Motorsport Thoughts

Thursday, July 29, 2004

A history of me and motor racing

Let me start the serious posting by being a bit self-indulgent and telling you how I got into motor racing. I wasn't brought up with it; I developed an interest all by myself. So let's take a trip back in time to early 1994...

As you might know, I'm not someone who does things by half measures when it comes to most things. So I'd never really seen much Formula One as I was being brought up, or any other motor racing for that matter. I'd picked up who a few of the names were - Mansell, Prost, Senna, Hill, Schumacher, etc - but didn't watch the races.

Everything changed for me on the weekend that will go down in history as one of the worst times for motor racing. The weekend of May 1st 1994.

I remember vaguely hearing on April 29th about a driver having a lucky esape after his car got launched into a wall, and there was a picture in one of the papers of Rubens flying in his Jordan with the headline 'miracle man' which we put under our cats' food bowl and it stayed there for a few days. Of course this accident would soon be very much overshadowed by the tragic events to come.

My weekend - at the time largely dominated by the football scores - continued as usual until the Saturday evening when the news broadcast told us about Roland Ratzenberger's death and Murray Walker did a special piece live from the circuit.

The day after, I saw the Six O'Clock news and it was announced that 'Ayrton Senna is clinically dead' (at the time they were keeping him alive artificially; his heart stopped soon afterwards) and showed the accident. I couldn't really believe it. Despite not having any knowledge of the sport of following it, the fact that not one but two people DIED for what essentially is a form of entertainment really hit me hard. And one of them was one of the best at it both at the time and overall ever.

The next morning we got the paper where the weekend's events understandably dominated both the back and front pages. The sub-headline (it was the Daily Mail, bought not due to politics or anything like that but because it has the best-looking TV section...oh the logic of my family!) has stuck with me ever since. "The greatest driver in the world lies beside the battered remains of his racing car." One day I was walking past our paper collection bag and that paper was on top. I stood and stared at the page for a few minutes, still in total incomprehension of why people would risk their life for sport.

At this point I'd still yet to deliberately sit down and purposefully watch a motor race. The Formula One season progressed, a couple more bad accidents happened and then we got to the afternoon of the Spanish GP at Catalunya. One David Coulthard was making his debut, and it was also my debut as a spectator.

I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. And then I found out. I was hooked straight away.

Soon afterwards I took up watching IndyCars, BTCC, and most of the other forms of motorsport have followed suit to take us up to the present where I follow absolutely as much motor racing as I can and it is a massive part of my life and hopefully will be even more so if I can get a job working in it.

Well that's where it all started - next post: why motor racing is good...


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