So… It’s all about Talladega in the motorsporting news these day.
However, while researching something completely unrelated, another story caught my eye, having naught to do with Talledega, NASCAR at all, but, sort of vaguely connected with the world of Formula One motor racing.
You can, and probably should, read the relevant story here. Because, I assure you, I am going to deviate wildly from it as I indulge myself with this post.
Formula One racing – which is something I’m not particularly interested in because I’ve never seen the point (rather like lap dances at trucker bars). However, I do fancy the idea of racing Porsches, late at night, or in the misty early morning when dawn only offers a hint of cracking. But, I suppose the cars that Formula One “pilots” use might be seen as quite nifty, were you a ten year old boy. You might think “Ooh, cool”, without really understanding why, and you might ask your Mom to buy you jammies with a picture with a Formula One car on them… Or, there are, of course posters, that include pin-up type girls that add to a fantasy that is, ultimately, for a ten year old boy, meaningless – and, that would be fine – because there would be nothing wrong with that, because, well, because you’d be ten.
But to a grown up, I really don’t see the appeal of Formula One racing, or the associated cars. To me, it looks very much like some men, with names like Al LaFauries (tanning enthusiasts, to be sure) in those expensive cars driving pointlessly round and round a racetrack with their asses getting numb. And then, stopping. It’s repetitive, it’s noisy, it’s even more horrendously, mind-numbingly, repetitive, actually, and if you like Formula One motor racing, or are interested in it in any way, and you’re not ten years old, I’d have to say that there’s probably something wrong with you.
Or, on the other hand (I will be getting to a point shortly)…
Formula One is a deafeningly loud, extraordinarily expensive, rock-star-meets-the-road spectacle. It’s a multinational pastime in Europe, where hundreds of thousands of fans pay up to $1,000 a ticket to watch 22 drivers from 11 teams go around complex circuits at 200 miles per hour. In a series of 18 races (or Grand Prix) in Monaco, Turkey, Japan, Brazil, Bahrain, and elsewhere, the drivers compete for points based on their place at the finish of each race. At the end of every March-to-November season, the circuit’s highest point earners are crowned in two ways: by team (the Constructors’ Championship) and by driver (the Drivers’ Championship).
While the drivers with multimillion-dollar contracts command the attention and acclaim, the real competitors in Formula One are the cars themselves: ultralight, mid-engine, open-cockpit marvels of precision engineering, power, and speed. “The difference in raw driving ability between the fastest and the slowest driver is unlikely to be more than one second per lap,” says Autosport writer Mark Hughes. “The difference between the fastest and slowest car is perhaps three or even four seconds per lap. So the fastest driver in the slowest car would still be nowhere, whereas the slowest driver in the fastest car would be quite successful.”
Unlike Nascar, which keeps the field evenly matched by restricting what race teams can do to their cars, Formula One is all about fine-tuning the vehicles. There are a few general regulations (called the formula), which dictate things like the number of cylinders an engine can have and the car’s maximum length. Everything else can be tweaked. The top teams — which have thousands of employees — can blow more than $400 million a year trying to make their cars go a few milliseconds faster.
But, other than all that, something mildly interesting, that is vaguely connected to Formula One, did actually happen. You may have seen the story. It doesn’t involve cars, but it does involve a video of the multi-millionaire son of a wannabe fascist dictator indulging in paid-for “spanky” sex with women who were allegedly dressed as Nazis.
Now I don’t see anything particularly wrong with that; what people do in their private lives is their business, and people’s sexual proclivities rarely have any bearing on their ability to do their jobs, so the details of what Mr. Max Mosley was doing are totally irrelevant. But it’s interesting because of the furor it has provoked in the, otherwise, crushingly tedious (don’t forget ass-numbing) world of Formula One motor racing.
The heads of several organizations involved with Formula One have been quick to criticize Mr Mosley, saying that he ought to be ashamed of himself for bringing the industry into disrepute.
…sigh… Have you been to a Formula One event? I have. I’ll admit it. It’s sheer spectacle on every conceivable human platform.
So, I’m qualified to add that it’s quite funny, to me anyway, to read about spokespeople for major car manufacturers claiming a moral high ground; the car is arguably the worst thing that has ever happened to the planet – after human beings, obviously. And, it’s very hard to think of an invention that has had a bigger negative impact on the environment than the automobile. So, it’s potentially amusing to see a bunch of men who have grown rich from the glorification of mindless, ass-numbing, utilizations of automotive technology with HOOTERS emblazoned everywhere (maybe that’s just NASCAR, but who cares, really), over vilifying one of their colleagues over his lack of moral standards.
It’s also difficult to know exactly what the pious defenders of Formula One are complaining about. They surely can’t be offended by the idea of hiring women to dress in a manner that’s arousing to a male audience, because I had a quick look at the ITV Formula One website, and there’s quite an extensive collection of photographs of what they call their “Pit Babes”, who are, arguably, attractive young women in bikinis and similar attire. So the marketing of women as a sexual commodity is obviously not what’s offended them.
If it’s the sadomasochistic aspect of the affair, then I’d refer again to Formula One itself – because to actually watch an entire race, with all it’s noise and repetition and sheer Sisyphusian, ass-numbing, pointlessness, and derive any pleasure from it, you would have to be a masochist, or a ten year old boy. And, you’d need to be a sadist to put it on television. So again, pot, kettle, black.
I wonder if the real reason that all these ultra-rich polluters and despoilers of nature are angry is that if one of them is caught being a bit naughty in an (allegedly) Nazi-themed brothel, it might make the public suspect that the rest of them are also turned on by that kind of thing (possibly like some Christians and Megadeth). And while they sleep perfectly sound with the knowledge that their business activities directly affect the delicate balance of life on earth, the idea that people might find out that they’re a selective bunch of ass-numbed perverts that act like ten year olds, fills them with dread.
Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.
Especially fellow Porsche drivers. Those, Prudent Gentlemen!
Brian Patrick Cork