01/05/1994…Where were you…

Most, if not all, Motorsport fans know of the date 1st May 1994 and the significance it holds in Formula 1 and the Motorsport world in general.

Normally with significant dates in history, people can place where they were and what they were doing.

As you all know I am a big fan of both Formula One and Touring Car racing and on this date in history, both of them met in the worst way.

On 1st May 1994 I was at Snetterton in Norfolk.

It was my first visit to a BTCC event and was arranged by my Uncle Steve, whom I was living with at the time. In 1994, Alfa Romeo and a certain Mr Gabriele Tarquini were dominating the BTCC in the Alfa Romeo 155. Also in 1994, on the support package for the BTCC was the Historic Saloon Car Championship.

One of his friends was driving a Lotus Cortina, sponsored by Demon Tweeks. As I recall, apart from a quick look around the paddock, I spent the whole day sat halfway down the Revetts Straight watching all the cars qualifying.

Race day was on the Bank Holiday Monday, however at about 2pm on the Sunday, my Uncle called me to the car where he was having lunch and had the San Marino Grand Prix on the radio.

I want to point out that over the whole weekend, Rubens Barrichello suffered a horrible crash on the Friday that put him in hospital and Austrian driver Roland Ratzenberger was killed in Qualifying the following day and I also remember  Ratzenberger each day of the anniversary every year.

The news had just been released that Senna had crashed at Tamburello and was taken to hospital. I felt sick. I stopped eating as I was stunned by this. I never liked Senna, bit I respected his skill and racecraft in the Williams.

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The rest of the day was a blur until we got home and saw the BBC News report read by Moira Stewart, confirming Senna had died. I turned to my Uncle and cried. It was natural to suddenly feel like this, he said.

The following races in the 1994 F1 season were down to a straight fight between Hill and Schumacher. Even the odd appearence of my hero Nigel Mansell back at Williams didnt raise my spirits. I began to support Hill as he was a brit in a Williams but it wasn’t the instant support that Nigel got from me.

Tarquini romped to the BTCC Title as Schumacher narrowly beat Hill to the F1 Title, but it still tainted my first visit to a BTCC Meeting.

It would take 16 years for me to return to the BTCC. I actually blamed myself for a time about Senna’s death. The fact that I’d watched every race apart from the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix live or as the BBC chose to show it worried me that because I hadn’t watched that race live.

I grew up and learnt it couldnt be my fault after all the investigations. To this day I still haven’t watched the BBC Broadcast of the Grand Prix. I’ve seen the Senna Movie and I know a lot more, happily.

In 2010, my partner Nik and best mate Andy surprised me by buying tickets for BTCC Finals Day at Brands Hatch as it fell on my 33rd birthday…10/10/2010. We had a good day, watching Plato win the BTCC Title, meeting the previous Stig Ben Collins and cursing him.

I shook his hand at an autograph signing and wished him all the best for race three.

He spun his Motorbase BMW into the gravel trap at the bottom of Paddock Hill bend on the way to Druids.

I cursed The Stig!!!

I spent that day with my partner Nik, best friends Andy and Darryl and my stepson Aaron and it was amazing. It also made up for my first BTCC Visit back on 01/05/1994.

So, Question is, where were you on that day…

Cheers

Phil.

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