Gerhard – Brave, Heart

Racing Daydreams - Gerhard Berger, Hockenheim 1997

Do you know Gary Critcher? Interesting, friendly, talented chap. Perhaps you know his Lotus 72 documentary, or his excellent ‘Shutter & Speed’ photo books? Gary lives in Kenya these days, and is doing a splendid job of dressing-up his new garage and office with memorabilia that he has gathered over his years in & around our sport.

I’m very fortunate with social media, and my phone mostly ping!s with good news and interesting interactions. Just after new year it was Gary – a DM – was I interested in some old tabards he had? Choose one!

I squinted at my phone as the photos arrived, one after the other. Each triggering a faded memory of the event… until The One appeared. A scrap of coloured polyester that instantly made me smile.

Gerhard Berger’s 1997 started to unravel at the start of the European season. Struggles within the Benetton team – sinus operations and infection that caused him to miss three Grands Prix – then, his father was killed in a plane crash in the Tyrol.

Gerhard returned to his race seat at Hockenheim in July amidst chatter over his future, and a press conference where we half expected him to announce his retirement. Instead, he utterly dominated the event. To the delight of every motorsport fan with a heart.

You can enjoy this incredible performance in the full race video, below.

But in the meantime, ladies & gentlemen, that is the story of how my amplifier got a new dustcover. One that makes me smile every morning.

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