Breakfast with ... David Hobbs


How about your time in CanAm?

My CanAm career was a bit bitty, like my F1 career. As a result of winning the (F5000) championship in the McLaren M10B in 1971 Carl Haas asked me if I would drive the factory (CanAm) Lola, the year after Jackie (Stewart) gave it up. Eric (Broadley, Lola owner/designer) had gone for a complete volte-face for ‘72, going from a short car to a long wide thing: it was the Lola T310 and it was absolutely appalling! We missed the first race, it was five seconds slower than the McLarens before it left to go to America.

Soon, before it left, I got a call from Roger Penske asking me if I’d drive his Porsche 917/10 instead, as Mark Donohue had hurt himself in testing. I’d already said I’d drive the Lola and its crew chief said it would be much better than the turbo-charged Porsches. As the Porsche drive was meant to be a one-off I decided to stick to Lola and the Porsche drive went to George Follmer who won the Road Atlanta Race and went on to win the championship, because Donohue took a lot longer to heal than they originally thought and Follmer did about six races, not one. Mark came back in a second car, but by then he made sure Follmer won the title.

Then in ‘73 I was driving the ex-Peter Revson M20, the last of the proper McLarens. That was a magnificent car to drive and you could see why McLaren ruled the roost and how Bruce (McLaren) and Denny (Hulme) won everything. But by now it was comprehensively outgunned by the 917/10 and the 917/30, which Mark had. Driving the M20 I came second to Donuhue at Watkins Glen and it was one of my best races as I beat six other 917s.



So many cars: do you have a favourite? 

I drove so many – the M10A (his F5000 title winning car) was easy to set up had no vices and good power. The Ford GT40 I drove in ‘69 and ‘70 was also a great car, with no vices. And finally the Porsche 962 as a long distance car was terrific, and I drove it from ‘82 to ‘85: it would start on the key, idle for 20 minutes, hurtle down the Mulsanne straight at Le Mans at 235 miles per hour, you’d drive it into the truck, go to another race and do it all over again.

And coming right up to the present day, you still enjoy commentating, you’ve done 40 years of it…

Very much. I only get to three Formula 1 races: here, Monte Carlo and Texas. When you get into the paddock, you never see anybody these days, as everyone’s hiding. It would help if you could see more of the drivers, because someone like Sebastian Vettel isn’t going to just shoot the shit with you for a few minutes, he’ll tell you to see his PR.

And we didn’t even have time to discuss the one race he did that millions of people have seen: the one where he plays an E-Type-shaped commentator in Disney’s “Cars 2!”

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