Some Racing stories out of the past

Memories Bill asked me at the time he interviewed me for the bio if I would mind posting some of my stories. I must admit I have been remiss in not getting started on this. So this is a random story from 1977. I was living in Southern California and had been involved with the Cal Club Region of the SCCA. I started in 1968 as a corner worker. By 1975 I was in the Stewards Program. In 1977 I was the Deputy Executive Steward in the Southern Pacific Division of the SCCA. Jerry Adams was my boss as Executive Steward. As a result of these positions we were able to work the more important races. We were assistant Clerks of the Course for the F1 race at Long Beach. I had worked as a Safety Steward at the first LB race, the F5000 event as well as the 1976 F1 race. We worked in Race Control which was much different at Long Beach as there was no permanent facility such as a tower which is the usual situation. At LB Race Control was in the basement of a building that housed a retirement home. They had moved all the residents out to a hotel in Palm Springs due to the noise and traffic situation. So they set us up in the basement. No way to see the cars but we had the usual radio and land line communication with Emergency Services and the corner workers/marshals. We also had a TV monitor that had been there last year. We weren't aware of the abilities of the monitor in 1976 but were introduced to a producer from Lirol Productions which was doing the race. He informed us that if we needed to he could call the truck and have them provide a feed from any camera on course. So the race started and everything was fine. On lap 33 Tom Watson spun his Brabham Alfa. The car was stationary and three marshals were waiting for clearance to push him to a safe place. I was watching all this on the monitor. Watson was waving a hand as if to be pushed which they did. They intended to push him further into the runoff. Instead as the car started to slowly roll Watson dumped the clutch and bump started the car and drove off. It was plain to see as he released the clutch all 3 guys bent forward over the rear wing as if the load had suddenly increased. The tire smoke was also a pretty good clue! I pointed this out to the Clerk of the Course Burdette (Burdie) Martin. We asked TV if they could play that back. They did and I said it sure looked like a push start to me. They agreed and radioed John Timanus who was the SCCA head of Tech. He was our contact with the pits. He advised the team of the infraction. There was much argument in reply and after another lap or so John was instructed to tell them team if they didn't come in we would stop scoring the car. Before you know it I got to meet Bernie Eccelstone and Colin Chapman. Bernie owned the Brabham Team at the time and at this late date I can't remember why Colin was there. Probably to argue that the car should be thrown out. In any case the car was a DQ for “outside assistance”.

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