Alan Jones – Long Beach Grand Prix 1983

Alan Jones, the 1980 Formula One World Driving Champion, and his wife had recently bought a house near Geneva and needed someone who could speak French with their gardeners.  Bernard Cahier suggested my name and although I was concerned about my fluency in French, Bernard assured me I was up to the task. The next morning Alan picked me up in his Mercedes. Like other race drivers with whom I’ve ridden, his highway driving was brisk, smooth and effortless.  On the racetrack Jones had a reputation as a tough, smart, relentless competitor but I found him friendly with a straightforward, no nonsense manner that facilitated an easygoing and enjoyable conversation.  When we arrived his wife and I discussed her landscaping ideas and I did my best with the gardeners.  Afterwards they thanked me and Alan drove me back to where I was staying.  I was grateful I followed my instincts and hadn’t barraged him with questions about racing.  As a result he was relaxed and I had a pleasant, insightful day getting to know him away from the pressures of Formula One.

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