Many of you have told me how much you enjoy dipping into the extraordinary treasure trove that is the Motor Sport archive, how stories from past decades bring back so many memories. If you are a fan of our archive, I have some good news for you.
We’ve just launched a new audio archive featuring some of the interviews that proved to be so popular back in the 1970s when I was immersed in a labour of love called Track Torque on Radio Victory in Portsmouth.
Buy the first episode here (Lord Hesketh and Nelson Piquet in 1979)
For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, let me explain.
Back in the summer of ’76 I was working as a freelance reporter for this new local radio station and, to cut a long story short, I later joined the staff and became responsible for Victory’s news output.
To compensate for the considerable stress of my day job I used my spare time to create a motor racing programme, calling on the support of local racers John Watson, Derek Bell, Mike Earle, Derek Warwick and David Purley as well as the BARC at Thruxton in Hampshire.
I very soon realised that, there not being enough hours in the day, I needed some help and this is where Mike Lawrence – a former editor of Motor Sport – comes into the picture.
I had met Mike by chance, when he came to my door canvassing for the Liberal party, and I quickly perceived that his intelligence, extraordinary memory and knowledge of motor sport would qualify him to be the producer of my new programme. Without Mike none of this would have been possible, and I’m delighted that he has since written some excellent motor racing books and established a huge following on Pitpass where he writes a regular column about matters both past and present.
So, to further shorten this saga of the 1970s, we somehow managed to broadcast Britain’s first ever motor sport radio show every week for nearly five years, starting in 1977.
It was only possible to listen if you lived in, or near, the Portsmouth area but word rapidly spread and some of our amazingly devoted followers would drive into the area and listen in their cars. Yes, really, they did.
When I left the radio station to join ITV, my friends and fellow managers asked me what I’d like to do with my programme tapes. I’m happy, and somewhat relieved, to say I decided to save the tapes we had made – probably because the entire project had been voluntary, no pay, no expenses, just a labour of love. When I tell you that Frank Williams, Ron Dennis, Ken Tyrrell, Jackie Oliver and John Surtees – plus all those mentioned above and many others – came to Portsmouth on a Thursday night without any recompense you begin to get the picture.
If I were to list all our guests and interviewees here this piece would become just that, a list. So, to launch Motor Sport’s audio archive, let me simply tell you that our first interview will be with Lord Hesketh, recorded in 1979, and looking back over his time in Formula 1.
To buy the Lord Hesketh one-hour show click here
In the months to come you’ll be able to reel back the years with Stirling Moss, John Surtees, Derek Bell at Le Mans, John Watson at the British Grand Prix, Derek Warwick and Nelson Piquet from their days in Formula 3, the thoughts of our very own Denis Jenkinson and two of my favourite characters, James Hunt and David Purley, to mention just a few.
Thanks to the skills of Alan Hyde at Studio 22 all the tapes have been digitised and cleaned up for your enjoyment, which in itself is amazing, as these spools have survived intact for almost 40 years. Our web editor Ed Foster has spent a great many hours organising the archive into a coherent series and here we are, ready to take you on a trip down memory lane.
As Mike and I still say when we communicate on matters motor racing, “may the torque be with you”.
Thanks Mike, and thanks to my many wonderful friends in the sport, for making all this possible. You know who you are.
The Track Torque shows from the Motor Sport audio archive will be released once a month in the Motor Sport shop, where you can buy each episode for £1.99. To buy the Lord Hesketh one-hour show click here. Next month we have part one of a two-part special recorded with Stirling Moss in 1978. We hope you enjoy them and, as always, let us know what you think.