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Video: Stewart, Hill, Brundle and Watson salute the F1 mechanics
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Video: Stewart, Hill, Brundle and Watson salute the F1 mechanics
Posted By: James Allen  |  29 Oct 2010   |  12:26 pm GMT  |  28 comments

On Wednesday this week the Grand Prix Mechanics Trust held a reunion at the Williams F1 team conference centre, attended by close to 200 current and former mechanics. Also there to pay tribute to the unsung heroes of the pit lane were former drivers Sir Jackie Stewart, Damon Hill, Martin Brundle and John Watson. Many ex F1 drivers have donated to the Trust, along with most of the big names at the top of the sport.


The Trust was founded by Sir Jackie Stewart in 1987 to campaign for higher safety standards in the pitlane and to provide security and advice to mechanics suffering from injury or hardship. It manages a fund of over £1 million, raised from donations from leading figures in the sport as well as auctions of team memorabilia.

For over 20 years the Trust, of which I am a Trustee, has helped a wide range of mechanics and is actively engaged in advising and helping current and past mechanics. There are now a growing number of former F1 mechanics, who have reached retirement without a company pension, health insurance or similar. Often it is after they have left the security of their F1 team that in times of hardship, they or their families need help and assistance.

“In many ways the mechanics are the core and foundation of motorsport, ” said Brundle. “They create and maintain the cars we so love to watch and drive. It’s always a pleasure to meet old friends at the Grand Prix Mechanics Trust reunion and to share their laughter and stories.”

Sir Jackie Stewart added, “It’s very rewarding that so many past drivers and motor racing personnel, as well as companies, have seen fit to support this very worthy cause. As a driver, my life was in the hands of these mechanics and I have the absolute admiration for the work that they have carried out both in the past and that the present army of Grand Prix Mechanics are doing today.”

Also paying tribute to the mechanics were Sir Frank Williams and Patrick Head, who hosted the Reunion event this year. Patrick is also a very active Trustee.

Every year each team, via FOTA, gives the Trust signed memorabilia to auction for fundraising for this worthy cause. JA on F1 will shortly be hosting an online auction in partnership with Grand Prix Legends, with a signed set of the fans’ favourite Kamui Kobayashi’s overalls the first item to be sold. All money received from the auction will go to the GP Mechanics Trust. Keep an eye out on JA on F1 for the chance to bid. Meanwhile, if you wish to donate to the Trust go to donation.htm

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28 Comments
  1. Jim says:

    I’m confused, OK, nothing new there then! I’m guessing you’re talking about the mechanics in the trenches here? I’d assume the more senior ones (maybe called engineers) get paid enough so that future hardship is unlikely. So, if these not so senior mechanics are being paid so little that they leave the sport and fall into hardship, then there is something seriously wrong. These guys should be looked after by the teams they’ve worked for and the teams should be putting more money in the pot.

    Sorry James, but I think there is something wrong with this picture!

  2. part time viewer says:

    Its nice to see that the well payed drivers help those that make their job possable help out in times of need.
    Its a shame other forms of motorsport dont have the same, I work in sportscars and gt and there is nothing like this

  3. Jo Torrent says:

    What is sad really is that an outside Trust is required to help these mechanics overcome their difficulties.

    It must be to the F1 teams to finance such a fund on a regular basis. They reached a gentleman agreement about testing and wind tunnel use, etc… Why don’t they allocate a part of the FOM money before it is even shared to help those in need among their own people. They might do that, nobody will be spoiled and it won’t require any alms from anybody which has the drawback of having to ask for it and of having an irregular funding.

    I don’t think Bernie won’t mind either ?

  4. Peter West says:

    A worthy cause indeed, but how come retired mechanics are left without a pension? Does their company or the government not provide for this?

    1. Feynman says:

      I doubt it is anything much to do with pensions, people can need a hand at any age, not just post retirement.

      It is about a group of people with something in common looking out for each other, and that is how it actually should be … those commenters scandalized that FOM or FOTA don’t bankroll this endeavour, are absolutely at liberty to make their own individual monetary contributions, or does the concern actually not much stretch past the HTML comment box.

      Although in saying all that, I have long thought that it would be a good idea that after a week shipping, and building, and stripping down and rebuilding, and setting up, and tuning … if the driver then takes the car and smashes it up on the first lap, the driver gets docked that week’s wages, and the cheque sent to the Trust … one good wet race and no-one would have to rely on anyone auctioning anything.

  5. Wayne says:

    What a great story. So positive so see this kind of sentiment made public in the often shallow, transient sport we all love to complain about but couldn’t do without! Superb advert for the worth of FOTA also, demonstrating the altruistic qualities of the organisation to balance the corporate manoeuvring we are so used to hearing about. Good for F1, Good for FOTA, and good for the many benefactors including James for taking the time to tell us all about this kind of thing.

  6. michael grievson says:

    It’s shocking some people are on hard times considering the money in F1.
    However it’s excellent they’re supported by their peers. It shows the level of friendship and respect they have for each other.

  7. jmv says:

    what a great initiative!

    1. agreed, its just a shame given the cash involved that it needs to exist in the first place.

  8. Tim Howard says:

    Gosh, having followed F1 since 1977 watching this brings home to you the inherent goodness of people like Jackie Stewart doing, and continuing to do, what they have done. This deserves more publicity from the BBC F1 coverage etc.

  9. Mark m says:

    Jackie Stewart what a man not only did he single handedly did he improve the safety of the sport he looks after the people that made him the driver he was through a charity like this. Like a lot of people from that time company pensions was a luxury that it seems was on that the teams seen as necessary these days it’s different but actions like these shows that even the most calculating driver has a heart.

  10. Peter Jones says:

    It’s great to see F1 still looking after people after they’ve left the industry.

    Shame the video only contains 1-liners from drivers and team owners telling us how important the mechanics are though – why aren’t there any interviews or stories from the mechanics themselves? Maybe there’s an idea for a feature or two in the future, talking to the mechanics about what F1 life used to be like and comparing it to what goes on now?

  11. Steve W says:

    Unsung heroes,though i agree with Michael Grievson it is shocking that teams do not provide,or appear not to,future pensions.

    State pensions aside, the F1 fraternity should look beyond the drivers and ensure its employees are looked after,without relying on charitable causes.

  12. GP says:

    Thanks for that, James.

    Jackie Stewart deserves so much praise for having created this fund.

  13. Trent says:

    There must be great anecdotes about the good old days amongst these guys. Would love to hear some, if any of the ex-mechanics are contributors to this site!

  14. Ivan Julian says:

    James, a very worthy and noble cause.

    Your comments regarding a “lack of pension plan” etc after years of service to the wonderful sport of Formula One certainly resonated with myself. Having reached 48 years of age it’s occurred to me that all of us, at some stage in life, come to realise that we’re no longer 21 years old anymore, and that the “rest of our life” is now much closer than “farther away” as it was when we were younger.

    On a side note, can I take this opportunity to compliment you on this wonderful messageboard and website. My American friends and I constantly refer to your blog entries on Corner Carvers, a highly regarded American messageboard regarding all things motor racing. Being Australian, I’m constantly surprised, and impressed with how remarkably “non insular” a lot of Americans are regarding sports outside of North America, and your website has proven to be a source of much conversation this year on Corner Carvers.

    In closing, I always enjoy your “live crosses” to Greg Rust and Daryl Beattie on “ONE HD” prior to each Grand Prix. Very professional and informatitive. Kudos to you.

    Regards, Ive.

    1. James Allen says:

      Thanks for that. The US is our number two market on the site, with Australia number three so we seem to have very good followings in both countries and many informed and thought provoking comments from both

  15. Nathan says:

    Fantastic to hear about people being looked after like this.

    James, do you think you might have an article on this year’s rookies and their fortunes? It’s an interesting topic, especially with Hulkenberg probably out of a seat and Kobayashi being left with an unexperienced partner next year, and the question marks about Petrov.

    Would love to hear your opinions on all those things :)

    Keep up the good work!

  16. Murray says:

    Most motorsport teams are born out of enthusiasm and never graduate to any sort of company structure beyond that required to allow sponsorship advertising deductable and limit liability against team members, but this organisation and the community it’s needed to support show that motorsport enthusiasts are a lot like musicians or artists. F1′s so-called “professionalism” is a very recent phenomenon, and if it doesn’t support the staff whose work makes it possible to generate the vast amounts of money that are talked about to at least the standards of the lowliest public obligations of everyday companies, it doesn’t deserve the description. This isn’t noblesse oblige, this is business.

  17. Mark says:

    Surely they get a good wage and can pay into private pensions even if the teams don’t provide one for them. I’m not knocking it if that is what people want, but it’s not as if they can no longer work when they leave F1. They still have the skills to earn money like anyone else, unlike footballers for example, most of whom lack the intelligence to do anything else when they retire, except maybe punditry.

  18. BMG says:

    So why don’t the Teams contribute to their Employee’s pension like most other employers?

    In Australia it’s law to contribute 9% of their salary.

    1. James Allen says:

      They do now, but they didn’t when many of these guys were racing, It was a much more fly by night existence then

  19. Andy C says:

    Excellent coverage of a very worthwhile event. Looking forward to bidding on kamui’s overalls.

    James, on an unconnected note, Frank was very glowing about hulkenburg in an interview this week, saying he hoped he would be there next year.

    Although he was glowing also about rubens he didn’t say that he would be there. Hulkenburg and Maldonado next year at Williams then….

    1. James Allen says:

      Mmmm…it’s a very difficult situation, no doubt. Rubens has driven as well as at any time in his career, but Hulkenberg has improved in the right ways second half of the season. I’ve been quite impressed with him since July. He is a proper racing driver.

      1. Andy C says:

        Its a real shame as I think Rubens has done a good job….but…..

        The commercial reality is for Williams, sponsors are not falling over themselves to get into F1 at the moment, and if they can bring in a guy thats just won GP2 and is one for the future, and brings a barrel load of cash with him, I think the pairing could be great for williams for the next couple of years. Paying a smaller amount of fees in driver fees should see them through a very lean period.

        I think Hulkenburg has real potential, and I cant see them getting rid of him now. I do hope Rubens is still driving in F1 next season though, if only to defend his Top Gear title
        :-)

        The downside is of course on development, we’ve heard how the team credit Rubens with helping them in the right direction on changes etc.

  20. JimmiC says:

    Further cements my opinion that Sir Jackie is our greatest F1 champion, for what he achieved both in and out of the car.

    1. Andy C says:

      His contribution to f1 has been brilliant. Particularly around safety. I recalled seeing something on him recently (I think it was a jim Clark doc) when he was saying at one point he was racing, you had a two in three chance of not surviving a full f1 career. It makes me thankful we’ve passed that era (and even more appreciative of some of the great talents that drove I’m that era).

      Seeing some of the footage at the nurburgring where they are cresting hills with all 4 wheels off the ground. Just unbelievable.

  21. onyx says:

    The HULK is the man!If Williams drop him they really are finished!Ferrari should sack Massa and get him!

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