For 30 years Di Spires – aided by husband Stuart – catered for some of the biggest names in motorsport, running a succession of team motorhomes which included those of Lotus in the Senna era and Benetton during the Schumacher years.
From civil servant to hospitality queen, she followed her dream by working in many of the world’s Formula 1 paddocks; doing more than just making pots of tea and satisfying people’s culinary needs.
The unassuming Midlander was also a confidant to many a driver, team owner and mechanic, and it’s these relationships – along with her encounters with royalty, superstars and criminals on the run – that form the basis of her memoirs: I Just Made the Tea.
This refreshingly honest, fast-moving autobiography is packed to the gills with intimate insights into what some of the top F1 drivers were really like to be around. It also features a truckload of hilarious anecdotes that will have you re-reading paragraphs in complete astonishment.
Who, for example, decided to clean his ears out with Twiglets, before placing them back in the packet ready for an unsuspecting mechanic to munch on? Who fitted a klaxon to their car to ward off goobers in the Monaco pitlane? And who ‘borrowed’ a photographer’s camera and took pictures of his appendage, leaving said snapper mortified when she came to develop them?
These are just a handful of the many shenanigans that occurred during Spires’ time in F1, and it is these that counterbalance some of the more tragic events that she experienced, notably the deaths of Elio de Angelis and Ayrton Senna.
The sorrow and anguish felt following their untimely departures serves to demonstrate just how far she became embedded in many people’s lives – a mother away from home – as does her mollycoddling of Michael Schumacher and Johnny Herbert when they took their first steps in the paddock.
Her sense of humour and love of people shines through all 384 pages, and the only criticism I have is that her story does wade through uninteresting waters in the last couple of non-F1 chapters.
Up until that point, however, it is a riveting read, and one that you won’t be able to put down. Her candid stories provide an unusual and unique perspective on F1 and books like this don’t come along very often.
A must buy, then.
|Hardcover: 384 pages||ISBN: 978-0857332233|
|Publisher: J H Haynes & Co Ltd (7 Jun 2012)||Price: £17.99|
|I Just Made the Tea is available to buy now from Amazon.|