Sir Stirling Moss’s Lotus 18 in which he won the Monaco GP as mentioned by Simon. The car was displayed at Techno-Classica, Essen this year (Gareth Tarr).

funeral was held at Worth Abbey in West Sussex in March this year. Simon’s lunches revealed many unusual facts and anecdotes, many of which he recounted during the evening in the Napier Room. The 1970s F1 team owner Walter Wolf can’t return to Europe because Interpol has a warrant for his arrest following a corruption scandal. Ron Dennis, who was absolutely delightful, has a mock-Georgian mansion and twice a year the gravel on the drive is taken up and cleaned! One could say this level of obsessive detail illustrates why Ron was so successful. Sir Frank Williams remains the most positive person you could meet, despite the dreadful consequences of the car accident he suffered in 1986 that left him severely disabled, again an illustration of why he was a winner. “All he will ever say about his difficulties is, ‘I’m very fortunate,’” added Cropley. Land Speed Record holder Andy Green said that his car – Thrust SSC – took 20 seconds to reach 100mph... and 20 seconds to go from 200 to 700mph.

The lunch venues often said something about the character interviewed. Alain de Cadenet chose the wonderful art deco Bibendum in London, whereas proud Yorkshireman Brian Redman chose Harry Ramsden’s famous fish and chip restaurant at Guiseley, Leeds. Stirling Moss didn’t really eat lunch so when he got hungry he went out and got his favourite coronation chicken sandwich. The furthest Simon went for lunch was New Zealand, and he was embarrassed that Chris Amon was prepared to drive six hours to Auckland to meet, only to choose a simple café next to a little, disused garage. Why? The garage was at one time ‘Pop’ McLaren’s premises and


F1 team-owner Walter Wolf owned this Porsche 935 Kremer K3 seen at last year's Techno-Classica, Essen. The car was road legal despite being 95 per cent Le Mans spec – a K3 won Le Mans in 1979 (Gareth Tarr).

Bruce was born upstairs! A J Foyt lived on a remote ranch and the only place to eat was a rough Mexican hamburger joint. Unfortunately Simon mentioned he had also eaten hamburger when he had previously interviewed Mario Andretti, there being a bit of history between the two US aces. “How’s your hamburger?” boomed the Texan, “Is it better than Andretti’s?” (It wasn’t). Mark Webber wasn’t concerned where they met provided it had somewhere he could land his helicopter.

“Did anyone ever pay for the meal?” enquired Steve Cropley. No, but on some occasions the interviewee’s wife would cook one. Emanuele Pirro himself made a wonderful pasta lunch for Simon and his photographer at his lovely house north of Rome. Professor Sid Watkins was one interviewee whose wife provided lunch, at their Scottish Borders home, which later progressed to dinner at a local restaurant and finished with whiskies at 3.30am. This was Simon’s favourite in- terview, even if much of the material could not be used publicly. Sid did say that before his fatal Imola crash Ayrton Senna had said to him that there were times when F1 was all too much and he wished he could give it up. Despite the Prof’s suggestion that he should stop immediately, Ayrton said that his commitments were too great. The Brazilian was to die in Sid’s arms a few days later. Simon said that he spent three to four days

doing research before each interview and ideally he wanted four hours with his subject. The evening at Brooklands had taken less than 1½ hours but the audience left feeling they would have been happy to have heard four hours of Simon’s stories. Another time, hopefully. Gareth Tarr

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