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| | The day I met Ron Dennis: Lewis Hamilton
Found this first hand account on Net. Lewis Hamilton | My story in my own words - Day 4 | The night he met Ron Dennis | The Sun |News
| "For me it was just a cool night out. |
A lot of people have talked about it since as if it was the night that changed my life.
But when I left home with my dad on that first Sunday evening of December 1995, little did I know what lay ahead.
I was ten years old and on my way to my first prestigious motor sport awards event – the annual Autosport Awards dinner.
This was a major event that is a kind of celebration of the motor racing year gone by. It was a real big deal.
I was going because I had won the British Formula Cadet Karting Championship, my first national title.
I felt proud, of course, but a bit apprehensive, too.
The dinner was held at the Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane, London. There were about a thousand people in a huge room full of tables and chairs and there were waiters everywhere. It was amazing.
I was wearing a green velvet jacket that my dad had borrowed from Mike Spencer, the previous year’s winner of the British Formula Cadet Championship.
Fortunately for me, he was my size, although Linda had to take up the sleeves.
I borrowed his shiny patent leather black shoes off him as well.
That night, just ten years old and in that suit, I felt really good, like the whole thing fitted me
I had started to watch Formula One a few years before that evening, of course, and McLaren were the team I followed.
I was just attracted by the colours of the McLaren car around that time.
It was my favourite. I was a huge fan of their driver Ayrton Senna. It was a strange feeling. It was that team that made me think, ‘I want to drive that car one day.’
Anyway, for that Autosport Awards night, my dad made me a very special autograph booklet, with spaces for people to write their names, addresses and phone numbers.
It was all done out really professionally.
Dad thought we might never get the chance again and so let’s capture as much information and details as we can just in case we ever get the opportunity to do something with it. I still have that book at home.
I carried the thing with me all night and, after the dinner, when everyone was walking around, my dad was saying, ‘Oh, that’s so and so, go and get their autograph.’
There were all these different people and I hadn’t a clue who they were. I don’t think kids at that age remember names and faces particularly, but what they can remember is the number on the car, or the colour of the car, be it a rally car or whatever, and the driver’s trademark helmet.
So when my dad said, ‘That’s Colin McRae who drives a Subaru,’ I was like, ‘No, really!’ Colin McRae was the man at that time and he was also one of the guys I met early on who was genuine, who gave me time.
That night, he gave me so much time and he was so pleasant.
At the end of the awards presentation Colin, his brother Alistair and a few friends were chanting ‘Lewis, Lewis!’
It was incredibly funny to have these big guys shouting out my name. I really appreciated Colin from that day.
Sadly, he was killed in a helicopter crash during the weekend of the Belgian Grand Prix this year. I had not seen him for a long time, but remember that he was such a great guy.
Eventually that night, my dad said, ‘There’s Ron Dennis, go and get his autograph.’
I walked up to Ron. I remember standing in front of him. I remember being so nervous but confident at the same time; nervous of speaking, but I also had my own self-belief, too. I knew what I wanted but I was not confident that I could speak the words properly.
I was uncomfortable to the point that I really did not want to say too much. So I went up to him and I said, ‘Hello, I’m Lewis Hamilton. One day I’d like to be a racing driver and I’d like to race for McLaren . . .’
Ron sat down and spoke to me for what seemed like ages, ten minutes or so, although I’m sure it was really just a minute or two. I remember looking in his eyes – and I never lost contact with him.
He said, ‘You have got to work hard at school. You have got to keep that spirit and keep going.’ So I got him to sign my autograph book and I said, ‘Can you also put down your number and address please?’ and he said ‘Okay.’
He wrote down his address and said, ‘I tell you what – phone me in nine years and I will sort you out a deal.’ I said, ‘Okay’ and he wrote down his phone number. He just wrote, ‘Call me in nine years.’ "