Murray’s Monaco

PETER ROBINSON’S Classic

FIRST PUBLISHED AUGUST 1984 EPIC TALES FROM OUR ARCHIVES

OF ALL PHIL SCOTT’S GREAT WHEELS FEATURES – AND THERE WERE MANY – IN MY VIEW NONE SURPASSES HIS MURRAY WALKER’S MONACO.

By 1984, a world championship Australian Grand Prix seemed inevitable and watching the European races via Channel Nine on a Sunday night became mandatory. Even if it meant listening to (and often shouting at) Murray Walker, that most enthusiastic and parochial of commentators, and James Hunt, the 1976 world champion turned laid-back commentator. They were our sole opening to the glamorous world of F1, and we wanted more.

Scotty, planning to be in Europe on an Alfa Romeo junket, suggested he spend a few days at the Monaco Grand Prix observing Walker at work. Phil’s timing was perfect, and I knew that whatever happened in the race was almost incidental to a Phil Scott fly-on-the-wall story that would inevitably be entertaining and informative.

With help from an immensely friendly Walker, Scotty took Wheels’ readers behind the scenes of what was an often chaotic BBC coverage.

An introduction to F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone gave Phil the chance to ask about the possibility of an Australian round.

Ecclestone, who we now know was already in negotiations with the South Australian government, gave a typically offhand and baffling answer: “Well, I suppose in principle we don’t have a problem with Australia. It is a case of how it fits in… when we can do it… the time of the year.”

Where?

“A Sydney street circuit, because it’s a place that’s much better known outside Australia. The alternative is Adelaide.

From what I understand, I have some doubts. People who have been there racing say it’s a bit disorganised. There are lots of things to tidy up before we can get serious. At the moment more people want races than we have available.

That’s the problem.”

For Walker, the sodden Monaco race was a disaster. British hero Nigel Mansell, his Lotus leading comfortably in the wet, threw it away when a rear wheel strayed onto a painted white line, the loss of traction instantly sending the car smashing into the armco (photo opposite). In appalling conditions, the race was cut short and Prost controversially awarded the win from a charging youngster named Ayrton Senna.

But the best story from the weekend comes when the mustachioed Scotty, enjoying a coffee with Walker, is mistaken for Nigel Mansell by a bloke who insists, “I know it’s a bad time, but please give me your autograph.”

Phil never really recovered.

“Seated next to Walker, James Hunt takes another long pull from a bottle of Bandol rosé, then fishes a Rothmans from the pocket of his faded jeans” PHIL SCOTT

Walking pace

MURRAY Walker first commentated in 1948 at a British hillclimb.

While working for a multi-national advertising agency he occasionally did TV coverage in the 1970s before going full-time in 1978.

We first heard his voice during the famous 1976 Japanese Grand Prix, when Hunt famously beat Lauda to the championship. It was the first F1 race to be televised globally.

ALSO IN WHEELS, August 1984

THE ultimate comparo: Lamborghini v Porsche Turbo v Aston Martin v Ferrari Boxer; First drive of Toyota’s mid-engined MR2; Saab’s 9000 brings the brand into Mercedes territory; Mitsubishi’s Nimbus takes on the Nissan Prairie, Toyota Tarago and … the Holden Camira; Is the Alpina C1 323i the pinnacle for BMW?; Daihatsu’s devilish Charade Turbo

From the mouth of Muddly Talker

IN THE heat of the moment, adrenalin running, Walker famously emitted what became known as Murrayisms. Here are some of his best: ¦ “You can cut the tension with a cricket stump” ¦ “Excuse me while I interrupt myself” ¦ “The lead car is unique, except for the one behind it, which is identical” ¦ “This circuit is interesting because it has inclines and declines. Not just up, but down as well” ¦ “I should imagine that the conditions in the cockpit are totally unimaginable” ¦ “That’s history. I say history because it happened in the past” ¦ “I don’t make mistakes, I make prophecies which immediately turn out to be wrong”

THE WAY IT WAS 8 ’ 4

Dollar dazzler

The $1 coin replaces the $1 note. The $2 coin will join it four years later.

Love on the box

CHANNEL Ten’s Perfect Match, hosted by Greg Evans, Debbie Newsome and the love-matching robot Dexter, attracts record ratings.

Walk this way

US astronaut Bruce McCandless unclips from space shuttle Challenger to perform the first ever untethered spacewalk.

issue

It’s May 1978 and we’ve asked Holden and Ford to predict what we’ll be driving in 25 years – in 2003.

This will be interesting...

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