Lap 10 of the Formula Ford final at any Silverstone Club circuit meeting of the late 1970s or very early ’80s: you’d be in the Woodcote grandstand, waiting for the slipstreaming lead bunch to appear over the horizon on their final blast down from Becketts. Buried in there was always a yellow, white and blue Royale. Sometimes it might even be down in fifth place, but as they emerged from the other side of Woodcote it’d be in front: another win for Jim Walsh and his Crompton Lighting Royale.
Northern Ireland-born Walsh was the star of Silverstone through that era — he won the circuit-based BRDC series three times, in 1976, ’79 and ’80 — and was the master of positioning himself in the tow. He wasn’t always the fastest, but he was the consummate tactician, as future Formula One aces found out to their cost. A road surfacer by trade, he got a Formula Three break for ’81, only to be injured while testing an FFord. A decade later there was talk of a BTCC drive, but Walsh’s backing fell through: he was destined to remain a cult hero. — MS