It was Christmas Day, 1968. There was snow on the ground in Surrey and. as usual on that festive day in my parents' house, the roast turkey was served at lunchtime. I was keeping off the juice because I was entered in the Formula Ford race at Brands Hatch the following day. Yes, however fondly we may recall those old Boxing Day Brands meetings, they certainly made for a miserably stone-cold sober Christmas.
My mother was going on in her usual way, saying that given the chance she could have driven my Formula Ford car faster than I ever had. With my first season in motor racing behind me, the fact that I hadn't won every race I'd entered in 1968 had brought shame on the name of Dron as far as she was concerned.
She was a very competitive woman, my mother. When I was six years old, we went on a P&O cruising holiday round the Med and I well remember watching her win an underwater swimming competition in the ship's pool. Lots of teaspoons were thrown into the pool and the idea was for competitors to dive in one at a time and collect as many as possible before coming up for air. One by one, her rivals came up gasping, proudly showing three or four spoons, which were thrown back in each time. She got them all, of course, a great fistful of the bloody things, and she wasn't even out of breath.
When I was nearly ten, my parents thought it would be good for us all to take a Butlin's holiday for a change. We went to a classic 1950s Hi-de-Hi type of camp at Mosney in Ireland, which I enjoyed very much indeed. When an over-40s swimming race for ladies was announced over the loudspeakers, my mother was seen sprinting for her costume.
Presenting herself for the race, she had to prove to the happy Redcoats in charge of the event that she was exactly 40 years and one week old. When the starter fired his gun. she took off like an Olympic swimmer. What made the scene all the more remarkable was the rather obvious fact that she was all on her own in that pool. Curiously enough, there wasn't even one other woman prepared to admit to being over 40. The Redcoat on the public address soon made brave 40-year-old Audrey' famous all over the camp.
She was quite mad, in a nice way. After that Christmas Day lunch in 1968 she set off from our house to drive to Virginia Water in my father's BMW 1800. She had no fear of driving on snow, naturally. About 50 yards past Wentworth Club, heading east on Wentworth Drive, she lost it completely, over-corrected and went straight off through the rhododendrons.
I seem to remember that she walked back. It wasn't that far, as we lived at the end of the third hole of the West course. When
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