David Addison – Alfas, Anoraks And Australia
makes for a great commentator?
Well, inside knowledge
and an understanding of the sport is a handy starting point, and
a healthy (some would say unhealthy!) enthusiasm can’t hurt
Really important though
is an ability to talk constantly for several hours whilst keeping
up to speed with what is happening in front of you, what you are
hearing through a headset and what is being placed in front of you
on reams of paper.
Do that, and sound enthusiastic
whilst you’re doing it, and you’re about half way to
cracking the code. The rest is pure, unadulterated public entertainment.
Ask David Addison.
David is the regular
commentator for the British F3-GT package and his efforts add immeasurably
to the ‘product’. Wisecracking, mickey-taking but always
seamless and always well-informed. But how on earth do you wind
up as a commentator?
David himself takes up
started when I went to a race meeting with Dad in 1984 at the age
of 12 - to the British GP. Brian Jones was commentating and I was
a bit of a know-it-all and thought I could make a decent fist of
it too. It stayed as a bit of a pipe dream until 1990, when the
BBC held a competition for the amateur commentator of the year.
A bit like Pop Idol with anoraks.”
The competition required
entrants to submit a demo. tape of a radio commentary, and the judges
were sufficiently impressed to select David for the regional final
against seven other North Western hopefuls.
when I got a bit of a lucky break. For the regional final I commentated
on a TV edit of a British Formula three round which had been filmed
by BHP, and (BHP boss) Steve Rider was one of the judges.”
Addison won the regional
heat, made the national final, but lost out to a man whom history
has forgotten but typically Addison hasn’t: it’s a mark
of the man, a memory truly crammed with useless trivia.
was Colin Fry and he was a cashier for Thomas Cook in Grantham.”
His spirits boosted by
this success he proceeded to politely but repeatedly request an
opportunity to prove himself at the mike. Eventually Robin Bradford
was persuaded to give the young man his chance. “It was the
only way to shut him up,” was allegedly the initial endorsement
of the selection decision.
“It was a British
F3 round here (at Donington Park) on the 21 April 1991, David Coulthard
got his first win and I was down to do the post-race interviews
in the pitlane. My first opportunity was at the end of an MG Owners
club race, I stood there, brimming with confidence waiting for the
winners car to arrive…and he drove straight past me into parc
ferme. I was crushed!”
Addison remembers the name of the driver he then found to interview
(Gary Storer) and the fact that he drove a Class B car!
After this inauspicious
start, things started to come together quite quickly with mike duty
at the then booming British Touring Car Championship meeting at
Oulton Park, and a stint at Silverstone, commentating from Becketts
for British F3.
A TV debut was next up,
Eurosport grabbing the keen young Englishman for the RAC rally,
before a debut with Radio Le Mans gave him an overseas opportunity.
doing all sorts in the very early days, but none stranger than the
Madras GP200, in 1999.”
This extraordinary event
was a heady mix featuring an international F3 tournament, supported
by a 250cc motorbike event.
quite unlike anything I’d done before or have done since.
There was a three man commentary team: Myself, Geoffery Thomas (a
local radio broadcaster) and Rajaram, our Tamil speaking colleague.
Typically I would be thanked thus: “Thank you Mr David for
your most informative commentary and now over to Rajaram for his
bit in Tamil!” I’ll never forget it.”
By this time, the late
1990s, David was looking to spread his professional wings. His day
job as the press officer for a Chamber of Commerce was beginning
to lose its day to day appeal, and he became more and more convinced
that he could produce work far better than much of the press and
PR material that was landing in his daily mailbag..
wanted to set up shop on my own and when in 1999 a client told me
that if I left he’d come with me, I decided it was time to
make the move.”
He set up shop as Cloverleaf
Media with a business partner - and a new chapter began.
already helping out Matt James at Motoring News on press days and
picked up some business doing PR for British GTs and National Saloons.
That put us in a great position when PowerTour came forward, we
were already looking after two of the three elements and with contracts
to provide PR support, programmes and circuit commentary, it was
a big leg-up for us.”
Even when PowerTour was
prematurely put to the sword, victim of the growing tide of politics
in British motorsport, Addison’s business was still well placed.
had to borrow money and weren’t in debt. We’d read the
situation well and had picked up business outside motorsport too.”
So with his business
secure there would be more opportunity to indulge his passions:
motorsport, Alfa Romeos, his partner Dawn and, a little later Australia.
Addison is famously
an Alfa fan, that’s ‘fan’ as in ‘fan’atic:
“You have to be an enthusiast, Alfas certainly have their
‘features’. In my case (Fellow commentator) Ian Titchmarsh
is to blame. He drove me all the way to Le Mans from the Wirral
in 1999 in his GTV6, I had a VW Golf at the time. I ordered a 2
litre GTV as soon as we got back and have been hooked ever since.
I’ve now got a lovely GTV6 and Dawn has a 147: two Alfaholics
in one household, I’d love a 147 GTA mind you!”
We were talking in the
paddock of the SRW Super Weekend at Donington Park and David was,
quite typically sitting in close proximity to the ETCC Alfa pit
garages: “This is a great meeting, good racing, a very professional
paddock but without the attitude that you get in some forms of racing.
I’d gladly wander around this meeting as a spectator, but
I’m glad I don’t have to!
“Modern GT racing
has everything – speed, sound, tactics, drama unpredictability:
there’s always a story and that makes it both easy and interesting
for me as a commentator and as an enthusiast.
the fact that PA commentary really just covers your costs, I still
feel very lucky. It doesn’t cost me anything to indulge my
hobby and despite the grim conditions at some circuits (in the Spark
Plug at Donington - left), I’d give my right arm to be assured
that I can carry on doing it as long as I’d like to.”
still though, Dawn is a total star and a real race fan. Anyone deeply
involved in motorsport knows just how important the support and
understanding of his family is. In Dawn’s case the racing
gene runs deep. Her dad and brother are both scrutineers and she
camps at Le Mans with the family: she tries to watch the race at
So what commentary challenges
still remain and which is he sorry he missed?
love to commentate at Pau and Monaco but I’d be happy to spectate
there too, and as for the race I’d have loved to have been
in the tower for, bizarrely enough it happened right here (at Donington
Park) - Group A Touring Cars in 1983 or ‘84. Strangely enough,
Enzo Calderari was in that race too in an XJS. Brundle and Fitzpatrick
were fantastic that day, there were so many cars, an Alfa GTV6 non-qualified
but it sounded fantastic. Touring cars now don’t sound so
good, don’t look so good and don’t entertain so well.”
“I’m a big
fan of the Thoroughbred Grand Prix series too, but perhaps that’s
because I’m an old fart at heart and remember the cars in
their heyday. Sometimes I feel that I don’t find modern motorsport
as thrilling as I once did. But then again I have a real soft spot
for F3, I’m always conscious that there is history being made.”
A developing passion
in the Addison portfolio of enthusiasm is Australia - the country
and its motorsport:
“It came about
in part through the ALMS Radio Web. It occurred to me that their
regulars had wives and kids and I told John Hindhaugh that I was
available for the race of 1000 years in Adelaide . I eventually
ended up doing pitlane commentary. It was a wonderful event, a great
race and a fantastic country: I was hooked.
“I went over again
on holiday in 2001. The trip included a V8 Supercars race at Sandown.
It rained, but it was still unmissable. While I was over there one
of the organisers told me about the plans for the Bathurst 24 Hours
sold. In 2002 at the inaugural race, we did four hours of live TV
for Channel 7. It will be nine this year. The event was brilliantly
conceived, Mount Panorama is one of the world’s truly great
circuits and even for the first race the organising team managed
to attract several international entrants including, happily for
me, several that I was very familiar with.”
“For 2003 there
will be more teams and drivers that I know well, together with a
field that has more quality in depth than 2002. With Mosler coming
back after getting a great reception last year, and TVR represented
too, we are getting UK teams tapping into the Aussie motorsport
culture of good looking, big, noisy hairy cars.”
So there you have it.
A very English enthusiast in a very Australian environment, an Alfa
nut with a love of big noisy V8s, a paradox surely?
you should say that, there’s this bloke in Australia called
Tony Ricciardello who races a Chevy V8 powered GTV6 …………………….”
this weekend, for the final round of the British GT Championship.
What will Adipose be asking this man?