Interview With Louise Goodman

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Louise Goodman has been involved in motorsport for many years and has joined former Williams Martini Racing team test driver Susie Wolff’s Dare To Be Different initiative as an ambassador.

During the Autosport International Show at Birmingham’s NEC Arena, Paddock Eye sat down with Louise for a chat:

We started by asking her:

How did you get involved in motorsport?

I sort of fell into it really, I was working in Pavo Racing, I was working as a journalist for Pavo Racing magazine. I was invited to a BBQ by a lady in the machine I knew who was having a BBQ, and while I was there I met a guy called Tony Jardine.

Tony was involved in motorsport, he had been working for a PR company and was just about to set up his own PR company and he was looking for somebody to go and work with him and I was looking for a slightly more, I was about to go away travelling and I was looking for an easier job, in inverted comma’s, till I could get myself organised for my travels, so I left Pavo and I went to work for Tony. I worked for him for a couple of months, went off on my travels and whilst I was working for him for those couple of months, he had just sent up the business and our first client was camel, R J Reynolds and their camel brand and we launched their sponsorship of the Lotus Formula One Team, so that was really my entree into motorsport.

First event I’m there working with Aryton Senna. It was interesting actually because I was assigned after we had had the main launch, Tony was handling all the media interviews for Ayrton and I was assigned to look after the media interviews for Satoru because obviously there weren’t as many media that wanted to get a one to one with him so at some point in the proceedings Tony grabbed me and said Ayrton has disappeared! Go and find him! So I went around to the back of the staging area and there was Aryton just starting to effectively take his overalls off, it was like as if he was finishing work for the day.

I didn’t really know anything about the guy, all I knew was my boss had said get bloke and bring him back so I grabbed the zip on his overalls and said mate, you’re not finished yet and dragged him out, and i think Ayrton was probably so gobsmacked at being manhandled by this woman that he sort of followed me out, you know there he was, so that was my entree into the motorsport world.

What was the first word that Eddie Jordan said to you?

It was probably hello, I can remember meeting him, I met him at the Jardine PR offices actually which were in Walton on Thames at the time and he comes down and so Eddie was sponsored by Camel, his Formula 2000 team so he had come down to have a meeting about you know PR matters for his team and in fact I acted as his press officer on the F2000 team for the first couple of races and then got switched over to a Formula One contract so he made an impression on me from the start, the fact I remember that meeting him.

What was the first Grand Prix you attended?

It was Brands Hatch, I don’t know when, 1980 something, I went down with a bunch of mates one of whom factitiously had grown up near Brands Hatch so he knew a back road into the circuit and I can’t for the life of me remember what year it was. It would have been early, early 80’s sometime.

So I remember sitting half way up of what I now know is paddock hill bend and then you have the run up to the hairpin so we sat on the banks there. I think we wondered around the pits somehow. Don’t ask me who won, I haven’t got a clue, but I remember just thinking this is alright this isn’t it?

I had always been interested in anything with cars and an engine. My mis-spent years were mis-spent on the back of motorbikes and I had a friend who raced a little bit, so there was a lot of hooning around in cars going around when I was young. So I guess motorsport was always something that appealed to me, so to actually get to a Grand Prix was great fun.

If you could drive any Formula One car past or present which one would it be or are there too many to choose from?

No, do you what? I think it would be the Jordan 191. I think because that the team I’ve had the strongest association with. It would either be that or I am just thinking of another one would be Adrian Newey’s Leyton House, the 88 Leyton House because I worked Leyton House for a bit as well so it would be either one of those. Can I have two?

What advise would you give to people who want to enter motorsport as a reporter?

I would say for me it’s very much about, well first and foremost you have to know your stuff, you know motorsport is, it’s a spectator sport and it is something that excites and invigorates people but when you’re working in it, it’s a job so there’s no point thinking you’re going to get into motorsport and sit and enjoy watching races and chatting to racing drivers. It’s a job so you’ve got to be in it for the right reasons and i think you’ve got to know your stuff. There’s that gets you away from driver quicker than a ridiculous question or an ill advised question and it’s the same thing from a PR prospective, you’ve got to understand the environment you’re working with, the characters you’re dealing with when you can do things, when to back off, when to push, all that sort of stuff and than a lot of it is about who you know so you’ve got to have the experience and the knowledge but you have to make contacts and get out there and meet people. My entire career in motorsport came about by meeting Tony Jardine at a BBQ, it was quiet fruitatious, I hadn’t set out to do it but it does take those personal contacts to make those moves.

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