Keke Rosberg And The Art Of War

Keke Rosberg took Formula One flat out.  His personal appearance was the epitome of the 1980’s successful businessman’s flash including high end designer loafers, briefcase, gold chains and bracelet.  His talk could be blunt and brusque, he chained smoked and he wore his bravado like a suit of armor.  His Cosworth engined Williams was significantly down on power from the turbo brigade yet he drove like a warrior on track with each lap like an all or nothing qualifying run. I was at Las Vegas in 1982 when he won the World Championship and Silverstone in 1985 when he set a pole lap record of 160 MPH  that stood as the fastest in F1 until 2005. But my best Rosberg experience was in 1984.  I was at my first Monaco Grand Prix and went up Beau Rivage and got lost behind a series of fences and barriors.  When I emerged I was standing behind the armco at the outside of Massenet and heard a engine wailing at full song.  It was said the powerful aerodynamics of the current crop of F1 cars made them impossible to slide.  Apparently no one told Keke Rosberg because his Williams came flying into the turn in a full four wheel screaming drift that continued up to the guardrail inches from where I was standing.  The force of the air generated by the car’s passage was so strong it blew my cameras hanging on their straps around my body.  I had been to petrified to move until many seconds later when I took a comically late reflex jump backwards.  The photographer John Blakemore had witnessed the event from a decent distance away.  He came over and laughingly said “That’s not a safe place to stand.”  “Welcome to Formula One.”

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