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Posted By: James Allen  |  20 Jan 2012   |  2:41 pm GMT  |  21 comments

The Grand Prix Mechanics Charitable Trust has launched a new area on its website, exclusively for former and current F1 mechanics to chat online and swap photos and stories.

The new area of the website is open to current or past F1 mechanics, who have registered with the Trust.

Called ‘The Garage’, it is a private area where mechanics, past and present, can find old friends and colleagues, interact and reminisce or plan meet ups.

There’s a forum to discuss any topic they like, plus a section for photographs from when mechanics worked in the paddock. There’s even a list of other registered mechanics so it’s easy to find old friends and colleagues wherever they may be in the world.

The Trust holds a reunion of registered mechanics every two or three years, the most recent being at Williams F1 in Autumn 2010, which have proved very popular with former F1 mechanics. The introduction of “The Garage” extends this opportunity to keep in touch even further.

This is an important year for the Trust, of which I’m a trustee; it’s the 25th anniversary.

Set up in 1987 by three-time Formula 1 world champion Sir Jackie Stewart, who was campaigning for better standards of safety in the sport, the Mechanics’ Trust aimed to provide support for mechanics should an accident occur when they were working in the pit-lane.

These days, mechanics are well supported by their team during their careers; however the trust remains as relevant as ever through its support for mechanics in need of assistance long after their time in the pit-lane when they no longer have the support of the team.

Jonathan Wheatley, Red Bull Team Manager said: “I’ve been employed by a Formula 1 team for over 20 years now and I know that if something happened to me while I’m working with the team, I’d be looked after.

“But talking to some retired mechanics who have been out of the business longer than I’ve been in it, they’re in a completely different situation and I think that’s why the Trust is doing such great work.

“We have regular team meetings and I asked them to register because while I understand there are around 220 mechanics registered with the trust, there must be thousands who haven’t signed up and I hope that they will do.”

Sir Jackie, who has been chairman of the Mechanics Trust for 25 years and instrumental in raising well over £1m for the fund, commented: “Every time I sat behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car, I put my life in the hands of my mechanics. I therefore have an absolute admiration for what they do.


“When times of hardship strike, the trust is here to help the mechanics by offering them support either financially, with medical support and guidance or with advice from our people who can identify what help is available from the government and other sources.”

Registration is easy; either download the registration form on the website, contact Trust Administrator Ann Wood on ann@gpmechanicstrust.com or phone 00 44 1896 820263. If you wish to make a donation to the Trust’s work then also contact Ann.

Registered mechanics receive personal login details giving them full access to The Garage.

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21 Comments
  1. Andy C says:

    Sounds great. I bet there are some excellent reads on that forum….

    James
    on another note, as you’re also now part of the BBC F1 team, can you remind the web team to either delete the F1 gossip page, or update it :-)

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/formula_one/gossip/default.stm

    I’m pretty sure there has been a bit of gossip since December the 1st. ;-)

    Thanks
    Andy

    1. Rich C says:

      Gossip? Puleeze! No gossip *here! This F1,the Pinnacle of… something-or-other.

  2. andrew says:

    What a marvelous and benevolent organization. I never knew it existed. It demonstrates the high degree of forsight and humanity at work in the sport of F1. Keep up the good work.

  3. Seán Craddock says:

    While we’re on the subject, what happened to the HRT mechanic who was injured during the 2010 Italian GP? I remember the pit lane was closed and an ambulance took him away, but I could never find any information about his condition

    1. KGBVD says:

      Agreed, an update would be nice.

      The incident was horrific (getting hit with a rear wing endplate in the back as the car exited the box). Has the poor bloke recovered?

    2. Gridlock says:

      HRT subsequently said:

      “On the other hand, the Hispania Racing, HRT F1 Team member who was involved in the incident at the pit-stop in Monza is recovering positively. He is supposed to leave the hospital in Italy soon, where he was kept under observation and go back to Germany, his home country. 
      All the Hispania Racing, HRT F1 Team members wish their colleague a speedy recovery.”

  4. Rich C says:

    Sadly, like a lot of other sports, in the old days they didn’t take care of their ppl. Many ‘old-timers’ never get the help they deserve. My admiration for Sir Jackie continues to grow.

  5. CH says:

    Wonderful group. And has me wondering how many drivers today would bother to do what JYS did…

    Hope it’ll be kosher for you to share some of their stories here James. Another book in the making, too?

  6. David S says:

    Great idea.

    I think that a feature on BBC F1 along the lines of a week in the life of an F1 mechanic would be fascinating. Tracking the guys from factory prep, flights, track, hotel and then back home would be enlightening I’m sure!

    I reckon a book along the lines of the secret diary of an F1 mechanic would also be a best seller for this charity!

    Am also fascinated to know if these guys get end of season ‘gifts’ from their drivers as a thank you for all that graft – any insight James?

    1. James Allen says:

      They certainly do. A nice watch is common, Button always gets his guys something, but Schumacher was the most generous. He took present giving up a whole new level

      1. Downesy says:

        Hi James,

        Would you care to explain this further?

        Would be very interested to know exactly what sort of gifts michael gave his mechanics.

      2. Davexxx says:

        Wow it’s interesting to hear this and I’m sure many of us are surprised. Could you elaborate James? Or do we have to buy your book on Schumi to learn more?! :-)

      3. James Allen says:

        Of course. Here is a quote from the 2007 biography I wrote on him called, “The Edge of Greatness” (Headline) from his right hand woman Sabine Kehm:

        “He loves to give presents,’ she says. ‘Loves to make people happy. He cares about people’s birthdays and Christmas, everyone gets a present. It’s a big job. He would think hard about presents for people, he asked me about it a lot, he would be having a massage in his room after driving and I would be sitting there with a notepad writing down a huge list. He’d say, ‘Do you think this would be a good present for such-and-such?’ Sometimes I felt like saying, ‘Don’t you have anything better to think about?’

        ‘He sends flowers to the women in the factory for their birthday even though he doesn’t know them. He wants them to know that they are appreciated. In the end he wants the people around him to be happy because then he can be happy too. They come to him in a happy mood and he doesn’t feel he owes them anything. If he notices you have a problem with something he’ll ask you about it and try to fix it for you, because he wants you to be happy. That’s why the team members like him so much. If someone has a baby he’ll ask to see the baby pictures, it gives people a good feeling and it is very important to him. It’s the same thing with he football, he played with the mechanics all the time on Thursday at races and then they would sit down and have dinner together, he didn’t want to keep himself separate.’

      4. Ted the Mechanic says:

        I’m glad he’s still racing.

      5. Kevin Green says:

        Surprised to read that James of Schumacher of all people nice gesture though :). wonder how much that was of a factor to the well oiled machine so to speak during his time at Ferrari things like comparable pit stop times etc.

    2. James D says:

      May I recommend to you Steve Matchett’s book ‘Life in the Fast Lane.’ It’s his diary style account of the 1994 season as a Benetton mechanic.

      Search for it on Amazon.

  7. Tay says:

    They’d raise a lot of money if they sold view-only memberships to fans. Of course, the content might not be as honest.

  8. Phil R says:

    I remember in 1994 I think after the Portugese race they did a fundraiser at Silverstone with the entire grid it seems all getting on well and having a total hoot in a variety of road cars. Don’t know if anyone has it and could put it on Youtube?

    1. Louis says:

      i bought a VHS copy of the Mechanic’s Trust fundraiser event at Silverstone, i remember the drivers participated include Hakkinen / Schumacher / Katayama and a few others.

      the tape was about 30 minutes long.

  9. Nick Ward says:

    James,

    Just a thought would it be possible to get the 2011 drivers to sign your book, and the 2011 team principals another, and then have a auction to raise some money for the Grand Prix Mechanics’s Charitable Trust..

    1. James Allen says:

      Thanks for that thought

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