There was a time a few years ago that every January I would religiously head off to the Birmingham NEC to got to the Autosports International show. There amongst the stands displaying the latest motorsport widgets was the Autosport magazine stand in which a tiny corner would be devoted to their cartoonist Jim Bamber. The magazine carried one of his cartoons every week and always captured the latest hot motorsport topic in his distinctive style and with great humour.
It was at Autosports one year that Jim and I were chatting and to this day I cannot remember what triggered this question but Jim said to me “Was it you that emailed me about doing my website?” to which I replied “No, but I can do it for you if you want!”. And so began Jim’s website and a long friendship.
The site went live in February 1998 and was called “The ones that got away” the idea being that it would showcase the cartoons that weren’t suitable for the mainstream publications Jim drew for but eventually everything went up there.
Each week Jim would email me a copy of his latest cartoon which I would massage into the sizes required by the site before uploading. Over time I developed the site so that Jim could add captions and some thoughts for each image that was uploaded. We also got into some early ecommerce by selling copies of the popular annual Pits compendium.
Jim knew my love of Williams well and took great pleasure in sharing with me his latest cartoon documenting the teams ongoing woes. The following summed up the start of one season for Williams and shows how keenly observed his humour was.
However, like many others he could be frustrated with F1 and I suspected that his real passion was for rallying but, of course, the cartoons of F1 dominated as that’s what the majority wanted to see.
After quite a few years Jim had his figures out and the site began to conflict with the marketing effort on that so it we spent less time on it. However, we kept in touch and met on a number of occasions. We also emailed regularly talking about F1, Williams and our respective businesses. He also sent me some quite racy pictures at times too and not motor racy either – he had a real boyish sense of humour.
The last time we met was shortly after he had been diagnosed with cancer and despite the obvious difficulties stemming from that he remained on good form and was keen for a TV project that he had been involved with to take off. Jim continued to work until late last year and I think that Autosport is the poorer for the lack of his cartoons brining us back down to earth with a smile.
Jim, you will be greatly missed.