a lot.