It was 1967 and the first Canadian Grand Prix. At the time I was racing my Elva Mk 6 Climax. I had hoped to do some out of Province races but lack of money and vacation time stopped that.
However I was dominating my class in Ont. and seeing how far up I could get among the bigger cars. Two weeks before the GP there had been a money race at Harewood but most of the cars running in the Cdn. Championship were not there. I had just passed Mo Carter’s Camero for third overall when a front A arm broke. I eventually limped home 11th and just out of the money. Now I was really broke. About $1 in my pocket and the same in my bank account. At least I got paid on Thursday. I owed a bundle and even my gas credit card was almost maxed out. At the track I slept in my tow car.
The GP was organized by the Cdn. Racing Drivers Club (CRDA) often referred to as the Cdn. Retired Drivers Club. It was by invitation only. I was not a member then. After I retired I was invited to join. The executive did not even follow local racing to any extent. There was a support race for sports racing cars by invitation only, and I believe a hefty entry fee. I did not get an invite. Now I wanted to see the race but wasn’t prepared to pay for a ticket, which at that time did not allow you into the paddock. Simple. I went to the track on the Wed. and just drove in and parked in the paddock. Slept in the tow car and had brought some food and pop. Mosport food in those days was almost inedible. Like burgers in their bun cooked by steaming in foil. Even the coffee was terrible.
So once the cars arrived I prowled up and down the ‘garage’. It was a tent open on one side! After one practice I noticed one of the Cooper Maserati’s having an engine change. Now that thing was a massive V12 convoluted lump. It was Dick (Tatty Atty) Attwood’s car. The other car was driven by Jochen Rindt.
I hung around and started talking to the mechanic working on the left side of the car. Just 2 mechanics to a car. An engine change was a 23 hour job! So I started handing requested tools and on occasion holding things for Ron Dennis. I stayed up most of the night and fetched coffee and did other little things. I also knew how to get into the tower unseen where I was able to obtain some sandwiches from the press room free for the team. Also slightly better coffee. Told the guys how to get in so they could use the washrooms with running water. Outside of the tower there were just outhouses.
So race day Roy Salvadori, the team manager decided I really should have a pass since I had helped a bit. He had partaken of the coffee etc. although he and the drivers did have tower access. Shortly after I got the pass a couple of the CRDA officials arrived on the scene. It turned out most sports racer types ‘invited’ turned them down. Someone had also figured out that I, A. had a sports racer and B. had not been issued a pass. So basically it was ‘suggested’ to me I go get my car and have free entry or leave the premises forthwith. Now for me to make it in time would be tough considering where in TO my car was and I had had practically no sleep. So I just said no and produced my trackside pass. At that point Roy interjected that I was working for Cooper and that I was needed at the track.
So I watched the wet race from the Cooper pits and did help with the timing. That was my time working with Ron Dennis.
After that I also got invitations to run in the support races. Also became a CRDA member and a Director, until I fought with the track owners and resigned.