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Romance

Sunday 14th February 2010

It’s a pretty interesting thing, really. When we romanticise something, it seems to me that we hardly ever think about that thing in the way it actually was (or is); we ignore the negative aspects and focus purely on the positive ones.

There’s a space on my bedroom wall at home which I’ve wanted to fill with a poster for some time, but I’ve never been able to decide which one. When I was at school, one of my German teachers clearly liked his motorsport, because all around his classroom were prints of vintage posters, mostly for the Le Mans 24 hour race. I love these sorts of images, because they all seem to capture the spirit of the era. Especially posters for the “classic” races – I think they resemble art more than they do advertising. Look at this poster for the 1961 24 hours of Le Mans, for instance – I think that image is wonderful. The drawing is stunning; you can almost hear the engine, smell the warm oil. Or this poster for the 1937 Monaco Grand Prix. Same thing – to me it perfectly sums up both Monaco, and the era.

Motorsport is amazingly romantic. I couldn’t tell you why, but it really is. I love that many of the circuits have been around for years, because the sense of history surrounding those events is really nice. There’s something special about a Belgian Grand Prix at Spa, something that an Abu Dhabi or Chinese Grand Prix can never have (not picking on those events for any particular reason).

Actually, if there’s something special about Spa, then somewhere like Le Mans is almost sacred. I absolutely adore everything about Le Mans. For the uninitiated, it’s a 24 hour race around an 8.5 mile long circuit, a lot of which is made up of normal roads. It’s been going for years at the same place, and there are some absolutely legendary stories about the race. It’s basically an entire F1 season packed into 24 hours, and I love it for that. I also love that it feels like a proper racing event – like the equivalent of a music festival for petrolheads. You go, set up a tent, drink lots of beer, watch lots of racing and have a jolly good time, and to me that is basically heaven. I’ve not been yet (money, time, exams…), but I will one year and I can’t bloody wait.

You see, I could carry on for ages talking about the wonders of places like Le Mans, Monaco, Monza, Silverstone, Hockenheim, Spa… But I’m romanticising. These places have always been – will always be – very dangerous. We specifically remember the amazing races and stories that happened at these places, and lots of people hark back to the good old days, but when we look back it can be very easy to forget the bad things. The 1955 Le Mans disaster, Stefan Bellof at Spa, Jim Clark at Hockenheim, Jochen Rindt at Monza – to name but a few examples.

I suppose there’s a lot to be said for passion, too. That is probably what carries people through the bad stuff. One of my favourite moments from F1 in 2009 was in the closing laps of the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. Jenson Button was 2nd, Lewis Hamilton 3rd and lapping quicker. A podium for McLaren at that time was a very good thing – it’d been a pretty bad year for them – but you could tell that Hamilton wanted that 2nd place and he was pushing as hard as he could for it. Too hard, because he span and crashed on the last lap.

I know people who said afterwards “oh he was stupid. He was on the podium anyway, he shouldn’t have been pushing so hard”, but that misses the point. It’s racing, and any racing driver that would’ve settled for 3rd in that situation really doesn’t deserve the name. I suppose that fundamentally, motorsport is very pure – more so than many sports. You have a certain distance to travel, and whoever does it quickest is the winner. It’s a lot purer than, say, football, which is a game that is basically composed of completely arbitrary rules. I think motorsport attracts a certain type of competitiveness, and I for one absolutely love that aspect of it. Yes, Hamilton at Monza could have backed off and ensured he got 3rd place. But why? He wants to win, to prove he’s better than the next guy. Taking the safe course is never going to achieve that.

It’s hard to convey the reasons I like racing to people who have never even seen a race, or any sort of competitive motorsport. One day, I intend to take all my friends who say they don’t like it to something like an F1 testing day, because I think seeing the cars “in the metal” is a really phenomenal thing. It’s hard to appreciate what they can do without having seen them – it really does amaze you. Actually it’s probably worth them seeing a proper race too, because I can’t think of a way to convey the atmosphere when 20-odd cars fly past you on the track, all of them trying to get ahead of the others. Anyone who doesn’t find that exciting is clinically dead. FACT!

Anyway. Romance. Passion. Idealism. They’re all really good things, but I guess that it’s important that they’re balanced by a decent dose of realism. Because really, that’s the only way that things can develop healthily.

When you saw that this post is called “romance”, published on this particular day, I bet you thought it was about something else? Suckers :-p

Posted at 4:08 am | Posted In: MotorsportSleepStuff Tagged:

10 Comments:

Flix

Sunday 14th February 2010, 10:25 am

My hobby: reading metaphors into blog posts. If this was me, despite the fact that it seems to be about motorsport, it would have something else tied up within the words. And so, I’m imagining it does and trying to find ways i which certain statements could fit. I’m odd.

I’ve been to Le Mans. Not for the race, mind, but I’ve seen the track and such and I won’t say anything more because I fear your scathing retribution of my opinion.

teacherface

Sunday 14th February 2010, 12:49 pm

That space on your bedroom wall is quite obviously a space in your heart too which has been yet to be filled ;-)

Flix

Sunday 14th February 2010, 1:57 pm

high five @ teacherface! :P

Andy

Sunday 14th February 2010, 6:49 pm

Honestly? A post about how much you love cars on Valentine’s Day?

Man, I thought my love life was fucked up, dear oh dear.

It is amazing how people can get really deeply engrossed in the finer points of their hobbies; I’m sure I’ve been very boring jabbering on to people about Fencing, which I’m enjoying more than about anything else I do at the moment, without really getting how other people can pay so little attention to it.

Dickie

Monday 15th February 2010, 4:02 am

This post is not about love or relationships or anything like that. Ostensibly it’s a post about motorsport (not just cars though – there’s a difference), but actually it’s about much more than that. The fact that it’s published today kind of means nothing – Valentine’s Day is just a load of bullshit really (I suppose that was partly the point). Mostly, I thought it’d be funny to publish a post with this title on this day, and then not write about love and relationships and, uh, Valentines Day… As I mentioned on the last line :-p

@Flix: I’m intrigued – whats your opinion?

Jenny

Monday 22nd February 2010, 12:19 pm

haha yeah. Totally agree with everyone here, Dickie. That said I would love to come and see what all the excitement is about. It’s a serious testimony to your passion for the subject that I used to be even *less* interested in motorsport than I am in football (which is saying something) and reading your blog I would genuinely like to see a race now.

Blogbuddies meet-up? :P (esp. if there’s ale).

xxx

Dickie

Saturday 6th March 2010, 3:36 am

I’m glad to hear I’ve piqued your interest. Given that it combines two things that I’m rather keen on, some combination of racing and ale could be a rather good plan, if you wanted to see what it’s all about :-p

Jenny

Tuesday 9th March 2010, 12:06 am

Is ale something one is likely to find in combination with racing? Or would we simply *have* to go to the pub as well (*le sigh* :P)?!! And yes, yes please. In my ignorance: what is the likelihood of this summer being in the least bit plausible for such a plan? I have no idea what the racing season is like, when it starts and ends, what’s good. For all that I have followed your blog for so long… :S !! xxx

Dickie

Tuesday 9th March 2010, 1:09 am

Generally drinking something to be done after the racing – when I’ve been before with people generally we’ve camped there, so beer is consumed at the end of the day whist (and after) eating bits of dead cow cooked on a disposable BBQ (the height of sophisticated dining).

And yep, most racing happens in the summer – which is one reason why wintertimes are generally so dull and is also why I’m so excited atm because F1 IS BACK ON THIS WEEKEND! :D :D :D :D :D – so in other words yeah it’s definitely plausible :-)

Jenny

Tuesday 9th March 2010, 4:46 pm

Excellent. In theory at least this sounds like a plan :D. Dead cows ftw :P !! xxx

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