Matters of Moment, February 1999


I know we’re not quite there yet but I feel the new season approaching fast. Last year we witnessed the most dramatic explosion in interest in historic motorsport there has ever been and I have not the slightest doubt it is set to continue. This season we will not only have a radically revised format for the Goodwood Festival of Speed and, of course, the second race meeting at the circuit but also the anticipation of waiting to see what the organisers of the Coys Historic Festival will do to combat its West Sussex opposition. All of us have all of that to look forward to.

Some of us, however, are looking forward to the season because we’re going to be on the other side of the Armco, not necessarily at the headline events mentioned above but at the myriad race meetings held up and down the country every weekend during the spring and summers What I would like to suggest is that, if you possibly can, you join us. You don’t need to be super-talented to race an historic, nor do you need to be super-rich; much more important is a sense of humour and a desire to spend time mucking about at some of the greatest race tracks in the world with people who love old racing cars. And if you’re reading this, I guess you qualify. All I would ask is that you don’t do what I did and put it off for years for no good reason other than inertia. All that happens is that when you do finally discover how simple, fun and rewarding this sport is, you spend months kicking yourself for not having done it sooner. I speak with experience. If you have ever thought about racing an historic, please don’t delay. The start of the fun is but weeks away and, once you have sampled it, you’ll not want to miss a single moment.

Whether you attend historic events as a competitor or spectator, I’d ask you to bear the following in mind. We are always interested in and will pay good money to use any great photographs you take. Usually these will be very dramatic action shots but if you see the chance of an atmospheric portrait of a driver for example, do not hesitate to send it to us, complete with details of where and when it was taken and what’s going on in the picture. All I would mention, to save you unnecessary effort, is that we sadly cannot use casual snapshots. What we are really looking for is the truly extraordinary and we will pay accordingly if we use it inside the magazine.

Recently, I was talking to Richard Attwood about his career for a story we will run in a future issue. One tale, however, could not wait to be told. It’s the 1965 Belgian GP at Spa and Attwood is howling flat out down the Masta straight in a BRM P25 when he loses control. The car spins down the road and into a telegraph pole, wedging Attwood in the car. Two spectators Lift the pole from the car only for Richard to discover his feet have gone beyond the pedals, the car is bent around him and he is stuck fast. Every ounce of strength he has will not budge him an inch. The next thing that happens is the fuel tank goes up and Attwood is engulfed in flames. “What happened,” I asked. “I got out of the car,” was the rather simple reply. Attwood escaped with minor burns. The BRM was reduced to cinders.