Last week I and some other RAC members had the rare privilege of having dinner with two time Formula One World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi. Although now in his 60s he looked incredibly fit although he has long since lost his former trademark muttonchops. It proved to be a great evening as Emerson turned out to be a thoroughly charming and patient man. Down-to-earth, he took time to answer all our questions even though he had probably heard them all many many times before. He entertained us with incredible stories about his career, both in Formula One and in IndyCar. It’s astonishing to think that he started racing in the same year that Jack Brabham retired and only finished racing in 1997 when he was well into his late 40s. Over a varied career he not only won the world championship twice but also the Indianapolis 500, also twice. He also won the British Grand Prix twice and will be driving his Silverstone winning McLaren M23 tomorrow before the British Grand Prix.

What was particular striking about Emerson was that he clearly has a real interest in the history of motor racing. For the dinner the Club could not, unfortunately, decorate the table with the British Grand Prix trophy as it had already been sent to Silverstone. Instead the beautiful Tourist Trophy took pride of place. Emerson took a real interest in the trophy, looking carefully at the names of the illustrious drivers who had won it in the past. I think he regretted the fact that his name was not on it! However he explained he never really took to sportscar racing and never did Le Mans as a close friend of his father whom he had looked up to as a child was killed there in the fifties.

Of course, like many other British men my age, the thing I particulary remember about Emerson Fittipaldi is the Corgi toy Lotus 72 JPS. I think every boy at school had one at the time of Emerson’s first world championship in 1972. I took my own along to the dinner and Emerson very kindly agreed to sign the box. It will be treasured even more now!


Emerson Fittipaldi with the Tourist Trophy

The Race Retro show at the end of February was a first for me. It sounded promising – a show given over to historic racing in all it’s guises. First impressions were not favourable. The show is held at Stoneleigh Park near Coventry, an odd assortment of decaying 70s buildings dotted around a windswept and muddy agricultural show ground. Having to park in a muddy field a 10 minute walk from the exhibition halls was not the best start but it’s fair to say the show itself was a cracker. Surprisingly big it sprawled through several large halls hosting traders, clubs, race championship organisers, book sellers, car restorers and auto jumblers. Whilst many of those present had also been at Autosport only a few weeks previously there was a more relaxed feel to the show and better bargains to be had. The show is set to become a regular feature of my yearly calendar.


The show hosted a fine selection of McLarens. This is a Can Am M8D ex Denny Hulme from 1970. It has a 7.6 Litre 680hp V8 engine. Tragically Bruce McLaren was killed testing a M8D at Goodwood.


This is the1972 McLaren M19 that American Peter Revson drove in the Indy 500 that year. He came home 31st. Revson would be tragically killed at Kyalami driving for Shadow in 1974.


I presume this rare old thing is an original and not a replica? It currently seems to be used to transport a stock car racing team. Embassy racing ran a Shadow race car and was owned and managed by two times world champion Graham Hill. He also drove for the team in its earliest years. Hill found running a team a difficult job and initially struggled. However by 1974 things were looking much more promising. Sadly Hill and pretty much the entire team were killed in 1975 in a plane crash when returning from testing at Paul Ricard in France . The team did not carry on and all the assets, presumably including this transporter, were sold.


One of Graham Hill’s finest achievements was winning the triple crown of motor racing – Monaco, Indy 500 and Le Mans. I have always thought that the Hills (father and son) were unfairly underated. Hill senior’s victory at Le Mans in 1972 at the age of 43 was particularly impressive. His co driver (and future multiple Le Mans winner) , Henri Pescarolo was initially sceptical that the “old man” would be quick enough but now freely admits Hill was the faster of the two of them. I had long been looking for a model of the fabulous Hill / Pescarolo Matra V12 but to no avail, so I was delighted to find this nice old French model, produced to celebrate that historic victory, at Race Retro.


Corgi produced this nice model of Hill’s 1974 Embassy Racing Shadow just a few months before he died.