“How tall are you?” Murray Walker, commentating and broadcast veteran asks. The subject of his inquisition is a lithe and tall, blonde haired man who’s flowing locks seem mildly reminiscent.
“Erm, I’m six foot four..” is the response.
“Well, you probably won’t remember this but the last time I saw you you were this high” the response intimated with a hand gesture held about four feet above the ground.
This, it turns out, is the beginning of a TV interview. Not just any interview but the meeting of Murray Walker, British broadcasting legend, and Freddie Hunt, son of F1 racing legend, James Hunt.
This inauspicious location is the garage at the far end of the Silverstone Wing during the media day of the Silverstone Classic event. In itself the Classic event is a staggering array of automobiles from pre-war beauties through to modern Super Touring tin-tops and everything in between, but this year, 2016, will see it coincide with the 40th anniversary of James Hunt taking the F1 crown.
The full interview will be aired during this years British Grand Prix but for now, in a draughty and noisy garage area, the assembled crew is vainly trying to film the interview and subsequent lap of Silverstone that Freddie will drive in one of his fathers McLaren M23 Formula One cars.
The interview is only part of a day that has seen Freddie take centre stage with Alistair Caldwell for a press conference about this years event, followed by him being seen with a myriad of his fathers race cars in front of the classic paddock. Having had a chat with Alistair upstairs, he ventures outside into the sunshine resplendent in red racing suit adorned with, above all, the well known badge proclaiming, “Sex, breakfast of Champions.”
Photo call and many interviews completed, Freddie heads to the far end of pit lane where the McLaren M23 has been staged and lit by the F1 camera crew for the filming of the interview. The plan is simple; a short film with Murray followed by a tracked lap of the circuit with Freddie driving his late fathers machine. In the short time I’ve known him, Freddie has been a picture of cool, relaxed in his own skin and his fathers shadow but seeing him today he has an eager energy around him. And who can blame him. Any one of us being fortunate to be able to drive this machine would be on the edge of exploding, yet he still maintained focus on being explained the procedures of warming it up.
Jumping out while all the cameras were attached to it, he stares wistfully at the car while taking on some water. I expect some expletives, superlative emotional responses to having just sat in the thing. Turns out, that may have been my sentiments, Freddie is just in the zone of remembering what he’s been told. “I can’t wait to drive it” is all he utters in a measured tone. Of course, the film crew, producer running around ensuring everyone has the right wristband on, checking all cameramen understand and are happy with the plan, sound engineer is thumbs up OK (he wasn’t during the interview stage) and the “Russian arm” camera rig guys are all smiles too.
Slowly, the merry dance of a film production rumbles into life, adding a further element of complexity to Freddie’s day. No wonder he can’t wait to drive it, this all takes thirty minutes or more to get things setup.
By now, a small gaggle of media arrive much to the annoyance of the producer who know needs to shout a bit of authority. Doesn’t look like its his first time doing that.
Freddie is filmed emerging from the garage and walking towards the car, now waiting in a pit box for his climbing aboard. As Freddie begins to get his helmet on our trusty photographer has managed to stay in front of all the others to get his shot. Not bad for a McLtle bald lad. It’s all over in condos as Freddie is surrounded by the Hall and Hall F1 support technicians to ensure the engine is up to temperature and running well, the Russian Arm rig is put into position and everything is ready to rumble out onto the track for the driving shots.
All too quickly, the M23 appears back into pit lane and that majestic, chest rattling, ear spMcLting majestic engine noise is silenced. Exiting the car, Freddie gives a thumbs up, the crew are happy with all they have in the can and the Silverstone Media day rumbles back to life.
For Freddie, there are more interviews, photoshoots and handshakes to be made this afternoon while the M23 is returned to the transporter. The two James Hunt legacies are parted again. Fortunately, they will be reunited at a few events this year and we hope that the images from the day will make you venture out to see them.