Where shall we go for lunch today? A common enough question, but one which took on new meaning for me back in 2006.
In fact, it wasn’t so much where shall we ‘go’, more where shall I ‘sit’? We were at Turweston Aerodrome for a sizeable shoot: six GT40s to be precise, well, a couple of real ones, the new Ford GT and a trio of reps, and, after a morning of photography, the owners, snapper Baker, group editor Elliott and editor in chief Walsh all headed for the on-site café.
I’ve never been terribly good at mingling and making conversation [don't we know it – Ed] and I’d brought my own lunch with me anyway, so I didn’t want to take up space in the café just sitting there, looking a bit ginger. I will admit though, to having a teeny weeny bit of an agenda.
I should explain that this shoot was one I definitely wasn’t going to miss. The fact that two of the cars arrived sans drivers and I would be needed as a spare ‘pilot’ was just the icing on the cake.
You see, I would not be over-egging things to say that I actually LOVE the GT40. While others lust after a 917 or some rarer-than-hens-teeth Bugatti, it is the blue-oval’s track icon that makes me go a little bit funny inside.
So, when everyone sat in the warm, cradling mugs of hot tea and scoffing pie and chips, I found a quiet spot to eat my sandwich: in the driver’s seat of Ford’s own 1966 GT40.
In between nibbles of a ham sandwich, I flicked the odd toggle switch, nestled into the eyelets on the seat trim and generally soaked in the considerable atmosphere.
Being handed the keys for several runs up and down the runway for the next stint of photography was almost too much and it remains to this day the most memorable, most satisfying motoring experience of my life so far.
That day I also promised myself that I would, somewhen, own a GT40 replica. There aren’t many classic reps that I would prefer to own over something much cheaper but original, but I would relish the challenge to one day take a GTD40 or CAV and try to inject the patina and atmosphere that I experienced in the real thing.
Of course, I’d have to plan some careful routes to work that didn’t involve speed humps – there's no way I would use it on weekends only – but it is still the nicest place I have ever had lunch... even if it didn’t have a decent cup holder.