I think at any time standing on the podium having won a race for Britain stands out more.
In 1985 I was lucky to have won that Renault Alpine cup race at the European Grand Prix at Brands Hatch. Now I was a last minute (driver) put in the car because Jan Lammers wouldn’t drive because he said the car wasn’t quick enough, so he went off to America and Jeff Goodliffe who I was working with a lot with Fiesta’s and Renault 5 Turbos said “Oh you’re in, I’ve put you in the car.” I said “ Oh my goodness”, he said “It’s the Rothman’s Holland car.”
So I turned up down there and my team mate was Michael Blakamo, who was in F1, a chap called Fred Crab I think, who was the Dutch champion. They stuck me in this car and I was 9th quickest in practice. Anyway it came to the race and I got my head down and it was a left hand drive so it was taking me a bit of getting used to and on the last but one lap I passed the leader and came through and won the race, for Britain. But to go up on that podium and have the National Anthem play, I felt like an Olympian.
I was standing up there, I didn’t have a gold medal but I had a great big cup and I had 2 or 3 hats and a few pints of beer afterwards. But it was tremendous, it was that for England (the best moment).
Now the same thing happened to me doing a 4 hour race at Paul Riccard in France with Lord Beaverbrook, Maxwell and Geoff Lister in a Porsche and we won the 4 hour race against the hierarchy. That was on the podium again and I must admit it’s a wonderful feeling. You feel you’re doing something, not just for yourself, but for the team and just racing for England.
Everyone asks me if there is one particular car that stands out that I’ve driven, I think it’s the stuff that gives you fun, like Mini’s and stuff like that. But, you know, you’ve got to remember that motorsport, to me anyway, there’s never been the commercial aspect it’s been the fun and the sport and the camaraderie. Some of my better chums are mechanics and engineers in the sport. And motorsport is a team effort, it’s not just racing drivers, it’s mechanics, it’s the whole, it’s a team effort. And in rallying you’ve got to remember that you’ve got a co-driver so that’s team effort isn’t it. If he tells you to turn right you’ve got to rely on him, you hope he’s right.
The worst words in the world are “flat over brow”. How does he know? But it’s a team effort, that’s what I enjoy about the sport. And I’m loving helping the people now, putting a bit back in because so many people come into the sport, they do it for a while make a bit of money and leave. I’ve come into it, I’m still at it, I’ve never made any money but I’m enjoying every moment and I have a tremendous friendship with all around me. As I say the camaraderie in motorsport is tremendous.
Over the years I’ve admired many drivers for their skill or determination. In Formula 1 there’s Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton, they’re so dedicated to what they’re doing, so professional in every way and they tend to push their efforts out into the rest of the team.
In the Rallying world we lost old Roger Clark, but you know he was a different sort of a rally driver. I think Rauno Aaltonen who is still an exceptional all round driver. If you’d seen him at Goodwood in an E-Type you’d have though “Wow this guy is just on the way up” but he’s been there and you know.
Eric Carlsson in the rally world did things that you couldn’t possibly imagine you could do with a Saab, but he did it. And then other people in the sport are the Team Managers, Ross Brawn you know. … And all the people who’ve asked me to drive their cars, whether they think it’s going to come home in one piece or it’s still got the same cylinders in it as it started, I don’t know but I tend to bring them home somehow.
But I do find that it’s the individuals, and you know, some of the are very rich and it’s rather like you buy a race horse, you don’t want to ride the horse yourself do you. So you put some guy on it, let him have the accident, get kicked and bitten. So that’s how the sport has come to me really!
Barry Whizzo Williams shared these memories with Replay Motorsport at the 50th Anniversary Harewood Hillclimb meeting in September 2012
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Memory added on September 29, 2012
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