Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Interserie at Hockenheim

Ginger called me at the end of June and asked me if Bob and I wanted to come with them to Hockenheim for the Interserie race? Of course I jumped at the chance and worked out some excuse at my work, however Bob Grafham told me he had to work something out to tell his parents, as we were both under pressure for taking too much time off from our apprenticeships.
In due course, Ginger picked us both up in Hounslow and we drove off to Dover took the ferry to Ostend and drove through to Hockenheim all of the next day.
We checked into our hotel late afternoon and met up with Richard Broström in the evening for dinner. The hotel was packed full of racing people and it got a bit rowdy in the restaurant and later on in the bar.
The following morning, Ginger told us he needed to get the Porsche 908-2 down to some nearby studio for some press photos. Richard did not show up, so in his infinite wisdom, Ginger decided to get us to clean and polish the racecar and then he drove Porsche 908-2 on the road to the venue. Bob and I followed him in the GM van. Richard showed up shortly after and press photos were taken. However, whilst driving the Porsche 908-2 back along the main road, unsurprisingly, Ginger got pulled over by the police. The policeman was very reasonable about this infringement as the race circus was in town and told Ginger not to do it again and he got off without a ticket.
Later on, we had a quiet dinner with a number of the other race teams and Richard came by to join us for a while and insisted he pay the bill for everyone.  Ginger told him about the police incident and Richard was reassured once he learned that they have not been fined again.
This was the biggest sports car race I had ever been at and the following day there were around 60,000 German spectators at Hockenheim and the Stadium part of the circuit behind the pits, which is still the same today, was absolutely full of spectators and a very impressive site indeed. The paddock overlooked this area so the atmosphere was exciting to say the least.
The competition was a who’s who of sports cars racing with legends such as Vic Elford, Gijs van Lennep, Jo Bonnier, David Piper, Richard Attwood, Gérard Larrousse, Willy Kauhsen and Niki Lauda all competing. Being in the paddock and being part of the race with the fastest ever Can Am style Porsche 917 turbo’s and McLaren M series sport cars was just fantastic. The race took place on the 5 July 1970 over 30 laps, and took 1 hour 4 minutes and 21 seconds and was won by Vic Elford in a McLaren M6B/12, with Gijs van Lennep coming second in a Porsche 917K. Our car was a Porsche 908-02 driven by Reine Wisell, who came in a disappointing 15th. Jo Bonnier managed to put up the fastest lap of the race.
After the race, we packed up everything and had a bar-be-cue in the paddock with a few other teams, as it was someone’s birthday.
Later on we returned to our hotel and Ginger decided to continue on the party in the bar with a group of his friends. Some while later we all got asked to leave by the bar tender because of the rowdiness and so we ended up in Ginger’s room, complete with an aluminium barrel of beer that had been lifted through the ground floor window! I must admit I can’t remember much after that other than the fact I woke up the following morning in a flower bed of roses outside the hotel with a very sore head! 

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