Motor Sport Muse by Connie Ann Kirk

Connie Ann Kirk, Ph.D. is a writer living in upstate New York. She has been credentialed by the FIA to write about Formula 1, credentialed by NASCAR and IndyCar for its races, and by historic / vintage entities like SVRA and Goodwood to write about their events in the U.S. and U.K.. Connie is working on a book about racers and racing. She created, writes, and maintains Motor Sport Muse as a not-for-profit online column / blog and bulletin board for participants, fans, and enthusiasts in the motor sport community and other interested readers. Thank you for visiting!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Post-Race Weekend Blues

This past weekend was a good one at the track.  My first outing of the 2013 season, this was one I had obviously long anticipated.  The weather was a factor some of the days, but on Sunday, the last day, the weather was perfect and everyone got in the races their cars were prepared well enough to drive.

All that was fine and dandy.  Lots learned for my book, people talked to, etc., etc.  Then came the decision to leave the track, then the drive home.

Throughout Sunday at historic/vintage races, people pack up and go home at different times.  So, while Sunday is the day racers look forward to for their main events and the last chance to drive their cars and maybe beat a pal in friendly competition or get first in class, a quick lap, more seat time, or even a spot on the podium with a little take-away goody to bring back with them, it's also the day many (or at least those who are not retired) have to high-tail it back home in time to get back to work the next day.  So, the place empties out gradually, over time.

If you're a spectator like me, or a writer researching a book or an article, and have the luxury of staying as long as you wish, from mid to late afternoon I notice a softer quality begins to draw down on the track.  There is less commotion overall; there are still 1 or 2 more races going on; the sunlight changes quality.  There is a sense that something is coming to an end but isn't there, quite yet.  And some of us just plain don't want to leave.

That's how I felt yesterday.  I expected I'd not want to leave, or that I'd feel maybe a little disappointed about things I had hoped yet to accomplish before the weekend ran out of time.  What I didn't expect was the utter sadness I did feel.  I looked at the scenery coming down off the hill.  I drove with the radio on.  The silence, even with music, was deafening after the roar of engines in your ears for 3 straight days.

People are frequently smiling and in a good mood at the track.  They may not be in the "real" world.  I thought, 'are there any errands I need to run before I go home?  I can't go home just yet.'  But there weren't any I could think of right then.  So, I parked in a city park for about half an hour, just to kind of "come down" from the weekend.  That's when I teared up, then asked myself what in the world right did I have to be so sad?  I'd just had a good weekend.

The experience has me questioning if there is something that could be unhealthy about racing for those who do it (I mean beyond the danger) as well as for those who love watching.  There is that popular quote Steve McQueen said in the 1971 movie, LE MANS, playing a race car driver named Michael Delaney:  "When you’re racing, it .... it’s life. Anything that happens before or after... is just waiting."

Well, I don't want to be that guy, you know?  But yesterday, I could feel that.  I could feel what that means.  I had waited for many months to go back to the track, and now it was over.  I would go back to the track much sooner than I had left it the last time, since it is now the season where I live, but I felt uncomfortable about how forlorn I was over having to leave it yesterday.  I knew that somewhere inside I'd be waiting, every day in a way, until I was back there again in a few weeks. 

Maybe it's not such a bad thing.  People enjoy what they enjoy and hate to leave it.  I'm working on a racing book, so I do a lot of reading about racing every day, so perhaps it's only natural to long for the real experience again with some vigor after a long absence.  But it has me thinking.  I don't want to be that person who "lives" only, or feels most alive, at a track. 

I'm better today.  More sleep and getting out of the sun after several straight days outside help bring back perspective.

This weekend, though, at the very least, I think I got a taste of what that other drug called speed can do.

[Musing:  What do you think, dear reader.  If you go to watch motor races, or participate in them, do you think it's at all "dangerous" when you miss it and long to return to the track in a big way?  Is it just like any other enjoyment, or is there something different about motor racing?].

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Formula 1: Sir Stirling Moss, Lewis Hamilton swap Mercedes cars, stories at Silverstone

(Photo:  Legendary British Formula 1 racer Sir Stirling Moss met up with current F1 Mercedes driver and 2008 world champion, Lewis Hamilton, at Silverstone, May 31, 2013.  Credit:  Getty Images.)

If there's one thing the British know about their place in the world it's that they can count on their history to impress people. That was the case on Friday as well when two British Formula 1 drivers from very different eras in racing met at Silverstone and traded places and stories with their respective Mercedes race cars and adventures in them.

In a photo opportunity Friday designed to promote the British Grand Prix at Silverstone June 28-30, the 2008 world champion and current Mercedes driver, Lewis Hamilton, met up with the 1955 British Grand Prix winner, Sir Stirling Moss. They even brought their cars, parked beside each other. While Moss, now 83, did not get into the Mercedes W04, Hamilton did try out the W196 from the earlier days.


[Muse:  Love Formula 1 history, so I enjoyed writing this one!].