Yesterday I was reminded that it was 17 years since Formula 1 driver Ayrton Senna died after a crash during the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.
Strangely enough, after encouragement from my brother, that was the first Grand Prix I actually properly watched. Races were often on as I grew up, I knew who Murray Walker was and remembered James Hunt, Niki Lauder and Jackie Stewart etc from the 70s. And, of course knew the iconic theme music by Fleetwood Mac! But, I’d not really taken much notice.
Despite the horrific circumstances of that first viewing, I soon got hooked and went from watching every race to every race & qualifying session, to going to Silverstone to watch the cars testing to attending track days and a couple of overseas races. I think the late 90s were a brilliant time for me as a Formula 1 fan and certainly though I still watch, the absolute passion I felt back then has waned.
So, I delved into my Sports Memorobilia box and found lots of stuff I’d forgotten about (including many autographs, that Martin Brundle cap & Jordan earplugs), and sparked more memories going through the 3 albums of photos I took around that time. I’m so glad I thought to write down names as in my faded history they are only a collection of brightly coloured cars & helmets. There’s even several programmes from British Grand Prix that my uncle must have given me as I’ve only been to Spain and Belgium!
According to the photo albums, the first event I went to was a TWR – Arrows open day at Leafield in May 1997. Saw Martin Brundle and Damon Hill , some cars in bits in the factory and a pit stop display.
As a family (I say family, my Dad’s not bothered with it!) we followed the Jordan team and Eddie Jordan used to regularly hold factory visits for fans with time at testing, meet the driver sessions and a meal. Always a fantastic day out & a great privilege to see a bit behind the scenes. The first one of those I went to was October 1997, awful weather but amazing atmosphere. In 2000 the EJ10 event was held at Donington Park, another brilliant day.
In 1998 I went to another test session around the time of my birthday (a freezing February day out!) and just to contrast a trip to the Spanish Grand Prix in May where I got sunburn! Back to Silverstone for testing that same month and our skies look jolly grey in the photos! In July that year was a big test at Silverstone in preparation for the British Grand Prix. Must have jinxed Jean Alesi, on one page I have an autograph, a few later & he’s crashed and being towed in! Back again in October where the sky looks bluer than May.
I was a particular fan of the driver Eddie Irvine and was lucky enough to meet him a few times, not everyone’s cup of tea I know but certainly one of my favourites. Us fans used to have a “Big Bash” which he would attend to give an interview & meet and greet. I went in both 1998 & 2000. Good fun 🙂
On to 1999 and Silverstone held a test on my birthday, thought it didn’t rain but just found a pic of Ricardo Zonta kicking out an awesome water spray from the back of his BAR! The British Grand Prix test was in July and Michael Schumacher chose to break down near the grandstand I was in. Oh dear! The Belgian Grand Prix was August and though a bit processional with a McLaren 1-2 was still a great place to be.
March 2000, Silverstone testing. And, my first glimpse of Jensen Button. Another one that chose to break down in front of me but got some good photos as he was kind enough to wave to the crowd rather than stay in the car & sulk like a certain Mr S the year before! Back again in April but not again until the following February. And then not one but two Jordan Days in June & September. Both awesome.
2002. Pre-season testing at Silverstone in February, Club Jordan Day in May which was also the British Grand Prix test so lots to see. Ryan Giggs was there with us for some reason but the less said about him the better!
Then it looks like 2003 was the last year of activity. February & June tests and then the photos stop with shots of Jacques Villeneuve & Jensen Button in their BARs. Happy days 🙂
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