The next morning we were up early and I got my first look at his Porsche 911S in silver bearing the registration plate YOU 4, which was already loaded on the trailer but covered up. I took the cover off and hooked the trailer up to his BMW 2000 Ti Coupe, which was also silver and registered with the plate OU 4.
Shortly after, we both set off to Silverstone and this was my first trip to a motor race as “Number one mechanic” and it was all very exciting, especially as I was “Technically in charge” of this magnificent Porsche 911S race car!
Upon arrival in the Paddock at Silverstone, I set about unloading the Porsche 911, double-checking everything before I did any task, as I was petrified of making a mistake. Ginger had told me what to check on the car, so I set about going through his list that I had made a mental note of. This included; making sure the battery was topped up and fixed securely, that the lights all worked, that the battery cut off switch worked, seat belts were bolted up securely, fire extinguisher in the green and secure, etc.
I then proceeded to start and slowly warm the engine up. Ginger had told me to stand blipping the throttle from the engine bay between 2,000 to 4,000 rpm for 20 minutes or so until the oil temperature gauge had risen to between 80c and 90c, then to let the engine idle for a minute or two, to check the oil level. I knew the Porsche 911 had a dry sump oil system and to check the oil level whilst the engine was running at idle and the oil was hot at normal operating temperature. In any event the oil level was fine confirmed once I had dipped it on the stick, which was located in the oil tank filler cap on the right of the engine compartment just like a road car. I stopped the engine and had a quick clean around with a rag and closed the engine compartment. I then cleaned all the windows inside and out to make sure Dickie had perfect visibility.
Dickie started pottering around dressed in his racing overalls leaving me to get on with things. I felt a bit of a fraud but eventually my nerves settled and I got around to checking the tyre pressures, seeing that the wheel nuts were tight and giving the car a good look over.
I then took the Porsche 911 off to fuel it and then on to Scrutineering with Dickie on hand to support me. I had absolutely no idea what Scrutineering was, so I just played along as things unfolded. However after completing my first such event and getting our signed approval label from the Steward, we were cleared to participate in the two race events.
A little while later, Dickie took the Porsche 911 out for a run on the track, which was called a “warm up session”. Everything was fine when he returned to the Paddock safely so we locked up the car and went off for some lunch in the cafeteria.
Silverstone was an old RAF station and lunch was in a pretty basic wooden hut, the cafeteria, left over from World War 2, but perfectly serviceable. Dickie knew every other person and I soon got introduced to a number of people. I think one of these was Nigel Carey, who was driving Dickie’s old green Porsche 911 registration number DAA 911C. I later met Nigel again at subsequent Porsche Club meetings at the Coach & Horses public house at Kew Green, in London. I also met Chris Maltin and his parents Capt. Mike and Christine and their friends and family who were running a couple of tuned Porsche 356’s.
Shortly before we were due to race, Dickie told me to warm the engine up which I did. There was hardly anything for me to do except look the part and pander to Dickie’s perceived needs. Dickie was soon strapped in and blipping the engine, lining up to exit the Paddock. I walked along side talking to him and wishing him good luck until he was off onto the track. I then moved to watch him line up on the front of the grid in pole position from the pit lane wall. The starter waved his flag and they were away in a cloud of smoke, unbelievable noise and the distinct smoke and smell of Castrol R motor oil wafted over the whole pit and paddock area.
The race seemed to flash past as the next minute I was back in the paddock and Dickie was climbing out of his car, beaming all over his face. He had achieved an outright win and was well set for the next race later on that afternoon. A number of people arrived and started milling around and asking lots of questions, some quite technical, and when these were directed at me, I just said what I could in very general terms, trying desperately not to sound like a complete idiot.
Later on, Dickie also won the second race heat outright and he was very complimentary of my efforts as he had a successful day.
We also watched a few other races and I remember Chris Maltin blowing his engine in his tuned Porsche 356. He asked his father Mike to borrow his lovely road going Porsche 356B to compete in the next race. I’m not sure what happened but Chris took good care of Mike’s car in the race but shortly after he was in the doghouse, as when he removed the racing number from the bonnet, the silver metallic paint came away with the sticky back number, leaving a distinct patch on the lovely paintwork, which remained there for many years later.
Later on we headed off home via the Green Man public house, which is local to the Silverstone circuit. I think Graham Hill and a lot of other well-known racers were there as it was a very boisterous occasion and I heard something about someone had been standing on the bar and dropping their trousers or some such nonsense. I had a quick pint, with Dickie having a soft drink as he was strictly tee total, talking to a few people he knew and then we motored off back to Hartley Whitney in Hampshire.
We stopped off for dinner at a really nice restaurant; however I was certainly not dressed for such a place, but Dickie would not hear another word from me on my dress, or indeed from the management. I did not have a jacket, collar and tie on which was the form for this restaurant in the evening, but Dickie was a man not to be trifled with once he had set his mind to something, so the waiter showed up a few minutes later with a spare necktie and jacket for me to wear. I had a bottle of wine to myself and we dined to celebrate our success.
I felt I had really achieved something at the end of the day and satisfied that I had acquitted myself well and most importantly, Dickie was absolutely delighted with his weekend racing.
Later on Dickie was in a really good mood and he gave me a Russian copy of a Contax 35mm camera with a couple of additional telephoto lenses, filters and a Weston Master V light meter, so I could pursue my photography with a half decent camera.