It was almost certain that I would be a racing driver because my grandfather raced, my father raced, I raced, and even my sons are racing. That is four generations of racing. I don’t think there are many families anywhere else like that—maybe the Unsers. My grandfather drove for Mercedes and, in 1913, he drove at both Indianapolis and in the French Grand Prix. My father was very successful in sports cars and also drove in Formula 1 many times. I was always around cars but I made my start in karts.
In 1960, my father organized an attempt on a 24-hour record at Zolder in a kart. I drove and he followed me around in the night with the lights on so I could see. We set a record that stood for a very long time. I did kart racing and won the Belgian championship. My father, in spite of his experience, really liked karts and we did a lot of kart races together. My father knew Jim Russell very well and he talked to him about me. Jim said, “Send him over and I will put him to work, and give him a job cleaning with a brush.” So I was working there “cleaning with the brush” for a year. And after that Jim said, “You clean very well, now you can take a spark plug out and see if you can put it back!” That was in 1961 and Jim gave me the chance to practice a lot because his racing school was at Snetterton. Frank Gardner was also there working for Jim. We got along very well. I shared a room with him for almost a year, and you can imagine what that might be like! It was like free entertainment, but I learned so much from him. He was always reading, and was a very intelligent guy. We would go out at night in his old Mk.10 Jaguar…those were good times.
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