What do mechanics usually do on their day off? Take their partners out to dinner, or stay at home, put their feet up, and watch a bit of TV perhaps? Well, neither as it happens, because Team Lotus in 1972, put down their spanners, and decided to have a good ol’ sing song!
The Lotus mechanics certainly did have something to sing about, for the car that they’d been working on all year, had only gone and won the World Driver’s Championship with Emerson Fittipaldi at the wheel. And what better way to celebrate than to record a 7 inch single! Team member Luke Watson put pen to paper and with his creative brain dialed in, came up with a song called “The Champions”.
Have a listen, and sing along!
“Can’t you see, you and me, we’ve really really got to be,
The Champions for all the world to see
Throughout the race, we held the ace, now Emerson is in the place,
He’s Champion for all the world to see,
Our fearless driver from Brazil has left the others standing still,
And you know he always will ‘cos he just can’t wait until,
He’s the Champion, Champion,
Champion of the world.”
Now, if you were expecting to hear some sweet-voiced X-Factor wannabes, you’d have been a bit disappointed. The press statement to accompany the release reads “You’ve heard of Little Richard, Gene Vincent and Elvis Presley, now we give you Peter Warr, Eddie Dennis, Luke Watson and the massed choirs of Team Lotus!” Now, it’s hardly comparable to other choirs such as The London Community Gospel Choir, as “The Champions” sounds more like an anthem from the football terraces, and back around the same period several clubs put songs to vinyl in the same vein. Actually it has a bit of a cheery pub sing-a-long feel to it, like a Chas & Dave song maybe. Anyway we love it, and wish we had a copy spinning on our turntable this very minute! Apparently neither driver Emerson Fittipaldi, nor Lotus boss Colin Chapman contributed their vocals to the recording, but others amongst the ensemble of eighteen that did lend their dulcet tones include Odd Bobb, Coughdrop, Scratch, Tugger and Winkle!
If one song wasn’t enough for you folks, there’s a B-side too. “Workin’ Al’nighter” also penned by Luke Watson, tells a tale of toiling long hours to get the car in tip-top shape for the next race. It seems that their effort was definitely worth it, as the rather smart black and gold Lotus 72 won five out of the twelve races in the championship. Photos depicting the car and team in triumphant mood throughout the championship, adorn the luxurious gatefold cover, making it a really special item released by Speedy Records -a label with a very apt name! To my knowledge, the single didn’t make it to the top of the charts, but it didn’t matter really because Emerson had already made Team Lotus number 1, so it was their way to celebrate the fact!
At 50p (what a deal kids!), a copy could be purchased from JPS sales kiosks situated around Silverstone during the 1973 British Grand Prix, or from related outlets such as tobacconists and car model shops, or by mail order with an additional 10p to cover postage and packing! Well, it all sounds like good value for money at 1973 prices, but nowadays these 7 inch singles are a bit more pricey, and have to be hunted for. The good news is that they are out there -many of them autographed too, but could cost anything from £60 to £100, though some sellers are donating the proceeds to the Grand Prix Mechanics Charitable Trust which is a very good thing.
With the Lotus name back in Formula 1 for 2010, perhaps a follow up single is on the cards?!