I Am… I Said

I Am… I Said - Racing Daydreams by Colin Johnston

My love of Formula One was born of three things; my granny’s TV, a pair of paper library tickets, and Niki Lauda. Told off for sitting too close to the television, the static tingle and coloured dots were intriguing. As was this, when I was a tiny kid.

When I started to follow the sport in ’82 it coincided with Niki’s return. Everyone knew Lauda, even my parents, and he was a gateway. A charismatic, clear-thinking, plain-speaking hero whose backstory meant I was immediately hooked. Hooked by motorsport and history.

So off I went with my library tickets, and found the couple of motor racing books in the Sport section. Arrival stamp and no more than a couple of of borrowers’ stamps on the flyleaf. Had someone requested them especially? I had understood the concept of ‘cognoscenti’ long before I would learn the word.

Where to start? A familiar name. A fairly slender hardback, encased in the library regulation, jam-proof, clear plastic. On its spine, in typically clear fashion, “Niki Lauda Formula 1”. I opened it hesitantly, let the pages fall from my thumb. It had drawings that I couldn’t understand, and photos I could feel… I ran home.

‘The Art and Technicalities of Grand Prix Driving’, Lauda’s update of Taruffi’s great work. I was ten years old, and I inhaled it.

The history, the engineering – honest silde-rule & dirty hands engineering. The glamour, danger, the highs & lows of sport. And it was played-out on my grandmother’s TV on Sunday afternoon. Family; eating, laughing, squabbling. And as the static tickled my nose, I learned about the world. As Imola became Jerez, became Silverstone, became Kyalami, became Long Beach… became Monza!

A Technicolor world of fag-packet fluorescents and Italian heart-blood red, rendered dull by clashing broadcast systems. Global television, global sport. Local language, graphics, sponsors. What’s ‘Parmalat’? ‘Techniques d’Avant Garde’? What’s a turbo? ‘Ground Effect’? Mysteries to solve in the time until the next spectacle. Detail enough to spend a lifetime chasing.

About Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles

Featured France Grands Prix Ireland Northern Ireland

Observe the Sons of Ulster: Paris-Madrid 1903

County Down, Ireland: September 1916 Responding to deft touch, the Sopwith Strutter prescribes a shallow arc from Carnalea. Barely above the telegraph wires. No conscious check of bearing – instinctively the pilot dips a wing, and there… K and the children are at the homestead. Waves, and kisses blown. Banking right over Helen’s Bay. Swinging […]

Racing Daydreams - Behra Grave
Featured France Grands Prix

Ici Repose Jean Behra

Follow tramline 1 in Nice towards its northern extremity – until it is just you and some shoppers heading to Saint-Sylvestre. Hop off at Gorbella – walk past Lidl & Monoprix. Take a left, up the hill – to Mont Claire Virenque – and there opposite the lycée you will find Cimetière Saint Barthélémy… and […]

Racing Daydreams - Lautenschlager 1914 ACF
Grands Prix

Bill Mason’s Finest – Racing Mercedes

How lucky we are that film-maker Bill Mason shared our passion, and used his talent & time to leave a legacy for future generations. From the outset, that first Shell film of the 1949 British Grand Prix, Bill’s work attracted & inspired followers of motor racing. Increasingly, as the decades have passed, the films have […]