Your feature about the Aintree circuit brought some wonderful boyhood memories flooding back.
At the age of 12, I caught the bus with my mother to my first race meeting, the 1955 British Grand Prix. It was a very hot day and we paid 5/(25p) each to go in the West Enclosure on the finishing straight.We could hardly see a thing because of the crush, were deafened by the sounds of the cars, and covered in dust from head to toe. But we went home elated that Stirling had managed to beat Fangio, and over the next few years Aintree became a magnet that attracted me back time and time again. The school I attended in Maghull was about two miles from the circuit, and the sounds of the cars practising on a Friday afternoon for the next day’s Aintree ‘200’ could be heard quite clearly in the classroom. As soon as the bell went at 4pm, my friend and I pedalled furiously to Aintree, got under the fence and spent the next two hours in the paddock.
All the drivers were very approachable and I got the autographs of Mike Hawthorn, Archie Scott Brown, Roy Salvadori and many others, including one young man working on his car who said, “Are you sure you want mine? I’m not famous.” I’m rather glad I did insist, though — it was Colin Chapman.
I was lucky enough to be able to attend all the grands prix and most of the ‘200’ meetings at Aintree during its short lifespan. Even when I started work, my boss allowed me a Friday afternoon off for GP practice where, at no charge, you could roam the paddock at will and photograph cars and drivers to your heart’s content. How different from today.
I shall always be grateful to Aintree for sparking and nurturing my lifelong interest in motor racing in that remarkable period which saw the transition from front-to-rear-engined GP and sportscars.
I AM, YOURS, ETC,
Paul Finn, Ascot, Beaks