I have to admit that sometimes even I’m awed by this magnetic draw that I have towards motorsports. I’ve always had it. No matter where I am in the world or what state of mind I’m in, if a GP is being televised live I will naturally wake up and go to great lengths to view it. A few of my favorite junkie recollections are:
- Faking sick on a Tahoe vacation with my friends family so I could watch the ’84 German GP. I had scouted out that they had the cable set-up and knew the broadcast time so when it was announced that we were leaving for the the beach, I suddenly became ill and the moment they left I pounced on the TV with a feeling of sheer ecstasy.
- After flying all the way to France to attend a wedding, I (and three other buzzards) announced to our newly wedded buddy that we would not be attending the Sunday countryside picnic activities because we had to watch the ’97 Austrian GP in a pub.
- Being on a family trip at a remote lake only accessible by boat or 4 wheel drive and discovering that the resort owner had a working TV set. Armed with the knowledge that the British GP was a network broadcast on a same day tape delay, my dad and I slipped away to politely ask the proprietor if we could borrow his living room for two hours. He seemed reluctant at first but relented after noticing that we were both glaring at him with clenched jaws and balled up fists. With one hurdle down we quietly walked through the willows to his cabin only to find his wife and kids enjoying a movie. There were a few awkward smiles and pleasantries as we joined them on their couch and sat in silence watching the film until my dad essentially demanded the remote and told them all to get lost pronto.
I can remember sitting in a 5th grade classroom in a Gilles Villeneuve t-shirt drawing track maps on my binder paper oblivious to the
lesson on the board. I was performing so poorly that parent/teacher conferences were held to discuss my complete lack of interest. Little did they know that while I may not have been able to recite the capital of Kansas, I could rattle off the name of every driver, team, circuit and country on the F1 calendar. When I didn’t show improvements I was sent to the school psychiatrist for further evaluations. If I remember correctly our first session went something like:
Psychiatrist: “Ok look at this shape and tell me what comes to mind”
Psychiatrist: “Good how about this one?”
Me: “Spa? Or wait maybe Zolder”
Essentially I was home-schooled by Grand Prix International and On Track magazines. The excitement I would get racing home from school to check the mailbox for my British F1 bible still gets the juices flowing. Side note – It’s still fun to get a great magazine in the mail! These publications opened up my world and taught me valuable lessons about courage, competition, love (Sylvia Piquet), business (Bernie’s empire), politics (Jean-Maria Belestre and the FIA), mathematics (lap charts and point tabulations), science (ground effects) and fun (any picture of Jacques Laffitte).
I’m reflective because even as a married, middle-age man, the pull is still strong. This past weekend I taped the Saturday night Indycar race and waited calmly for my dear wife to pass out while we watched a boring movie. The second she hit the land of nod, I had the green flag flying in mere seconds and a big smile on my face.
And yesterday I had social obligations while Montreal was televised live so I had to keep my composure over breakfast and lunch while a part of my mind couldn’t stop wondering if it was a rain race or how Valteri Bottas was faring from the second row. When I finally made it back to my
beloved TV, I had a surge of adrenaline and let out a “Yeah!!” just over the thought of witnessing another GP.
Buzzardry is a funny thing.