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F1 History History 17

Motor racing’s autumnal treats

I have been asked to get back to the blogging, from which I have been absent these past weeks. So here I am. Where have I been hiding? All over the place actually, as is my wont. I was set to take a holiday – my usual lolling around on the Ionian island of Corfu – when I became embroiled in an event called Vintage at Goodwood.

This has little to do with cars and a lot to do with music, although there were some lovely cars there including spectacular 1950s hot rods and Ford Mustangs. I have long coveted a good, genuine Mustang. This new event was a huge success and, as Bob Marley famously said, “one good thing about music is that when it hits you, you feel no pain”. Not like motor racing.

Now I am preparing for the Barum Rally in the Czech Republic and a visit to the Skoda Museum. Then it’s back here for the Goodwood Revival, which has little to do with music but a lot to do with some wonderful racing cars. And between these two, I’ll be going to the World Championship finals of the F1 stock cars to understand a bit more about why people go blasting round ovals in the dark in close company with some very high-powered, very dented cars. This season the championship is as close as it gets, as close as the championship for Grand Prix cars. But they’re spending thousands, not millions.

racing history history  Motor racing’s autumnal treats

After an enforced (by the FIA) two-week shutdown, invented to cut costs, we are now approaching Spa and the second half of the Formula 1 season. Who will come back on top? Red Bull surely, or will they? McLaren is well equipped to take the title, both technically and financially. Ferrari is very cross with itself, and everybody else, and will return with Alonso firmly favoured. It can’t get worse for Mercedes, can it? It can, but it probably won’t because they’ll be terrified of further shame. My prediction? Hamilton will be World Champion – just – with Vettel very large in his silver mirrors.

racing history history  Motor racing’s autumnal treats

On the subject of Grand Prix racing, the paddock will be well represented at the Revival, where Adrian Newey will share his rapid E-type Jaguar with Bobby Rahal in the TT Celebration race. Also out on this demanding circuit will be Christian Horner in the St Mary’s saloon car race, an encounter guaranteed to loud cheers from the grandstands. Red Bull boss Dieter Mateschitz is clearly a generous and spirited man, allowing two of his key people to take part in this spectacular meeting. Both Karun Chandhok and Bruno Senna are determined to get in on the act as well, possibly relishing the prospect of racing further up the field. And I hear Gerhard Berger will be there this year. Stand by for mischievous humour and impressive lap times. They don’t forget how to do it.

Finally, keep a close eye on the Formula 2 series. There is a distinctly feisty battle being fought out between Jolyon Palmer and Dean Stoneman, a fierce rivalry which will see one of them win not only the title but also a test drive in the 2010 Williams F1 car. Let’s hope it’s a fair and sporting contest.

Autumn may be on the horizon, but there’s a huge amount for us fans to look forward to. Back soon.

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17 comments on Motor racing’s autumnal treats

  1. dave cubbedge, 18 August 2010 16:04

    Interesting, English F1 stock cars. I believe we have a similar thing over here in the US called ‘modified’ racing. These events usually take place as support to the USAC open wheel series at dirt tracks like Eldora – until recently I used to avoid watching these guys bang and crash around the track and head out to the parking lot for a cold beer. Then I met a guy who told me about how to set them up and showed me the ones who were ‘hooking’ up with the track and how to find the quick ones. Now I watch with great interest, although my beloved wingless Sprints and Midgets still are my favorite form of racing. 1000 hp in an 850 lb car……steering with the right foot…’s all very good. And then there’s the American tradition of doing it under the lights. So, relax, eat a hot dog, have a beer (or two) and enjoy!

  2. rob widdows, 18 August 2010 16:30

    Dave – I was intrigued to se that you won’t be making the trek to Austin for the US Grand Prix. Intersting, because Bobby Rahal told me that it’s as far from most places in the States as the States is from the UK……………………………..! And that many folk will simply not travel that far for a Formula 1 race. For NASCAR maybe, but not F1. But then I guess there’s a fair few people living in Texas.
    Anyway, yes, stock cars. Ho hum. I am open-minded and I love watching cars race, always have, whatever they are. It’s all quite exciting because the main rivals for the title, two men from the North – one from Yorkshire and one from Lancashire – can’t stand each other and are bitter rivals. Those in the know tell me that it will be a tense night all round. I will avoid the hot dog, but I may have a beer!
    Yes, agreed, those Midgets are just the best, just so damn good to watch. I wish we had that here but somehow it wouldn’t be the same outside the USA, a bit like a good French country wine never tastes as good when you get it home to England.
    I truly thought it was Vettel’s turn to be world champion this year but I’m having doubts, not sure he’s ready yet. Fast as a comet, yes, but prone to silly mistakes and petulance. We shall see.

  3. James, 18 August 2010 17:19


    I think Mr. Rahal needs to bone up on his geography…Austin is no more than 3 and a half hours (by plane) from anywhere in the US and southern Canada. And yes, Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth, and San Antonio are close by.

    The question is, will folks travel any distance to see an F1 race?


  4. DS, 18 August 2010 20:40

    i have been intrigued since the great days of watkins glen and long beach as to where’s and why’s of F1 in the US and am perpetually perplexed as to Mr E’s attempts to re-launch F1 in the US, i really don’t think it takes a genius to work out how to attract more fans but wonder if that would ever be allowed to happen-

    my memory fades but i seem to recollect 43 years ago the crowds at watkins glen exceeded 100,000 perhaps someone more enlightened than i can give a more accurate figure on that- the recent successful return to canada by F1 shows that the continent has interest, if this is right perhaps that needs to be taken into account

    lewis for champion? i have him down for 2011, doesn’t nigel think that alonso will be in 2010? i think its too tight to call, but may have a wee wager on mark – again too many mistakes but nice stories do happen once in a while

    and welcome back Rob – did you comment on the recent croft meeting? i ask as i went and it was an honest attempt to encourage a northeastern historical event – as an ex-pat southerner i miss not being able to get to goodwood without a lot of hassle so hope the croft meeting takes off in a big way – you never know

  5. Kevin Woeller, 19 August 2010 18:55

    A comment about Watkins Glen, I recall part of attending the Grand Prix in Oct, it was the last race to gather your racing friends for one last trip before the Thanksgiving & Christmas holidays started.A part of the drive was the wonderful fall colors of the trees in the entire area! When I went to the Indy F-1, it did not have that same feeling of “glad to be here”!

  6. rob widdows, 20 August 2010 10:29

    Kevin has it right. I,too, remember Watkins Glen with some feeling and nostalgia and yes, the autumn (they say fall, of course) there was something special. I honestly can’t remember when I went to the Glen but it was probably 1975 as I was working in New York at that time. Anyway, great circuit, great atmosphere and no, this is not the case at Indy, except when it’s the 500, of course! Will it be the same at Austin? I doubt it but we have to reserve judgement.
    So, thanks for the welcome back, and all your thoughts. I did not go to Croft- can’t do everything! I’d like to go one day however and maybe I will visit as part of my new roving disptaches responsibility. In the modern traffic we suffer in the UK these days, the North East seems a long way away although I know it’s not really. And now that I have my new Renault it will be a faster journey!
    Busy time coming up but I will try to get back on the blog whenever I can. Laptops help here, especially for those of us who remember having to use telephone boxes when we had to send in our stories. I do not feel nostalgic about standing in a phone box late at night, or first thing in the morning, depending on the part of the world in which I found myself!

  7. Dave Cubbedge, 21 August 2010 02:17

    If they could only just bring the race back to the Glen in late September or early October – give it back to the fans who supported it in droves – F1 might have a chance here. Of course that’ll never happen….and F1 is doomed to another expensive failure in the US. It is sad, but B.E. just does not ‘get’ the American race fan at all.

    Kevin is right – part of the trip to the Glen was to take in the beautiful scenery, spend a day at the State Park there, do some wine tasting at the Great Western winery, enjoy beautiful Lake Seneca and the college towns that surround it, and then for the big F1 fan, make the drive around the corner to Mosport. All gone now – for me it has been replaced by the Four Crown Nationals at Eldora on the 1/2 mile dirt. Not quite the same, but at least the racing is good!

    In 2012 we’ll have the Texas experience – I’ve heard there’s great music and entertainment in Austin and probably good spicy food, but it will he hot as Hades in June and probably dry and dusty as well. I’d rather spend my dollars on a trip to France to see Le Mans where there is a tremendous American presence to go along with the ambience and history. Now there’s something that B.E. should understand considering he owns a lot of F1 history. History itself!

    Long live the memory of those beautiful Autumn weekends at the Glen where you’d wake up on Sunday morning to the aroma of 60,000 camping race fans cooking breakfast……

  8. rob widdows, 22 August 2010 13:30

    Yup, long live the meories of racing at Watkins Glen, you’re so right, that was a real true fans weekend of Grand Prix racing! Shame it’s all in the past but then so many of the great tracks have been rejected by the 21st century incarnation of the sport…………………..
    Mr E. is concerned with getting his fees paid, not with history. Sad but a fact.
    Maybe the best idea he had was a street race in New York, but it never went any further. I reckon that could have been good.

  9. Kevin Woeller, 22 August 2010 22:25

    Dave Cubbedge – Also the sound of thousands car tape decks played at full power!!! I recall the fellow camping next to me with the Who “Live at Leeds”
    playing over and over!! ( I loved it!!)

  10. Dave Cubbedge, 23 August 2010 02:13

    I knew even back in 1980 that someday I’d be looking back at those wonderful days with misty eye… looks like that day has come!

    one thing I’ll never forget is being in the garage at the Glen on, say, the Friday night and oberving the mechanics doing all-nighters preparing the cars. I stood next to Laffite’s Ligier-Matra in 1978 as they warmed up a fresh engine. It was probably 1 am….

    …but I’ll also never forget the dark side to that night as the Bog People took someone’s MGB and rolled it – not on its’ wheels, but sideways – into the bog and set it on fire. I’ll never forget the owners’ anguish when he came back the next morning to find it gone. I will also never forget the National Guard coming up the hill with gas masks and tear gas as we sat inside my friend’s car quite terrified…..

  11. Mario Carneiro Neto, 23 August 2010 02:31

    Make the trip to Le Mans and you’ll be able to re-live many aspects of that. Not the Tear gas, though….

  12. rob widdows, 23 August 2010 16:52

    Well, my fellow fans and bloggers, we seem to have started something here with some nice trips along memory lane. Except for the Bog People and the National Guard…………………………..
    Standing next to a Matra being warmed up is never to be forgotten. If you weren’t lucky enough to experience this back in the dy, you can still find Matras racing at historic events throughout Europe, and maybe even at Bobby Rahal’s new Legends of Motor Sport series in the USA.
    OK, you may not get involved with the Gendarmerie at Le Mans but you will have your passes inspected every ten yards and you will be lucky to sleep through the parties on a camp site. But then it’s all part of good old fashioned passionate motor racing which beats cars droning round a modern track in single file.
    But do not despair – we have Spa and Monza coming up – real GP tracks for real GP drivers.
    I’ll be back soon with another tale or two from my travels. I might even use my new column to spin some yarns from the old days when it gets quiet in the winter. I gotta say, it doesn’t get a whole lot better than having a column in Motor Sport. A lot to live up to!

  13. DS, 23 August 2010 21:52

    RW- ahh excellent- yes of course one couldn’t expect you to visit all and sundry but i hope you didn’t mind me mentioning that croft had made an honest attempt to catch on with the historic interests – as someone who was born and bred near Brands and watched his first GP in 1964 there and missing the races there croft is now my local circuit and the support is most welcome

    what intrigues me and hopefully if the money makers have any sense is that the historic scene is continuing to gather momentum and that must be a reflection of today’s racing, havingjust watched bumper-cars on itv

    having been ‘moved on’ by the french police, complete with a number of bruises and loss of blood, hair etc, they did give me a bit of a hiding it had to be said, but i was standing where i shouldn’t – well ok i was just standing near the old mulsanne not even in a restricted area but ce la vie [or guerre>?] i can relate to previous comments but am horrified by the story of the burning of the car, not funny-

    and yes RW winter is not a season i look forward to so some more yarns of the older days maywell warm the thoughts if not the bones, talking of which old chap, only way to get around the uk is by motorbike – get one and join us

  14. rob widdows, 24 August 2010 09:13

    Yup, Croft is on my list of places to go, and I know how good it is to live near a circuit. You can really get involved, go to lots of racing, and all without the hassle of travelling. I grew up near Goodwood and Thruxton is only an hour away, so I’ve been lucky!
    Me on a motorcycle? I don’t think so. Tried it many years ago, loved it, but didn’t trust myself to be sensible. I am more sensible now, but I also carry around a lot of stuff – like laptop, recorders, cameras and assorted books and notes!
    Bumper cars on ITV. Might this be the BTCC? Unsually for me, I am intrigued by the series this year, patricularly by the Fords and their use of LPG. Also, it’s exciting this season, with a close battle for the title. It may not be the purest form f racing but it is surprisingly technical and interesting engineering. There is overtaking too………
    Anyway, onwards to Spa, and it will be close. And it will probably rain……………………….!

  15. DS, 25 August 2010 07:52

    RW, grewing up a few miles from brands was one of the best things of myearly life, seeing Jimmy et al race was a priveledge no-one can take away –

    yea i do appreciate what you say re motorbikes and prefer to ride in Scotland or France where the motorists seem to respect you –

    i am undecided about the btcc, i applaude what itv are doing with its all day coverage and especially in cold windswept days i would thoroughly enjoy it, but the main event, do i prefer it now or when all the manufacturers were involved? i have always preferred privateers – there is a sense of less restrictive practice shall we say, but the tactics certain drivers employ does tend to offend the purity in me, so, no, still can’t make up my mind, would i rather see DTM or BTCC ? DTM wins all ways – but i do go to see btcc at croft as the first corner is ‘interesting’ shall we say

  16. ian thomas, 5 November 2010 19:49


    nice to see you’re keeping busy with
    motor sport magazine.still have fond memories of track torque,you probably don’t remember me though!regards ian.

  17. John Hatswell, 15 July 2011 16:09

    Just wondering if anybody wants to defray the cost of their campsite at the Goodwood Revival. I am flying there in a single seat aeroplane. Just need a small space for my tent (one person) and understand all the non electric pitches are gone.

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