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Calls for a permanent F1 memorial to Professor Sid Watkins
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Sid Watkins
Posted By: James Allen  |  14 Sep 2012   |  4:25 pm GMT  |  73 comments

Jackie Stewart has led calls for a permanent memorial for Sid Watkins, the doctor who transformed safety and medical care in F1.

“There needs to be something permanent to recognise his contribution to motorsport, particularly to Formula One,” said Stewart.” Something needs to be done to recognise Sid’s long term of office and how much he did for the sport.”

Bernie Ecclestone has said today that, ““I am pretty sure that he is irreplaceable. You only meet somebody of his calibre once in your lifetime.”

Memorials to Ayrton Senna, the driver with whom Watkins had the closest relationship in his 26 year F1 career, can be found at various race tracks including Imola, Donington and Spa, likewise the great Juan Manuel Fangio is commemorated in a brass statues at Monza, Monaco, Donington, Nurburgring and Barcelona.


It seems entirely fitting that Watkins should be honoured for his immense contribution to the sport, but where should the memorial be?

In his native Liverpool? Aintree Circuit Club’s Mike Ashcroft has already been in touch with the Mayor of Liverpool about a doing something to honour Watkins in the city of his birth.

Perhaps a corner should be renamed after him at Silverstone. The two new corners after the pit straight, Village and Aintree (how appropriate) seem rather weak names (I can never remember them when I commentate at Silverstone!) and Watkins would be far preferable for one of them.

Please send in your suggestions in the comments section below, for the best permanent tribute to the “Prof”.

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73 Comments
  1. Charith says:

    This is a fantastic idea! I never thought in a million years that I would agree with something Bernie Ecclestone has to say… but he’s right that Watkins truly was one of a kind.

    And his name would sound so good for a corner!

    1. Steve says:

      I agree first thing Bernie has said that makes sense for ages…. how about…

      The Sid Watkins Memorial Trophy

      and it is the prize for winning Silverstone very year… Bernie might have to do a little Actions following Words as I am sure it is a sponsored trophy but it would be a constant reminder of a great man.

  2. Carlos Marques says:

    “Watkins corner” at Silverstone would be very appropriate.

    A statue of Prof. Sid Watkins helping Senna after he crashed at Imola (or maybe keep it generic and have a statue of Prof. Sid Watkins helping a crashed driver still in his cockpit with his helmet on) would show everyone what he did so well…

    I feel he was one of a few people in F1 everyone- fans, drivers, managers and manufacturers- respected unconditionally. He will be missed…

    1. Patrick Byrne says:

      A statue of Watkins helping Senna might be a bit morbid.

      ‘Watkins’ corner at Silverstone would be a great idea though.

      1. D@X says:

        Yes I’m feeling the Watkins corner at Silver Stone, apart from advances in Technology and Design, Watkins forever embedded the safety element into Motor Sports…his recognition goes far beyond ones imagination to secure and protect drivers.

      2. Folkdisco says:

        Whatever else you feel about the man, few people can talk with more authority about safety in F1 than Jackie Stewart. Possibly only the great Sid Watkins, and he is gone now. I cannot talk for the Professor, but surely he wouldn’t have wanted a statue of one the very few that got away, when there are so many alive today thanks directly and indirectly to him. A corner would be great, a statue too. I’m sure drivers, ex drivers and fans would want to visit a memorial to pay their respects. I’ve been to see the one of Ayrton at Imola, and was sad to see nothing whatsoever to commemorate Lorenzo Bandini by the harbour in Monaco. Accidents and fatalities used to be so commonplace that the drivers would take a suit to every race. Yes, F1 is still a dangerous sport, but thanks to Jackie, Sid and others, those days are over.

  3. Paul Lewis says:

    Does the World Championship Driver’s trophy have a name? If not, that would be a very fitting memorial to name that trophy after the Prof

    1. Sebee says:

      Don’t you think that should be named directly after legend on track, if it’s not named already?

      1. Greg says:

        But after which legend? 32 have claimed it so far?

    2. Sam says:

      +! was going to suggest this too – I think it would be fitting – He has done so much for drivers over the years and he commanded so much respect from so many drivers.

      It would show no bias towards one “on track” hero whilst honouring someone who has had as much influence on the sport as Senna or Schumacher.

      Sebee, I’d argue that Watkins is an F1 Legend.

  4. David Bell says:

    The Sid Watkins Safety Car

    1. Justin says:

      Exactly! nothing could emulate the man’s contributions to the sport more.

    2. Timmy V says:

      Yeah I like this one.

  5. Jon says:

    Naming or renaming a corner at Silverstone is a great idea. It would also be fitting to have a permenant statue there as well.

    1. DB says:

      Just make sure it’s not on the runoff area. :-)

      Jokes aside, it’d be really a good idea.

  6. James M says:

    Perhaps an FIA trophy to be awarded to young drivers for fair, safe racing would be a good idea. That would encourage younger drivers to race in a safer, more measured manner (tackling the Maldonado/Grosjean Syndrome problem atm) whilst also allowing Sid to, in some form, continue to have an impact on safety. A prize for circuits/facilities/marshals etc might be an idea, too.

    1. Mark OZ says:

      +1

      Great idea for rookie best & fairest

    2. Justin says:

      Something like the Lady Bing trophy in the NHL, for the least penalized driver.

    3. Cliff says:

      Great suggestion. Not sure that it would encourage safer racing, but we can only hope!!It might however make them realise that the level of medical expertise available to F1 and Motorsport in general is due to the likes of Sid Watkins.

      There are only three people in F1 that I have wished to meet, Sid Watkins was one with Ayron Senna and Jim Clarke included on the list.

      RIP Sid Watkins

  7. Jon says:

    If there were to be a statue it would be amazing if it was unveiled by a few of the drivers he saved, Mika Hakkinen, Rubens Barrichello for example.

    1. Hendo says:

      I don’t want to rain on anyones parade or in anyway diminish the work Dr Watkins did – but I’m pretty sure I read an account of the doctor that performed the tracheotomy on Mika in Adelaide in 1995. Its going back awhile but I’m sure it was a local doctor.
      In fact the grandprix.com.website states that the “tracheotomy was being performed as the medical car carrying Dr Watkins arrived” at the
      scene.

  8. Luke Potter says:

    I think the idea of renaming a corner for him is excellent – Village would be good to use as the current name has no meaning at all.

    1. Greg says:

      100% agree.

  9. Oliver says:

    I think renaming a corner at Silverstone is a greta idea. Also think there should be a statue or something along those lines at every track on the F1 calendar.

    Another idea I think would be a nice touch would be to remane/brand the medical car ‘The Sid Watkins’ medical car then at every race he would be there in spirit

  10. Kiran says:

    I am not certain where the permanent fixture should be but I am certain, without a doubt, that something permanent be done to recognise the incredible impact “the Prof” had on F1 and his tireless work to make our heroes last that little bit longer.

    A hero of our time and surely a man that desrves all recognition that he gets.

    James, your suggestions seem very appropriate.

  11. franed says:

    Firstly he should be Knighted.
    Then maybe a corner named after him at all UK circuits. He did so much that even those accolades are not enough.

  12. Merlinghnd says:

    Not knowing Prof Watkins, I get the impression that The Prof would be slightly embarrassed by all the fuss of his passing ( or at least a chuckle over a cigar and scotch at least).

    I think he would be happiest and proud if every F1 circuits medical centre was renamed as the “Professor Sid Watkins F1 Medical Centre” and kept up to date with latest advances in medical science, moving with the times but remembering the roots of where it all started in the modern era.

    1. That’s a great idea if not every centre then certainly the one at Silverstone, with maybe “in memory of Prof Sid Watkins” written on doctors Merc ?

    2. Ral says:

      What the.. Gremlins ate my post and it said pretty much this :(

      Aanyway, I will try to remember what I said before and you’ll have to take it as a second to Merlinghnd’s:

      I think medical facilities on race tracks should be named Sid Watkins Centre, with one proviso: if there was an association (Sid Watkins Association) to set and control adherence to safety standards, medical race track facilities that meet those standards could be referred to as “the local Sid Watkins Centre”. Ie. Lydden track here in Kent might have a regular medical centre, but the medical centre at Silverstone would be the Silverstone Sid Watkins Centre indicating a specific, high standard of facilities. Obviously F1 tracks would be obliged to meet those standards. One of the ways to work towards those standards would be to have certified staff, specialised in injuries that occur most often in racing, and Sid Watkins Association (SWA – we’d have to find some kind of suitable acronym, closest I can think of in my sleep-deprived migrainy state is SWEAT and that doesn’t sound appealing ;) ) standard and tested equipment/facilities available on site including medical car and helicopter pad etc.

      I also like James M’s idea of a Sid Watkins prize at the end of each season for fair racing. It could be decided on incident/accident (weighted with for example a clean overtake 1 point, forced the other driver off-track giving 2 points, causing accident 3 and 5 points for each driver taken out of the race) per overtake incident (both overtaking and being overtaken, it takes 2 to dance! But perhaps also weighted, ie. 2 points for overtake, 1 for being overtaken) per race. It would be a bit like the racing quality version of the Catrol rankings, and completely transparent.

    3. JimmiC says:

      That was exactly my thought when I read this, all medical centres present and future to be called Watkins Centres, because frankly without him they wouldn’t exist. A corner is more romantic, but I can’t help thinking of the grim irony of a driver crashing and being injured at ‘Watkin’s Corner’… medical centres seem more appropriate.

  13. Brendan says:

    Good idea James, I think the naming of a corner in Sid’s honour would be very apt. Certainly ‘Watkins’ has a nice ring about it.

  14. Sebee says:

    It’s no brainer really, based on what we know of him and his life’s work what is needed here is for Bernie to pump some money into a program of training track-side medical personel to address the needs of motor sport situations. Continuous and annual.

    There is no doubt in my mind that this man was not about trophies, statues, memorials, but rather about furthering safety, medical training, knowledge of medical staff. That legacy should be continued in his name, and it’s the right way to go.

    While naming things or building memorials is nice too, I feel it’s an easy out that is not proper or sufficient in case of Professor Watkins. If we’re naming anything then how about naming the FIA Medical Mobile unit after Sid Watkins. That’s just a little thing so that his name is kept alive each day at each event track side. But it should absolutely not be all.

    1. Cedricbaum says:

      Agreed, well said.

    2. Billyb says:

      I think this is the best idea yet. You can name as many corners as you like but a facility to train the next generation ‘Professor Sid’s’ would be a better, and more fitting tribute.

    3. Wayne says:

      Agreed, some form of medical/safety trust in the professor’s name would be ideal. But there does need to be something more visible for casual fans too, if just toprompt them to ask ‘who was that guy’ if they don’t already know and let one of us tell them the story of the great man….

  15. Dave Downing says:

    A corner at Silverstone sounds a great idea. I seem to remember talk of naming a corner after Murray Walker too, think it was around the time he “retired”. Perhaps do them both then, but let Murray live to see his!

    1. SD says:

      Murray has a corner named after him at Snetterton, but agree both should have corners named after them at the home of British motorsport.

      1. Bill says:

        Also has a corner at Bathurst in Australia

  16. Lawrence says:

    What about renaming Tamburello?? Or some kind of trophy? Not sure what for though. A corner or a statue are the best options I think.

  17. CoB says:

    Love the idea of naming a corner after him. A statue or whatever in one location is not enough for a man who’s infulence was globally felt and so impactful.

  18. Roger says:

    Hi,

    The world is now a poorer place.

    A truly great man such as the Prof needs a proper memorial, whilst respecting any wishes his family may have, of course.

    How about naming the building at Silverstone the Watkins Wing? Gets my vote!

    And a minute’s pause on the grid in Singapore?

  19. Jon Matthews says:

    Rename the safety car ‘The Prof-Mobile’

  20. Sean says:

    There is no contesting a need for a permanent memorial. I think the place should be at Eau Rouge. Or failing that, down on the harbour near swimming pool in Monte Carlo.

    1. Prisoner Monkeys says:

      I’ve heard that Interlagos is going to get an upgrade, with the pits moved to Reta Oposta. This will need a new name, since “Reta Oposta” means “Opposite Straight” in Portuguese. Perhaps the straight itself could be named for Senna (yes, I know the current first corner is already named for him), and the new pit facilities could be named for Watkins, given his close frindship with Senna.

      Otherwise, there could be the creation of a “best and fairest” trophy (if there isn’t already one) named for the Professor and to be awarded at the end of the season.

      Or, perhaps most suitably, the teams could get together and fund an annual scholarship for neurosurgery, possibly at the John Radcliffe Hospital, where the Professor studied for a specialisation in neurosurgery.

  21. Dmitry says:

    I… don’t know. He was such an incredible person, such a “pillar” in this sport, that anything that comes into my head seems so “small” and insignificant compared to The Man he was…

    Probably the best idea I can come up with is based on the answer to the question:
    what for will he be remembered the most?
    …For his life and work to make this sport safer… so if the decision was mine, I would have renamed entire “FIA Institute for Motor Sport Safety and Sustainability” to

    “Sid Watking Institute for Motor Sport Safety and Sustainability (FIA)” or even simply to “FIA Sid Watking Institute” (or to something like that… maybe even without “FIA”)… and place some monument at Silverstone.

    I think only that way the tribute will be close to “sufficient”.

  22. Manish Pandey says:

    ‘And he takes Watkins’ flat out in seventh!’ – It has a great ring to me and I think Prof would love a long, fast, challenging, sweeping and safe corner that drivers love named after him. It would be a perfect reminder of how he made a sport that we love safer but no less exciting.

    1. Matt Devenish says:

      If it returns to the calendar, I think Turn 8 at Istanbul could do with adopting a better name.

  23. John says:

    maybe it’s time to stop using a Mercedes as the medical car… I’m sure a Subaru could be worked on to be fast and safe … especially if they called it “Watkin Legacy”

  24. Grabsplatter says:

    As other have said, maybe the great man might have felt somewhat uncomfortable having a corner named after him. Maybe there’s a way round that – Watkin’s Glen? (I suspect he would have enjoyed the joke.)

  25. deane says:

    Making sure that F1 is never, ever even a second behind the times in terms of medical stuff would be by far the best tribute, and the one that Sid would most want.

    But some kind of statue at Senna’s favourite corner at Interlargos would probably make him smile up there.

    We miss you Sid.

  26. jpinx says:

    How about a memorial race every year? That would allow teams some testing as well. There could be a suitable trophy which is inscribed with winners names. Winners only get a replica.

  27. Kay says:

    Instead of handing out Santander logo trophies, have one made that’s in honour of Sid, maybe a mini statute of him.

  28. Rick Parsons says:

    the “Sid Watkins Trophy” (or medal) would be a great recognition for the FIA to give out each year to the person or organization that contributed most to driver safety or to safety innovation in general. in addition, a corner at silverstone would not be redundant, as few people ever hear about such awards.

  29. IP says:

    I don’t know what the current arrangements are, but perhaps some sort of medical training centre for ambitious but under-privileged medical students at each of the venues. Or maybe some sort of charity…

  30. Wayne S says:

    How about a Sports Trauma Foundation to promote the on going training and developement of doctors and medical crews that give of their time at motorsport events.
    Funded by the FIA and F1

    1. MJA says:

      Sid was a founder and past President of the FIA Medical and Safety Foundation…in the UK, we have had such a scheme for many years.. over 25 in fact…most motorsport events require the presence of at least one fully equipped rescue unit with paramedic or doctor and major race meetings or internatioal events will have several of these with specialy trained and licensed personnel…however, watch this space regarding developments in this direction…maybe in Sid’s birthplace..

  31. mayhemfunkster says:

    Not wishing to jump on any bandwagons, but how about a Sid Watkins trophy awarded each year to the driver voted by peers in F1 and GP2 as being the best driver to race against in terms of hardness and ethics?

    Fernando would have it sewn up this year I think…

  32. AmandaG says:

    I just think the medical centre’s should be re-named the Sid Watkins centre. That would go for all of the medical centre’s in all of the circuits.

    If a driver needs to go for a check up after an accident istead of saying he is off to the medical centre it would be his is off to the Sid Watkins centre.

    Hospitals are sometimes named after people, it would be exactly the same in this instance and a more fitting tribute.

    I just hope there is a fitting tribute to him in Singapore.

  33. Andy says:

    How about the track side doctors are called, Safety Incident Doctors. Or SID’s for short.

  34. Wade Parmino says:

    The next safety device innovation could be called the “Sid Watkins ……”.

  35. Jack says:

    I heard Sid on Talksport talking about the Senna crash and his relationship with him.

    He sounded a great man and I do believe he is well deserving of a permanent memorial.

    May he rest in peace.

  36. ACr says:

    Sorry if this has already been suggested, but I would like to see some sort of annual automotive safety or medical innovation award in his name. Encouraging innovation and progress in this area would be more fitting, IMHO, than a statue or named corner.

  37. CC says:

    Like the idea of

    Sid Watkins Institute for Motor Sport Safety and Sustainability (FIA)” or even simply to “FIA Sid Watkins Institute”

    that was mentioned above, and renaming medical facilities after him.

    To honour the work the Prof did, why not an award to the medical team/person who go above and beyond the call of duty at an motorsport (eg. F1 GP/ GP2/ GP3/ WSR/ F3 …) event, to reward their effort, could even be voted for by the drivers themselves…

    and a Sid Watkins fund to help educate and train the medical teams who volenteer their time to make sure motorsport events take place and keep the drivers safe, (financed by the FIA and a cut of the driver penalty fines that get levied at the drivers for misdemeanours)

    #

  38. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

    Rename the HANS device, the Watkins Device?

  39. Arshad Altaf says:

    He is seen around with Senna in the movie as well where he suggests to Senna to retire and go live somewhere else. Renaming the medical facilities or a corner will immortalise him in F1 chronicles. Very fitting and timely.

  40. my tuppence says:

    How about an annual memorial award given to a volunteer(s) who give up their spare time to help run the sport?

    Motorsport would be nothing without our marshals and medical personnel on duty around the world.

  41. TheLollipopMan says:

    It’s really quite simple. Name a stand at Silverstone after him, with the statue in/outside it.

    And I agree, get those he saved to unveil it.

    I also agree about setting up a safety body in his name to train medical/safety staff for motorsport.

    C’mon, Bernie, get your wallet out!

  42. Rudy says:

    Maybe an anual recognition for safety improvements in tracks, special research on cars. So this could be won by an individual or a team and be handed over in Monaco along with the DWC and WCC. I can see the next great F-1 safety measure when cockpit protections be enforced.
    Although a corner sounds good I guess those are named only after drivers, places or brands. If the corner thing goes further in a few years, when Bernie passes over, there could be a corner at Silverstone, Ricard or somewhere else with his name. It would be awkward. Keep things reasonable folks, please.

  43. Mack says:

    A Prof Sid Watkins permanent memorial – this is one of the best ideas I have heard in a while.

    I have been following F1 since … for a very long time. The name of a person who, as a non driver, made great contributions that helped drivers was a Sid Watkins. F1 chanpions are household names for a relatively short time but Prof Sid has been very well regarded for his contribution for years.

    There are many ideas in these comments and I would suggest a panel of several people close to F1 to select an appropriate memorial – one that lasts for a very long time.

    Is there an opportunity to encourage a group of medical (pure medical and bio mechanical engineering) people to forge a career in F1?

    Will this be difficult to make happen in UK?

  44. Grayzee (Australia) says:

    Having read the 43 posts and replies above, they are all credible ideas.
    For me, the idea of all the trackside medical centres being named after him sounds the best, and most obvious. With a statue of the great man standing outside the entry. (this statue could be mobile, travelling to each race)
    I think that naming a corner after him is risky, because circuits are not etrnal. A circuit could be dropped from the calendar at any time. The medical centre is at ALL the races, no matter where they are.

  45. Sheryl Cameron says:

    Call a corner simply just
    Sid

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