There are certain racing daydreams worth indulging. One of the most intriguing, if ultimately pointless, is what I like to call the ‘mixed-era mash up’ – or MeMu for short. This is when you imagine a truly great driver from a modern era (like Jenson Button), racing at a legendary, albeit unfamiliar to him circuit (Le Mans), in a car that takes him well outside his comfort zone (perhaps a 1988 Group C Jaguar XJR-9).
This is a particularly good MeMu; Jenson’s silky smooth style, and his mastery of mixed-weather conditions on the epic roads of La Sarthe in a car with a V12, a manual gearbox and a visual appeal matched only by Jennifer Lawrence. Personally, this imaginary scenario makes me want to have a little sit-down.
So when JD Classics, the British-based classic and racing car business, called to give me the heads up that this very scenario was about to coalesce – I nearly fell off my chair. Button? At Le Mans? In a Jaguar XJR-9?
You’d better believe it. July 6-8. Le Mans Classic. Jenson, Jag and JD. Be there.
There are countless reasons why this is good news for motor racing, but for me the primary one is that we’ll get the chance to see a modern-era F1 driver step outside his comfort zone. Exposed even.
Spectators will have a chance to observe him drive a car that requires proper, visual input. I take nothing away from modern-era F1 drivers, but unless you are stood close to the barriers at Monaco it is increasingly difficult to witness the extraordinary in their driving. Why? The cars are aerodynamically locked down, we rarely see demonstrations of acute car control (and when an F1 car does get out of shape it loses time) and the driver is sunk so deep in the car that you cannot see him at work. Even the on-board footage does little to represent the skill of the modern driver; power steering makes the driver look like he’s operating a Thrustmaster gaming wheel, the ultra-high resolution inversely creates a hyper-real look, adding to the ‘gaming’ vibe, and the camera position gives the audience a much better view of the road than the driver gets.
The latter is important, because it creates an illusion whereby the uninitiated think they could race an F1 car. Nobody should believe this because a) they couldn’t and b) F1 drivers are gods. The visor-cam used in IndyCar testifies to the skill of a modern single-seater in a far more representative fashion.
With Jenson, we’ll be able to see his gift in action – from the side of the track, from onboard footage (which I hope we’re granted) and from the wide-eyed look every time he steps from the car. I like Jenson – he’s a good guy, with a sharp brain and wit. I also like the manner in which he goes racing, and believe that he’s one of the top 10 F1 drivers of recent times. But even his skill will be tested by that wailing Jag. I salute him and JD Classics for getting stuck in. See you trackside.
How do you represent the glory of the Targa Florio-winning Porsche 911 RSR on the cover of this magazine? And likewise how do you sell its extraordinary restoration? I’ll be honest, these points were bothering Art Editor Damon Cogman and I throughout the production of this issue. However, when Damon found a truly extraordinary piece of work from Unique & Limited, it was clear we had to use it on the cover and fortunately the artists agreed.
Unique & Limited are artists Jan Rambousek and Petr Milerski, and Isabell Mayrhofer – the official representative. The team uses a blend of traditional art and CGI to recreate a historical event, and put as much time into researching that event as they do illustrating it.
Take a look at their website (unique-limited.com) to see how it’s done – or download a copy of our digital edition to see a video of this cover coming to life.
Finally, some interesting news for fans of ‘Black Jack’. On May 4-5 this year, a special exhibition takes place in London to celebrate all things Brabham. At the same event, the rejuvenated Brabham Automotive company will unveil its new car, the BT62. Little is known about the BT62, which makes the event all the more intriguing.
Following a press launch, the doors will open for ticketed guests to view the exhibition and the new car. Admission is free, but demand is expected to be high and places are limited. To apply for a ticket, visit