Video: The Sportscar Experience

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60 minutes. (Duke Marketing Ltd, PO Box 46, Douglas, Isle of Man. £29.90)

You might think the art of the film producer lies in the skilful editing of footage and matching the most appropriate and well-worded commentary to the result. Perhaps it is time to think again.

Here is a one-hour video shot from a grand total of one camera angle, which can have involved no more than twenty splices on the editorial chopping board, and in which not a single word is spoken after the first five minutes (engine noise being intermittently joined by music alone). Yet the net result is superb entertainment which will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout!

In fairness, all the producer had to do was position a forward-looking camera alongside the driver’s seat in various Porsche 956s – Richard Lloyd, Nick Mason, Jacky Ickx, Derek Bell, Hans Stuck and Stefan Bellof did the rest.

These celebrated racers treat you to a handful of laps from each of the 1985 World Endurance Championship rounds (races, note, not practice) at Silverstone, Hockenheimring, Spa, Fuji, Kuala Lumpur, and Le Mans. You cannot see their faces, you can only hear their gear changes, and only Lloyd utters so much as a word to his audience (while obliged to crawl around behind the pace-car), but that does not stop you feeling involved.

It is difficult not to gasp for breath at well over 200 mph on the Mulsanne straight, close your eyes through Eau Rouge, or grope for an imaginary brake pedal on the footrest in front of your armchair when driving into a wall of spray in Malaysia’s teeming rain. You are left to marvel at the sustained skill and commitment of the men behind the wheel, and the fact that their stints last hours, not minutes.

Make no mistake, therefore, this video stands out from the crowd for sheer compulsive viewing, however limited its format. But there is one blemish, and it is a major one – indeed, one which might well cause offence to a great many viewers.

The pictures of Ickx’s works 956 spinning in what is clearly a hefty shunt at Eau Rouge are spectacular in the extreme, but you might begin to question the ethics of using this footage simply for entertainment as soon as you realise that it was in this accident that the reigning World Sportscar Champion Stefan Bellof lost his life. This fact, which can be deduced very easily by the well-informed, goes unexplained on film, which compounds the sin.

Though in other respects the unrefined nature of this production is one of its strengths, here surely is where an editor should have intervened – preferably with a scalpel. This was neither the time nor the place for the inclusion of such a tragic clip, however spectacular.
GT