Senna: The funniest Autograph Story
As I mentioned before on this blog, I had hundreds – if not thousands – of requests for all sort of things during my 4 and a half years as Ayrton Senna’s Press Officer. The trickiest involved Nelson Piquet and it is posted under Senna. The funniest of them involves George Goad and Eric Silberman. Who??? Exactly, that’s the funny part. I’ll comeback to them.
As most people in the business are aware, every big name in sports or entertainment has somebody (sometimes even a machine or stamp) who ‘helps’ them with the autographing business. Ayrton was not different. In those days, he really signed himself every single one of the requests I presented to him. And many, many more. However, there were still a good amount of posters, post cards and merchandising items which required his signature before going to the VIP area or to sponsors events.
Well, those were signed by Eric Silberman, at the time Press Officer for Honda. Eric is a man of many talents, polyglot, good writer and his sharpened sense of humour used to keep us inn good spirits after long hours in a circuit. And to top it all, Eric was left handed as Ayrton. I was convinced , and still am, that it helped in the way the letters tilted in the same way to the same side.
George Goad was an american F1 correspondent and used to spend a lot of time with us at the Honda motor home, sharing some jokes and drinks. One day, he caught us in the act: Eric was signing a small pile of Ayrton’s photographs which I had handed to him and were due to go to the hospitality area. We had a short laugh about it and carried on. As he later on wrote it in his article: ” if every celebrity had to actually sign autographs for their adoring fans, then carpal tunnel syndrome would have disabled every movie star, pop musician and racing driver on the planet by now.”
Later on, being the jokes that he is George decided that the only Senna’s autograph that he wanted was a fake one on Eric’s photograph. Well, and guess who was put in charge to break news to Ayrton? “Hi there, do you think you could fake Eric’s signature in this photo”, no , there wasn’t the right way. Anyway, I eventually found the right way and time to tell Ayrton that Erica was autographing things for him for the team and that’s why, there was this lanky American journalist sitting at the table in the motorhome expecting to have his autograph in a photo of Eric. Unlikely as it seems, Ayrton understood the joke and went along with it.
I do recommend you read the whole story, told by George Goad himself on his blog