Even tiny Jersey has its racing heritage – and heroes
Growing up in Jersey with its 40mph limit I was a little short of local heroes; but acclaimed Chevron racer Digby Martland lived there, as did Mike Salmon, who is married to ace 1950s Aston racer Jean Bloxam.
Michael’s career was long and illustrious: his irst Le Mans was in 1962, his last in 1984 in the ferocious Group C Nimrod Aston. He then took up historic racing and in cars like the Aston Martin DP212 was as good as they get. He continued to race at Goodwood Revival until his 70s, around four years ago.
One winter’s night perhaps 30 years ago the Salmons came to dinner, and after a long evening stepped outside to discover deep snow had fallen. He and Jean jumped into their Alfasud, leaving us laying bets about how long it would take the pair to abandon their futile quest.
They never did. The following morning I trudged along roads no longer recognisable as such, save for a single set of tyre tracks snaking into the distance. I don’t believe another person on that rock would have got through that night.
Michael ran the island’s Ferrari dealership so would often turn up in interesting part-exchange machinery, once even a Lamborghini LM002.
“What’s it like?” I asked, trembling at the sight of this mighty V12 off-roader. “See for yourself,” he replied, tossing me the keys. The answer even a very young me could see was that it was utterly awful, but that was scarcely the point. I simply couldn’t believe I’d been trusted with it.
Then again Michael doesn’t scare easily. This is a man who was cruelly burned at Le Mans in a Ford GT40 in 1967, yet was back the next year in a near-identical car. I’ve heard him growling that he’d refuse on principle to race at a Le Mans with chicanes. It’s a saying too often peddled that they don’t make ’em like they used to, but in the case of Mike Salmon, they may have a point.