Rob Hall at the wheel of the Equipe Talbot Gitanes Ligier JS17-Matra, savoring its V12 power plant.
Photo: Peter Collins
The first time I recall sitting in a racing car was as a child at the BRM works at Bourne, England, this would be in the late 1970s. It was one of the then-current F1 cars, the Rotary Watches Stanley BRM P207. This would be toward the end of the life of the team. The opportunity arose because my father, Rick Hall, worked at BRM as an engineer. I remember meeting the drivers of the day too, Larry Perkins and Conny Andersson. The thing I recollect most about Conny was his huge hands…they were massive. Little did I know what that first sit in a car would lead to! I don’t recall meeting Louis Stanley at that particular time, that came later in my life. Many may think it would be a simple progression for me from leaving school to go straight into mechanical engineering, but actually I became a plumber, gaining my City and Guilds qualifications and working for my uncle. From there I went to Australia for a few months working on a cattle station—this was for a customer of Dad’s and a good friend of the family, Brian Auger, who’d emigrated from Norfolk, England. Brian had had a good number of racing cars, including a Ford GT40, Gulf Mirage, a McLaren M8 and M9, some really nice cars, which he sold while here in the UK. Visa issues made me return to the UK after around my initial six-month stay.
My racing began in karting and later with an MGB GT, competing in MGB Car Club events, and my first racing sponsorship came from a family friend. He had a double-glazing company, he’d let me have “2½” toward my season’s racing. I initially understood it was to be for £2,500, but after a protracted period of negotiation found it was for just £250!! In anticipation of the windfall I’d spent nearly £180 on some big stickers for the car, when reality struck I had just £70 left—a life lesson learned. I raced the MGB for a couple of years and won a few trophies and a championship along the way. Now working for my father building and maintaining racing cars, I’d rebuilt a Tecno F3 car, with a 1,000-cc “screamer” engine. On completion I was told “you’ve built it, you may as well drive it.” I tested it and that really was the start of what I do today. I went on to race the car in some HSCC events and enjoyed the competition.
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