From Radio Victory to a world of podcasts


Unfortunately I was driving to the airport during the major part of the Hungarian Grand Prix. Normally I make sure that I am either at the race, or at least watching the proceedings on television. Not on this occasion.


So, having packed my bags, stowed them in the car, fed the cats and checked the refrigerator for rotting food, I sat down to watch the first few laps on BBC TV. At the first pitstops, I switched off, locked the door and made a dash for the car, having already tuned the radio to BBC Radio 5 Live, whose race coverage is notable for the wit and wisdom of Maurice Hamilton (below), a man who knows what he’s talking about. Now, finding Radio 5 on my car radio is not the work of a moment, as this station appears to broadcast in a very narrow window between lots of noise from spaceships and a truly awful French pop music station. But I got there, and for the next hour I could follow events at the Hungaroring.


I mention all this because we, at Motor Sport, have recently dragged ourselves into the ‘Digital Age’ by introducing podcasts into the content offered by our online magazine. This, for me, has been a most enjoyable experience, not to say a little nostalgic.

Back in the days before the internet was invented, or before anyone other than the Pentagon had access to it, I presented a radio programme called ‘Track Torque’ for one of the first commercial radio stations to be licensed on land, rather than those which had previously existed on ships at sea. The latter were very exciting, refreshingly entertaining, piratical even. And illegal. So, there we were in the summer of 1976, broadcasting the UK’s first ever motor racing radio programme from Radio Victory in Portsmouth, where Admiral Nelson’s flagship of the same name is preserved in a dry dock. We broadcast from an old Victorian school building and right next door was a pub called the Museum Gardens. And it was here that we offered what is now known as ‘hospitality’ to most of the greatest names in the sport – a couple of beers, a packet of crisps and then an hour on the radio. Ron Dennis still holds the record for the longest ever answer to one of my questions – the beginnings of ‘Ron Speak’ – while he still refers to the programme as “Racing-on-a-Shoestring”. Good days.


Now, can you imagine if we had been able to speak to the world? Even the earliest geeks would have raised their studious eyebrows. Only now, in 2009, am I able to fondly imagine that we have ears pressed to the laptop from Mexico to Bogota and on to Alaska and beyond. It is truly mind-boggling. I know, from my travels, that motor racing fans lurk in the upper reaches of everywhere and anywhere. Back in the days of the wireless, we brought the likes of Niki Lauda and plain Mr Frank Williams to the county of Hampshire in southern England. It was only when Ken Tyrrell brought along a prize to give away on air that we started receiving postcards from far outside the area. Yes, the fans were driving to parks and lay-bys in Hampshire to tune in to their heroes. Really.


I hope, then, that you will join us for one of our podcasts. Our regular panel of Nigel Roebuck, Damien Smith and Ed Foster will soon be bolstered by a “star” guest. Make a date to join us on September 1, and let us know your thoughts.

Just 14 days before the return of Herr Schumacher. Wonder how the neck is getting on?

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