Monday, 24 October 2011

1970 GP Sweden Karlskoga

We arrived in Karlskoga later that day and checked into our hotel and shortly met up with everyone in the bar for a drink. I had brought £20 with me for spending money, which was all I could afford as a poor apprentice. I knew this was not a lot for a few weeks in Scandinavia, as it was reputed to be horrendously expensive, especially Sweden. However, Richard would be paying my expenses and would give me some additional spending money for my efforts. I think I was earning £5 per week as an apprentice in those days, so it was a lot for me. Ginger took me to one side and told me not to offer to buy any drinks, as it would be very expensive, so I did as I was told.
`           After a couple of drinks, we all went into dinner and I was introduced to Ulf Norinder, Richard’s brother-in-law, who was there to race with his own Lola team. After dinner we went into the nightclub and Ulf and a couple of his mechanics took over the microphone and the drum set, a guitar and started singing and playing music to much applause. Ulf was a giant of a man, around six feet six inches tall and massively built, which explained why he drove Formula 5000 and Lola sports cars, as it was one of the few single seat race cars he could get into. Ulf was a real character and my brother told me he did not pay his mechanics a salary but just gave them virtually unlimited expense accounts, which included American Express cards, which he paid for monthly! We had a great night and there were a few sore heads the next morning at breakfast but everyone got their acts together and headed off to the circuit for practice.
A few years later Ulf contracted cancer and took his own life which I guess reflected the type of man he was. He was born Bollnas, Sweden, May 19, 1934 and died in Monte Carlo, Monaco, December 14, 1978. He mostly featured in sportscar racing with Ferrari’s, Lola’s and Porsche’s and raced with the likes of Joakim Bonnier, Picko Troberg and Robin Widdows. He was a novice driver when he jumped into Carel’s Porsche at Karlskoga in his earlier days. Due to his size, as Ulf was a giant of a man in all sense of the word, he drove in F5000 with a McLaren-Chevy M18 in the early 1970’s.
We had the custom built Porsche 910 Special and a pair of standard factory Porsche 908 Spiders. Richard had contracted with Ronnie Petersen and Dr Helmut Marko to drive the Porsche 908’s and he drove the new Porsche 910 Special himself, which I could see was his favourite car at that time.
Little did I know then, that Ronnie would soon to become one of the great drivers and go onto much greater things and into Formula 1 before his untimely death some years later.
I met a lot of new people and saw Jo Bonnier again who was running his own race team with Lola cars. Ginger’s flat mate, Saul Manashe was also there, who worked for Andre Wicky, the Porsche Dealer in Lausanne, who drove a Chevron sports car. Most people were independently wealthy and racing was a sport or just fun for them, however, Richard Broström spent a fortune on his team and took it all very seriously.
I was learning all the time and lapping up the knowledge of others in terms of suspension set-up, tyre compounds, and driving techniques. After a hard day everyone retired to the hotel for the night and I imagined this place as a sleepy backwater normally all year round until the race circus came to town and took over demanding everything and spending large sums of money. It was decided to have a reasonable early night and Ginger and I went off to our rooms after dinner as we had work to do in the morning on race day.
One of the jobs I often did was timing our cars and noting the lap times down. We had a set of 3 x TAG Heuer stopwatches mounted on a special clipboard that started and stopped in sequence each time you pressed a level along the side. So as one watch started, another stopped and the third reset. That way you could keep separate laps times whilst keeping continuity. It always amazed me just how accurate this was compared to the official timing, but we consistently timed to a tenth of one second. However, these days they measure times much more accurately using electronics.
The next day was official qualifying and after the warm-up our cars qualified with Ronnie first, Helmut third with Richard fifth. There was not much we could after qualifying as the cars were running perfectly so we went back to the hotel and then into town for a look around.
The race took place on 8 August 1970, but there was some last minute problem with the eligibility of Richard’s Porsche 910 Special so it was dropped from the race to everyone’s disappointment.
The race went well with Chris Craft winning in his Ecurie Evergreen McLaren M8C Ford in 40 minutes 6 minutes and 3 seconds followed by Dr Helmut Marko in our Porsche 908. Jo Bonnier was third in his Lola T210 Ford, then Gijs van Lennep in a Porsche 917K, with Reine Wisell in a Lola T70 fifth. David Piper was sixth in his Porsche 917K. Ronnie Petersen had some troubles in our other Porsche 908 and he finished seventh. Nikki Lauda did not finish in another Porsche 908.
There was quite a lot of interest in the Porsche 910 Special, although it did not actually race and Richard had ideas of producing this version for some other people but in the end this never came to anything.
Later in the hotel I heard Jo Bonnier asking Richard to come and work for him in Geneva but Richard told him he was not interested. When I asked Jo why he wanted Richard to be his manager, he said, “Richard worked for me previously as my race manager and did a really good job.”

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