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The Lords talk Formula One

Something cheering in these dark and terrible times:

Sport: British Formula 1 Grand Prix
Question for Short Debate

"Lord Astor of Hever: My Lords, I declare an interest as unpaid honorary president of the Motorsport Industry Association. I always try to approach this subject in a totally non-political and non-partisan way. I very much look forward to the response of the noble Lord, the Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard. It is comforting to see sitting alongside him the noble Lord, Lord Drayson. On behalf of the whole House, I wish him the very best of luck in the upcoming 24-hour race at Le Mans....I urge the Government to give a clear, positive statement of support for the British Grand Prix at Donington and to use all their influence to bring together resources from the regions, central and local government and the respective tourist boards to ensure that Britain hosts for years to come the world’s most prestigious motorsport competition. Such a confident statement will influence bankers, investors and overseas companies to confirm their investment plans to support the British Grand Prix and so bring welcome employment and job security to many in the regions and the wider Motorsport Valley business community.

Lord Rooker: My Lords, I put my name down on the list to add to the bipartisan approach of the noble Lord, Lord Astor. We have not compared notes, although many of my points will reinforce what he said. I also want to reiterate our best wishes to my noble friend Lord Drayson. I have only done Le Mans once as a tourist—an anorak.


So, a good natured and intelligent debate. I have excised the facts and figures that appear in the exchanges, but they are quite significat.

However, here comes the stand out contribution:

Lord Selsdon: My Lords, I had just stood up when a ghost passed over my grave. I am not quite sure why, but I am going to say something slightly different from what I had planned to say, because the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, has done that. Motor racing and motor sport are part of British culture. We are embedded in them, as was your Lordships’ House historically.

I go back perhaps 60 years to when I was minding my own business in the second form of my prep school. The noble Lord, Lord Geddes, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Howe, and the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Bramall, were at the same school. The French master, Major Hunter, who had just got back from the war, had lost part of his skull and had a metal plate—we always remember that—suddenly got up and said, “Vous avez gagné le Mans”; “You’ve won le Mans”. I was not quite sure what he was talking about. He showed me Le Monde, and there was a Ferrari with the name “Lord Selsdon”. I was not sure that my father was a Lord at that time; I had hardly met him. About five days later—we had asked him to come to the parents’ match at cricket—I looked around and saw out of the window a red sports car with “22” on it. We were so interested in the car that we did not notice the man who had driven it. He came up and introduced himself; he was my father. As he had been a fast bowler at Winchester, he said that he would open the bowling. He bowled an aerial wide, which was pretty distressing for me. I had been a wicket-keeper, and the parents had not brought one, so I was keeping against my own father. He then bowled another wide, said he had trouble with his knee, and was taken off. My friends remembered that moment and years later one, whose name I had probably better not mention, told me it was the defining moment of his life"

There's plenty more of note in the debate and it is an extremely anecdote-rich environment, but reckoned this might whet the appetite. Can't say I am hugely interested in F1 these days, but was an obsessive from 1979 to 1990 or so.

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