Almost all of you were there

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6.00am

Circuit gates open and the annual stampede begins as the first of an estimated 77,000 fans rush to annex their favourite spots and reserve them with a cocktail of folding chairs, hampers and picnic blankets. 

“I was 16 and took a coach from Rochdale with my life-long friend Andy Kershaw, then caught a bus from Victoria to Kent. I remember being horrified when he appeared laden down with a huge tape recorder on top of a camera and much camping gear. We arrived late Friday evening to the sound of the Alfa mechanics firing up a V12 as we looked across to the pits from the grandstands opposite.”

Jonathan Barnes, via motorsportmagazine.com

“It was the last year of the Isle of Man TT races as part of the Grand Prix calendar – they were about to strip it of its championship status. They were having this huge international Grand Prix at Silverstone and all the top riders were going to be there, so I said to [my friend] Johnny, ‘Lets go to this.’ He said ‘Well, I’ll
go to that with you if you go to the F1 at Brands Hatch with me.’

“What I remember was the effort we had to make. We were both 16, neither of us could drive and we had no parental help because they weren’t interested in motor sport at all.

“We did this a lot! We got the coach down to London Victoria, carrying tents and everything for a long weekend. We had a hell of a job finding out where we caught an ordinary bus to Brands Hatch – we caught it from Regent Street, near Broadcasting House, the BBC, never imagining that one day I would work there!

“It took forever to reach the track – you can imagine a bus winding its way across south London into Kent. We found the campsite, which happily was right by the circuit. It was amazing how quiet it was in the days leading up to the race. There weren’t the crowds, you could wander around, get close to most of the drivers. I remember sitting in a grandstand early one evening and there was a photoshoot on the grid. I think Clay Regazzoni was sitting on the front of the car surrounded by a cluster of the most beautiful women I’d seen in my life!”

Andy Kershaw, via email 

“I was nine and my late father and uncle woke me early to set off from Essex. My father was a regular FF1600 competitor at Brands and Lydden Hill throughout the ’70s and we were aiming for a spot in the ‘Paddock dip’. There was lots of ‘Excuse me, can the lad just squeeze in?’ so I do wonder whether I was taken along as a means to wrangle a spot against the fence! I recall the buzz as the day built. I was – and still am – in the Lauda camp, so must have been in a very small club that day.”

Craig Caldwell, Rayleigh

“Having driven down from High Wycombe, I had hoped to park on Death Hill but the police refused to let anyone near. I ended up in Eynsford and joined a huge crowd of mainly James Hunt fans, trudging up toward the track. Clearways was my usual Brands bend of choice, but with all the costly temporary grandstands and everyone else with their garden chairs, it was full by the time I arrived. Paddock seemed to be absolutely heaving, so I ended up on the inside of South Bank.”

David Fox, Pennsylvania

“I had driven down in my Mini Traveller and, for the first time, had been able to watch Saturday practice. Sleeping in the back of the Mini, with the seats down, I was up before dawn to stand in the queue at the main entrance. I had already decided to watch from Paddock Hill Bend, strategically placing my picnic chair in front of a loudspeaker – the better to hear the commentary.”

Paul Truswell, Woking

“We sprinted from the gate when it opened, clutching our folding chairs and a box full of corned beef and tomato sandwiches, plus beer…  My mate Dick and I were at the bottom of Paddock Hill Bend as always, at that precise spot where you seem to look down on the cars as they oversteer through the apex and get hard on it – a great viewing place to this day.”

David McLaughlin, Abinger Common

“My girlfriend and I made a long weekend of that year’s Brands GP, hauling our two-berth caravan all the way down the A1 from York behind our MG Midget…”

Peter Sharper, Milton Keynes 

“As a 15-year-old attending my third Grand Prix at Brands, the excitement was tempered by a 2am alarm call as my father, friends and I sought to beat the queues en route from Hastings. Foregoing the expense of a grandstand, my father fashioned our own, from scaffolding and planks.”

Julian Mains, Cardigan

“At 4.30am my Kiwi friend Jim and I left a party in Cambridge to travel to Brands Hatch in his VW Camper. When we got to Brands it was still very early, despite the fact that there was no Dartford Crossing in those days and we had driven through London. On arrival at Brands we climbed the fence and sat down on the outside of the circuit, looking across from Clearways. We had a terrific view of the drama that unravelled.”

Martin Tomlinson, Duxford

11.00am

Track activities commence with practice for the Evening News ShellSPORT celebrity race.

“We were probably quite unusual in that we were not Hunt fans. During the run-up to the race we chatted about the fact Hunt was just some jumped-up public school dilettante while Lauda was the real deal. Of course those around us tuned in to our conversation and there was some good-natured banter…”

David McLaughlin, Abinger Common

“Much like nothing prepares you for the sheer scale of a proper stadium – the richness of the greens, the dirt on the baseball diamond – nothing had prepared us for Brands Hatch. I was there on the inside of Druids, which was about as close as you could get to the cars. It was a hot day, not helped by my being dressed all in black with a very Seventies JPS jacket (thankfully there are no pictures).”

Simon Marsh, Podington, Northants

“A few hours before the race a smiling Emerson Fittipaldi was to be seen on a huge motorbike, threading his way through the crowds.

Colin Blackhall, via motorsportmagazine.com

11.40am

Formula 1 cars on track for a 20-minute pre-race warm-up – remember those?

“We had just moved from Worcestershire to west London, so Brands Hatch was a lot closer for us – especially as my ageing MGB was becoming less reliable with every trip. The summer was long and hot and Formula 1 had exciting racing, personalities in abundance and competitive controversy, so our trip to Brands was eagerly anticipated. We arrived early and took up our position at the entrance to Druids. 

“My wife and I were astonished when the couple nearest to us set up the most amazing camp with enough food and drink to feed 5000 – one of our first experiences of American-style catering. They were military service personnel and enthusiastic supporters of Mario Andretti. The build-up to the race was great – plenty of sun and refreshment and all the main protagonists ready to do battle. By this time
our American neighbours were well fed and watered and becoming joyously noisier as we approached the start.”

Nigel Gardener, Cerney Wick, Cirencester

“Durex sponsored the Surtees driven by Alan Jones and was giving away free perforated card hats with their name prominently displayed. While waiting for the race to start, my sister spotted one of these and started to read out aloud, letter by letter, ‘D, U, R, E, X’. After completing this, she then asked, ‘What does that mean, Daddy?’ At this point, a spectator behind voiced, ‘Get out of that one, Dad’…”

Gary Hicks, via motorsportmagazine.com

12.20pm

Evening News ShellSPORT celebrity race, involving identical Ford Escorts. The winner receives £500 to donate to the charity of their choice, plus a cutting-edge (four wavebands!) Hitachi radio.

“Light relief was provided by Shellsport Escort celebrity race, the field having been determined by Autosport readers, so some of the best British racers were involved – Andy Rouse, Mike Wilds, David Purley, Derek Bell, Barrie Williams and others seemed intent on driving each other off the track. I think Gerry Marshall and Tony Lanfranchi retired in protest.”

David Fox, Pennsylvania

12.40pm

With the British F3 round having taken place the previous afternoon, the Keith Prowse British Saloon Car Championship is the day’s only significant supporting race. Vince Woodman triumphs in his Ford Capri, with Derek Bell (Triumph Dolomite) a class-winning second overall. Barrie Williams (Toyota Celica, 10th) and Bernard Unett (Hillman Avenger, 11th) win their respective divisions. Woodman collects £50 for his race victory, plus another £150 for topping his class.

“Not everyone at Brands Hatch that weekend was convinced that Hunt was the new messiah. In the back window of a caravan I spotted a large sticker that proclaimed: ‘James Hunt Is a Steaming Turd’. I do not think I would go that far, but many of us favoured Lauda over Hunt in the same way that we had previously favoured Stirling Moss over Mike Hawthorn – and for very similar reasons.”

Rev Philip J Morse, Cirencester

“1976 was a banner year for the British in motor sport and probably tipped the balance for me. I can even remember a morning prayer at my junior school offering thanks to James Hunt and Barry Sheene. That gave me goosebumps at the time.”

Paul Charsley, Sonoma, USA

13.30pm

Lunchtime demonstrations and air displays.

“The GP was preceded by support races and the usual magnificent air display – [Brands Hatch promoter] John Webb certainly knew how to put on a show. The Red Arrows made us half-close our eyes as they duelled above the pit straight in those politically incorrect, hair-raising days of the 1970s.” 

Peter Sharper, Milton Keynes

“I left home in the Cotswolds at 4am and returned at 4am, an absolutely hellish journey, super hot and my car was overheating. The M20 was being constructed at the time and on the way back I think it took us four hours to reach London. During the lunch break the new Ford Fiesta was demonstrated – and they are still producing them 40 years on.”

David Cook, via motorsportmagazine.com

14.30pm

F1 cars begin their warm-up laps.

“We were sitting in the last of the startline grandstands, eagerly waiting for the cars to come out onto the grid. A big roar erupted around us and I remember Joe Bugner, then the British heavyweight boxing champion, standing up from his seat and taking a bow to huge applause.”

Ray Miller, Xativa, Spain

15.00pm

Race commences over 76 laps and chaos ensues, as Clay Regazzoni clips team-mate Niki Lauda and then strays into the path of James Hunt. “The whole affair looked catastrophic,” wrote Denis Jenkinson in the August 1976 edition of Motor Sport, “but had proved to be completely harmless, with only three cars (those of Regazzoni, Hunt and Jacques Laffite) hors de combat, but someone flapped, pressed the panic button and the British Grand Prix, for the second year in succession, was stopped by the official red flag.” It is initially announced that the field will restart in the original order, but minus those drivers who failed to complete the original first lap – and no spare cars would be permitted. The crowd – of whom Jenks estimated “50,000 to be Hunt fans” – starts to make its feelings known…

“It was one of those sunny summer days that seem to exist only in your childhood. My overwhelming memory is of the ‘unBritishness’ of it all. The chanting and throwing of bottles and cans was a European thing and not something done in Britain – well, not outside a football stadium. I had just turned 17 and schoolmate Russell Bulgin [the late, respected journalist] and I travelled down from Bromsgrove by coach to watch our first Grand Prix. Our viewing point of choice was the exit of Druids, so we dug in for the duration. The track commentator tried to keep the crowd informed. When he told the masses that Hunt would not be allowed to restart the uproar began. If they had not allowed the McLaren to take part there might well have been a track invasion and sit-in until justice was seen to be done. I have been to many sporting events over the last 40 years and none has come close to the drama of that day.”

Robert Wall, Neen Sollars, nr Kidderminster

“For the race we had seats in a huge grandstand that had been erected by Clearways. I used to carry around one of the earliest ghettoblasters – not to play music, but because you could make high-quality stereo recordings. It was about the size of a suitcase and weighed a ton. We were really squashed in those seats, but I had this enormous thing on my lap and my mate Johnny was moaning the whole time.”

Andy Kershaw, via email 

“I was where the Desiré Wilson grandstand is now located and am sure a bloke two rows behind me chucked the first can onto the track!”

Mike Sheppard, via Twitter 

“Between the two starts, and while the recriminations were going on as to who should and shouldn’t make the grid for the restart, someone poked a microphone in Denny Hulme’s face. He’d obviously been there as a guest and was in the pitlane. Ever the voice of reason The Bear said, ‘Well, I think everyone should race.’ This was clearly a popular view as it spawned an oasis of cheering amid the boos and slow hand-claps.”

John Norris, Derbyshire

“I was 15 and managed to wriggle my way to the front at Druids, so had a fantastic view down the hill to Paddock. After the initial accident, for nearly an hour there was debate about whether James would be allowed to restart again, along with the loudest slow handclap I’ve ever heard. The atmosphere was near to boiling point and when [commentator] Brian Jones announced that Hunt wouldn’t be allowed to restart the crowd erupted, with beer cans being thrown onto the track. I truly believe the organisers and Kent Constabulary thought they would have a total riot on their hands if they did not give in to ‘people power’ and let Hunt restart. It was in some respects like a football crowd, not like any Grand Prix I’ve attended before or since.”

Dennis Scoging, Torpoint, Cornwall

“James Hunt was my absolute hero and I had followed his career through the pages of Motor Sport. I even answered an advert to act as his Formula 3 ‘gofer’, James’s mum informing me over the telephone that I had just missed out. Lord knows how my life would have turned out if I had landed that opportunity. In 1976 my brother and I spectated halfway around Paddock Hill Bend and witnessed first-hand the Lauda-Regazzoni shunt, and the subsequent chaos with James getting partially airborne. We could see red flags on the startline and James trickling down the hill from Druids. When the PA system initially announced that he could not restart, the crowd was outraged. I had not witnessed such unadulterated passion at a motor racing event and have not since. Beer cans were hurled on to the track, Union Jacks were lowered to half-mast and ‘We want Hunt’ became the chant. Who knows what would have happened if he had not been allowed to race?”

Tim Major, Northampton

“We heard the chanting and the sound of cans and bottles landing on the track – it seemed as though we were in the grip of a riot. While this was going on, McLaren fixed Hunt’s race car and wheeled it onto the grid. After the race finally resumed, Hunt passed Lauda going into Druids – right in front of our group. Although the win was later taken away, in my mind the real winner of that race was James Hunt. I saw it with my own eyes, saw him take the lead and saw him spray the champagne.”    

Tony Condon, Chilton Polden, Somerset 

“We were on the exit of Paddock and got a good view on the incident – Regazzoni was clearly the culprit.”

Peter Stiff, Knottingley 

“Brands Hatch 1976 was my first Grand Prix as a marshal – and I was on post two, at the top of Paddock. I don’t think any of us could tell exactly what happened during the first-lap incident, as we were ducking to avoid debris. For a while we were busy clearing up, but we noticed that James Hunt’s car had taken a short-cut to the back of the grid at Clearways. We couldn’t see if he had gone into the pits but were pretty sure he would not make the restart as there appeared to be suspension damage. We were surprised to hear over the Tannoy that there was a debate about whether he could start. We tended to agree with the commentary that this would not be allowed, because he had not driven the full circuit, but someone suggested that marshals might have directed him to take the cut-through at Surtees.

“During the break we sat down and noticed that fans were getting restless. They started shouting abuse, but were making so much noise we couldn’t hear why. Then the beer cans started flying over the fence! One landed with a clunk not a rattle and was quickly retrieved to go in a marshal’s bag for later consumption. They must have been upset to throw full cans… The crowd only calmed down once it was announced that the stewards were going to allow James to restart.”

Chris Whitlock, Silverstone

“When it appeared James would not be able to restart, things got ugly and I strongly suspect that the first beer cans were thrown from our area. I am sure that had he not taken the start there would have been a track invasion.”

David McLaughlin, Abinger Common

“My wife and I were in the stands across from the pits. When the news came over the loudspeakers about James Hunt not being allowed to restart, the fans erupted in dismay. If there had been seat cushions in the stands, the front straight would have been deluged with them (we had driven up from our home in Madrid, where cushions were regularly tossed into the bullfighting arena when the event was not up to scratch).”

Timothy Ennor, New Jersey

“The crowd did not personalise the Hunt vs Lauda thing out of animosity. Both sides were respected, but the Ferrari management and its tricks were not.”

Paul Spensley, Hadlow

“Finally, 20 minutes after the race had been stopped, a bombshell: it was announced that the stewards had decreed the race would restart only with those cars that had completed the first lap. Instantly, and as if on cue, the whole crowd booed – and who could blame us? We’d paid a lot of money to see James Hunt.”

David Fox, Pennsylvania

“I can still see the two Ferraris heading towards the corner side by side – Regazzoni had made a superb start and was really going for it. What really stood out for me was the instantaneous change in the mood of the spectators immediately after the announcement that Hunt would not be allowed to restart; they were bloody well going to see Hunt race and that was the end of it.

“Racing crowds have always been good-natured, putting up with crap food and dreadful sanitation with a smile and a shrug, but on this day they demonstrated their collective muscle. I believe there would have been a serious riot had Hunt not been allowed to restart. I still have my grandstand ticket (£5.00!) and married the wee Scottish lass sitting next to me, holding my hand in sheer excitement at the drama of it all.”

Colin Blackhall, via motorsportmagazine.com

“Brands Hatch was an important part of my first overseas trip outside the Antipodes, at the tender age of 20. It was my first ‘proper’ F1 race, having witnessed the likes of Clark, Hill, Stewart, Rindt, Brabham and Hulme race in the Tasman Series at Lakeside and Surfers Paradise. 

“We made our way to Kent in a rented Cortina estate and arrived in time for the final qualifying session on Saturday. I recall seeing Frank Williams in the grandstand – when was the last time a team principal did that at a Grand Prix? After sleeping in the car overnight we secured a spot at Paddock early on the Sunday morning. 

“The clash between the two Ferraris happened just in front of us and then all hell broke loose. I recall seeing Hunt’s McLaren on two wheels and being amazed it didn’t roll and that no one was injured. When Hunt’s disqualification was announced the crowd erupted, although I recall being happy with that as I was a Lauda fan and thought Hunt a boorish jerk at the time. I subsequently revised that opinion later, particularly after his drive at the Nürburgring two weeks later. It was certainly a memorable first Grand Prix.”

Tony Geran, via motorsportmagazine.com

“On race day it became pretty obvious to most motor sport enthusiasts that this was not your normal British GP crowd, thanks to a frenzy of British chauvinism whipped up by the UK tabloids. We watched the race from the outside of Clearways and saw the first-lap carnage unfold. Dear old Regga was on a mission, that is for sure. The beer cans certainly did rain down on the start and finish straight and to
be honest that was pretty unsavoury, but it made good press.” 

Charles Norman, via motorsportmagazine.com

“I was nine and my dad drove us to Brands in a blue Renault 8 that was sprayed matt black on most panels, to hide the rust. I’d been to every GP at Brands since ’68, so was excited but wasn’t expecting anything out of the ordinary. The accident happened right in front of us, but I don’t remember very much about it. I clearly recall the jeers and whistles coming from the crowd. Beer cans and other junk started to be thrown on the circuit and I remember my hair was dampened with beer that dripped from flying cans.”

Robert Bruce, Surrey

“After the accident things got feral and I am not sure I liked being part of it. Brands was always a bit ‘fur coat and no knickers’, compared with Silverstone’s blazered conformity and stuffy commentary, but what a circuit on which to watch a Grand Prix.”

John Aston, via motorsportmagazine.com

“I was at Clearways in a deckchair by the paling fence, with my friends the Rees brothers – Gareth and Graham. We would have been there from the time the gates opened and had a good view, although as the cars came through Paddock for the first time we could only see some dust going up. After everyone had passed through you could just make out a McLaren and a Ferrari, plus one or two other cars. I did not notice the red flag until the field pulled up.

“When it was announced Hunt would not be restarting, the crowd quite quickly became restless and angry, something I had only experienced standing on the terraces at Cold Blow Lane [Millwall FC’s home at the time]. It was actually quite easy to see how large crowds of people can be wound up and become a self-generating hysterical entity…

“By then the careers of most of my teenage F1 heroes – including Ickx and Amon – were fizzling out, but Clay was still going strong on occasion. It was hard to envisage that, just three years later, I would be his race engineer at Silverstone when he delivered Frank Williams’s first F1 win.”

Neil Oatley, Farnham

“At first, the decision not to allow James to restart caused a pregnant pause to blanket the circuit, save for a few Ferrari fans. Once the reality dawned I initially felt deflated and a little cross. Had I not woken at 2am in order
to watch James win the British Grand Prix? The crowd stirred, vocal in its reproach, and after the first can or bottle landed at Paddock Hill Bend missiles were launched from all around. It was a little scary.”

Julian Mains, Cardigan

“When it was announced that Hunt would not be allowed to take the restart, the crowd in my stand started stamping on the wooden floor. This racket only added to the jeering from around the stadium.”

Andrew Hodgson, Bury

“I was there that sunny hot day, by the fence on South Bank. That race wasn’t happening without Hunt – cans made sure of that.”

Ian Perry, via Twitter

“When it was announced that Hunt would be excluded from the restart, the atmosphere turned to anger – something I’ve not experienced at a motor race before or since; I think the crowd would happily have lynched the race stewards.”

Neil Kirby, via Twitter

“I was a flag marshal at the event. When the race was stopped and cars made their way back to the grid, Emerson Fittipaldi joined us on our post to get a better view of what was going on. With that traditional Emmo smile, he said, ‘Bloody Formula Ford drivers!’ Emerson was at the ‘wrong’ end of the pits, struggling with brother Wilson’s Copersucar. When not on circuit he joined us on a couple of occasions to share the view we had. He informed us that the Café do Brasil booth behind his pit had been given instructions to serve marshals first whenever there
was a queue…”

George Copeland, vice-president BMMC

15.45pm

British GP begins again with all 26 cars. Jenks: “A state of deadlock was fast approaching, with Regazzoni in the spare Ferrari, Laffite in the spare Ligier and Hunt in the repaired McLaren, all in position on the grid along with the other 23 competitors. There was no way out but to start the race again and continue the arguments afterwards.” Lauda leads from Hunt, but gearbox problems slow the Ferrari and the local hero passes his rival on the 45th lap of 76 before going on to take a comfortable win, with Jody Scheckter (Tyrrell) third and John Watson (Penske) a lapped fourth. The stewards of the meeting reject Ferrari’s initial appeal against the result, but an FIA tribunal would overrule them in September.

“In the end of course, the stewards relented. Hunt was allowed to start and beat Lauda fair and square. Looking back, the highlight of the weekend was after the race, finding Denis Jenkinson in the pitlane, encircled by a small band of enthusiasts and piecing together what had happened: not just in the first-corner incident, but in its aftermath. 

“Over the weekend I had been able to get up close to the driving heroes of the day, but an interchange with the man who brought so much of the action through my letter box each month rounded it off perfectly. The fact that men in Paris later changed the result doesn’t spoil any of those memories.”

Paul Truswell, Woking

“It’s funny how details stay with you – Hunt getting closer and closer until he and Lauda were a single flash of red and Day-Glo. But catching and passing are two different things – we knew that even then. Our English reserve returned… Hunt would be second, surely? But no, he would pass on the inside into Druids right in front of us. In 40 years of following motor sport it hasn’t got any better than that. This was the iconic day when my passion began.”

Simon Marsh, Podington, Northants

“We were cheering Lauda until Hunt passed him. Little did I know that I would later become the owner of that very McLaren M23 for some 18 years…”

David McLaughlin, Abinger Common

“The restart was, of course, bonkers. The atmosphere was brilliant despite being a bit like a football match. F1 was much better then, if too dangerous, and it’s still sad (after all this time) that Niki remains in the pitlane without James.”

Jonathan Barnes, via motorsportmagazine.com

“After the race I woke my mate Jim (he’d slept through the whole thing) and we set off for the pits. There I bumped into Jenks and we had a conversation about the events of the day and in no uncertain terms he let us know just how he felt about the crowd’s behaviour – he shared our distaste. In retrospect that was probably the defining day, when F1 started to evolve into the commercial show it has now become.”

Martin Tomlinson, Duxford

“Afterwards I crossed the track to walk into the pits and saw James scrounging a cigarette from a fan. We then came across Mario Andretti chatting to what seemed to be an American journalist and hearing his tale regarding the first-corner accident. He said he’d ‘just shut my eyes and prayed’ to miss the carnage before him. As usual in those days, it would take hours to be able to exit the car park, so my friends and I retired to a pub on the A20 to chew over the day’s events before driving home.”

Ray Miller, Xativa, Spain

The traffic was horrendous on the way out, and that – combined with the high temperatures – made many a vehicle overheat, mine included.
I pulled off into a south London suburb for several hours until it all quietened down.”

Charles Norman, via motorsportmagazine.com

And at various points afterwards…

“If the FIA refuses to allow the RAC to run another Grand Prix on the grounds of incompetence, you could hardly blame them, but it will be a great shame for they certainly put on some splendid entertainment, even if they cannot organise a motor race. It cannot all be bad luck; some of it must be bad judgment.”

Denis Jenkinson, Motor Sport

“It was only as we were on our homeward journey that we learnt of the protest against Hunt, seeking his disqualification. Then anger ensued: how could he have been allowed to race and risk his life (not just a turn of phrase in those days) only to be excluded after winning? I am still pleased to have been there and to have seen those two great drivers and characters, Niki and James, fight wheel-to-wheel in an era when prime/super-soft compounds, race strategy, aero winglets and DRS zones were still to be invented. Why can’t we go back to that?”

Nigel Gardener, via email

“After the race we decided to stay in the car park, sleep in our Austin Maxi and leave the following morning, to avoid the queues. We were parked close to a hedge, behind which was an airstrip from which those far more affluent than ourselves were departing in rapid succession. Then we noticed one aircraft taking off in the wrong direction; instead of accelerating into the wind and away from us, it was doing the opposite. We saw it approach us at no height at all, skim over the hedge and crash next to us. Nowadays it would have been on YouTube within minutes but, even though I had my camera with me, out of respect for the embarrassed pilot I didn’t take any photos. I have never seen or heard any reference to this anywhere else and have been disbelieved so many times that I sometimes doubt myself. Do any other readers remember it, I wonder?”

Andrew Wardle, Consall 

“The queue to get out of the car park was horrendous, but we were kept entertained by all the light aircraft taking off from the makeshift airstrip – right through the middle of our car park. Until, that is, one idiot tried to take off downwind and failed. Did a lot of damage to someone’s shiny new Cortina, that…”

Mike Chaundy, via motorsportmagazine.com

“I moved house three years ago and was unpacking these boxes I’d been carting around for the last 30 years. Beautifully preserved, I found a poster from the British Grand Prix.”

Andy Kershaw, via email 

“As a postscript, John Webb put on a celebratory event at the end of season, after the title had been secured, and James stayed late to serve beer to marshals in the Brands Clubhouse (these were pre-Kentagon days). That was much appreciated; it would not happen today.”

Chris Whitlock, Silverstone

“A final addition to what had been an amazing and unforgettable day. I was wheeling my caravan water bottle over to the tap in the camping field at about 6.30pm. Nearby was a hand-painted black Mini with accompanying small ridge tent and a wood camp fire with four friends sitting around it cross-legged, each laughing and toasting sausages on sticks in the flames. I did a double take when I saw that one of the four was James, just a couple of hours after winning the Grand Prix – totally chilled out and having a ball with his old mates, dressed in jeans and with bare feet. As I strolled past I asked James why he wasn’t still in the paddock, defending the protest that we knew Ferrari had lodged against McLaren’s win. He just gave a cheery grin and a shrug, then said ‘Well, I’ve done my job. I’ll leave the rest to Teddy Mayer’.”

Peter Sharper, Milton Keynes