My recent acquisition of Andrew Kitson’s superb print of Ronnie Peterson’s Lotus 72 at the exit of Woodcote during the 1973 British Grand Prix has brought back some of my marshalling memories.
I was a marshal in the days when the flagging team was organised by dear old Monty Terre!, chief flag marshal for the British Racing & Sports Car Club at Brands Hatch, ably assisted by Colin Holdom.
We all signed-on come Thursday morning and I was put on Woodcote Corner’s advance post. Looking back we were right in the thick of things. Practice went fairly smoothly, but we were surrounded by chaos on grand prix day. First, there was the horrendous saloon car crash, up track from us at Farm, that included Gavin Booth (Mini), Dave Matthews (Lindrick Finance Racing Capri) and Dave Brodie (Reeves Escort) and ended in serious injury. No sooner had this been cleared up than we were into the grand prix.
Down track from us, rising star Jody Scheckter caused one of the biggest accidents ever seen. The car damage on the pit straight was immense (the whole Surtees team was destroyed), but remarkably the only injury was the broken ankle of Andrea de Adamich, who had taken avoiding action and hit the lower supports of the Motor bridge.
All these incidents were thoroughly reported at the time, but there was a lesser-known problem that our fire marshals had to deal with that day.
During the lengthy clean-up operation that followed the shunt, we heard a muffled explosion from the spectator bank midway around Woodcote. People scattered, and after the marshals had extinguished the small blaze that followed the bang, we discovered that a spectator, using the delay as his lunch break, had been frying sausages on a camping stove. We think he’d changed the gas canister without checking how much fuel was in the old one!
So much happened to us over the course of that weekend.., yet it’s the sight of a hardly damaged gas stove, complete with sausages in a frying pan, totally covered with a mixture of powder and foam that will live with me forever.
Oh by the way, Peter Revson won the GP.
Fergus Watling, Suffolk