Spinning Tales With James & Andy
Trying to Round Up A Remarkable Career
(Or At Least Tell Some Of The Stories)

Andy Wallace suggested meeting at The Thatched Inn at Adstock in Buckinghamshire – and it was the perfect English public house, the perfect setting to spend a few hours with two perfect Englishmen.

The occasion marked a chance to gather (and then tell here) some James Weaver stories from half a lifetime of racing – with Andy there to prompt where necessary, and add the tales that James had forgotten.

James Weaver has never been one to grab the limelight: this most modest of drivers has always been a team man first, leaving his driving to do much of his ‘talking’. But once he gets out of his racing machine, he can always be relied upon to come up with a classic turn of phrase or story. So it proved in the middle of November, as he and Andy reflected on both of their careers – because they’ve overlapped so much, these two… and collided at least once.

James On Dyson Beginnings – And No. 16
”I think I first met Rob Dyson at Le Mans in ’86. He was driving the Richard Lloyd Porsche, with Mauro Baldi and Price Cobb (they finished ninth) and I was racing the Nissan, managed by Keith Greene.

“I’d raced Bob Akin’s 962 at Riverside in April that year, finishing fifth – but Rob and Price won that race, in Rob’s #16.

“I’d always been a great Pedro Rodriguez fan, and he won his last race in the JWA Porsche 917 running as #16, at the Osterreichring in ’71. I don’t know whether you know, but my helmet design is a cross between those of Pedro and Jean-Pierre Beltoise – because I was always a BRM fan. And it is Connaught Green, not black, whatever anyone else thinks.

“Anyway, having seen Rob and Price win in #16, I thought ‘that’s the car I want to drive’. Bob Akin and Rob Dyson had always been great friends, and Bob asked Rob if I could have a go in his car. And that’s how it all started.”

Connections throughout James’ career are many and numerous. A BRM connection is that Tony Southgate designed the lovely P153 and P160 BRMs – and also designed that (perhaps forerunner of the 2010 cars?) distinctive Audi R8C which James and Andy raced at Le Mans in 1999.

“When I used to work at Tiga, Howden Ganley used to tell me how the P153 chassis actually flexed around the dashboard bulkhead, and he used to feel it squeezing in against his knees. Pedro at the old Spa in 1970 must have been something special.

“Also in ’86 I had a go in Mike Wheatley’s BRM Can Am car. It was absolutely mighty, with a serious amount of horsepower. Tony Southgate designed that one too.”

Head Position
As well as following the antics of his heroes in the '60s and '70s, James had an eye for the detail too, as he explains.

"Pedro always used to drive with his head back, while Stirling Moss always had his arms straight, allegedly because it looked better like that. I thought that I needed to do something to make me look different, and what I came up with was tilting my head forward.

"There's a good reason to drive like that though - because it's easier to see the instruments. I also tend to set the mirrors quite high - and that gives you a chance to stretch your neck muscles, and also means that anyone behind you can see that you've checked your mirrors."

“If Perry’s Maths Is Correct …”
Perry McCarthy – now there’s one of racing’s characters.

For Le Mans in 1997, the Andy / James / Butch trio was racing one Dave Price Panoz GTR1, with Perry joining David Brabham and Doc Bundy in the other.

James begins the tale: “Perry called me in the run-up to Le Mans and said that Nescafe was prepared to give us £2,000 each if we carried their logos on our helmets. But Perry thought it was worth more than that… (and you can probably guess what’s coming here. Ed.) Perry thought it was worth £5,000 each… “I’ll tell them who we are: trust me, they’ll go for it.”

A couple of weeks later….

“Did we get the five grand Perry?”

“Er, no.”

“Are we back to two grand?”

“Er, no. Zilch. They didn’t go for it. I told them it was five grand or nothing.”

“At Watkins Glen that year, which as usual was just before Le Mans (James and Butch in a Dyson R&S, Andy in a Panoz, Perry in a URD BMW), the six hours was due to start at 11 am – but race morning was foggy. At the drivers’ briefing one of us made the point that several drivers had flights to catch to get to Le Mans, and the officials assured us that we’d be able to get started by 12 o’clock.”

Perry’s response was “if my maths is correct, if it starts at 12 o’clock it won’t finish until seven o’clock.”

“The amazing thing was that none of us responded straight away – but we didn't want to embarrass Perry. Andy and I looked at each other - and we couldn't resist saying something. We don’t hesitate to remind Perry of that one whenever we see him.”

Andy Wallace - Not Good At Mornings
Watkins Glen was a reminder, to James, of an Andy story – that he observed.

James: “Andy is lousy first thing in the morning. He was particularly bad that morning….”

Andy sets the scene: "It had been pouring with rain all night and a blanket of thick fog covered the track. You couldn’t see your hand in front of your face. It wasn’t the sort of day to learn much from the morning warm-up. Apparently it was my turn (to do the warm-up) and James had been winding me up all the way to the track. “Glad it’s not my turn”, he said.

Andy: “We walked into the Dyson garage at Watkins Glen, and all Pat Smith said was “Good morning”.

“I’m afraid that set me off. I turned on him straight away with ‘Don’t you start. And if you think I’m doing the warm-up you’ve got another think coming.”

James: “Andy hates the race morning warm-up.”

Andy: “Pat didn’t rise to it at all. So I had another go at him – and still he didn’t bark back at me – which just made me even more determined to get my point across. He was winding me up by not responding!”

James: “Eventually, when Andy had gone off the scale, Pat said “Warm-up is cancelled.” Of course he waited until Andy was really mad with him. It’s always best to get Andy’s early morning ‘tip’ out of the way – then he’s a really nice bloke!”

I think we’ve told the famous Pat Smith story, haven’t we? When the drivers used to complain to Pat that they were suffering with really bad understeer or whatever, his response was to suggest “Here’s 25 cents, go and telephone someone who cares.” The other one was “I don’t care, I haven’t got to drive it.”

The Yes Dear T-Shirt
James: “Pat Smith gave me that. We’d been together so long, as driver and team manager, that we reckoned we were like a married couple – hence the t-shirt.”

With Pat and James in this image is engine builder Ben Lozano.

The Daytona Rental Car Story
Well, James reckons that not quite enough time has passed – so sadly we’re unable, quite yet, to bring you what Andy describes as “the funniest thing I’ve ever seen. If we’d had the car lifted off the wall it would have been fine…”

One day James – one day….

The Road Down To Bandol
One day, Andy, I’m going to get you to drive me down that road…

This is the stretch downhill from the Paul Ricard track, through a whole series of sweeping turns, where poor Frank Williams had the road accident that left him paralysed.

James: “I’m just a stab and steer merchant. Andy’s driving through there is as smooth as oil on glass. When we drove for Dave Price we were chauffeuring him down the hill - and we had to ban Andy from driving down that road, because he made the rest of us look so bad!”

James On Daytona Prototypes
Andy had gone for a pee – and James told me exactly what he thought of Daytona Prototypes. We agreed that perhaps it would be better if I wrote down none of his comments. He’s never driven one of them, and he certainly won’t now.

On Winding Up Wayne Taylor And Michele Alboreto
Andy: “We were racing at Texas Speedway in 1995, Michele in the 333, James and I in the Dyson Rileys of course. I was second fastest to Alboreto in qualifying – just a tenth of a second between us. That Ferrari was really quick on the banking at Texas – over 200 mph. You’d come off the banking there flat out, hit a ledge where the banking switched to the infield, and only then hump on the brakes. Typically the infield corners were silly first gear ones.

“At the start I was tucked right up behind him, and felt that here was my chance to get past him. We got to Turn 2, a first gear right hander, and I dived down the inside – but to be fair, I wasn’t quite alongside him. As he started to turn in, I realised I was being a bit ambitious, so I did my best to get out of his way, up on the kerbs. There was contact, we both spun, but I got going first – and was still in the lead. He dropped down to fifth, I think – and he must have been fuming.

“Somehow, despite leading all the way to the pit stops, I lost the lead and came out behind him. I caught him back up, and it was obvious from the attitude of the Ferrari that he wasn’t going to get done a second time. But then he went the wrong side of a lapped car, I went for the better side, the inside – and he just came flying across and hit me. I stayed ahead though, and it was a 20 mph right hander next: I slowed right up and crept round, hugging the inside – and stayed ahead.

“Now I knew what was coming next. He just drove under the back of my car – literally! The nose of the Ferrari lifted my back wheels off the ground, and with no rear brakes – and him pushing me – I sailed off into the grass.

“The way these things work out, we came across each other again. He got held up onto the banking, I got under him, and I was on a lower line. And then he just drove down off the banking and smacked into the side of me – at 200 mph!

“For some reason James finished the race in what was left of our car…..”

James: “And when I got out, Alboreto came up steaming: “Where’s Wallace. I want to kill him!””

Andy: “He found me… “Every time I see you I kill you!” he said to me. I’m sure he was a very nice guy normally, but when he was angry…

“Funnily enough, we met again at Paul Ricard when we were all testing Audis, and Alboreto came up to me and said “You remember when we raced at Texas? That was fun, wasn’t it?”

James: “Do you remember when Wayne Taylor wanted to poke my eye out with his trophy, Andy? That was at Watkins Glen in ’97 wasn’t it? No, ’96.

“That was a fantastic race. Every driver was allowed four tyres for qualifying, and although the #16 car wasn’t quick on soft tyres, it was mega on hard rubber, and I qualified right next to Max Papis.

“You passed Papis at the start, Andy, then I passed him too – at which point Pat Smith came on the radio to remind us that there were only five hours and 58 minutes to go! But we had a problem with the #16 car, and for some reason the team decided to put me in the #20. I pitted in #16, jumped out, ran right up the nose cone of #20, hopped in and tore off again.

“I remember that Taylor punted Papis off at Turn 1 on a restart, and after that, with the Ferrari faster than anyone on the straight, Papis led, but Butch was catching Wayne (in the Doyle Racing R&S) – but I was ahead of them both.

“I engineered it so that Wayne tried to pass me round the outside – and of course Butch sailed past up the inside. Then to make it worse for Wayne, he ran out of fuel on the last lap.

“After the race we were rushing off to Le Mans, as usual from Watkins Glen, and as we left the track in the rental car, Wayne was suddenly beside the car – trying to poke my eye out with his trophy!

“I didn’t think much of your response, Andy. You said to Taylor (from the back seat of the car) that we’d be back in a couple of weeks and he could poke my eye out then! Thanks mate.”

Andy: “I thought it was a pretty good answer, because he would have cooled down by then.”

This image is a much mor recent one (Sebring 2003).

Weaver’s Trench
It was Sam Smith at Lola cars who reminded me to ask James about his trench. Off you go then James.

“I blame Mike Thackwell for that. Blimey could he drive… We used to work together at the racing school at Thruxton – sorry, getting a bit sidetracked here – and before the racing school started, I used to take my Hawke DL20 out for a few laps, when it was nice and cool, and ideal for quick times. I set a 1:25.2, which I thought was really good.

“But Mike Eastick suggested that Mike showed the rest of us how to do it, so there and then, wearing a helmet, flip flops and shorts, he jumped into a Formula Ford – and performed the absolutely perfect four wheel drift through Campbell, Cobb and Seagrave. That was it – Mike was in a different league.

“Anyway, years later we were testing Ron Tauranac’s F3000 Ralts at Goodwood. For some reason Mike wasn’t putting in good times, and his response to Ron was “You should have seen me round the back”.

“That became one of our standard expressions – but it didn’t make much sense to me. My theory was that you should look quick in front of the pits, where the team can see you. So Weaver’s Trench came from racing the 635 BMWs at Silverstone. You could sling those all over the place – and I used to do my stuff through Woodcote, where everyone could see me. So I cut a trench on the outside of the old Woodcote, by putting a wheel on the dirt.

“Mike Thackwell had another theory – that you shouldn’t make excuses if you crashed: “Just say you were racing and crashed,” was his theory.

Anyway, I’d just flown back from racing in the states, and had a message saying that I should drive straight up to Silverstone for testing the F3000 cars. When I got there, the team had already left – for Snetterton. They’d gone to the wrong track! So I hared off up there, and the car was absolutely mega. I shattered the lap record, and we all headed off to Spa for the F3000 race.

“I was due to bed in some pads in the warm-up, but that got cancelled – so there I was on the parade lap, trying to bed the pads in. I got as far as the end of the straight on lap 1, couldn’t slow it down and hit the guardrail a mighty blow. I used Mike’s advice and told Ron that I was racing and had crashed. He wasn’t impressed at all!”

James And Kyalami
"I'd forgotten we went there."

It was an ISRS event, and Dyson Racing took both cars. Dr. Brian Mitchell remembers what he thought was this 'difference of opinion' between James and Mauro Baldi - but, having seen the photograph, James remembered what it was really about.

"I'm sure we were reminiscing about Mosport in '95, where Mauro was blackflagged - for driving the Ferrari like an Italian. He was very fast and great fun to drive with: when we drove the Sauber Mercedes in '88, I never saw which way he went."

A Beer In The Evening
The next image illustrates a point James made regarding relaxing with his colleagues and mates from Dyson Racing - "After practice or a race it's always a pleasure to sit round with a beer, and chew over the day's events."

From the expressions on the faces of the two Brits, you get the impression that whoever is speaking at this moment was coming out with a fair amount of bullshit though! That's Didier de Radigues, smiling at the camera. It wasn't him... but who was it?

Andy On James
”James is the race engineer with a crash helmet on, but he’s also got a great race engineer anyway, in Peter Weston. James is also the voice of reason: if you’ve got a problem, you can always go and ask James. He’ll always give you an answer – and it will always sound plausible!

“But he never stops fiddling with the car! Even in the warm-up he’ll be making changes – as if a cold morning is a good time to find out if a change is going to work in the race!”

James: “But you can always put it back to the way it was!”

All good-natured stuff of course. Below, James adjusts the height of the 'screen' on the #16, at Sebring in 2003.

"Peter's a fantastic race engineer of course," adds James, "and I've loved working with him. He's always been very patient with my half-baked ramblings, but being a proper engineer, he's not easily fooled - unlike Andy. Although Andy probably isn't easily fooled - he just can't be bothered to argue with a madman like me!"

James On Price Cobb – And Driving For One Team
”Price taught me everything about driving as part of a team. He told me everything – there were no secrets: he never held anything back, because his theory was that the best way to perform as a team was to share everything. Ego never came into it.

“Do you remember Price going over the wall at the Porsche Curves at Le Mans in ’87? He was being interviewed afterwards and was explaining that he was trying to get out of the car, but it was quite difficult to see. He was asked if that was because of the smoke.

“No, the flames.”

"That shows how unflappable he was: he took everything in his stride. Price never drove a factory Porsche after that, but I’ve got a lot to thank him for. He was the man at Dyson Racing. He always set the standard on and off the track, and Dyson Racing today is a reflection of Price's legacy.

"In this business, it’s always hard to find a team to make you feel at home. I wanted to drive for one team, year in year out. Rob (Dyson) is very much an anglophile, and we’ve always got on well together. He’s an exciting, interesting person to be around. There’s never a dull moment.”

Beneath the image from Sebring (below) is one of Price, James and Rob, from Del Mar in 1988.

Price Cobb On James
Price Cobb posted these words on the Grand Am forum shortly after James’s last race, at Laguna Seca. His words have clearly been chosen very carefully.

“Some friend I am.

“I ran into James at Laguna Seca during the final LMP race for 2006 and knew nothing of his imminent retirement. I should have known, as he appeared melancholic, which is the only time I had ever seen him so in his long and fruitful career.

“James is one of those rare individuals (particularly today) who put forth an unabashedly enthusiastic effort into every stint behind the wheel. Not only that, he had that rare comedic bend that left you grinning no matter how dire the circumstances. He would always find the lighter side of it. Always.

“James was fast, fastidious, courteous, kind, knowledgeable, insightful and gentle. Always taking the time to help anyone asking regardless of how it might affect him personally on or off the track.

“He could verbally share his times behind the wheel better than any person I know. He left you with the feeling that you had driven the car yourself all the while imparting you with a much greater knowledge of the "lighter side" of racing and the endless dichotomies it presents. Most would never see or hear many of these insights without his eloquent recital.

“James was the greatest influence on my racing yet I know that I was truly the lucky one....because I got to race with him.

“I am left with a profound sense of loss over his retirement but know that it is his time to enjoy some of what he has sown. He'll never admit that.

"James Weaver, you will be sorely missed and I hope that you know in your heart the joy you've brought so many, as you proved over and over again that you are one of the greats of our time.”

Dr. Brian Mitchell just happened to take this photograph at Laguna Seca – immediately after that conversation between Price and James. The following image is one we've used before, almost at the conclusion of that last race weekend. James and 'The Guvnor'.

Erdos On Weaver And Wallace
It came as quite a relief to discover that James can switch a computer on and he does have an email address. But it’s typical of him that if you e-mail him, he’ll answer the question with a ‘phone call. Which is perfectly sensible really: he knows what the subject is, has thought about it – and responds with the answer.

Others use e-mail to express their thoughts or opinions, or simply to impart information – as Tommy Erdos did, once he’d read on dsc that James had retired.

“Strange how some things which are not obvious to you become relevant when a change occurs...

”I never really met James Weaver...apart from a brief encounter at Monza in 1996 when I was jogging around the circuit (it was my first visit to Monza, when Cor Euser and I were racing in the BPR with the LM600), and I stopped at a grandstand to look at a particular corner from a different angle. I spotted this man walking on the circuit...he looked at me... and acknowledged me...I had a feeling that he knew who I was through his body language. I certainly knew him! It was Weaver. Already a big name in sportscars. He took the time to say Hi. He was just being a nice chatty guy...He didn't have to...

”For years I have admired James' longevity in the sport, but more importantly the fact that he was always at the front of whatever racing he was involved with. As I said, I did not know him well at all but it was obvious to see that he appreciated the position he was in and gave it his all to succeed.

”Recently I achieved one of my long time ambitions in sportscar racing, which was to share a car with Andy Wallace. He’s someone I have the highest regard for as a driver who, in my book, gets as near to perfection as you can get in sportscars. The brief time we worked together at Le Mans this year was very special. Truth is I'll always be a single-seater driver at heart and generally don't really believe race cars should be shared with others...But as sportscar racing goes there are many drivers out there that I would like to work with. Other than Wallace, there are three others who stand out for me, for many different reasons, but most of all, these are drivers who I believe will not only give you their all, and of course will perform at the highest level, but who are also genuine team members, who work together for a common cause and not for his own personal success. The three I'm referring to are Weaver, Kristensen and Lammers.

”There is something about these three guys - and Wallace of course, as I’ve already explained - that I feel very comfortable with. It's a kind of team work spirit that is genuinely pursued by these drivers in order to achieve the final goal. Of course there's an amount of competition within the team, but not to the risk of the overall success....And that's a fine line most of the time...In my view these guys are the best at finding that compromise.

”What became obvious to me after James' announcement was how much I really would have enjoyed the opportunity to race with him, and only now that he has announced his retirement has it become clear to me how much I really wanted to do that...It's a sad day when someone as fast, dedicated and who happens to be a genuinely nice guy, decides to retire at the top of his game...There was another driver announcing his retirement on that same Sunday afternoon, on the other side of the world...But the one in North America certainly had a bigger impact on me.

”I hope I can achieve a quarter of what James did. He showed us that no matter your age...If you want it bad enough you can remain competitive for a long time. He's been a real inspiration to me and I'm sure to many drivers of my generation.

”Thank you James!”

James On Fashion
James and pink socks – come on James, explain.

“My daughter Camilla was about four, and she wanted to choose a Christmas present for me.

"My wife Sylvie suggested a pair of socks and pink happened to be Camilla's favourite colour. Extraordinarily, I think they were the cheapest too! I’ve worn pink socks ever since.”

Are all of your socks pink then James?

“No, not all of them – but they are predominantly pink.”

What do they think of dad's dress code though?

 

Brian Mitchell captured three-quarters of the Weaver family at Sebring in 2004: James with Sylvie and younger daughter Jemima.

Camilla meanwhile has travelled to Portland with her dad on more than one occasion. Here she is in 2005, with James and Butch.

Butch
"Butch is a thoroughly decent chap - a lovely man. If he wasn't a racing driver I reckon he'd be running an animal sanctuary.

"He's very widely read, very knowledgeable, great company - and he always gets to the bar first. But his greatest attribute is that he always laughs at our jokes!

"Butch is actually rubbish at choosing a good film but brilliant at finding good restaurants. Andy and I arrived in Mosport one year straight from Japan, and stumbled upon a really good Indian restaurant in Toronto. Four years running after that we couldn't find it: we needed Butch!

"We did find it in the end: it's on the corner of King and Jarvis."

The 1994 Spice Ferrari
Wasn’t that a bit of a dog of a car?

James: “No, no, not at all. It was a great car to drive. Spice had become a bit of a skeleton operation by then, but Gary Blackhamn did a stunning job getting hold of any parts we needed. Doug Bebb was responsible for the installation of the Ferrari engine, while Ted Wentz did a great job too preparing the V8s: they had loads of power (for a 348 engine) and really good throttle response – but we couldn’t beat the stock block V8s along the straights.”

The 24 Minutes of Daytona, 1990
”The Guvnor started the race in a brand new 962 – but he was ‘levered off’ by a backmarker after about six laps, and hit a marhsal’s post. That was it, race over.

“I’d been drinking a high carbohydrate drink and must have had enough carbohydrate in me to feed the British Army – and no car to race.

“That led to another of our expressions: DON’T WAD IT UP!”

Injuries
”The worst accident I had was at Thruxton, in Formula Fords. I’d been up all night changing the engine in my car – and then I had a gearbox leak. Mike Thackwell had a big spin ahead of me, and I arrived and did what every one says you should do – aim for the smoke. By the time you get there, the car will have moved out of the way. But Mike was too good for that: he was going backwards, on the racing line.

“We hit left front to left front, and I flew off into a field. It took them 45 minutes to cut me out. It was the Italian Grand Prix that day, and Jonathan Palmer bundled me into his car and took me back to my parents’ house to watch the race – with the calf muscle on this leg completely displaced – it was right round the front of my shin. It took me three months physio to recover from that.

“The other bad one was in a Sports 2000 car at Mallory Park. I got hit amidships and did a 90 right straight into the guardrail. Andy was spectating that day and saw it all.”

Andy: “That was a year before I started racing.”

A Tale From The Dim And Distant Past
James: “Have you heard of Rick Morris? He used to race FFords against the likes of Ayrton Senna – and although he must be at least 55 now, he’s still racing FFords. An amazing chap, fantastic driver, a brilliant competitor who never gave up.

“He lived in London, and he used to do his set-up work in the middle of the road, on the flattest part of his street. He was busy concentrating on getting it spot on when the milkman appeared – and complained that he couldn’t get past. Rick attacked him with his camber gauge!”

No Pit Lane Speed Limits
We’re so used to cars crawling into the pits on the speed limiter these days – but it wasn’t always like that.

James: “We actually used to practice it at Daytona. You could enter the pit lane there at 215 mph, absolutely flat out. We practised it so that we knew exactly where our braking point was: we were half way down the pit lane before we braked – great fun!

“We probably overdid it at Portland, rushing along pit lane in fifth gear… yes, perhaps it’s better that we don’t do that any more.”

Del Mar
James: ”Sylvie and I were married in ’87, but we couldn’t afford a honeymoon then, so instead Sylvie came to Del Mar with me in ’88.

"We cruised up to Los Angeles on the Pacific Coast Highway, found a great restaurant – and I made the mistake of asking for a table with a view of the sea. It was pitch black by the time we sat down…..”

Del Mar was the scene of a famous Weaver incident – in 1990. On the left is the innocent looking 1990 version of J. Weaver.

James: “They had a noise meter there, and they kept on claiming that we were the noisiest car present. We knew we couldn’t be, but the 962 had a side-exit exhaust, pointing straight at the meter. The team tried changing the exhaust (below - clearly pointing more upwards than out through the side bodywork), but it was impossible to make the noise level – but the officials said ‘Never mind, just go out and race’.

“So they started black flagging me. I thought I had the answer: I’ll just drive straight into it, and they’ll need to spend something like 70 laps fixing it.

“I hit it at about 120 mph – and the thing flew through the air and nearly took the poor old guy’s head off! He was sitting there at his table, it must have been 100 yards away, recording all the noise levels.

"He came up and had a chat with me afterwards - and I was so embarrassed! It turned out he was a Retired Admiral, and he'd survived being bombed and so on.. ..but I nearly killed him."

Dr. Brian Mitchell took the photographs of the damage to the Porsche - and beneath the image of the front view of #16, there's James himself in the 962 at Del Mar - before or after committing the deed?

They let him back though - because here he is before the 1991 race.

A Writer?
Certainly A Communicator

It was at Daytona, in 1999. James had set the pole time, and described the Dyson R&S as “dripping with grip”. A wonderful expression. He then came out with some remark about the Porsches in the event, and I had to translate that one for an American journalist.

In 2001, James and Andy, plus Butch and Olly Gavin, had had me rolling about laughing with various tales: I’m sure most of them could never have been told. We got onto the subject of James’ dress sense, and I promised to go and write about him and his ’pinkness’.

An hour or two later, with the story written and posted, lo and behold there was James in the media centre – to see me! He perhaps wanted to check what I’d written, but having read it, he said “No don’t word it like that – word it like this”. So the second version was in James’ own words – literally.

Our paths haven’t crossed as many times as I would have liked. I think the first thing he ever said to me was “Stu Hayner has stuffed it at the Bus Stop” – at Daytona in 1999 – as he hurried off to discover whether the R&S was truly stuffed, or repairable. The crew did fix it, and he, Rob Dyson, Dorsey Schroeder and Stu Hayner came home 22nd.

That sums up the frustrations of endurance racing – but along the way, in hundreds of races, James Weaver has had many memorable events. Here's the prize-giving dinner after the Laguna Seca event in 1997 - and Andy Evans did indeed come up with some of the largest trophies ever seen.

Regis Lefebure has been present for almost every one of James' races in this millennium, so we’ll leave the last to Regis – some final images, to complement those above, almost all provided by Dr. Brian Mitchell. The last two, below, are immediately after James's 100th win, at Mosport in 2005.

My last words are to thank James for all the tales of daring do, the funnies, the entertainment – and the anticipation, of what he might do or say next. He’ll be sorely missed in 2007 and beyond. It’s a shame (from we Europeans’ point of view) that he’s driven almost all of his recent races in North America, but that’s the way it’s been. The endless trans-Atlantic trips may have worn him down in the end, but he’s still got energy and humour in abundance. What a fine fellow he is. “A brilliant competitor who never gave up.”

But sadly, he has now.
Malcolm Cracknell

 

Contents Copyright © dailysportscar.com. All Rights Reserved.