Henry’s impression of a V8 Formula 1 car starting up was spooky in its accuracy. It made everyone jump, every time he did it. No sooner had he ‘fired up’ we would fall about laughing at the looks on everyone’s faces. As soon as someone new walked into the office I’d ask him to do it again. And again.
He had quite an incredible bank of motorsport impressions. “Come on Henry, something with turbo chatter!” He needed no more encouragement and you’d all be listening to yet another wonderfully realistic impression.
On one lunchtime trip, Henry insisted on doing a Group B rally car impression all the way from the Tony Gaze Building at the Goodwood Circuit to Sainsbury's five miles away. It mattered not that he was sat in the passenger seat of a road-going, completely standard Ford Fiesta ST.
Henry was all pops and bangs on the overrun, and he lived a life of absolute ‘fever’ – a word so associated with Henry that it was trending on Twitter last night. Everything with four wheels, and two, was “fever” and if there was something particularly rare and exotic in the paddock he’d suffer from “significant trouser trouble”.
This was a man totally immersed in motorsport and its rich and colourful history. The unadulterated joy you witnessed when he wandered around the Goodwood paddocks was plain to see and anyone interviewed by him always felt like they were having a friendly chat. As Jenson Button put it this morning, “it felt so natural, like you were having a good old chinwag with your closest mate”.
In the office, he was a blizzard of energy. No doubt that was partly down to the quantity of chocolate biscuits he could consume while still bouncing off the rev limiter. He had an extraordinary appetite for snacks and motorsport. Only yesterday we were joking about how a long-departed racing driver was getting increasingly difficult to get hold of for an interview.
Having been thrown out of Stowe School for sneaking off to watch cars testing at Silverstone (“how did they not see that coming?!”), he joined Autosport on the ads team before moving over to the editorial side of the office. With his interviews on the Autosport International stage and at Goodwood there were few motor racing names who hadn’t come across this mountain of a motorsport man.
Henry sharing a moment with Fangio's sons - surprise guests at Revival 2017.
It was over 10 years ago that Henry’s dulcet tones first aired over the Goodwood Tannoy and since then he has become ‘the voice of Goodwood’, commentating at the events, presenting videos and writing for Goodwood Road and Racing. If Sir Stirling Moss was Mr Goodwood then Henry was a very well-deserved Media Master.
It was because of his infectious enthusiasm that everyone was happy to work with him, which is a rare situation in a confined, claustrophobic commentary box. As well as trying to remember all his notes for the Festival of Speed commentary, and trying to say the right thing at the right time in front of tens of thousands of people, he would also be given certain words by the Goodwood team he’d have to sneak in without anyone noticing. Particular favourites were bouncing barnacles, quackers and cobblers. The former was picked up on Twitter so failed the test. However, it did provide Henry the proof he needed to show that he had said it.
Henry will be sorely missed by everyone here and our thoughts are with his friends and family. We often talked about all the people he would have liked to interview who were no longer with us. I am sure he’s popping and banging his way up to Ayrton Senna, Jean Behra and Gilles Villeneuve as I write.
Details of a celebration of Henry at the 76th Members’ Meeting will be released in due course.