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This post is inspired by harsh comments about Kimi Raikkonen and his apparent lack of personality.

Personally, I think he's quite nice when he's talking one-to-one with an interviewer, but talking in a foreign language to the worlds press has got to be a little intimidating. I know I'm sick of them stopping me in the street whenever I go out...


So who would you like to go for a drink with? Could be past or present, decesed or living, F1 or whatever... I'm interested to see the reponses from those seperate from the sport and those who are involved and have met the men themselves.



Personally, I'd have to choose Ayrton Senna. But not for the obvious reason that he was arguably the best driver of his era, or for that matter, ever.... If you ever saw one of his press conferences or one-to-one interviews you will know what I mean. He was smart. He would muse about everything under the sun if someone would listen. He seems like a good bloke to me, even though some people disliked parts of his character. To me he was the greatest and no-one will ever eclipse him. I'd really like a chat with him, because I think I could learn something from it.

What about you?

McLaren
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Clearly... to some. But still, it's nice to read others opinions...

McLaren

PS. Stop making me post, I'm meant to be cutting down...
 

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He was that kind of driver that I admire. He was as I see it one of the best drivers in the 70´s, he was also regarded to be the fastest one. And for a driver that lacked? the ability to set up a car, but still could handle it the way he did...well..that is something that i find amazing.
 

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McLaren mine was half joking and please don't take umbrage. Piers of course is/was from the Scottish Courage brewery company and Rob Walker is/was from the Johnny Walker family, neither had to work a day in their life had they not chosen to. On top both were wonderful blokes.

Anybody remember Rob Walker's occupation as listed on his passport?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I learnt three things there: The alcoholic ancestry of two great men and what the word "umbrage" meant!

Don't worry I wasn't taking 'umbrage'. Just want to open up a discussion...

Good choice, at least you won't be paying all night!

McLaren
 

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I am with Dennis, but was luckier than he was. I spent a whole day with Rob Walker at the Long Beach GP in 1982, when he was doing the reporting for Road & Track. I helped as a "guide" for him, but he took a liking to me (go figure...
) and he invited me for dinner on that Friday evening. He was a very kind person, and of course we did talk about Jo Siffert and Piers Courage, as well as Moss, Trintignant... fascinating conversation, interesting comments...
Rob was a true gentleman in the highest sense, one of the few left at the time in an increasingly cut-throat racing business. I disagree about the comment that they did not have to work a day in their lives, Rob worked very hard indeed, and achieved great success. Start money of course helped.
Don't even mention Ron Dennis or Frank Williams, best examples of tiger sharks in the biz. Mention Ken Tyrell, another true gentleman.

Just returning from Goodwood and the wonderful Revival races. As I was drowning my sorrows at the driver's club after my car broke down after only 500 yards, Roy Salvadori was my drinking partner. He exudes the same qualities as Rob's, those of an impeccable and fair gentleman with fabulous stories. He was a bit annoyed at Carroll Shelby's four-letter vocabulary... but pleased that I found Shelby wandering around, so they could meet, as they had not seen each other since... their le Mans win in 1959!
Here is a pic of this reunion:
from left to right, Roy Salvadori, Peter Windsor (you see him on TV reporting F1) Harley Cluxton of Grand Touring Cars (remember the Mirage-Renault at le Mans?) and Ole' Carroll and wearing all his replacement parts:



Oh, and here is another of our own rmm7 (Rich McMahon) with Sir Jack, as he kept company with the Brabhams for the whole weekend, to his (and their) delight. You see, Rich is a true nice guy.



Dig the cool duds... he got the Cooper badge from me, and John Cooper gave it to me many years ago. It's the real thing.
And here is our own VRF750, John, being taxied to the parking lot in a cool Hillman SuperMinx. His Lordship had arranged for kind gentlemen to drive us around in cool old British cars. The funny thing is when one of the guys could not drive a Humber Super Snipe (he could not find any gear) and since I was in a panic, I took over the "cab" and showed him how to do it while driving us back to our own rent-a-car!


Regards,

Philippe
 

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I mention that they didn't have to work but they chose to. Piers went racing on zero budget and use to haul his own racer. He and Frank Williams were very close. I wonder if the times have hardened Frank?

And Rob Walker's occupation as listed on his passport was: Gentleman. That about says it all. Always looked forward to his reports in R&T.

BTW I always learn good stuff on this board.
 

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Rene was an absolute sweetheart. I used to go to his restaurant in NY City and he signed his book "My Two Lives" to me, when it came out. He was a fierce racer, and his win in the Grand Prix du Million with the Delahaye is stuff of legends... People nowadays think that because the cars are faster, it's more difficult. They have no clue!
I will always remember him as a kind, well educated and erudite person, a lover of the arts (graphics and musical) and a fabulous cook.

Piers Courage was my hero at the time. Frank was never THAT nice to start with, but was a LOT better then...

Dennis, I wish that you could have met some of these men, because the time spent with them was worth it. You can still do it here and there with some of them: Emerson Fittipaldi qualifies as a prince of a gentleman, and he is still around. So are others worth knowing... and some are not. It shows in how thay paid their bills: gentlemen did pay, others did not. I know of some, like Reine Wisell, who still owe us for unpaid racing suits... and there are others.
Regards,

Philippe
 

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See with Rene Dreyfus you could not only share a drink but a fine meal and were you there just after the war you might have run into Achille Varzi or Rudi Caracciola or Don Alfredo and countlass others. He could speak of drivers he had known such as Nuvolari, Wimille and even the mysterious Williams. The restaurant was a meeting place for drivers in New York and people who wanted to be seen with drivers. A classy restaurant that sadly no longer exists in the same capacity.



QUOTE The average modern driver, who must keep his nose to the grindstone from an early age, has no time to learn about life so that he tends to be something less than a brilliant intellect.

Denis Jenkinson

As an anecdote to the cookie cutter books that seem to come out the day after a driver turns his first wheel in a Grand Prix car. I purchased "My Two Lives" by René Dreyfus. During the 20's and 30's he drove Maseratis, Ferraris and especially Bugattis on the Grand Prix circuits of the world. In 1938 he won his greatest victory in a Delahaye at Pau where he beat the best that Mercedes had to offer. When World War II started he joined the French Army but while on leave to compete in the Indianapolis 500 he found himself stranded when Paris was overrun. Without visible means of support he opened a French restaurant and began his second career. Upon the United States entering the war, Dreyfus joined the American Army. In 1980 he returned to Europe to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his victory in the Grand Prix of Monaco.

The story begins in 1914 when René was nine years old. The middle of three children he speaks of his early life with fondness, growing up in Nice. He later joined the Moto Club de Nice, which was sort of a junior league Automobile Club de Nice. Forging his mother's signature René entered his first race and won, due to him being the only car in his class. During this time he and his brother Maurice owned a paper company with René the salesman. He somehow convinced his mother that if he had a Bugatti he would be able to get around faster and see more customers. His mother was duped and soon the boys had their first race car. In the coming years René finds himself at the center of the greatest period in the history of Grand Prix racing. His contemporaries included Chiron, Caracciola, Varzi and Nuvolari. It his observations of this period that makes this book special. As a French patriot driving against the German cars we learn how it felt for himself and his friend Louis Chiron.

His second life as a restaurateur is also covered in detail both during and after the war. While this might not be of direct interest to my motorsport readers it actually covers a longer period of his life. We learn of the reunion with his brother and sister and of course his famous restaurant - Le Chanteclair which over its 25-year history was the gathering place for motosport iluminaries from around the world. In closing there is a touching chapter of René and Maurice returning to Europe and the celebration of René's victory at Manaco 50 years previous.

The following are some quotes from his book.

QUOTE ... Meantime, there was a new presence on the Grand Prix scene. At the Swiss GP at Bern on August 26th, I took a good long look at the Auto Union and Mercedes for the first time. There were swastikas all around, but all of us were looking at the cars. They were most unusual and enormously powerful. Four hundred fifty horsepower already, with the promise for much more. There were as many engineers in the pits as drivers. It was a gargantuan operation.

The political significance of all this eluded us. All we realized was that Germany's new chancellor was an automobile enthusiast and wanted the country's cars to be supreme, the most powerful, the fastest, the most everything.

René Dreyfus - 1934

The "racing enthusiast" was of course Adolf Hitler.

QUOTE ...Stuck's Auto Union was leading, but Tazio was giving him fits, until suddenly Nuvolari lost a piston just past the grandstand. He got out of his car and started walking slowly back to the pits. I was now in second place. My car was performing beautifully. Stuck's brakes, I could sense were fading.

This was Italy, and this was Tazio - and the crowd, seeing him walking, started a vigorous chant: "Nuvolari in macchina, Nuvolari in macchina!" When I pulled into the pits to refuel, Enzo and Gobbato asked me if I'd mind giving my car to Nuvolari. Of course, I wouldn't; Tazio was the team captain. Tazio beamed, and said grazie, and I shouted a few things about how the car was behaving and he took off. He drove like only Nuvolari could, and was challenging Stuck fantastically, but he was also wearing down the Alfa's brakes, had to pit to have them adjusted, and finished second.

To show you the man Tazio was, I was entitled to my percentage of the prize money only on the laps I had run, Tazio was to get his percentage on the laps he had accomplished with my car - but he refused any money at all. He told the Scuderia people that I should receive the entire prize because had I remained in the car I might have won the race. He recognized, he told me afterwards, that instead of trying frantically to catch up, he might better have played it cooler and waited to see if the other man would falter.

René Dreyfus at Monza - 1935

For Nuvolari to play it cool and wait for something to happen to the car of Hans Stuck would be like a cat barking! It would not have been Nuvolari who only knows how to drive - flat out.

While in the American Army Dreyfus had many humorous encounters especially when it related to the English language. While attending an interrogation class he was called upon to name the various battalions in a regiment. ...I stood up, and rattled off the list in my best English - and when I finished, the teaching lieutenant said, fine, you missed just one. I remembered it immediately, and remembered how my English teacher in Spartenburg had told me to always aspirate an "h" sound, difficult for a Frenchman, and so I aspirated with a vengeance and :assault" came out "asshole" battalion. The room fell apart in laughter."

The lieutenant was very kind, and when everyone had quieted down, told me that I was right but my pronunciation was wrong. He wrote the word "assault" on the blackboard, and I pronounced it once more, exactly the same way I had the first time. The room broke up again. Finally, the lieutenant said that actually, on reflection, I was probably right. And we got on to other things."


Dreyfus, René and Beverly Rae Kimes. "My Two Lives". Aztex Corporation, 1995, 1983 pp., ISBN 0-89404-080-4.
 

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Wonderful stuff, chaps- keep those anecdotes flowing!

The man I always wanted to saunter down to the White Swan with was Bruce McLaren. I've read as much about him as I can, saw him punt his M7A into the bank at Brands right beneath my feet, and followed his exploits like a puppy ever since I heard about him driving the F1 Cooper, the youngest man- wait was he the youngest ever to win a GP or the youngest to enter? See- I'm falling apart already.
Anyway, what with those magnificent Can-Am cars and all, I'm sure I could keep a conversation rolling all night. He seemed absolutely the complete racer- engineer, designer, team leader- and team player, but at all times modest, friendly and approachable. He seemed to be such a sweet guy. I was absolutely distraught when he died at Goodwood.
I wish I still had that Eoin Young biog- but I traded it for something when I was desperate at college.
You seem an influential chap, Dr.P- any chance you could bring him back?
 

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Great reading gentlemen! You've totally made my day!
Howmet, I think Mr.McLaren was the youngest driver to win a Grand Prix until Alonso won the Hungarian Grand Prix last year. Kimi was in close contention too, had he won the French Grand Prix in 2002 (not skidded on that oil from Panis, letting Shummi by 2laps from the end). Thinking more of it, wasn't Kimi the youngest to win when he won at Sepang in 2003 anyway, but then later the same year lost it to Alonso. Sorry to bring up these youngsters in this crowd
. They don't quite have the same authority to them as the heroes of the old days. Please keep the good stories coming.

Toby
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
QUOTE There were as many engineers in the pits as drivers

Sign of the times eh? You'd be lucky to find less than 20 engineers for every driver on race day these days.

QUOTE He somehow convinced his mother that if he had a Bugatti he would be able to get around faster

Sweet, I'll try that one on my parents...


He sounds absolutly amazing Dennis, and I have learned about another character from history.


QUOTE I've read as much about him as I can ... and followed his exploits like a puppy ever since I heard about him driving the F1 Cooper, the youngest man

I know exactly what you mean Howmet. When I first decided that I wanted to read about the origins of my favourite sport, I got a couple of books and read them simultaneously, to get different opinions on every event, person, car and track. I read them simultaneously so that it would be more like I was living it for real and consequently, I was shocked and upset when I read of the death of many drivers who I had come to "know".

Great choices so far guys, keep the stories coming


McLaren

PS. You are correct Bastumannen, Kimi became the youngest (from Bruce) and then Fernando took the record.
 
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