Wednesday 31st October 2012

PH Blog: Attwood plays it cool

When it comes to role models you can't help but respect the old school

Oh Lewis. Bless him, there's no doubting his competitive spirit or, on the right day, talent at the wheel. But the desperate attempts to be cool, be it the yo diggity textspeak on Twitter, facial topiary or hangin' with music biz mates, he'll never quite carry it off.

Made a mint selling it, still gets to drive it. Hm.
Made a mint selling it, still gets to drive it. Hm.
What he needs is a lesson from the old school. What he needs is a flat cap. What he needs is to hang out with the likes of Richard Attwood, not P Diddy.

I came across this video of Attwood talking about 'his' 917 at the Porsche a little while back at Hedingham Castle. It's among a host of stuff on the Porsche Origins page well worth a look at, though I challenge you to watch Jay Kay talking about his 2.7 RS and not turn a vivid shade of green. Like that other car loving Jay, Kay just about manages to carry off a Leno-like credibility based on (well funded) passion and heartfelt geekery. Though he treads a very fine line.

But Attwood. The very definition of cool. As if having driven some of the most fantastic racing cars ever wasn't enough - Ford GT40, David Piper-era Ferrari 250LMs, Alfa T33 and Porsche 908 among the sportscar highlights alone - he's also modest, quietly steely and drily down to earth, famously knocking about in an old 405 estate with several hundred thousand on the clock. I think they call that not having to prove anything.

Don't watch if prone to jealousy...
Don't watch if prone to jealousy...
I had the pleasure of meeting him a while back on the launch for the GT3 RS 4.0. I say pleasure. It was actually damned intimidating. I hopped into the car, keen as mustard, turned to greet the instructor beside me and, oh, crap, it's Richard Attwood. It's always a funny one going out on track with an instructor for the first time, unsure of their tutoring style, threshold for ham-fisted driving or, indeed, briefing in terms of how tight the leash will be. It's not a job I'd fancy, for sure, not knowing whether the person driving you onto the circuit is an absolute beginner or Harris-style hand and having to make an instant assessment of that by the first corner.

Obviously these guys are pros and can tell pretty quickly whether you're half competent or a liability and deliver their instruction and/or hand to the wheel intervention accordingly. Attwood? Didn't say a word.

Which was even more terrifying.

"Try fourth not third here..."
"Try fourth not third here..."
I always take a little while to tune into driving hot Porsches 'properly' and it usually takes me a little while to relax. That's why I love them - they don't hand it to you on a plate and expect you to MTFU before delivering their best.

So as well as trying to come to terms with the 4.0 I was nervously glancing at my silent chaperone, alternating between 'holy crap, that's Richard Attwood' and 'is he bored or terrified?' when I should have been concentrating on what I was doing.

After a few laps, and as recounted in my review of the car here on PH, he leaned forwards a tad and murmured "try keeping it fourth there rather than downshifting to third" before relaxing back into his seat and looking out of the side window. We arrived at the next corner some 20mph faster than before. Or so it felt. There was the barest flicker of approval and then, a couple of corners later, "the faster driver is always the one in the higher gear." And that was the sum total of my instruction from Richard Attwood.

Anyway, watch Jay Kay talk about his 2.7 if you can stomach the envy. And then marvel at Attwood and his understated description of winning Le Mans for the first time in the 917.



Author: Dan Trent

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