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Meeting Johnny Cecotto in Holland at Zandvoort...

Weekend August 26-28th 2005 at Zandvoort, Holland
I was able to visit another race weekend of Johnny Cecotto jr. with my family. This time in our country Holland at the Zandvoort circuit. We booked a hotel in the neighbourhood for the weekend to be closer to the circuit since Zandvoort can't be reached very easy. On Friday there aren't many spectators on the circuit so we had no trouble to get there. We parked behind paddock 3 with the card Johnny gave us at the Nürburgring. We walked straight into the paddock and found Johnny Cecotto jr.'s car standing in the tent of Eifelland Racing. Also the motor home of Johnny Cecotto stood right behind their tent but no-one seemed to be there. We looked around the circuit and came back at 12.00 hours and shortly after Johnny jr. came in on his scooter. He welcomed us all and a little later also Johnny Cecotto came to welcome us. It was close to free practice and with Johnny jr. We went to the place he had to wait with his car to get permission to the track. When the cars were out on the circuit we sat on the standing behind the pit lane to watch free practice. Zandvoort isn't an easy circuit and since Johnny Cecotto jr. had never been here he only managed to get 23rd time with 3 seconds behind the fastest driver Nicolas Hülkenberg. After free practice we got to the paddock and took some pictures of Johnny's car standing outside. We went back to the centre of the Zandvoort circuit and watched practice of DTM on the standing. We got ourselves something to eat and it already had come close to timed practice of Formula BMW. We went to the Eifelland tent and saw they were preparing. Johnny Cecotto gave his son some advise about the circuit. Johnny jr. looks more relaxed to me as in the beginning of the season. I think he has learned a lot so far this season. Johnny got into his car and went to the back of the paddock to wait to be able to get into the circuit. I talked with him there about our website plans and he told me he had lost all his work so far because of a computer crash. I advised him to always make a back-up of his work. I also promised him to give some more material like software and pictures. He said the Zandvoort circuit was a bit difficult and he had no experience here at all. After this I walked a bit more to the front where my daughter Lindsey was with Natacha Gachnang, the Swiss female driver. I took some pictures there and got back to Johnny. He was sitting in his car now talking to his mechanic. Johnny Cecotto had gone to the pit lane already. After Johnny Cecotto jr. left to the circuit we went to the standing where we had watched DTM earlier this afternoon since there was the only possibility to make pictures without a fence standing in my way. In first practice weather conditions were fine although the sun disappeared now and then and there was a lot of wind. At the end of the first session Johnny reached 21st place and was 2.3 second behind the fastest. So he had improved regarding to free practice. In the 10 minutes break between practice we got back to the pit box where we watched on top of that. Johnny jr. stayed in the top 10 for a long time but at the end he dropped back. He came in a few minutes before the end of practice and didn't get out anymore to try to improve his result. He watched with his father at the pit wall to the monitors which shows times of all drivers. He got 22nd place and was now 2.0 seconds slower as the fastest, another improvement. Johnny jr. drove the car to the parc fermér after practice. Coincidently we walked into him when we went back to the paddock and we talked a bit. I asked if he could arrange some tyres for me since these are only used on 2 races and are changed after practice day of the next race weekend. He said he would try but they sometimes were used for other testing. It was 18.00 hours already and we had to leave to find our hotel at Heiloo. We said good bye to both Johnny's and would meet again on Saturday. We arrived at the hotel at about 19.00 hours and after we had checked in we had a diner somewhere in Heiloo. It would be early day tomorrow so we went to bed a bit early. On Saturday the sun was shining already in early morning. After breakfast in the hotel it was time to get to Zandvoort to see the first race of the weekend of Johnny Cecotto jr. We were there at 10.15 but it seemed the paddock parking was full and they wanted to let us park on the Zandvoort boulevard which I didn't agree with. Since more people had the same problem they opened another part for parking and we were allowed to get in there. We were picked up by a shuttle that brought us to the paddock. It's nice to be threaten like this but we're still not used to it. We went to Johnny Cecotto in his motor home and I gave him the message I had with me from Félix Millán, a Venezuelan radio reporter which I had contact with. Johnny asked if I could remove the fan mail address on my site because it wasn't going to be available anymore. On request I gave him some autograph cards since he had none left. Some time later Johnny jr. got in his car to wait at the back of the paddock entry. My daughter Lindsey had asked me if she could get on the grid with me before the race. I asked Johnny if that was possible. He was going to try and gave her his pit card. Johnny jr. went on the track to get to the starting grid. Me, Carolien and Wesley walked while Lindsey got a backseat on the scooter with Johnny Cecotto. When we got to the pit lane I went in there but I didn't see Johnny or Lindsey yet. After a while they came walking towards me though and Lindsey had a big smile on her face. They didn't have any problem to get in. This had made her day already in these early stages. We walked together to the start grid where Johnny jr. was just taking his position with his car. Lindsey made some video shots and also had to pose next to Johnny's car so I could make a picture of her as proof to all her friends at home and school. Johnny and I had a little talk about his father and some family matters. I made pictures like I always do to get enough material to choose for my reports on this site. Johnny jr. received some last advice from his father and talked to his mechanic for a while who always stays on the grid last. While we walked back to the pit lane I thanked Johnny Cecotto for getting my daughter on the start grid. Lindsey said a bit annoyed to me that she had wanted to do that for herself. Since that was in Dutch Johnny didn't notice that. We said good bye for now since Johnny was going to the pit wall and we went to the standing at the back of the paddock centre to watch the Formula BMW race. The start of the race didn't bring any problems although the first corner at Zandvoort (Tarzan curve) is very tricky. Johnny was in 20th position after 2 laps and seemed to be in action well. There was a lot of close racing going on like there always is in these early stages of the race. When they got into round 4 he tried to pass 2 drivers from the outside of the Tarzan curve. However, Tobias Hegewald out braked himself and pushed Johnny jr. from the track and he had to retire with a damaged wheel at the right back of his car. That was really disappointing to all of us and surely for both Johnny's. Wesley and I got up the pit box with our VIP cards where we saw Johnny Cecotto stayed at the pit wall looking rather absent. Johnny jr. watched the race from behind the guard rail at the Tarzan curve with Hegewald. We waited for the race to finish and saw how they got Johnny's damaged car on the truck that collects retired cars. We quickly got to the end of the paddock to be able to make pictures of that. When we arrived Johnny jr. just got on the truck to sit on his car to be taken to the parc fermér. We got back to Carolien and Lindsey and walked back to the Formula BMW paddock. On our way we passed the parc fermér where I took some shots from Johnny's damaged car. Johnny jr. was already gone. When we arrived at the motor home the door was closed and it seemed to us it was better to leave them alone. We got back to the paddock to watch DTM practice which soon would start. Carolien and Lindsey decided to enjoy the sun while I and Wesley got on top of the pit box again. We had a great view up here and I made some nice pictures of the cars getting in and out of their pit boxes. The German television ARD was live broadcasting and it was fun to see how these things go. Right beneath us was the box of Bernd Schneider, Gary Paffett, Jean Alesi and last but not least Mika Häkkinen so that was very interesting as well. Since it was great to be up here I switched Wesley with Lindsey so she could look here. She enjoyed it very much as well. After qualifying of DTM was over we got back to the tent where Johnny Cecotto was. They were still sitting in their motor home talking to someone so we watched how Johnny's mechanic worked on the damaged car. When the man went out of the motor home I got in and we talked a bit about the accident in the race. It for sure hadn't been Johnny's fault. We had decided before we were going to the beach so we said good bye to both Johnny's. As always Johnny Cecotto stroke Wesley on his shoulder and gave him a tap on his cap and it's fun to see how Johnny handles with him. My daughter Lindsey got in the motor home when we already were leaving because she still wanted to thank Johnny for getting her up the start grid that morning. We then went to the beach to enjoy the sun for a while and went back to the hotel. From there we got to Alkmaar to get us a meal at McDonalds since we also have to keep the kids happy. Going to bed just before 24.00 hours to get a good time rest to finish of this weekends race visit. On Sunday Johnny jr. had to race before DTM at 10.50 hours so it was up early. Breakfast at the hotel and checking out because we would go back home after the race today. At 09.15 we were in the car on our way to Zandvoort and things seemed to go well until we came in Haarlem. It was very busy and cars were already in line here. I took some other smaller roads to be able to get to the circuit and managed to get on the Zandvoort boulevard at 10.15 hours. We were the last car permitted in the paddock parking so we were lucky with that. At 10.25 hours we got into the paddock area where the cars already were lined-up. So we just got on time. We said hello to Johnny jr. who just got into his car. Johnny Cecotto stood behind the car and I told him we just made it in time to get here. We had time to talk about some matters like future plans and finding sponsors. I told Johnny I was planning to make a new big site with my own domain because my provider space almost was done. Johnny jr. had left to the starting grid. Carolien and the kids walked to the standing while I walked with Johnny to his motor home. He gave me an old bandage which gives you the right to be at the pit wall. He said he would try to get me up there. Johnny got on his scooter and I stepped on the back and together we drove to the pit. It was very crowded and it was sometimes difficult to get through. Johnny parked his scooter across the pit entrance and together we walked towards the start grid. The standings were almost full and the sun was shining bright. It was a great sight. Johnny didn't stay very long on the track and walked back to the pit lane after wishing his son the best. I stayed for a while to make more pictures on the grid. When I walked back there were many people standing behind the fences to get a glimpse of the starting grid. It gives me the feeling of what privilege I have by knowing Johnny and he's making this all possible for me. When I got into the pit lane Johnny Cecotto was just trying to get on top of the tire wagon of the Mamerow team. This way he would have a better view at the start of the race. The lights went red and the engines started growling. When the lights went out Johnny jr. got a lot of wheel spin and he was away in last position. When all the cars got out of sight at the Tarzan curve we all got to the pit wall. I didn't have difficulties to go there despite I didn't have the official needed pit wall bandage. Now this was the very first time I was standing so close to a race, a complete new experience to me. You could see the race which was in live broadcast on German satellite television on a screen and on different monitors you could see the positions of all drivers and their lap times. Johnny jr. improved lap by lap but with his bad start he was too far back to get to the front. His lap times were shown to Johnny jr. on the pit board by his mechanic. I tried to make some pictures through the fence but then you can see how fast these cars go on the straight. It wasn't easy to take pictures. Johnny got 20th place at last and his lap times weren't bad. He was now 1.7 seconds slower than the fastest race lap. So it meant he did improve on this for him strange and difficult circuit day by day. It was a pity he had this bad start otherwise he could have been more to the front. After the race Johnny Cecotto and I talked a bit about this while we got back to the scooter. Now there were even more spectators walking in the paddock and it was very difficult to get through with the scooter. We almost were hit by a truck that came backwards and Johnny shouted in Italian temper to avoid a confrontation. It worked though. We got to the parc fermér to see if Johnny jr. was still there but he was already disappeared. At the motor home Johnny jr. explained what happened at the start to the team manager in German and to his father in Italian. After Johnny jr. had changed he came to me to get me a tire from the Michelin stand. I hadn't thought about that anymore but he did. Since the circuit is very difficult to leave we, including Johnny Cecotto, weren't going to stay to watch DTM. We arranged things for our visit at Hockenheim in October. Johnny jr. first had to go to the driver meeting before they could leave so we said good bye to each other. Both Johnny's got on their scooter and drove away to the meeting while we walked back to our car. On our way back home there was a 16 km line to Amsterdam direction. I think some people were going to miss the DTM race. We had almost 2 months rest now before Carolien and I would visit the last race at Hockenheim. We will meet again there Johnny and Johnny jr...

Formula BMW Zandvoort 2005

Johnny jr. & Johnny Cecotto
Mamerow Formula BMW team
Johnny Cecotto & Johnny jr.