Private view: A 'you were there' special

From the days when a couple of enthusiasts could get truly close to F1’s hub… and then gratefully be accepted as part of a team

Somebody urgently needs to invent affordable time travel – and here’s why. Reader John Aston submitted this charming portfolio of shots taken by friends Nigel MacKrill and Stewart Dickinson, who in 1973 undertook a mid-summer Formula 1 tour while serving with the RAF in Germany. Their day job was to maintain Buccaneers, Phantoms and Pembrokes during the Cold War, but while attending the French, German, Austrian, Dutch and Italian Grands Prix they managed to secure part-time jobs as general dogsbodies for the factory March team. Their duties including cleaning the wheels of Jean-Pierre Jarier’s 731…

In Austria, rivals accused the UOP-backed works Shadow team of using illegal fuel. Its response? It allowed rivals to run on the same stuff, as a result of which there were later many part-empty fuel drums scattered around the paddock. Stewart and Nigel used a couple to top up their Vauxhall Cresta ahead of the journey home.

They recall that James Hunt and Howden Ganley always had time for a chat and that McLaren appeared rather aloof (if less so than Ferrari), while Niki Lauda seemed very approachable.

The enterprising duo came home with various souvenirs and gave Jean-Pierre Jarier’s Monza pit pass to their mate John – a welcome fragment from a bygone age and one he cherishes still.