Last month’s article on Roy James (September issue) brought a smile to my face and stirred memories of the 1976 Formula Ford season, when I met him on many occasions. This was my first full year in cars and a mutual friend of Roy’s and my father Ian Walker introduced me to him as he knew we were doing Dunlop Star of Tomorrow FF1600 and Roy wanted some advice. My father and Roy met during Formula Junior days and he later visited us at home as well as coming with us to Brands Hatch for one of my races. I was 18 and remember it being quite thrilling to be with someone of such notoriety, but for all his past faults I found him to be utterly charming and a really good guy. He ended up getting a Royale RP21 like ours, so sharing info was a big help.
Then we had the incident you mentioned at Mallory Park, where he caused a large accident taking out himself, James Weaver and Nigel Mansell at the first corner. It’s a story with no definitive version but is worthwhile none the less. After qualifying Roy found himself on the front row and I experienced my worst session, being down on the third row. As much as he was delighted at his best performance thus far, he was equally dismayed at my result. This was the penultimate round of the series and I was sharing the lead with James Weaver. Roy mentioned to me before the race that if he could help in any way then he would. Being naïve I really didn’t know if that was possible, but thanked him regardless.
There is no doubt that I was helped enormously by the first-corner incident because it allowed David Leslie and Ito have the race to ourselves, with David taking the lead with one lap to go and me grabbing it back into the hairpin on the last lap to take the win. This enabled me to go into the last race leading the championship and, provided I finished in front of David, I would win the championship regardless of position.
In fact I finished second with David third, but to this day I have absolutely no idea if Roy deliberately helped me at Mallory or not!
Sean Walker, London