Articles

Fever: A Tribute to Henry Hope-Frost

by Gary Axon
27 March 2018 3 min read
Fever: A Tribute to Henry Hope-Frost
Henry Hope-Frost

I was overseas when I first heard the unbelievably tragic news of the passing in a recent motorcycle accident of the effervescent motor racing broadcaster, expert, enthusiast and good personal friend, Henry Hope-Frost.

For days after Henry’s untimely demise, his passing still hadn’t quite sunk in with me. Attending the snowy 76th Goodwood Members’ Meeting last weekend though, his absence really hit me. It was palpable, as I, plus many thousands of fellow race fans, missed his dulcet tones, witty commentary and infectiously engaging interviews with the podium finisher drivers.

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A fitting tribute to Henry was held at the Members’ Meeting with a minute of noise, as a gaggle of Formula 5000 single seater racers revved in the Assembly Area, with all of the competitors at the event, as well as the vast majority of the spectators, proudly wearing their HHF pin badges and #Fever stickers as a mark of respect.

Henry Hope-Frost, a.k.a. HHF and Fever – because of his huge appetite, excitement, enthusiasm and knowledge of all things motor racing – first came into my radar a dozen or so years ago, when I joined Goodwood to head-up all of the Motor Sport Content PR and Marketing for the Festival of Speed and Revival. Part of my Goodwood role was to manage all of the live on-event broadcast and commentary teams.

I had known of HHF previously, but never worked directly with him, but on joining Goodwood he immediately made a very favourable and lasting impression, assisting with the Goodwood radio commentary. When one of the usual event commentators was unable to participate in the Revival that year, I ‘officially’ appointed Henry to the main commentary team, to which he became an indispensable part of ever since.

There are so many excellent memories of working closely with HHF over the years, some of which are best not repeated here, but… I joined Henry at the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique one year; the very first time he had visited the Principality. After a few drinks on a cold, rainy night, rather than grab to taxi to take us back our hotel on the outskirts of Monte Carlo, HHF was overly-keen to walk the entire Monaco Grand Prix circuit.

He was like an excitable schoolboy, regaling me with tales of famous moments and incidents from past Monaco Grand prix at every corner of the track, occasionally making the sounds of the F1 car’s engines, and even steering and opposite locking with his arms around the tighter twists and turns. It took us a couple of hours to get to the hotel, cold and soaking wet, but we didn’t care as it was a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining way of going for a slightly tipsy evening stroll.

The overwhelming level of tributes to Henry from all disciplines of motor racing, plus the gratifyingly large crowdfunding campaign to support Henry’s wife and family (just under £99,000 at the time of writing, with £40,000 generously donated within the first 48 hours of the of the campaign opening). level of admiration, professionalism and enthusiasm of the man and sport that he loved and lived for.

Henry was just aged 47, with a loving wife Charlotte, and three young sons, to which we which we send out deepest and heart-felt condolences. Life, and the world and sounds of motor racing in general, will never quite be the same again. RIP HHF.

James Wood added these words:

I was lucky to have known Henry a bit and share many good moments including the day he died. We had giggled like schoolboys about bacon and egg sandwiches, days of youth and hot hatches together with our friend Michele Robinson who was also a colleague of his at Goodwood. The sun was shining and the daffodils were in bloom as I returned to the paddock for the afternoon test sessions. I struggled to believe the news that evening but most significantly I thought of his family, whom he did not get back to. Devastating for them. Returning to the circuit to test again on Friday was not enjoyable and the day was suitably grey and wet.

There has been an amazingly positive response by the motoring community, with tributes coming immediately and an enormous fundraising effort to benefit the family.

Henry was so passionate about motorsport of all sorts whether two and four-wheel, race and rally of all levels; basically anything with a motor. He described this excitement as getting a fever so it was fitting that “#fever” stickers for both drivers’ helmets and cars were made up in time for the meeting.

Having failed to find a branding company able to embroider badges in time, we engaged the help of our wonderful nanny who stitched some at home just in time to leave for the circuit.

For those wishing to make a donation to the Hope-Frost family, a JustGiving page has been created and donations can be made at the following link: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/friendsofhenryhope-frost

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