Thank you so much for the quantity of photographs and text devoted in Nigel Roebuck’s November column to the final two Grands Prix held at Watkins Glen. As a struggling university student, I attended these events as a marshal an chance to get closer to the action than any spectator.
The events of 1979 hold special meaning to me. I was able to watch Villeneuve fly through the rain on Friday from our position in the old pits, a view not too different from the photograph on page 29. On Saturday, one of the Alfas spun into the catch fencing and our job was to repair the damage to these crude car-slowing devices. Upon completing our task, I spotted a pit credential on the ground, its owner long since departed. Upon presenting the credential to my chief, he wished me well and told me to enjoy the rest of the weekend in the pits.
During Sunday’s race, I sensed that pit stops would be crucial, so I hung about the Williams team. When Alan Jones made that fateful stop, I was standing on the pit enclosure wall with only one other person: Denis Jenkinson. I will never forget the image of Jones pulling away and the mechanic at the right rear wheel clasping his hands behind his head and shaking in a gesture of great frustration. It was clear at that moment that Jones’ race was finished.
My one regret is that as I stood with the great Jenks I never spoke to him. As a journalism student (who would go on to briefly cover motor racing) I was so in awe of this man that I couldn’t raise the courage to speak with him. However, it is of some consolation to know he and I quietly witnessed a moment in motor racing history still written about to this day.
I AM, YOURS, ETC
Arthur Michalik, Altadena, California