I took a photograph this weekend of a gentleman sat overlooking the Craner Curves at the Donington Historic Festival. Sat on a portable chair, the gentleman in question was reviewing the programme while waiting for the 2nd qualifying session of the day to begin. Whereas some may think the image is a celebration of the lengths we will go to as “petrol heads” to enjoy our sport, for me it is much more about … well if I had to explain it, the chances are I couldn’t.
To the casual observer, Motorsport is, perhaps, just about being the fastest. It is popular for the press to present the drivers as 21st century chariot racers living life at an enhanced level and for the drivers to express their adulation for the team and explain how the car is the best and so on and so forth. You get the idea. The populist view of racing. If that view is true, then why is it will we watch and race anything from a Grand Prix car to a Honda C70 ?
I mention the Honda C70 as I spotted a seven and a half hour endurance race, the Plop Enduro (click for details), for the trusty single cylinder commuter motor cycle running at Mallory Park on the 14th of May. Organised by Scarisbrick and District Armada Motor Cycle Club any profits from the race go to the North West Air Ambulance, Blood Bikers and other chosen charities and while these are noble causes, it will be the idea of racing that attracts people. Plainly it isn’t the kudos of winning a Honda C70 race, the adulation of the adoring fans or the non-existent prize money that is attracting these stalwart competitors. It is that indescribable thing called Motorsport coupled with the chance to do something that benefits their chosen charities
The addiction that is Motorsport is a worldwide pandemic. New Zealand – a place I was once informed was geographically the most remote county in the world - for example has a race series entitled “Cheap as Chips”. In a similar fashion to the Plop Enduro, this series utilised Kart tracks to race all sorts of single cylinder, scooter, step though and other assorted commuter machinery.
So what is it that possesses us to spend hours in our respective garages, preparing these machines? As said at the top of this diatribe, if we – and it is we for I include myself among the addicted – tried to explain it, the chances are we couldn’t. It isn’t fame or fortune. It isn’t about just going fast as we introduce all sorts of rules and regulations to ensure that we can’t simply buy a bigger engine and go faster. We control the machine you can enter by age, style and purpose. We prescribe the tyres to be used, the fuel you can use and the clothes you must wear. You can race on two, three, four or even more wheels and if all of that isn’t enough, we will help and encourage you to race just about anything.
You can race on tarmac, dirt, grass, ice and gravel. We race up things and down them, in straight lines and on courses with so many corners it takes years to learn them all. We will even bring our addiction to domestic chores and race lawn mowers. We are happily beyond understanding.
And to the gentleman in the photo that started this whole chain of thought; Due respect Sir. I trust the weekend was enjoyable. Give it a few years and I’ll be there with you.