Features

Mini Cooper sleeping and a Ferrari 250 LM – evo Archive

How a day in a studio studying a Le Mans legend kick-started Henry Catchpole’s career as a motoring writer. Probably

Ferrari 250 LM

Issue 074 is an important issue. To me. If you look (hard) on page 11 you will (eventually) find my name. It’s the first time that it ever appeared in evo and I can to this day still feel a frisson of the enormous joy that this brought me. 

I wasn’t actually employed by the magazine at this point, I was simply a 22-year-old work experience lad. As such I spent the last three months of 2004 living mostly out of B&Bs in Northamptonshire and working every hour I possibly could in the evo office. Most of what I was useful for was making tea and coffee. I didn’t actually drink the stuff at that point – being too young and quick of metabolism to appreciate the need for caffeine – but I realised that putting the kettle on and remembering who took how much milk and sugar was appreciated. 

The issue is full of wonderful stories, none of which were written by me. I remember looking in awe at the almost transcendental transparencies of Gus Gregory’s XPan photos of two Zondas in a snowy landscape. I recall Jethro being extremely proud of his oversteer shot in a 550 LM. And I recollect that I was amazed at the way the designers managed to make it look as though a Gallardo and F430 had been in the same place at the same time when they hadn’t. But the feature that this month’s cover star, the 296 GTB, brought flooding back to me was the Legends story about a Ferrari 250 LM. 

> A covert photoshoot at the former home of the French Grand Prix – evo Archive

Now, you might have noticed that I said I mostly lived out of B&Bs while I was on work experience and that’s because I sometimes slept in my Mini Cooper. On the occasions that I knew I’d have to get up early to go on a photoshoot I didn’t see the point in paying for one B that I wasn’t going to be in very long and another B that I wouldn’t have at all. Like I say, I was young and caffeine wasn’t a necessity. 

I spent one such night in my small red hatchback before I drove to the Savoir Faire studio in Norwich to meet John Barker, Andy Morgan and the 250 LM. I don’t mind admitting that I was in awe of all three. I have no idea if I was any use but I know I was allowed to sit in the car and that I was astounded by how wildly offset the pedals were. In fact I took in every single little detail of that amazing, yellow, aluminium race car that had finished second at Le Mans in 1965, because in the days afterwards I wrote 2500 words about it. 

They weren’t words to be published, just to be read by evo’s editor at the time, Peter Tomalin. You see, I wasn’t insured to drive the Zondas or the 550 LM, or even the Clio 182 Cup that appeared in the Driven section, so I couldn’t really write about them on anything approaching a level playing field. But the static 250 LM was a different matter. And I suspect it was those words that played a large part in getting me the job of staff writer a couple of months later. Or maybe it was my tea and coffee making abilities. It certainly wasn’t my driving as I know they all thought I was far too slow. (I was actually just being incredibly cautious so as not to crash anything, as I had previous on that front!)

Whatever it was, I certainly remember that day in the studio vividly. It was a dream come true. If you’d told me that one day, 13 years later, I’d be commissioned by John Barker to write a story about driving a 250 LM I’m not sure I’d have believed you.

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