Silverstone, 2015, and I nearly got caught.
My first trip to Silverstone as a marshal, and I arrived the night before. I put up my tent, and went for a look around to get my bearings.
Yes, its true, I like to walk a track if I can. I had a nosy through the paddock, before passing through an open gate into the pitlane. This is the ‘old’ pitlane, and standing on the pit wall, looking down the garages, felt really special. It was quiet, except for one mechanic struggling with a roller door.
I walked onto the track. There I was, at Copse. Stood on the apex of the corner. I thought about Jim Clark turning off his engine during the 1965 Grand Prix, to avoid the oil pressure spikes he was getting in the right handers, then bump starting on the exit. He won the race doing that.
The event I’d volunteered for was being run on the shorter club track, so after the first part of Maggots, the track goes right into Aintree. This is where Kimi Räikkönen went wide in 2014, eventually hitting the guard rail around the bridge support (47g) I ran the sole of my shoe along the slightly raised edge of the circuit, proud of the grass by about an inch.
Past the BRDC clubhouse. Brooklands and Luffield. Then Woodcote, where James Hunt passed Ronnie Peterson, flat out and sideways in the Hesketh 308, to win the International Trophy race of 1974.
Then back into the pits. Except a problem. The gate I’d entered through from the paddock was now padlocked. And the next one. I walked all the way to the bottom. All locked. Big fences. Big fences everywhere. Someone would notice me climbing them. Oops. Erm. Now what?
A small glow, there. The garage with the broken door, lowered only most of the way. I weighed up my options, then ducked under. The mechanic had his head in the pedal box of a Jaguar XK120. “Running ok?” I said, trying to be nonchalant but clearly giving the mechanic a shock. Back to the tent, quickly. Put the kettle on. It’ll be fine. Laugh about it. Pray to the Great Chicken of Bicester I don’t get told off in the morning.