Proud farewell to a legend



Proud farewell to a legend

This day was inevitable. We knew WB couldn’t go on forever. Still, when the message came through on the morning of July 7 the sense of shock caught us by surprise.

Rocked at the passing of a 98-year-old man? Yes, really. ‘End of an era’ is a phrase all too readily thrown about, but what else can we say when contemplating the loss of Bill Boddy? We pay tribute to the man we call our Founder Editor on page 48. As Gordon Cruickshank writes, he wasn’t actually the first, but the job title is symbolically accurate. Bill was at the heart of this magazine from the day he picked up The Brooklands Gazette (as it was then) as a schoolboy. Next month, for the first time in its 87-year history,

a copy of Motor Sport will hit the stands untouched by the man we all knew as WB. In recent years, Bill’s role has been limited to the pages he filed, without fail, every month. Day to day, nothing may seem to have changed

here. But something has, and we all felt it as we signed off his final two stories, sent in from his Welsh home just days before his passing. Going on without him is a daunting prospect.

But go on we must, just as he’d expect. We can never replace him, just as we can never replace his friend Denis Jenkinson with whom he built such a formidable partnership for 40 years. But the spirit of The Bod and Jenks is something we can aspire to: their uncompromising independence, originality — and the odd moments of maddening idiosyncrasy…

At the memorial service, I was honoured to read a poem by Joyce Grenfell, a favourite of Bill’s: ‘Weep if you must; Parting is hell, But life goes on, So sing as well.’ Thank you, WB. We’ll try to stay in key.

isn’t much about Silverstone that WB would recognise in 2011. The grand, bland requirements of Bernie Ecclestone to turn every Grand Prix circuit into a characterless clone must have puzzled him.

But ever practical, he’d probably have acknowledged that needs must. Silverstone had to modernise to keep the British GP, and the circuit, with its oversized pits complex, is a fine one. But spectators paying over £130 for general admission won’t care too much about that. We’d been told the place is a work in

progress, and so it proved. Facilities for the fans still fall well below world-class standards, and that is hard to stomach. Reader Keith Harland sent us this photo, and was angered by his GP experience — a far cry from the opulence he could see on the other side of the track.

But the circuit hierarchy is neither deaf nor blind to such complaints. They have a GP that offered a wonderful sporting spectacle this year, on a proper circuit that encourages real motor racing — unlike what passes for a track in Valencia, for example. The atmosphere on the packed banks and in the stands is terrific at Silverstone, and there’s much to be positive about. Still, a great deal of work (and financing) lies ahead — and the circuit bosses know it only too well. But the cold, hard reality is that Bernie’s demands had to come first, ahead of the fans — and that’s the real disgrace. Damien Smith, Editor