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