Instead, my subject for this week’s piece is a personal tribute and memories of my very good friend and colleague, Henry Hope-Frost, who tragically passed away late last week in a motorcycle accident. I was overseas at the time, but quickly heard the devastating news from a number of sources, which even now, still hasn’t quite sunk in.
Henry, a.k.a. HHF and Fever – because of his huge appetite, excitement, enthusiasm and knowledge of all things motor racing – first came into my radar a dozen or so years ago, when I joined Goodwood to head-up the Motor Sport Content PR and Marketing for the Festival of Speed and Revival. Part of my Goodwood role was to manage all of the live on-event broadcast and commentary teams.
I had known of HHF previously but never worked directly with him, but on joining Goodwood in 2006, he immediately made a very favourable and lasting impression, assisting with the FoS radio commentary. When one of the usual event commentators was unable to participate in the Revival that year, I ‘officially’ appointed Henry to the main commentary team, to which he became an indispensable part of ever since. The lack of his dulcet tones and witty remarks will be sorely missed at the 76th Members’ Meeting, plus all other Goodwood events going forward.
As an appropriate and fitting tribute to Henry’s memory, at the 76th Members’ Meeting on Saturday, March 17th, at around 11 am a minute of noise from the very loud Formula 5000 cars gathered in the assembly area, will take place, which HHF would have wholeheartedly approved of.
There are so many excellent memories of working closely with HHF over the years, some of which are best not repeated here, but… Occasionally at the Festival of Speed, I would text Henry to make sure he mentioned a particular car or driver as part of his commentary, and also mischievously add in the odd word for him to mention. I recall that his spontaneous commentary ranged from comparing a Lotus 72 F1 car racing up the Goodwood Hillclimb to a Dutton Phaeton kit car, as they were both British and made of GRP! All very random, and very amusing.
I joined Henry at the Monaco Historique one year; the very first time he had visited the Principality. After a few drinks on a cold, rainy night, rather than grab a taxi to take us back to our hotel on the outskirts of Monte Carlo, HHF was overly-keen to walk the entire Monaco Grand Prix circuit.
He was like an excitable schoolboy, regaling me with tales of famous moments and incidents from past Monaco races every corner of the track, occasionally making the actual sounds of the F1 car’s engines, and even steering and opposite locking with his arms around the tighter twists and turns. It took us a couple of hours to get to the hotel, cold and soaking wet, but we didn’t care as it was a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining way of going for a slightly tipsy evening stroll.
The overwhelming amount of tributes to Henry from all disciplines of motor racing, plus the gratifyingly large crowdfunding campaign for Henry’s wife and family, shows the huge level of admiration, professionalism and enthusiasm of the man and sport that he loved and lived for. He, the voice of Goodwood, will be greatly missed. RIP HHF.