He was never quite clear about precisely what happened next, other than as he turned into Radio Corner, he lost control of the car, my aunt aghast at his side. Hands flailed, the wheel twirled and then things suddenly got a whole lot worse. He forgot how much correction he’d applied and the Porsche, having an essentially symmetrical wheel where 180 degrees of opposite lock looks much the same as 360 degrees, wasn’t helping. So in total desperation, resigning himself to a fate he’d never be allowed to forget, and entirely without realising it, he did exactly the right thing. He let go of the wheel.
Legendary 911 racer Nick Faure will tell you it was in very similar circumstances that he learned how to master these notoriously twitchy machines. For my father, the car instantly self-centred, snapping straight as they rocketed away up the hill. Clearly now thinking he was some kind of genius, the aunt never criticised his driving again.
Yet to this day, I’ve still not tried to post a competitive time up Bouley Bay and, when offered a drive at the Festival of Speed, am always quietly relieved when I’m told it’s ‘demo only’. For the truth is, and I should probably whisper this, but I’m rubbish at hillclimbing. Put me in some big old race car, with a big old engine on some big old race track and I’ll skid happily about, put on a reasonable show and usually end up coming somewhere respectable. Put me up a hill, where it’s all about millimetre-perfect precision and I’m as far from my natural environment as a walrus on a dog track. What I find strange is that I still manage to enjoy it so much.