I read the article on Mike Thackwell with great interest, and it brought back fond memories of the trip I made with Mike from Montreal to Watkins Glen. Mike, myself, Bob Skene and Harry Mendel travelled from the Canadian Grand Prix to Watkins Glen by car, as did our other Tyrrell team members that year. This was a trip undertaken many times — leisurely, stunning scenery and a chance to recharge our batteries after the eventful race that year.
Unfortunately it was not that straightforward on this occasion. Ken had checked with Mike that he had the necessary visa for the States, which he confirmed he had. When we arrived at the Niagara Falls US border we discovered he had a Transit Visa. They wouldn’t let him in! We were directed to the nearest US Embassy to obtain the correct one. Although he had already become the youngest Grand Prix driver at 19, he could not have the visa without someone over 21 signing his application as a guardian — me. This meant I became his temporary guardian and responsible for him for the duration of the GP weekend at Watkins Glen. There was more to being a race mechanic than just working on race cars in those days!
Mike was a joy to work with; none of the pretentious manners and attitude of some of today’s modern-day drivers. He says in the article that “things I saw in F1, and the people, they were not for me”. Let’s hope some of the F1 people were!
Steve Leyshon, Dubai UAE
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