I was genuinely saddened to hear that Mr Karting, aka Martin Hines, died of cancer on Sunday morning, aged just 64. Apart from being a hugely accomplished racer in karts himself, Hines was probably responsible for getting more careers of British racing drivers off the ground than any other individual of the last 30 years.
Without Hines and his beloved Zip Kart company, the likes of David Coulthard, Anthony Davidson, Gary Paffett and Jason Plato might never have made it into the big time.
My abiding memory of this amiable, highly individual man was when he turned up at Millbrook one day, many years ago, having been invited to take part in our annual 0-100-0mph contest. He arrived in a black and gold Lamborghini Countach, his Superkart having arrived a little earlier in a small but perfectly formed Brian James trailer.
It was chucking it down to begin with, but that didn’t seem to bother Martin much, who was suited and booted, ready for action, seemingly no more than five minutes after arriving in such style. Eventually it dried out and what happened next I shall never forget, not in one million years.
On the way up to 100mph his technique looked reasonably conventional, even if the rate of acceleration that he and his Superkart could generate was somewhat shocking. But that was nothing compared with what he did to make the thing slow down – which was basically to put it into a controlled spin and come to a stop, having rotated fully through 360 degrees twice on the first attempt. And all this within the confines of the worryingly narrow, double height Armco-lined mile straight.
As all perfectionists are, he wasn’t satisfied with his times on the day. But in the end, that was that. Martin Hines had to be somewhere else, sorting out someone else’s career later that day. And with as much panache as he displayed on arrival and in the Superkart, that was that, he was gone. But not forgotten.