Lunchtime

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Those who grew up, as it were, in the days when Lotus were successful in the Grand Prix field must be terribly shaken to hear that, allegedly, £10-million in-the-red, this British team may never again be seen on the circuits.

I write this as one who saw Colin Chapman’s unique abilities, his love of motor racing and his notable business acumen. Memory recalls when, on a visit to Hethel, we were waiting in the directors’ dining room for Colin to arrive. I must have smiled slightly, and had to explain it, saying this was such a contrast, such a tribute to Lotus, from the days when it was a small concern based in Hornsey, N London. Come lunch time then and Colin would enquire whether Jenks and I were staying, then give the works-lad a “fiver” to go and buy fish-and-chips, which we would eat out of the wrapping paper, standing around the cars… Road Test cars never seemed to carry licences; but one did not dare comment. You just drove out of London as rapidly as possible…

Another cameo of how quickly Colin put all that behind him, to become a multimillionaire. We flew up to Hethel for a Lotus Open Day in an ex-racing Piper Twin Cornmanche. Arriving by air might then have caused a bit of a stir. Not at Lotus; as we emerged from the fog right over the runway, long lines of other aeroplanes were seen to be neatly parked, as we were shown where to go by the gentleman with the bats. Two oblique but sincere personal tributes, to a once-great Company…

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