I met Georgie about 20 years ago not sure where, probably the Goodwood Festival of Speed press room where – we, well she needed my camera (and me) to take a photo of her and Herbie Blash? –the chap who was the Deputy Race Director at Formula One. Him. She needed my photography. She then persuaded me to join the BWRDC as a guest without a race license then I got my race licence so I became a full member – and the Dog House Club – well I said I was too young for that at that time… anyway, Georgie and I never let each other get a word in edge-ways. I loved her for that. We both had so much to say to each other and her stories were always amazing. Her enthusiasm was enormous. Contagious. Infectious. Our laughter was infectious. Our tables were always the noisiest at dinner, we never got to the next appointment on time at events, we always started another conversation just as we said goodbye. We only saw each other on average three times a year, but over the 20 or so years I have known her, those three times a year were a splendid and thoroughly entertaining meeting and I always adored seeing her. Eight years ago she positioned me in an appropriate spot, at the Festival of Speed prize giving outside the house, in order for a certain chap to be able to notice me. Needless to say that chap and I went out for 5 years, thanks Georgie for your sheer bossiness,
Stand there for goodness sake, let him see you.
…and then with…”here, put my lipstick on”… (Georgie always wore bright pink lipstick).
The last time I saw Georgie was at the British Racing Drivers Club for the Guild of Motoring Writers BBQ on the practice day for the British GP in 2017. Not seen her for about a year previously, I went up to her, with such aplomb to realise her jaw line was expanded and still with her enormous smile, she was chatting to everyone. I went up and air kissed her. Asked her what why how when and she told me. Her cancer had come back. Come back? I never knew she had it to start with. Along with her son who was sitting at a table, she came to the BBQ to see all her friends. And that she did. With smiles and laughter. I had a good long, really really long chat with her before we were interrupted by the Chairman of the BRDC speech. I went to stand behind Georgie and perhaps her son and had a good cry. I couldn’t let her see me. I couldn’t let anyone see me. I was not the one with the cancer. The speech stopped and I dried my eyes and went back to Georgie to tell her I had had to have a moment. She said, “everyone does, don’t worry” we laughed loads more, god knows what about. About when we first met or how I had always remembered her saying to me,
..that us girls who love racing and cars are not weird we are just a rare gift from god and we get bigger diamonds as well as cool cars…
Oh I was telling her I only took up motorcycling to acquire a boyfriend… Georgie replied with “Whoever takes up with you had better hold on to his hat”. I loved Georgie for just being so frank, so blatantly practical and yet so totally and I mean totally potty.
I saw Georgie in the events circuit, sometimes we plotted a plan and actually got it hatched … magazine articles, like the one for the BBC with the British Women Racing Drivers Club, for International Woman’s Day. Georgie organised that one. And for the MSA magazine, with Alice Powell and Lorina Mclaughlin, Georgie instigated that. Last year when I saw her at the BBQ, she said she was to have another operation in the Autumn. I feel awful I never even checked. I tried to join her on Facebook about then, but to no avail. Has half a year gone by and I never even phoned her? I have her number. Disgusted with myself.
Georgie laughed her way through life, but my god I bet she needed us to help her fight the cancer.
She was quite a woman in her racing time: Georgie trained at the Brands Hatch Racing School and was on target to win a sponsored Formula Ford drive; instead she totalled their FF and very nearly herself. Undeterred, she traded her road Lotus Elan for a 1000cc full-race mini. Over several years, she competed in special saloons, Shellsport Escort Ladies races, production sportscars (TR7’s) and the 1275GT mini championship, spearheading a two-girl BWRDC team. Despite several seconds, a brace of poles and a fastest lap shared with Lella Lombardi, her maiden victory came as part of the Marshals team of eight in the six hour race at Donington. She was runner-up for the Jean Denton Newcomers Trophy in 1971 and 3rd for the Goodwin Trophy in 1978. She was also Club Chairman from 1978-80 and went on to serve as the BWRDC PR Officer.
May Georgie be as noisy and hilarious in her afterlife and not rest in peace as they all say, that won’t do at all for Georgie. I will miss her certainly most when I arrive in a press room and she will not be there. Dear Georgie. You lived it to the full you lovely thing.
RIP Georgie Shaw – January 14th 2018