Being one of the veterens here i guess, just turned 50 this month, my first race experience was when my dad took me to the 1969 USGP at Watkins Glen. I may have seen the Monaco highlights... earlier, and of course I'm sure yelled at the TV for AJ Foyt to go go at Indy, but seeing the F1 circus is my oldest memory of racing.
69 was just a few years after Lotus had moved the engine to the back of the car... and wings were just proving themselves useful. The public had virtually complete access to the cars, drivers and teams because security was almost non-existant. The sport was barely commercialized by todays standards. The drivers weren't mini conglomerations like those of the last 20 years or so. NO sheltering agents, no PR consultants or gurus to get in the way. Yeah pit access was protected on race afternoon, but the seating was right over the teams. With no yellow flags, pace cars, speed limits... the sport was breathtaking.
My funniest memory is when some wind-bag was trying to impress a babe with his knowledge of the car, and he was obviously pissing off the crew, plus inaccurate in his description of the rear suspension... and the team fired up the engine while his head was under the rear wing. He was litterally blown away.
I had just turned 12 but still remember the babe graciously being offered direct assistance by the team, cutting out the middle-man. Never ceases to amaze me at the fine qualities of women attracted to F1.