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Walter Hayes—and the Best Investment in F1?

Walter Hayes (center, below Graham Hill) and the Lotus-Cosworth team celebrate Clark and Hill’s 1-2 victory in the 1967 USGP at Watkins Glen. Photo: Hayes Family Collection

I can still hear my father, Walter Hayes, saying to me: “Sit there and do not, under any circumstances, move.” It was March 1968, I was 10 years old, and in the pits at Brands Hatch during a test session in preparation for the BOAC 500. My father had entered two Ford P68s, a new sports car powered by the DFV engine that had made its debut in Formula One the previous season, and his drivers were Jochen Rindt, Mike Spence, Bruce McLaren and Denny Hulme. Mike was there as a replacement for Jim Clark, who’d originally intended to drive the car, but the date of the event was April 7, 1968, and it clashed with a Formula 2 race at Hockenheim.

Richard Hayes
Richard Hayes

So I sat right there, on the pit counter, greatly enjoying the noise and my proximity to the action. A P68 came into the pits, parked to my right, and the team gathered around it. Then another P68 appeared, and parked right in front of me. The driver sat in the car, ignored. I looked down, and watched Jochen Rindt undo his safety belts and attempt to get out. He was struggling with the door, but it wouldn’t open. He sensed me watching him, looked up, smiled and waved. He beckoned to me, and I knew what he was asking, but I also knew that it would be contrary to my agreement with my father, so I looked away quickly. I hoped that was the end of this awkward situation, and looked back to check that it was, to find the eyes of a completely unamused Austrian focused on me. A mechanic now released Rindt, and he climbed out, pulled off his helmet, and gave me a look that said, “If you were my kid…!”

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