A prominent campaigner at Vintage Sports-Car Club events, Christopher Mann is most closely associated with Alfa Romeos – something that extends to the dawn of his racing career.
“I’ve been lucky to drive all sorts of cars since I started in 1960,” he says, “including Ferraris, an ERA [R9B] and three Maserati 250Fs, but my love of Alfas dates back to 1961. I was a gofer for my father, a Bentley man, and we were down at Goodwood with his RL Targa Florio – a car I’m still racing. He didn’t much like it and instructed me to drive it back to London. So there I was, 18 years old, driving an RL and feeling pretty chuffed.
“On my way north, Patrick Lindsay came past on the other side of the road in his Alfa Monza, which made the most amazing noise. I saw it in the paddock the next day and thought it looked unbelievable. I went up to Patrick and said, ‘Excuse me sir, but how much would I have to pay if I wanted one of these?’ He replied, ‘Sonny, you’d have to save up for a very long time – they’re about £1000…’ He had a point, as I was on about £6 per week, but I have loved Alfas from that moment.”
The RL is one of many Alfas in a racing fleet that also includes the unique 3-litre Disco Volante crashed by Consalvo Sanesi at Monza in 1954. “I’m a bit of an also-ran nowadays,” Mann says, “but I still love my racing and have no plans to stop just yet. It’s the same story with rugby: I’ll carry on playing until I feel I’m getting in the way.”
Not your typical 75-year-old, then.