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For the Love of Racing

Reading RJ's admission of not watching a race for 5 years made me think a little. Just a little.

Some years ago (probably around 2000)I parked my rented Citroen Saxo at the top of the hill, and stood on the rise looking back down at Eau Rouge. The thought of punting any vehicle through there at high speed was absolutely spine tingling.

Early in March this year, I had cause to be in the NSW town of Bathurst, and with some time to spare, meandered over to Mount Panorama to cruise around the circuit that is public road for most of the year. I relected that the last time I was there was in about 1971 in a Morris Major Elite, with my mum tearing down Conrod at 82 miles per hour, with 3 kids blissfully rattling around loose in the back in those pre-seatbelt days. Make no mistake, the woman was breaking the law as the speed limit then was 35 miles per hour, though in those radar-embryonic days the Bathurst coppers probalby didn't have one.

Even at the more strictly observed 60 kilometres per hour limit applying today, the chill of cresting Skyline - with nothing but the valley floor 2,000 feet below as the view out the front until the car actaully dips, and the road comes in to view - is still a life-defining experience. To do this at racing speed is very hard to compute within the average brain. Even at 60, one must brake in a road car to get around the Dipper just after Skyline.

This year, is my 55th on the planet. I did some racing in the early 80s in Malaysia on a stock car circuit on the RAAF base when I was posted there, but that really is about as far as I ever ventured. Hey, I was pretty good. Good enough to win the seasons that I contested anyway. Good enough to think that I wouln't mind doing a lot more of it.

Life has a way of determining itself however, and by the time I had the means to go racing, I chose to sail (sort of motor racing via mogodon). I never returned to the wheel and the closest I ever get is deflating the younger generation (who as everyone knows, own everything, and are better than anyone older at anything)on corporate karting days.

So now one watches the racing, makes comments on this one and that one, criticses bad choices made by drivers and teams, and knows fully, that the time to do it has well and truly passed.

Yet still when I watch the F1 races, my heart beats a little faster, I am intolerant to family intrusions into my focus, and the adreneline courses for a long time after the flag has fallen. It is because of this that I can stand on a great circuit and just stare down the road, imagining the wheel in my hand and deciding where I would turn in, how I would let it wind off, and what little surface imperfections may cause the momentary change of lock and power to correct an incipient lose.

So to my dear young friend, enjoy the racing whilst we have it, because this just may be as good as it gets.


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