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foresthillbilly
26-03-2017, 05:58 PM
i thought I'd post this for any oldies like me , who have an interest in F1. A tad self-indulgent (and a bit dated), but may also spread a bit of humour.

I will update in further posts.

At the age of 18, my step-brother takes me to Brands Hatch in 1986 for the British GP. The cost was 16.
Watching the cars thunder round the track as break-neck speed was highly impressive during the practice sessions. Though the track seemed a bit narrow, with limited overtaking opportunities.

On the Sunday at about 5am, we arrived at Paddock Hill bend, but it was already packed. So we legged it round to Surtees bend and found a nice spot at the front.
My initial thoughts about the track were realised , when there was a massive pile-up on the first corner.

However, eventually Nigel Mansell ended up winning and this was the start of my romance with F1.

foresthillbilly
26-03-2017, 06:14 PM
So Brands Hatch didn't hold another F1 GP, as the rights went to Silverstone (and one to Donington), and have been ever since.

So it's early 1987 and there is an F1 testing session at Silverstone. Me and my brother bunk off work and drive up for the day. (I think it was about a fiver to get in). Also at this time I had been accepted onto a BTEC course on Automotive Engineering, starting in September. F1 mechanic was my goal.

So after a few hours all the teams are packing their stuff away and the marshalls are walking off the track. My brother notices a bridge from the car park , going over the track and into the pit area. There are no marshalls.

So in a Silver Datsun Cherry (1.3) my brother drives over the bridge and into the back of the pits, and parks up. We get out to have a look around , and there's Frank Williams (now wheelchair-bound), with his hands bandaged from a car crash the previous year.

My brother gives Frank and man-hug and we go back to the Datsun Cherry.
"Bl00dy H3ll", says my brother Steve. "We can drive straight onto the track from here",.......so he did. Out of the pit lane and onto the circuit.

I did heckle Steve to put his foot down a bit more, but by this time he was bricking it a bit at the magnitude of what he was doing.

We did a lap , ending up just past Abbey Curve and took a swerve back in the pitlane,....to go out again !

We'd nearly done another whole lap when an observant marshal jumped out at Abbey Curve.
"Shall I ask him the way to the M1 ?" I asked Steve.

"Don't say a ****** word. Just keep your big mouth shut!", was Steve's response.

Steve wound down the window....."Sorry mate, I couldn't resist it"
Marshall :"Turn off over the bridge and fck off. Don't let me see you here again"

foresthillbilly
26-03-2017, 06:34 PM
it gets better/ worse,...:D

ExiledStirling
26-03-2017, 07:50 PM
it gets better/ worse,...:D
So... when do we get to find out which it is?

foresthillbilly
27-03-2017, 12:13 PM
in 1987 I start my Automotive course and it transpires we have to do a month's work experience at the start of the next academic year (Sept 1988). Fortunately, I've managed to network a contact at McLaren, and in principle they are OK with it.
It was the old McLaren site on Albert Drive, Woking, in a mix of industrial units and residential roads.
It's quite rare for drivers to be at the factory, they are normally only seen at testing and the like. But I'm waiting for my interview in their plush leather seats , surrounded by cabinets of trophies and a few of their cars, when Alain Prost just happens to amble past.
Bl00dy short-@r5e.
The interview goes swimmingly, so all set for September 1988

OriginalNutter
27-03-2017, 12:26 PM
My first experience of the British GP was at Brands. I remember that for an extra couple of quid you could get an extra ticket that would allow you to walk round the pits on race day whilst they got the cars ready. My old man took the whole family on a stroll round the garages. Imagine being able to do that now..

Couldnt tell you the year but i must have only been 10 or 11

foresthillbilly
27-03-2017, 06:22 PM
My first experience of the British GP was at Brands. I remember that for an extra couple of quid you could get an extra ticket that would allow you to walk round the pits on race day whilst they got the cars ready. My old man took the whole family on a stroll round the garages. Imagine being able to do that now..

Couldnt tell you the year but i must have only been 10 or 11

which is why the Goodwood Festival of speed is so bl00dy good. ^^^^

https://www.goodwood.com/flagship-events/festival-of-speed/

talk to engineers and drivers,.....at leisure. And sensible pricing.. And fun.

Ridcully
27-03-2017, 06:42 PM
Great Stories FHB. A kid drove rounds Brands a few months ago, just like you. Got a jail sentence for it I think, might have been suspended. Mind you it was in the middle of a classic car meet :)

foresthillbilly
27-03-2017, 06:52 PM
and so the Italian GP was held at Monza on 11 September 1988. The Only race of the season that McLaren didn't win, ...primarily because McLaren were intent on winning with reduced-power turbo engines, whilst other teams were preparing for the non-turbo era for the following season, with V10 normally aspirated engines.

I joined McLaren on Monday 12 September,. . . . for a month

ExiledStirling
27-03-2017, 07:02 PM
I was left stranded in the pits at Brands by my mate who raced classic saloons.

Luckily another driver saved me the long walk back to civilisation by doing what my mate should have done after he finished his race.

Lingfield Eagle
27-03-2017, 07:16 PM
I started marshalling in 1986 and did it for over 25 years. Wasn't that into F1 but I did do the 86 GP (I was at Bridge) and the 87 GP (pit/fire outside the Tyrell pits. I also did the Belgian GP at Spa in 86 (inside of Eau Rouge for qualifying!) and some great F1 test days at Brands. Great memories, I have a timesheet signed by Senna, Piquet, Mansell, Prost, Rosberg, etc and loads of photos of them all in the pit lane during the lunchbreak with the exception of Rosberg who was having lunch and a fag in the Kentagon. As you say, it wouldn't happen today.

foresthillbilly
28-03-2017, 05:58 AM
1987, the first GP at Silverstone for quite a while. I drove up there with a mate to arrive around 5am (you had to get there early if you didn't have a 'posh' reserved seat, so you could find a good spot on the grass banking, at the front). The car park was starting to fill up and there was a long line of traffic waiting to get in.
Fortunately the police hadn't yet put out yellow 'No Parking' cones on the road, so I just parked on the grass verge and we walked/ran in to pitch-up on Abbey Curve.
A great race, with Mansell mania taking hold. Mansell wins and as he approaches Abbey on his slowing down lap, the crowd surge onto the track to mob him. (got a couple of good photos of that somewhere)
As Mansell is rescued by the marshalls me and my mate leg-it back to the car. Thankfully not clamped or towed away. We speed back to Camberley at arrive at about 6pm. Have my dinner and go to bed knackered.
At 11pm the phone rings. "Is Ali back from Silverstone yet ?" asks my contact from McLaren. "Yes" says my mum "he got back at 6pm, had his dinner and has been in bed a couple of hours. Do you want me to wake him ?"
"Really !! I've only just got back home. Did he see the whole race ?"

Gives me a warm glow thinking about that day. And that track invasion caused all the high fencing to be installed on F1 circuits.

foresthillbilly
28-03-2017, 06:14 AM
just as an aside to the high fencing issue. I was at Brands Hatch for the truck racing one year (1988 ?) on Paddock Hill bend when the Wheelie Truck crashed.
That was a premature end to the days events, as apparently the truck was loaded with all sorts of explosive fuels

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRNQug7TRgk

Maidstoned Eagle
28-03-2017, 07:18 AM
So... when do we get to find out which it is?

I dont think it could get any worse.....

fang
28-03-2017, 07:55 AM
I liked going to Brands, preferred it to Siverstone. My first race must have been in the late 60's 'The Race of the Champions' which was a sort of warm up for the F1 season. It was a one two for the McLarens driven by Bruce McLaren and Dennis hume. My favourite was the BOAC 500, for GT Cars. I'll never forget the firts one I went to, the whistle from the huge wing on The Chaparral when it kicked in at Paddock. It went on to win that race and the Ferrari P4's won the sports car Championship taking the next three places.

Lingfield Eagle
28-03-2017, 12:41 PM
I think I may well have been taken to that one by my Dad. I'd have only been about 8 years old but definitely remember the Race of Champions and remember the winning McLaren being towed round on its lap of honour. I was also taken to the F1 race at Brands in late 71 when Jo Siffert was killed. I remember it well, the silence as the race was stopped and the pall of black smoke coming from the back of the circuit. However bland F1 has become now at least we don't have to witness terrible scenes like that.

fang
28-03-2017, 01:12 PM
I think this might be it. I can't remember movies being silent then but it was a while ago.



ajxdZ05877I

Sluggo
28-03-2017, 01:15 PM
in 1987 I start my Automotive course and it transpires we have to do a month's work experience at the start of the next academic year (Sept 1988). Fortunately, I've managed to network a contact at McLaren, and in principle they are OK with it.
It was the old McLaren site on Albert Drive, Woking, in a mix of industrial units and residential roads.
It's quite rare for drivers to be at the factory, they are normally only seen at testing and the like. But I'm waiting for my interview in their plush leather seats , surrounded by cabinets of trophies and a few of their cars, when Alain Prost just happens to amble past.
Bl00dy short-@r5e.
The interview goes swimmingly, so all set for September 1988

I had an interview there for an IT job in the mid 90's (didn't get it). I remember waiting there, being sat in front of Ayrton Sennas car. I don't think I have ever seen so many trophies in one place before or since! :p

stinky
28-03-2017, 01:19 PM
So Brands Hatch didn't hold another F1 GP, as the rights went to Silverstone (and one to Donington), and have been ever since.

So it's early 1987 and there is an F1 testing session at Silverstone. Me and my brother bunk off work and drive up for the day. (I think it was about a fiver to get in). Also at this time I had been accepted onto a BTEC course on Automotive Engineering, starting in September. F1 mechanic was my goal.

So after a few hours all the teams are packing their stuff away and the marshalls are walking off the track. My brother notices a bridge from the car park , going over the track and into the pit area. There are no marshalls.

So in a Silver Datsun Cherry (1.3) my brother drives over the bridge and into the back of the pits, and parks up. We get out to have a look around , and there's Frank Williams (now wheelchair-bound), with his hands bandaged from a car crash the previous year.

My brother gives Frank and man-hug and we go back to the Datsun Cherry.
"Bl00dy H3ll", says my brother Steve. "We can drive straight onto the track from here",.......so he did. Out of the pit lane and onto the circuit.

I did heckle Steve to put his foot down a bit more, but by this time he was bricking it a bit at the magnitude of what he was doing.

We did a lap , ending up just past Abbey Curve and took a swerve back in the pitlane,....to go out again !

We'd nearly done another whole lap when an observant marshal jumped out at Abbey Curve.
"Shall I ask him the way to the M1 ?" I asked Steve.

"Don't say a ****** word. Just keep your big mouth shut!", was Steve's response.

Steve wound down the window....."Sorry mate, I couldn't resist it"
Marshall :"Turn off over the bridge and fck off. Don't let me see you here again"


This is highly disturbing

foresthillbilly
28-03-2017, 05:55 PM
My first day at work,....to come

foresthillbilly
05-04-2017, 11:13 AM
The Monday after every race, the factory staff were briefed on what happened in the previous day's race. We all go into the plush canteen area, where Ron Dennis and perhaps aided by an engineer/designer give a summary of the race, then a Q&A session with the workers.
Everyone piles into the coffee and croissants to take to the tables, and the place is rammed.
Ron spoke for around half an hour, in quite precise detail about the problems they had with the cars in the race, but applauded everyone's contribution. The croissants and coffee were excellent.
Ron has a couple of philosophies that he seems to always hold onto
1. Always strive for perfection/to be the best
2. Make the working environment so good, that the workers won't want to go home.
and so after the Q & A, we walk out into the factory,...where I am detailed to the carbon fibre workshop

foresthillbilly
09-04-2017, 01:06 PM
And so I am working in the carbon fibre section where moulds are supplied for things like exterior bodywork,, brake cowlings and of course the monocoque, which is completed in many sections before being 'glued' together.

You only remember the Fck-Ups
There's work benches for the 5 workers, rolls and rolls of carbon fibre and two big ovens where the curing is done.
My first task is to remove some carbon fibre from their moulds (having been cured), chuck the moulds and then trim the carbon fibre.

BUT, I've never seen carbon fibre before. I know carbon fibre is very strong, so out of the two elements I am given, the sturdy thick black material must be carbon fibre, and the flimsy flexible stuff must be the mould,...right ? wrong.

My mentor recovers the carbon fibre sections from the bin,...and I don't make any more fck-ups at McLaren again.

Mid-morning , and the 3 litre V10 engine for next season is fire-up in the factory. Immediately it is given a real thrashing for up to half an hour, whilst the engineers check telemetry.

I am told the engines arrived late last Friday evening, and the team were so keen to check them over, they wheeled them into the outdoor car park for 'testing'
(McLaren's factory although in an Industrial Estate, was also right next door to a residential estate)
I think it was around 10pm when the police arrived to curtail further testing. McLaren subsequently had to undertake a PR exercise with local residents, who they were anxious not to upset

foresthillbilly
09-04-2017, 04:21 PM
and so I continue in the carbon fibre department for the rest of the week. It is brain-numbingly boring for me. The experience made better by the fine surroundings and enthusiastic workers.

I think the idea of putting people in the carbon fibre area was to ascertain their skills. Some poorly qualified people were employed if they could show endeavour, transferable skills and a willingness for 'the cause'. Once employed by McLaren there were possibilities for development/progression of your career into other departments, if you have the determination and the skill-set.

Carbon fibre people worked on developments to this years car, replacing components after crashes and also producing components for the next season's car.

Wasn't really my sort of thing. A bit 'low-brow' for me

foresthillbilly
09-04-2017, 04:46 PM
And so the next week, I am transferred to the machine shop. Wahay !

But I am used to manual lathes, millers and vertical drills. What I see is light-years from what I've studied at college.
Instead of working to drawings and doing my own machining, these computer-controlled machines are CNC-type (google it), where the designers transmit their plans direct to the engineers machine.
The Engineer has to set-up the work and machine, but essentially after the 'start' button is pressed , you can go for lunch and return a couple of hours later to the finished item. Most workers always kept a check on their machines, even if it was only every 30 minutes.

You only remember the fck-ups, Pt 2

And so the most intricate machining was done on the gearbox casing, where the rear suspension and engine was attached to . The casing was made of magnesium alloy and had to have around 100 machining actions completed on it to attach the additional components.
And so this machinist had set his gearbox up, set the tooling,...and pressed 'start'.

In the second hour of his lunch break the fire alarms goes of. His CNC machine has run out of cutting coolant, and the magnesium alloy has caught fire. The factory is full of smoke.
In a panic the engineer runs from the canteen, dons asbestos gloves, shut the CNC machine down and removes the gearbox casing, (and in spite of the dazzling fire) throws the casing through the factory window, and into the rear car park.

Makes my carbon fibre exploit look a bit pitiful :D

foresthillbilly
09-04-2017, 05:30 PM
Fabrication

One thing that struck me was that none of the workers did any cleaning to their work areas. As soon as they had finished a piece of work , the cleaners moved in and made the area immaculate. That is efficiency.

Previously, I had only done arc welding and oxy-acetylene welding. MIG welding (metal inert gas) was only a few years old to the wider public. That is where the weld is shielded by gas during welding to prevent premature corrosion.

And so I get to try TIG welding (tungsten inert gas). really tricky, but I master it and make a few items to take home as souvenirs.

The machines they had were awesome. Some bending stuff for making exhaust pipes and wheel uprights (the things the stub axles and brake disks are bolted to). I've still got a wheel upright somewhere,...

I worked in the paintshop, but was exciting as ,...

However, I was riding motorbikes around this time (Honda CB750), and the paint team offered to paint my crash helmet in Senna/Prost colours, or whatever I wanted.

Also the black paint used on wishbones etc was exceptionally thin. and this was so that if they x-rayed components to look for fractures, the paint wouldn't obscure the vision

foresthillbilly
09-04-2017, 05:44 PM
inspection department

and so I work with Vic for a few days.
All fabricated items/machined items, are sent to the inspection department, where things are measured for tolerances with chronometers, by hand.

All details are recorded: supplier of material, worker who produced the item, etc, etc.

All superfluous nuts and bolts are supplied by the aviation/aerospace industries.

Very tedious work.

Not for me

foresthillbilly
11-04-2017, 04:40 PM
And so my final day is spent with the race team, as they offload the cars from the lorry transporters and wheel into the factory for dismantling.
As Honda are the engine suppliers their technicians deal with everything in the main engine block. However , McLaren supply and fit ancillary stuff, like fuel tank, exhaust pipes, radiators (oil and water) and turbo intercoolers.

Am pleased to finally get to work with the finished product, and that McLaren have deemed me worthy to do so. straight forward stuff really, not much different from my MK2 Escort.
Everything is stripped off the car and sent for testing, to see if anything is damaged.
Seems a bit trivial, but most of the engineers in the factory had their Snap-on tool boxes plastered with 'staff only' stickers and memorabilia, a lot of it signed by Senna and Prost.
I might have the odd one hidden somewhere.

Also the bonus scheme at the time was workers were given 100 per championship point the team earned after a race.. I don't recall the points total that season (google it), except to say McLaren won 15 out of 16 races, so a lot of people got a bumper wage packet that season.

Also McLaren staff got free clothing. Trainers, trousers, T-shirts and big bomber jackets for outdoors.

As I left, the Works Manager said to give them a call when I'd completed by course, and it was likely they could find a place for me.

foresthillbilly
24-04-2017, 06:38 AM
it was around 1995 when a certain team weren't doing too well.

In order to express his dissatisfaction, a Director got a hi-ab to lift that seasons car onto the landing in-front of the designers offices.

"I want the people responsible to walk past and look at that piece of shlt every morning/evening until they put it right"

foresthillbilly
28-04-2017, 09:30 AM
My career at McLaren never got started. I was in a heavy duty motorcycle crash a week after my McLaren interview. I spent a month in hospital and over a year recovering at home.
Shortly after I was deemed fit for work (1991), McLaren got in touch. Because of the length of time spent recovering, they couldn't offer me a position as a technician/engineer.

However, they could offer me a position as a driver. No, not with Senna and Berger, but as a van driver, scooting round the country, collecting stuff for the factory.
I told them to go fck themselves, which was a really bad career move. Once you get into a Formula 1 team, you have accomplished the most difficult part. There is plenty of freedom to progress to other departments

My loss

foresthillbilly
28-04-2017, 09:43 AM
McLaren's new factory

We all make fck-ups , part 345

So McLaren began work on an all-singing/dancing factory in 1999 - opened in 2003. Lots of new furniture was acquired and put into storage in a hangar at Farnborough air field (Hampshire)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McLaren_Technology_Centre

Woking Council were keen not to lose their most famous company, so made endeavours to ensure McLaren got the site they wanted - subject to conditions.
To reduce visual/noise environmental impact, a lot of the main building is underground. Subsequently the foundations come into contact with groundwater, so water pumps continually operate to pump the water away from the building footings.

It even has a test track to run the cars around the site.

After many months in storage at Farnborough, the furniture is ready to be moved to the new site. But the internal factory doors are not big enough for quite a lot of the furniture.
Don't know who's fault it was, or how it was resolved. I think they probably went and had to buy some new furniture that fitted through the doors :D

It's a shame Ron Dennis had to step aside. He had the right mentality for getting things perfect.

And that's it from me.

bkcbongo
28-04-2017, 10:03 AM
Fun read, thanks. Is there an underground test track for development cars? One of the rumours that goes around Woking!

I live nearby and the McLaren centre has an air of Q's labs about it, shielded from view from the roads!

ob13
28-04-2017, 10:06 AM
So what did you do for a living in the end?

hatter8142
28-04-2017, 10:16 AM
So what did you do for a living in the end?

He became a Professional Bullshitter, he has a history of it on Hol.

foresthillbilly
28-04-2017, 10:21 AM
So what did you do for a living in the end?

I went to University and qualified as an Environment Consultant for developers.

I mentally beat myself up for quite a few years for "what could have been" had I not crashed a motorbike , then declined a job as driver at McLaren.

Mind you, I've lost other potential careers:
Fighter pilot (poor eyesight)
RAF engineer (back injury)
teacher (thankless task)