l  Copyright © 2002 until present  -  All rights reserved John Damen  -  Copyright  l
follow me on Facebook

Formula 2 GP Francorchamps 1982

First time visit to Formula 2 with Johnny Cecotto...

Sunday June 13th 1982 at Francorchamps, Belgium
The last time I saw Johnny Cecotto race was during the motorcycle racing Grand Prix of Belgium on the circuit of Zolder in 1980. After 1980 he switched to car racing. In 1982 he raced Formula 2 with March BMW in the European Championship. Together with my friend Ardie I decided to visit the race at the circuit of Francorchamps, Belgium. Meanwhile I had my motorcycle drivers license and so we went on my Honda CB 650 to Belgium to try to meet Cecotto for the second time of my life. It was a long drive because of the bad weather we had. It was raining the whole way to Francorchamps. At the circuit we got ourselves tickets for the paddock so chances of getting close to Johnny improved a lot. We searched along the paddock for the March BMW team of Cecotto. We found it quiet easily but only Cecotto's car was there, Johnny himself wasn't seen. But some time later he suddenly stood in the door opening of the "ROLOIL" BMW truck in full racing gear and his helmet on. I made a picture of him with a simple camera I had with me and watched him going to his car. Without knowing I had gone into the working zone of his BMW team and stood next to his car. His girlfriend Martina Wagner was also there. She wore a blue raincoat with a big logo on it of "Conte of Florence" which was Cecotto's sponsor. Before he stept in his racing car Cecotto's boots were brushed to clean them. I was very close to him for the second time of my life and for sure the Jeb's helmet with strange designed streamlines was very impressive to me. I had my complete white Nolan helmet painted up with the recognizable red pointed lines "á la Cecotto design". Pictures were taken while he was sitting in his car. I was only one meter away of him now and made my step to ask him to put an autograph on my self made Cecotto helmet. He gave it immediately and proudly I got the helmet back in my hands. But again I didn't dare to talk to him like I didn't in Raalte in 1978. I just looked up to him too much to get some words out of my mouth except for "Thank you" when he gave the autograph. The car was taken to the race track with Cecotto sitting in it and the rain had stopped for a moment. When the race started it already began to rain. I took some pictures but not much was seen on them because of the rain. Thierry Boutsen was way ahead of the rest of the field when it really started to rain heavily. One by one the cars went off at the end of the straight in "L'eau Rouge". It looked like a parking zone after a while. But the harder it started to rain the harder Cecotto was driving. The big gap between Boutsen and Cecotto was decreased every lap but then the race director decided to stop the race. I think if they wouldn't have done this Cecotto could have taken first place from Boutsen. The BMW team seemed to be pleased with this second place and another six points for the championship. We went down the top of the pit box, from where we had been watching the race, back to the paddock to hope to see Johnny Cecotto once more. Behind the stairs to the victory ceremony we waited and after a few minutes Cecotto came down with Martina Wagner right behind him. I made a picture of him while he had a big smile on his face. When he passed me I gave him a hand and congratulated him with his 2nd place in the race. That were the only words I said and with a "Thank you" he walked away back to the paddock. He disappeared for us and we decided to go home after that. The weather was still very rainy. It was a long way home on my motorcycle in these kind of conditions. But despite that it had been a great day for me.....