To modern generation the idea of tying a piece of cardboard round your arm to show you are an official, a marshal or a journalist must seem very strange. These days you have a plastic card that you hang round your neck and possibly with a bar code on it to let you into specific areas. If you are a photographer you have to have to wear a bib and, if it is a major race with refuelling, you sometimes have to wear fireproof racing overalls.
Coming from a generation that goes back a few years I well remember going to race meetings at Silverstone and being given a thin brown cardboard armband with a white linen tape to tie round my arm showing the word PRESS. This was fine if it was a dry meeting but if it was wet, by the second day of practice the cardboard had disintegrated and your armband would fall off. I had many a discussion – some would say argument – with dear old Jimmy Brown when he ran Silverstone, when this happened and pleading for a new one.
Two things reminded me of this recently. One was a photograph taken by Club Vice President Teddy Pilette showing the two leather armbands given to his father Andre Pilette when the Grand Prix Drivers Club – then called the Club International des Anciens Pilotes de Grand Prix F1 – introduced them for visits to Grand Prix races. This was at a time when the FIA officials all wore red leather armbands with their photos. The upper one is the original version produced by the club and the lower one was the new style including a photograph which was similar to the FIA armbands.
The other thing that reminded me was when I was gathering some of my old memorabilia to go for Auction, It was the only occasion I was issued with a silk armband and was given out by the AC de Modena for the Modena Grand Prix. I also offered a dark green cloth armband from the 1959 Tulip Rally.
I wonder what would happen if I turned up at a modern event wearing one of those old armbands. No need to wonder, I would have been thrown out.