Clive Chapman: childhood memories

I don’t remember being at Silverstone in ’67 but there are photos of me and my sisters here all in replica firestone racing overalls when I was five years old. I still have the overalls. On my 40th birthday my Mother gave me the overalls as a present. She had managed to buy them back from a lady who had bought them years ago at a charity sale and they are now hanging in my room.

1973 with Ronnie (Peterson) were my first memories of racing at Silverstone. That was the year of the big shunt. I was in the Grandstand that day. It was dramatic and pretty frightening and I just wanted to know that the drivers were ok. That was immortalised in the film “If you’re not winning, you’re not trying” which was a documentary film about the team in ’73. Then in ’75 that was then they had catch-fencing but someone came off and a pole flew up into the Grandstand and that was the end of catch fencing!

I remember being here when Rosberg did his 160mph lap, which was just incredible, and flying in with my Dad in a fixed wing he used to fly back and forth from home in. Two hours after practice we would be sitting back at home in Norfolk having a barbeque then an early misty morning take- off from the grass strip at home the next day and back to the race, landing on the in-field – that was so cool.

My outstanding racing memory here was seeing Ronnie through Woodcote; I do remember that, on big, huge tyres in 1975 in the type 72 and it just drifting through moving around. It was so softly sprung and the tyres had lots of compliance too; massive balloon cross-plys, not radials; tiny fronts and massive rears. We watched from the Grandstand on the outside of Woodcote where we always sat every year; the best view.

Another memory was when the (twin-chassis) type 88 came here and was passed in scrutineering with Elio (de Angiles) and Nigel (Mansell) and then late on the Friday the FIA waded in and it was banned overnight. First thing on the Saturday morning my Dad said ‘hang on a minute boys, before we get started let’s line them up, line them all up”. He knew that they had to get converted back to 87’s but my Dad wanted a picture of all three 88’s lined-up together. I think we had one ready for qualifying in the afternoon and then they converted another one overnight but in the end Nigel didn’t get to race, but that was a dramatic interlude. We still have the 88 and a passed scrutineering sticker on the bulkhead, now covered in Perspex as we don’t want to lose that. It never raced but it did get the fastest time running up the hill at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2011 which was really nice and a great way to celebrate the car. That’s the nice kind of moment that historic motorsport can create.

Clive Chapman,Team Lotus


Fantastic footage of 1973 and the shunt

Memory added on August 14, 2013

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