Divi made her F1 debut in atrocious conditions.

Divi made her F1 debut in atrocious conditions.

It’s 1978 and I’m sitting in Hesketh Formula One car at Silverstone listening to Rene Arnoux’s team trying to fire his engine in the next door garage. My race is in his hands. If he fails to start I will get to race as I’m reserve driver for this event and Nikki Lauda already refused to race as the conditions are so bad. Outside the garage there are monsoon conditions and finally as Rene’s team fail to breathe life into his engine I’m pushed out into the pit lane and head for the track. Most of the cars are on their second warm up lap. I try to catch them but spin on a stream crossing the track at Abbey Curve. By some miracle I keep the engine running and keep going but when I arrive at the start finish the field has already received the green flag and I’m stuck behind the Doctor’s car. Cautiously I follow this car to Hangar Straight where I decide it’s safe enough to blast past and try and catch the field. There is mayhem once again at Abbey as James Hunt and Clay Regazzoni spin off into the infield. I notice that that some of the cars are using the grass verge on the apex rather than risk spinning on the stream crossing the track, so I follow suit and make it through safely.

The Heskeths of Divi and Derek Daly were indistinguishable in the murk.

The Heskeths of Divi and Derek Daly were indistinguishable in the murk.

My team mate, Derek Daly is doing well but he has Murray Walker the BBC commentator confused, as our identical cars are running the same number 24 on the side, Derek’s number 38 having peeled off in the rain. Presumably timing and scoring are also confused as there are no transponders in those days, only hand-timing by a team of gifted individuals.  So when Derek crashes on Lap 11 they all think it’s me.  However, I make an identical exit at Woodcote on Lap 12 when I get greedy with the power and sail unceremoniously into the catch fencing. A post lifts my visor and hits me on the forehead and as I put my hand up to shield my face my little finger is snapped like a twig. I jump out of the car and head for the marshal’s post where they suggest I go and see the doctor.

Waiting for a gap in traffic — which is not difficult as there are only six cars left racing — I run across the track and walk to the Silverstone Medical Center where I’m met by my sister Vanessa and Team manager David “Beaky” Sims. The Doctor bandages my head and puts my arm in a sling and Beaky tells me to head for the helicopter which will take me back to Easton Neston and my car. Vanessa and I head for the runway where the helicopter is warming its engine ready for takeoff with a passenger inside. We climb in, but the passenger turns out to be Mick Jagger, who takes one look at me swathed in bandages and gets out . . . much to my sister’s disappointment.

Divi was not alone in coming to grief at Silverstone that soggy day.

Divi was not alone in coming to grief at Silverstone that soggy day.

A week later I’m at Long Beach to drive a Formula Atlantic with two black eyes and a steel plate in my finger.  Needless to say that race didn’t go too well either.

Click here for great historic video of this water-logged affair.

Divina Galica is Director of Partner Relations for iRacing.com

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Divina, it had to take more attachments to participate in that race than 99% of the male population possesses. Great story lady, keep them coming !

J Malafama
November 21st, 2009 at 3:23 pm

Very cool:)

Dom Duhan
November 21st, 2009 at 3:44 pm

Great story Divina! Tough conditions for a first F1 race, but who could pass that up!. -)

Lincoln Miner
November 21st, 2009 at 3:46 pm

great story!

Nic
November 21st, 2009 at 8:20 pm

Awesome story Divina, you can be very proud of yourself, to race F1 in those conditions, with those legends on the grid !

Fred
November 22nd, 2009 at 12:55 am

Divi I preferred listening to your recollections in person. You have such a charming way presenting them. Hope we can do dinner again sometime soon. 🙂

Don Keightley
November 22nd, 2009 at 12:58 am

Incredible conditions – what a great story! Thanks!

Ray Bryden
November 22nd, 2009 at 1:12 am

Oooooh I remember this race I have it on DVD

Ben x

Ben Summers
November 25th, 2009 at 7:37 am

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4tNGCq24bbE

Here is a mention of Divi

Chad Rogers
November 26th, 2009 at 4:25 am

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jkG581vM7C0&feature=related

And another of the race.

Chad Rogers
November 26th, 2009 at 4:26 am

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