“Would you like to participate in the Canadian Grand Prix F1 Pilot’s Parade?” So said the telephone message left by a French accented gentleman named Roger Hamel. I’m an F1 fan. Have been at least since watching Nigel Mansell blow a tire at Adelaide in 1986, on television, while visiting South Africa. He had won the South African GP the year before, so the locals were abuzz with Mansell feaver. In those days, at home I had a color TV with rabbit ears. Unless a sporting event appeared on Wide World of Sports, I never got to see it.
I’ve stuck with the international approach to visiting F1 races. To date, each opportunity I’ve had has been in a different country, but the Pilot’s Parade was something new to me. Even at Monaco, the driver introductions were accomplished by placing all the drivers together in the back of a flatbed truck and driving them around. They looked like a batch of potted plants being delivered.
Although we never get to see it on TV, it turns out for the past 13 years, Roger Hamel has organized Le Club Austin Healey du Québec’s participation in the Grand Prix. With 22 drivers this year, that meant 22 cars (plus a couple spares) must be available, on time, and in the right place. Whereas with Miatas, if 22 cars show up, all 22 may be relied upon to complete the task, with a group of old Austin Healeys, anything could happen. In the event, we did not need an extra car, but more on that later.