- Any of various North American vultures, such as the turkey vulture
- Any racing fan displaying behavior that goes beyond what a rational person may consider normal
Exhibit A- Out of Control Buzzardry: Wild Buzzards
Exhibit B- Euphoric Buzzardry: Our Nige!
Like many great ideas throughout history, the term Buzzardry wasn’t derived from academics but rather was coined by regular folk over spirits in a sleep deprived state of mind at a racetrack sometime during the mid 90’s. But before I delve into the meaning of the word further, let’s back track for a moment to examine how the noun buzzard first became used in a racing context and eventually found its way into the lexicon for, at my last tally, a total of three living human beings.
In 1983 I attended my first European GP at the Osterreichring in lovely Zeltweg, Austria. Although only 11 years old I was already a veteran of 3 Long Beach F1 GP’s and multiple Can-Am, Trans-Am and IMSA races at Sears Point and Laguna Seca. Due to the unfortunate circumstances of being on family holiday that summer with my mother and younger sister, my dad and I were only afforded the Sunday to attend the race. It didn’t take more than ten paces through the ticket gate to realize that the circuit and crowd enthusiasm was far beyond anything that I’d experienced to date. This was Disneyland on steroids. I was so
caught up in the moment I sprinted off towards the sea of people in the Mercedes grandstand with nary a word to my bewildered parents.
The race was a solid contest highlighted by Alain Prost prevailing in the Renault over the Brabham of Piquet and the Ferrari’s of Tambay and Arnoux. Other notable moments were witnessing an annoyed elderly lady brain the man in front of her with a beer bottle in an attempt to get those in her in section to sit prior to the start and an Austrian air show that was so spectacular it must have been based on a WWII air raid and no doubt endangered the lives of all 100,000 plus in attendance. But it was what happened right after the race that shocked me and brings this entire longwinded story full circle back to buzzards and buzzardry.
Race highlight clip: Austria ’83
On lap 11 during the race the late Elio de Angelis retired his JPS Lotus 94T directly across from our grandstand and well off of the track so that there was no need for a safety crew to have to fetch the car. As the race progressed the deserted Lotus sat under the shadows of a few hundred crafty fans that had erected their own personal scaffolding stands, some reaching nearly three
stories high. They looked like a boisterous lot enjoying their beer in the afternoon sun until just seconds after the checkered flag flew. Without hesitation this group sprang into action like a trained Seal team and quickly scaled the fence and descended upon the poor hapless Lotus. Immediately you could sense they were in the throes of primal rage as they set about tearing apart the cockpit, bodywork and both front and rear wings with their bare hands. I was mesmerized and in the chaos remember an Austrian crying out, “Stupide Italians!” Within 2 minutes there was security on the scene and the situation was diffused but to my developing mind I had witnessed something I would never forget. I had experienced my first brush with buzzardry.
It was 19 years later while watching “Our Nige” win at Silverstone that I remember David Hobbs referring to the people running onto the track as
buzzards. I had an epiphany where I shouted back, “That’s it! Buzzards! These people are Buzzards!”
Fast forward again a few more years and I found myself with a group of hard core racing fans at the Portland CART weekend talking shop and enjoying a few pints. When I recounted my Austrian tale of the unruly mob and Mr. Hobb’s subsequent use of the term Buzzards, it seemed to strike a chord with all present and immediately sparked a round-table discussion on the topic of crazy fans. The basic use of the word buzzard quickly became the practice of buzzardry and from there it was off to the races. Granted it helps to be young, dumb, drunk, dehydrated and lacking sleep but Buzzardry has withstood the test of time and much to the chagrin of my wife, is a part of my daily vocabulary.
“We are going to go buzzard into the pits”
Translation: We are going to go attempt to sneak into the pits
“Check out the Dale buzzards”
Translation: Look at the dudes with the painted faces and #8 tattoos
“I’m having a buzzard breakdown over Katayama”
Translation: I’m so excited after Ukyo Katayama qualified 5th
Question-“How was your Long Beach trip? Answer-“Buzzardly”
Translation: I went to the LBGP and snuck into the paddock, ate breakfast next to Gil de Ferran and stayed at the track 10 hrs a day
False Buzzardry: This is common in F1 when the home crowd goes nuts for the wrong driver, usually the teammate. Take the 1998 German GP free practice 2 for example. When Irvine would arrive in the stadium section the masses would blow their airhorns and ignite their fireworks only to notice seconds later that the helmet was in fact the orange of Eddie and not the red of Schumi.
Over Buzzarding: The practice of talking too much about racing to non racing fans in a setting like a dinner party or family function. Often happens when you meet somebody from Europe and automatically assume that he/she watches every GP and has an encased, autographed Johnny Herbert helmet on top of their television.
Cross Buzzardry: When you see something in every day life that is clearly racing inspired. One example would be to name your company Grand Prix Audio and call your products names like Monza and Monaco. Check it out: http://www.grandprixaudio.com/