I set off for Chichester at 9:30, my train left at 9:51 which got in at 10:14, the bus to the grounds was thankfully running late as they had set up a “ticket booth”. Arrived at the grounds half an hour later and headed straight for the paddock. The minute I got there I saw Adrian Newey and Christian Horner with a massive crowd around them. Headed off for a walk around and then down to the 70s, 80s and 60s cars. Saw a gap in a crowd around the Mercedes collection, so I went in. My throat closed up when I realised what the crowd was for. Jackie Stewart. I, shaking pulled my book out and my pen despite knowing he wasn’t giving many out this weekend. I took some blurry photos while we all waited, a bit blurry as I was shaking so badly. Jackie tried out a 50s merc which looked ridiculous to get into - it was. It looked like, after he had got out, like he was going to leave. While he was talking he looked right at me. Like Moss on Friday & Prost the day before I felt something spiritual, I know that sounds silly but it’s true. He finally came over but there was a case box in the way of him coming further than one person to my left. I got chatting to this German chap who’d flown in on Wednesday especially for it. We got chatting. To my surprise he took my book when Jackie came over and he signed my book. There was no chance I could have had the time to thank him for fighting for safety, thanks to him we have a very safe F1. While we were all waiting, there was a rope to hold the public back and to protect the cars. Some people were pushing and being a bit too eager. When he motioned he’d come over, he said to us “be nice to the cars”.
After Sir Jackie, I didn’t think I could top that. Not in my wildest dreams did I think I could meet him. I went round to the BlackRock drivers club the other side of the paddock wall and set up camp, found a space in the barriers and stood there, prepared for a long wait. Next on my dream list was Jacky Ickx, who was the one I’d most been looking forward to. Turned out I didn’t have to wait long, when about 10 minutes later, his smart - blue jumper, beige trousers and shoes came from the flags in front of the club. My mouth went dry, my throat closed up. My hero was a few yards from me. Finally. He spent a while signing things for people way down the barrier and chatting, too. I got chatting to 3 people on my left and they said they’d been there for an hour and not many people were coming out. It felt like forever but eventually Jacky just appeared right in front of me. Right there. I smiled and said “hello”, as warmly as I could in a state of paralyse. He took my pen and also took up half of the page, which I love. I had so many things going through my head I wanted to talk to him about but I just couldn’t pick which. That and the image of a front cover of a Grands Prix magazine Holly and I found at one of the stalls the day before, which I took home as the owner of the stall said a box full had got water damaged - of Jacky in swimming shorts topless, in my head. I love him but honestly I was laughing in my head at the cornyness of the photo! Anyway, he finished the autograph and handed me back my pen, then my book. I calmly (surprised myself, I seem to be doing better every year!) managed a “thank you so much” with a smile, to which he looked me in the eye, with a sort of glint in his (looking back I think he was surprised at how genuine I sounded to get his signature, as half the people - younger ones - had no idea who he was :@ and just got it because he was someone “famous probably”). I would have had a proper conversation had there not been an amount of people again to my right. I left and felt like screaming with joy but had to keep it to myself as there were a lot of people about.
After that I went for another wander, if you want to meet people, you shouldn’t stick in one place. The drivers move amongst the fans! I happened to walk past the Lotus lorry when Jerome D’Ambrosio happened to be taking his trousers down, his face was priceless haha!
I went over to the RAC stage again, this time just being in time to see Heikki finish a few autographs and head on stage to be interviewed. I got my book and pen out again and waited. His interview was hilarious. He proved a big hit to the fans! After he was done, he came over to those of us who were waiting and signed things for us. He was great!
Went for a wander around, had a peek in each team tent - nothing much was going on except there was always a crowd at Red Bull. I decided to go get some lunch at this point and sat down again opposite the RAC stage, where to my surprise, Nico Rosberg was being interviewed. I toyed with the idea of rushing up like we had done for Alain the day before, but since it was much busier than the previous day, I decided against it. Rather glad by that as when he was done, he signed a few autographs and went off on foot, a crowd following in his wake.
Went down to the set up area where the next batch was being prepared. Nothing happened, except Nico Prost was there with the Lotus Renault car and the mechanics. There was a crowd about 3 deep down where he was, so I got some shots of Nicolas - not too bad - of him from behind.
Decided to go back up to the paddock awhile later and was just in time to see the F1 cars come back. I was in the right place where I was right next to Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes car, beautiful! Timed it right to get the second row of people in the crowd when he went back into the tent. Was wonderful to see him that close! He took time to sign things for people - even posing for a photo with one girl, whose friend was right next to my left arm. So when he was facing the camera, he was looking in my direction! He has such lovely eyes. It’s all you could see as he still had his helmet on.
A bit later on from that, I was at the RAC stage again in time to see John Surtees, but he wasn’t signing things for anyone. His interview was superb though.
While I was sat having a coffee watching the hill climb later on I saw Jacky Ickx on the drivers club building balcony - he was clearly visible in his blue jumper. I could clearly see him, no-one around me realised there was a balcony there I don’t think let alone that he was there. He (appeared to) look right at me. Then disappeared inside. A bit later I saw a group of people stood saying goodbye in front of me and I looked up and noticed it was Jacky! He was a foot or so from me. Then walked a bit further down and stood and watched the big screen. No-one had any idea there was a legendary motorsport hero right there amongst all of them.
Soon after there was a crash on the timed shoot out on the hill climb which delayed everything. Thankfully the driver walked away and he was fine but the car wasn’t. So since the last bus was at 7 and would be so busy, I decided to head home.
Hope you enjoy this wee post and I’ll be putting up Thursday either tomorrow or Friday :)