Those Were The Days - Stories and Anecdotes from the Golden Age of Motor Racing
Those Were The Days - Stories and Anecdotes from the Golden Age of Motor Racing

Outfumbled in Sweden

Graham Hill makes his point.

Graham Hill makes his point

Sweden isn't exactly the sort of venue that gladdens the heart of the race teams. In spite of the fact that the Swedes produced a couple of hot-shot drivers, Reine Wisell and Ronnie Peterson, they have never really put their backs into laying out interesting and modern circuits. Even back in the sixties and seventies, when Sweden was running regular races at Kinekulle and Karlsgoga, it was all very laid back and resented by the locals. The fact that the police were pretty heavy handed didn't help. There was a complete ban on drinking and driving and helicopters were used to target anyone daring to drive a mile or two over the speed limit. But racing drivers weren't so choosy in those days. If there was a strip of tarmac, someone to wave the chequered flag, a car and the chance of some prize money, you could be sure of a full starting grid. When the Swedish authority announced it was about to launch a Grand Prix there were a few raised eyebrows. When it announced that it was to be held at Anderstorp on airport runways, Peter Westbury, the FIA inspector of circuits, whipped across the North Sea to have a look. He reported back that it was a reasonable venue so everyone started trying to book accommodation. A lot harder proposition than getting a place on the starting grid.

A couple of weeks before the Grand Prix was due to kick off I took an SAS flight to the F2 race at Kinekulle. It was fairly empty and I spent the time chatting up one of the stewardesses. She was tall, white blond, blue eyed, nubile and called Monika. Instant love! By the time she bared her magnificent teeth as I ducked out the door she had promised to turn up on Sunday at the circuit to see the race. Sunday dawned and I made sure everything was OK for the race before dodging off at the appointed time to meet Monika at the entrance with a pass. I promised myself that I would give her ten minutes and if she wasn't there by then I would forget about it. I was gobsmacked to see her standing by the Pay Booth. She waved eagerly and I wondered what the hotel's policy was on extra guests in the rooms. I gave her the pass and she held my arm as we walked back to the paddock. It seemed that it was the first time she had been to a race and was very excited.

There was a rudimentary café in the paddock so I took Monika there, bought her a coffee and something Swedish to eat and nipped off to make sure nothing nasty had cropped up while I was away. Fatal mistake! Graham Hill, to whom I had introduced Monika as we walked through the paddock, had picked her up in the café and taken her back to his pit.

There was a half hour untimed practice session in the morning. Every time Graham came into the pit, Monika, who was sitting on the pit counter on a tyre, preened and made sure he noticed her. Which wasn't hard. She looked ravishing in white slacks, white high collared shirt and a white and red team anorak that Graham had given her. I was beginning to get the picture. She might not know much about motor racing but she knew all about the famous world champion. I pretended not to notice. After the race was over and the cars and gear loaded I asked Monika if I could take her to dinner. She was terribly sorry but Graham had already asked. I scowled at Graham as I left and he grinned back. Not the way to win friends and influence people, I thought.

Time for the Swedish Grand Prix. Just to show I held no grudges I flew to the race in Graham's Aztec. As usual when there was a Grand Prix, Bette came along too. We had managed to book accommodation at the High Chaparral (Ponderosa?) run by an ersatz Scandinavian cowboy, resplendent in Stetson and waistcoat. The interior of the hotel was decked out like a no expenses spared log cabin. As we came into the huge foyer I happened to be walking between Graham and Bette. We paused to get our bearings and there was a whinny and a burst of movement from one of the cowhide seats just inside the door. Like Venus rising from the sea the magnificent form of Monika hove into view. Arms open wide, hair flowing, teeth flashing, she surged towards us. I say 'us' but the target was Graham. With the speed and dexterity that had made him a winner on the track, Graham put his hand on my back and pushed me onto an intercepting course.

"Ah!" he said smoothly, " this is a friend of Tone's"

I mustered a weak smile and grabbed Moniker and wrestled a kiss on the cheek. Graham made an expansive gesture towards Bette.

"And this is Bette, my wife. You are, er, Monika - isn't it?"

Very smooth. Monika got the point and slouched off. I saw her around for the next couple of days. The last time I saw her she was sitting on a tyre on the counter in Peter (The Rabbit) Gethin's Pit.

It was ever thus.

(Swedish Hash)

Easy to make meal which could liven up breakfast time.


1 1/2lb Boiled potatoes
1 cup boiled pork
2 onions
6 plum tomatoes - halved
large pinch salt
large pinch black pepper
3 oz. butter


This is a very dicy dish. (wish I hadn't said that). Boil the potatoes, let then get cold and then dice. About _ inch cubes is nice. Same with the boiled pork. Pop the butter in a largish pan and brown the pork. Put aside for the moment. Dump the onions in the pan and fry until transparent. Add the potatoes and tomatoes to the pan for about 2 mins then add the pork. Salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle on finely chopped parsley.

It's easy to prepare and make. If you want to spruce it up a bit, fry up some eggs and lay them on top. Little preparation or cooking. And you can vary the meat if you want to. Beef, lamb, chicken, even sausage - whatever you have festering at the back of the refrigerator.

Posted 14/7/2008

Those Were The Days - Motor Racing Stories, Tales and Anecdotes from the Golden Age of Motor Racing