Your experiences with racing drivers

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    Bradley Downton

    To be honest, I couldnt really think of a good title. But what I really want to ask is, has anyone ever met any motor racing drivers who weren’t at their race weekend?

    At Thruxton for the BTCC last year I was walking casually around the paddock looking for BTCC drivers to get their signatures, (while my dad tracked Lewis Hamilton’s movements so I could get his signature when he moved from the pitwall) when I realised I recognised the man walking in front of me. I racked my brain quick as I realised he was just about to duck through the garage and into the pitlane, somewhere I wasnt allowed, and also noted the ‘iSport’ logo on the back of his shirt and called out, ‘Sam?’

    Sam Bird spun round and went, ‘Yes, me?’ I asked if he was Sam Bird (just to be totally sure I wasn’t going to make a fool of myself) and he confirmed he was. I then asked for a signature which he gladly gave and we had a short conversation. I asked what had brought him to Thruxton and he said he enjoyed watching the young British talent as well as other series. He asked what the large group was for down the pitlane and I informed him they were waiting for Lewis Hamilton. He asked if Lewis was actually there and I told him where. He then said ‘Cheers, it was nice meeting you’ and he dissapeared through the Garages to go and see Lewis.

    Later in the day I also got Hamilton’s signature, but there were so many people he only managed to sign about 8 signatures and his bodyguard was proper pushy about getting him in the car and away from all the fans (something we were all quite put out about as lewis said he’d never be like that).

    I was really happy and probably more excited that I’d met Sam Bird than Hamilton because I knew Hamilton would be there but the fact that Bird was there was a surprise.

    It’s quite interesting meeting drivers when they’re not at a race weekend where they are participating, has anyone else had similar experiences?

    Alianora La Canta

    I’ve met several drivers at autograph sessions at Autosport – Takuma Sato, David Coulthard, Allan McNish and Martin Brundle, to name the ones who raced in F1. All of them were pleasant and tried their best to satisfy everyone (in David’s case that was very difficult due to the masses wanting a piece of his time, but he was consistently courteous to all). Takuma was the best of them, with his infectious enthusiasm – he gave the impression he’d have been happy signing all day if the organisers had let him (there was a schedule to keep and even racing drivers have to eat at some point). He even thanked me for wishing him good luck.


    I met Vettel at MK Homerun, not sure if that counts though, on my blog now there’s a poll about interaction with F1 drivers

    Sorry for the plug!

    Dan Thorn

    Well, the Goodwood Festival of Speed has a veritable smorgasbord of racing drivers just wandering about. Got pictures with Vic Elford and Tiff Needell. I wanted one with Arturo Merzario but I was distracted getting a photo with Vic and when I went to look for him again, he was gone! Both Tiff and Vic were very pleasant though, shook my hand (Vic even invited me to sit next to him on the Chapparal 2J which was AWESOME). Also met Ken Block who was very friendly and jovial.

    Also saw a bloke poking around the old Auto Unions who was attracting a lot of interest. Had no idea who he was so didn’t ask for anything, but when I looked it up it only turned out to be last years Le Mans winner Andre Lotterer! Annoyed to have missed that.

    Met Jenson Button at a book signing a couple of years ago, he was friendly but we weren’t allowed photos which was annoying.

    The first time I went to Goodwood when I was 9 or 10 years old I got Derek Bell’s signature (my Dad gave me a nudge and told me to go an ask for that man’s autograph, I had no idea who he was!)

    Never really been one for collecting signatures though. I’d much rather have a photo with someone or exchange a few words, hence why I didn’t go chasing after the current F1 drivers at Goodwood, because everyone wants to get piece of them and they have less time to give you individually.

    Not a racing driver but the best motor racing personality I met is Murray Walker. He had so much time for me and asked about my weekend at FoS, what I enjoyed most, where I’d come from etc. Lovely bloke.


    I ran into Tiff Needell (or rather, he ran into me) when I was leaving the Autosport show a couple of years back. I heard a shout from behind of “gang way!” and then got lightly brushed aside as he rushed past. He said he would sign an autograph if I was able to keep up with him (he was striding along a travolator, I was jogging alongside), which I just about managed!

    Also had a quick chat with the mighty Alex Yoong at Silverstone last year when Renault World Series was in town. He was very patient and waited for me to retrieve my missus who had disappeared down the pitlane with my camera.


    @ahw3ll Pics or it didn’t happen! :P

    The closest I’ve ever come to meeting an F1 driver was at the 2009 Australian Grand Prix. I wandered over to the paddock club entrance and Rubens was signing autographs, so I rushed over to the fence. Unfortunately, he stopped about 3 signatures before getting as far as me, but I was still delighted to have seen an F1 driver in the flesh! He was so much smaller than I could have imagined! :D

    Hoping to meet an F1 driver if I go to the Grand Prix this year though…


    Generally all my experiences with meeting drivers have been good although I totally understand if some feel awkward having fans all around them wanting their time.

    I bumped into Damon Hill at Silverstone last year (several times in fact) and he was very happy to sign something for me when I asked. I also got Sebastian Vettel’s autograph at the Red Bull Home Run but Mark Webber skipped past me and went on to the next person, not that I’m too bothered as nobody can have everything. As long as I’m not getting in the way I’m happy.


    @damonsmedley Ask and you shall receive! Took the opportunity to fly the flag for F2 while I was there :p



    I met Tom Coronel at an autshow in late 1999, after he won the Formula Nippon championship and was trying to get the money together for a seat at Arrows in 2000. He was a really nice guy, very approachable and always up for a chat.

    In 2003, I met Felipe Massa and Christian Albers at seperate events at Zandvoort. Massa was doing a demonstration in Ferrari, and Albers was racing DTM. They weren’t un-nice, but nothing special either.

    Two years ago (2010), I was invited to a preview event for F1 2010, where I got to race Robert Doornbos in a simulator (I beat his time the next day, although he only set a few lap times with no practice). I must say, seeing a Formula One driver drive up close was amazing. Eventhough he didn’t set the fastest time (there were gamers that had already driven for three days straight), you just saw there was something different with his approach. The calm and collective body language, exactly knowing the braking points, the smoothness of steering. You can’t quite explain it, but it shows the difference between top drivers and us gamers. I had a chat with him afterwards (and he signed my copy of the game) and he was a really nice guy. He actually still thought Vettel had a good chance of winning the title (this was post-Spa), so that was kinda funny in retrospect.


    Not sure how many will care since being from the United States I’ve only met indycar drivers but to those who do, last year in Kentucky I got to meet the whole KV Racing crew. Ej Viso, Tony Kanaan, and Takuma Sato. I was most excited about Takuma since he’s a former F1 driver. He was very nice and signed a autograph and I got a picture with him. At indy its incredibly easy to get signatures and meet drivers. I met and shook hands with Marco Andretti, and Hello Castroneves. I also got Mike Conways autograph in 2010 the year of his huge last lap crash. And of course I got Danica Patricks signature. That one wasn’t worth it since everyone’s crazy about her.

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