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In memory of a very funny friend: F1 writer Ray Matts
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In memory of a very funny friend: F1 writer Ray Matts
Posted By: James Allen  |  14 Mar 2011   |  12:17 am GMT  |  26 comments

I am very sad this evening to learn of the death of former Daily Mail F1 correspondent Ray Matts at the age of 70.


Ray was one of the funniest people I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet; he loved F1 for the people, not particularly for the sport and certainly not for the politics. He came to the sport quite late, having been a football man for most of his career, but he did a good job of bringing out the drama in the goings on at the circuits. He didn’t know or care much about the technical side of the sport, he used to joke that he was just off to check the chassis numbers. He was at his peak in the era of Nigel Mansell and Damon Hill and was well respected by both men.


I had many happy evenings in Ray’s company; he was passionate about playing guitar and singing and we had many jam sessions in the paddock. When Mercedes invited the British press for a motor home dinner in Magny Cours every year Ray and I were always asked to play.

He and Stan Piecha of the Sun were a double act and were always winding each other up and sharing new jokes; Ron Dennis was a devotee of Ray’s jokes. When Ray had a heart attack in Melbourne one year, Ron flew Ray’s wife out to be with him and took care of everything. That’s the regard he was held in.

He was a very emotional man and would be reduced to tears at any sentimental speech or tribute to him. His send off in Shanghai a few years back was an extreme example.

Bernie Ecclestone gave him a pass for life and we would see him at least once a year come back into the paddock. He was a great bloke who brightened up the sport while he was in it.

* The Daily Mail published a tribute to Ray on 15th March with this quote from Damon Hill, “I knew he had a job to do but you could also sit and have a drink with him and talk about life and guitars. I sometimes thought he cared more about the pentatonic scale than the Formula One world championship!”

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26 Comments
  1. Chris says:

    I was privileged to know Mattsy via the football scene in the Midlands.

    Got to hear plenty of anecdotes about him in football but not so many in motor racing. Would love to hear more.

    Chris

  2. Robyn says:

    I’m really sorry about your friend. He sounds like a great guy to have known.

  3. Linda Hardy says:

    Its the characters like Ray and yourself James behind the scenes that make F1 what it is.

  4. cristi says:

    we all need someone to make us shift and forget the problems that hit us and think positive, we call them “funny people”. One of them went to God to make Him laugh
    to . Rest in peace !

  5. hi james ,
    am deeply sorry to here we lost a good friend in the paddock ,
    could you let me know an address of where i could send either flowers or a donation if there is a charity involed,
    regards
    craig freeman

  6. Robert Powers says:

    Think of the good times-and there ain’t many better times then jammin’ in the F1 paddock!

  7. Rich says:

    Sad news James. Did you play a cover of ‘the chain’ by any chance?

    Rich

    1. James Allen says:

      Hey Jude was one of his favourites, but Mean Woman Blues was his party piece and would reduce the audience to tears of laughter

  8. James Bolton says:

    This is very sad news. I grew up reading his race reports in the Daily Mail. This was before the internet so I would eagerly wait for my Dad to come home from work on the Monday so I could find out the background to the race weekend.
    Rest in peace Ray.

    James

  9. For Sure says:

    Hi James,

    Sorry to hear about your friend.
    Sorry for the off topic or being inappropriate, was that you playing guitar? Wow, that’s cool.

  10. JohnBt says:

    Jam session in the paddock. That’s really fun James. Do you guys do that anymore?.

    Am sorry about the news of your friend.

    1. James Allen says:

      No, that was in the days when there was a lot of fun to be had in the F1 paddock and a lot more time for that kind of thing. Opportunities like that are thinner on the ground now and everyone works much longer hours

  11. Jackie says:

    I was privileged to have met Ray a few times, via working for the Media Services team at the BGP. He always had a smile on his face and took the time to chat and joke with us.
    A truly nice man, who will be very much missed.

  12. Alison says:

    I was fortunate to work with Ray for a number of years when I worked in football, he was a gentleman, a one off and he will leave a void… what a sad day.

  13. Paul Mc says:

    RIP Ray Matts

  14. mohamed south africa says:

    james, im a bit off topic but how does 1 become an f1 journalist?

  15. Merlinghnd says:

    I would love to have heard Ron Dennis retell one of Ray Matts jokes, that would be funny!!

    Sounds like a great guy, RIP.

    Love these little insights on this site, gives a lot of depth to F1.

  16. jonrob says:

    Sounds like a great bloke James, I have never heard of him until now, but he will obviously be sadly missed by many.

  17. Werewolf says:

    Ray Matts wrote intelligent and engaging articles on F1 in the mainstream press at a time when coverage was much poorer than it is today. He is probably the only journalist to have made me change newspapers, so it is nice to know that he was a great guy, too.

    Condolences.

  18. Peter says:

    Lovely tribute James.

  19. Jack says:

    Rest in peace.

  20. Zhenya says:

    Condolences.

  21. Rishi says:

    I remember reading his race reports for a few years back when he was the Motor Racing/F1 Correspondent at the Daily Mail.

    From your and other tributes to him I agree with all the comments above that he sounds like an engaging character, well-respected and a good guy to have around the paddock (and the Midlands football scene before that).

    RIP Ray Matts.

  22. Ed Taylor says:

    Ray, James, Eddie Jordan, myself and many other nutcases decided to form a rock and roll band in the early 90′s known to all in the paddock as The Pitstop Boogie Boys. Ray joined the band on stage on every possible occasion, and was a keen and competent muso, with a great sense of humour.
    In later years, I would give him a call to ask if he wanted to get up and jam with other bands I was with, and he would be there in a shot. He would play new songs he had learned down the phone, just to make sure he had the licks right.
    This is without doubt, the saddest news I have heard in a long time.
    God Bless old pal.

    1. James Allen says:

      That’s right. I’ve got a photo of that somewhere!

      1. Ed Taylor says:

        I’ve got loads of them! I will sort some out and maybe put them on a Facebook page. I can’t believe how long ago that is now, frightening really!
        Ed

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