Tommy and The Art of Villainy
At age 8, I remember watching this Brazilian driver in F1, long side burns and a really cool name – Fittipaldi. He was winning races all over the World – and he was one of us “Brasileiro”… It was a really big deal, especially in the mid 70’s , to have a Brazilian World motor racing champion. I really looked up to him !
He had a very smooth, almost clinical driving style, very very skillful. He was able to extract every last ounce of performance from his cars. Most drivers would step over the mark, slide the car unnecessarily…and lose time. Emerson was a consumate “artista da pilotagem”
To this date, I have not met him but I know I will, one day…And how cool would it be to actually drive what is to me the most iconic F1 car of all time – the JPS Lotus 72D? – The car raced by Emerson in 1972 which took him to his first World Title. – The year Emerson became the youngest ever F1 Champion in the history of the sport!
I know one or two current drivers out there who has had the privilege to drive this gorgeous piece of motor racing art…I’m very jealous!
My Mum took me to Interlagos back in 1973 to watch the Brazilian Grand-Prix. It was a fairy-tale journey. We went on the night train from Rio to Sao Paulo. We booked a sleeping cabin and travelled in style. The beds laid parallel to the long window, so you could marvel at the view as the train moved along. We were going to see my hero, the world Champion in his gorgeous JPS Lotus wearing #1. When we got to the circuit I experienced for the first time the smells of F1. For me, it was like being at the Disney World of Motor Racing. Happy days! Of course, he won the race – the first Brazilian to win his home GP.
Back in Rio all I was thinking of was driving. It all started in Teresopolis at age 9. Lots of cushions and, once I could reach the clutch, I was away. A few years later and I was racing down the Teresopolis mountains on my motorcycle – and then in cars. I loved my red beetle – it really was the “bizniss” going downhill. Lucky we didn’t race uphill!
I knew I had to try it for real at some point, but my head was often telling me this was too far-fetched – the stuff of dreams. Go to school, get a degree! That was what I knew to be normal. I guess what really made me go for it was the realisation that I potentially had a level of skill behind the wheel beyond the average and that I should at least try it to see how I compared against others, not in the streets of Teresopolis but at a race track, where it counted. In the Mecca of motor racing – England. In fact, the very place where Emerson started; at the Jim Russell Drivers School.
When I think back, from the very beginning of my life in England, living at the best B&B that ever was! The carlton House Hotel”, on Station Road – Attleborough…., I’ve had some pretty cool years….met some incredible people along the way… oh, and won some silverware too, some of which I’m very proud of!
F1 escaped me, but I have no regrets…From the mountains of Teresopolis to where I am today, it’s been an incredible journey. I hope you enjoy the site!