Editorial, June 1999

Many of you will not need to look at the letters page to know of the outrage perpetrated by me on the magazine last month. Many of you lost not a second before raining complaints down upon my head. Some accused me of a crime against all they held dear, others suggested I should spend more time with the family.I remain unrepentant and say to you now what I said to them then: the reason Hector Rebaque was in the Brabham on the cover last month was not (a) because I think he was the greatest man ever to drive for the team, (b) because we mistook him for Piquet or (c) because I am his love-child. What happened was we found the shot of a Brabham we wanted to use for our Brabham story so we used it. End of story. Please.

This is not the first time Rebaque has got me into trouble. In my ,em>Autocar days, I offered beer to the first hack to sneak the great man’s name past the sub-editors and into print. I reckoned without Steve Cropley who simply repeated the bet in his column and claimed his pint.

You will, I am sure, enjoy Jonathan Williams’ tale of driving Steve McQueen’s Porsche 908 at Le Mans in 1970, which doubled as the camera car for McQueen’s eponymously titled film. There is an almost limitless supply of stories from those involved in the making of this film including: how two full-size, radio-controlled Lolas disguised as a Porsche 917 and Ferrari 512S came to be raced remotely up and down the track by bored drivers; how Siffert, in a further attempt to relieve the tedium, staged 911 races around the inside of the hospitality tent and the moment when Derek Bell came around a comer at race speed to find a camera man lying in the middle of the track. Livid, and not a little white-eyed after avoiding this clearly suicidal lensman, Bell drove back to the pits to find McQueen and inform him he had hired a certifiable lunatic. The actor, however, was otherwise engaged at the time; apparently he had gone out to the track with a camera looking for a really dramatic cornering shot…

The muttering about the identity of the D-Type in our Le Mans supplement has started. As our story makes clear, and is so often the case with old racers, no one doubts that not much of the original car survives. What is beyond doubt is that a number of essential components remain and that no other has a better claim to being the ’55 winner. Critically, its FIA papers give its chassis number as XKD505 – that of the winner of the tragic race. It may not have all its original parts but I, for one, do not doubt it has kept its identity.