EARLY LIFE 1943 - 1966

Alastair’s childhood growing up in New Zealand, evading the police after illegal street races and skipping school to play pool and work on cars.

FORMULA 1 1966 - 1981

In 1967 Alastair returned to England and took a job as a cleaner at McLaren. Find out how he ascended to Team manager and the boss of racing legends such as Nelson Piquet and James Hunt.

AFTER FORMULA 1 1981 – TODAY

In the eighties Alastair started Space Station, a self storage company in the UK. Learn how he went from motor racing to storage, taking inspiration from his travels.



You can’t have too many passports. It’s like driving licences, you can’t have too many driving licences.
1943


MOVING TO NEW ZEALAND

Alastair Caldwell is born in England and at the age of seven moves with his family to New Zealand.

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Here I go I thought: banned before I even get the licence.
1943


Licence to drive

Alastair gets his car and motorbike licenses the day he turns 15.

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I had an idyllic upbringing, I didn’t have to wear shoes until High School.
1943


Boys in high school

Alastair recalls the interest in motor racing that was so prevalent within his high school class.

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They never had the subtlety to turn up without their sirens on
1959


Evading the police

Alastair becomes more daring with his motor racing interest and is regularly pursued by police.

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At the age of 17 I was preparing the Queen’s Rolls Royce and the Prime Minister’s Jaguar.
1960


Training with the post office

Alastair becomes a mechanic through his apprenticeship with the Post Office.

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Alastair you should come to England and give it a go.
1966


Encouraged by mechanics
at the Tasman series

The Tasman Series runs in New Zealand and Australia with teams such as Brabham and McLaren taking part.

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Alastair was a notable part of the multi-national McLaren team in the period which became known as the ‘Bruce and Denny show’.
1967


Early Days at McLaren

England to America. Door catches are required for two new racing cars about to be shipped to the CanAm.

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I asked the RAC man: ‘How about bribing these guys?’ He said: ‘Oh no no no, you can’t do that, that’s only in films.
1967


Monza

Alastair joins McLaren for his first Grand Prix in Monza, Italy. Despite beating the red tape at customs in France the McLaren car is unable to finish the race.

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We arrived on the Wednesday and had to locate our car; filthy and broken in the railway yard.
1968


South African Grand Prix

Denny Hulme joins McLaren in the first Grand Prix in South Africa. Phil Kerr becomes Team Manager.

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I let out a long, loud fart and an American voice came out the darkness and said: ‘That’ll be a ten’.
1968


Season Final Grand Prix: CanAm

McLaren continue to dominate the Canadian-American Challenge Cup during the 60s.

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I went to McLaren in ‘73 and said: ‘I’m going to go to Lotus.’ They said: ‘Hang on a minute, you can’t.
1973


Fittipaldi joins McLaren

Emerson Fittipaldi leaves Lotus to join McLaren. He takes with him his Texaco sponsorship and World Champion status.

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No matter how good the driver is, if he’s in a crap team, he’s a crap driver
1973


McLaren Team manager

In the 1970s Team Managers were paid a fraction of what they get today. Caldwell considers how the team is more important than the drivers.

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Luca wasn’t happy.
1974


Montezemolo

Luca Montezemolo and the Clerk of the course at Watkins Glen get in to a fight following the Clerk’s decision to black-flag Clay Regazoni.

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We used to call him Quasimodo because he was like a hunchback with very long legs. We had to cut the front of the car out and move the pedals forward.
1975


Hunt gets paid little

James Hunt joins McLaren. He quickly shows what an excellent driver he is despite media pressure concerning his personal life.

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James Hunt rang me up and said: ‘Hello, I think I’m your new Grand Prix driver.
1976


Hunt replaces Fittipaldi

Fittipaldi leaves McLaren for his brother’s Copersucar-sponsored Fittipaldi Automotive team.

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Wheel off, ‘whoop’, wheel back on! And I thought, we must be able to start the engine with this...
1976


I invented the Air-Starter

McLaren introduces the air-starter to their cars and Brabham races to catch up with the technology.

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...they would go and sit on the loo and talk about it...then at 10 o’clock at night they’d change their minds.
1976


Introducing Six-speed Gear Boxes

Interlagos, Brazil. McLaren complete the race with ease after the introduction of the six-speed gearbox.

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At midnight I said: ‘I’m off to bed’ and he was still up, still servicing the lead singer.
1976


Misbehaving in Canada

Hunt wins the British Grand Prix in his car, which was repaired following a pile-up, but is disqualified due to a technicality invented by Ferrari.

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James would pop over to them at breakfast and say: ‘Hello I’m James Hunt,’ and they’d say: ‘Yeah we know who you are!
1976


Weather in Japan gives Hunt advantage

In some appalling weather conditions in Japan, Niki Lauda drops from the race giving Hunt an opening. He wins the championship for McLaren.

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The car is fantastic... I can’t see, I can’t breathe, I can’t find the pedals but it’s fantastic.
1976


Skirts on Formula 1 Cars

Adding ‘skirts’ to the cars creates a downwards force that increases cornering speeds. Teams had to find ways around the rules set down by the FIA that limited the use of skirts.

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Rules only encourage cheating. As soon as a rule is written, a way to cheat is offered.
1977


Changing Tyres

FIA forbid teams from using more than two sets of tyres on the practice runs.

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We had the best trucks and we had the best cars and we had the best girls.
1977


Smart Uniforms

The whole traveling Grand Prix team is dressed to impress.

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He drove his car sideways all the time just to be naturally fantastic.
1979


Nelson Piquet

Nelson Piquet developed a reputation for being an outspoken ‘loose cannon’ but Alastair Caldwell recalls his brilliance as a driver.

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Sorry Alastair, but I couldn’t wait for you.
1979


Leaving McLaren

Alastair Caldwell leaves McLaren to join Brabham.

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So I thought I need to become an eccentric millionaire myself instead of working for one.
1981


Leaving Formula 1

Formula 1 moves in to a period seen as the one of the brightest spots in its history as safety for drivers improves.

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I’d missed my children’s upbringing completely
1982


Making Lists

Alastair leaves ATS and decides to set up his own business in self-storage. It’s not as straight forward as he expects.

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Right I want my £40 a week
1982


Signing on

Alastair has to sign on to the dole in order become eligible for a grant to help with his business.

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You just sit there and I’ll be with you later.
1982


Space Station is Created

Eventually Space Station is set up after a year of Alastair trying to gain the funding and property he needs.

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The fact that we finished third overall enraged them because we weren’t meant to be car 60, not car 3
1991


A Highland Fling

Alastair is persuaded to take part in the Highland Fling and finds he enjoys being poorly received in his ‘tart’s car’.

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We’d catch up with them, pass them and, to their complete and utter astonishment, fly-off into the night
1991


Classic Marathon

Alastair and his navigator Anthony finish 42nd in the 4th Pirelli Classic Marathon.

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I thought I best take a disposable car so if I have a big accident I can just climb out and join the crowd.
1992


Getting the Austin A35

Alastair decides he needs a car with real character to compete in a rally in Central America.

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...they had some air horns that sang: ‘La Cucaracha, La Cucaracha,’ so I put them on too.
1992


Route de Maya

Alastair is well received in his Austin A35. His popularity inspires him to name the car La Cucaracha.

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The organisers were not pleased at all, they thought I was taking the mickey and they wouldn’t speak to me
1993


Carerra Panamerica

Alastair takes the newly named Cucaracha to the Carerra Panamerica.

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The conrod that broke in their engine and was made of titanium – that one conrod cost more than my car.
1993


Centre of attention

La Cucaracha dominates the press coverage of the Carerra Panamerica.

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Where’s La Cucaracha?
1993


Cheers for the Nicest Car in rally

La Cucaracha wins a prize for the nicest car in the rally.

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If you turn up in your £100,000 Porsche 911 and you come tenth you’re just a twat in an expensive car.
1993


LeJog

Alastair and a friend find the most unsuitable car possible to take on the Lands End to John O’Groats rally.

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I don’t need to win the rally; I just want to take part and do better than I should (and I normally do)
2000


London to Sydney

Alastair completes the race for the second time having already done it in 1993, this time he takes the Mercedes 280SL again.

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It proved to me that I didn’t like motor racing very much...
2000


My Porsche Racing evaluation

Alastair decides to take part in Porsches racing in order to evaluate how good he is as a driver.

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I hit him…BAM…and he buggered off across the field...
2000


Porsche Crashing

Alastair deliberately collides with a competitor at Silverstone after foul play.

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I saw that there were twelve or thirteen Mercedes in this rally and six or seven of them were 280SLs. I didn’t like that at all.
2001


Ferrari

Alastair decides against taking his Mercedes to the Inca Trail rally when he discovers that several are already entered.

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I’d set myself an impossible task and the whole rally turned out to be an epic saga
2001


Inca Trail

Having decided to take the Ferrari 330GT to the Inca Trail rally, Alastair and his navigator suffer all sorts of set backs on route.

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If we go to a sporting event or a pop concert or something we can drive straight in to the VIP parking without having a pass.
2004


Berlin – Moscow – Berlin

Alastair’s 1993 purchase of a Rolls Royce turns out to be one of the best rally cars he owns.

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To complete this entire route without becoming stuck would not have been considered possible in such a car.
2005


World Cup Rally

Alastair and his co-pilot not only win the World Cup Rally in a 15 year old, two wheel drive Peugeot, but were the quickest overall.

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I know it’s a big car, but I’ll find somewhere to put it.
2007


Norway

Once again Alastair impresses all with his unsuitable car when he finished 2nd in the Norway Classic Marathon.

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…the overall win was out of the question but we still had a good time


An Icelandic Odyssey

Alastair and his navigator Catriona Rings won a gold medal at the 2008 HERO Icelandic Odyssey.

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We had a really fun time and won just about everything there was to win.


Liège-Brescia-Liège

Alastair wins the Liège-Brescia-Liège.  He took part in his newly acquired BMW 700 with navigator Tanya Annett.

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My unsuitable bike did a great job, never missed a beat


North & West Africa

Alastair led the pack on his unsuitable Ducati Multistrada in the GlobeBusters North & West Africa expedition.

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This is my fourth win with the Puddle Jumper.
2009


London to Casablanca

Alastair wins the London to Casablanca rally in his Peugeot 205 Rallye ‘the puddle jumper’, which has now taken the top spot in four endurance competitions.

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The motorbike was a triple cylinder Triumph Tiger 1050
2009


West Coast America

Alastair completed a two week motorbike trip along the western side of America, traveling from Vancouver to San Francisco on a Triumph Tiger 1050.

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Alastair amazed himself by completing the trail, only falling twice
2010


New Zealand Big Sky Adventure

Alastair successfully completed a motorbike trip on his newly acquired Suzuki DR 650.

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Alastair was one of the men who pulled Bruce McLaren from his car when it crashed in 1970.
2010


New Zealand Festival
of motor racing

Alastair successfully completed sixteen races over two weekends at the first ever New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing.

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Mongolia has the best scenery in the world.
2010


The Peking to Paris Motor Challenge

It would be hard to think of a more unlikely car than a 1938 Alfa Romeo 6C to do Peking to Paris but that is what Alastair chose to drive the gruelling 9,000 mile route.

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...cars unsuitable for a gruelling rally may enter free of charge: fire engines, hearses, ambulances, or cars older than 30 years.
2011


Budapest to Bamako Rally

Alastair invited Hayden Burvill to be his co-driver in the Budapest to Bamako Rally, 2011.

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The car overheated on the way to the start in Brooklands – not good considering it was a cold winter morning
2012


London to Cape Town

Hayden convinced me that I should become a Porsche owner and that we should get a 912 and prepare it for the London to Cape Town.

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a farmer droving his cows in the road caused two of our competitors to lose the plot completely
2012


The Flying Scotsman

We encountered sun, wind, rain and even hail throughout the journey from London to Edinburgh to win overall.

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Mum won the trophy for “Spirit of the Rally” and received a standing ovation.
2012


The TransAm

The Rolls was sent out early so I could drive up to St Louis for my aunt’s 100th birthday and to pick up my 94 year old mum.

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