Friday, 21 October 2011

The tragedy of motorsport

"Racing is in my blood.  It's part of me, it's part of my life".  So said the late, great, Ayrton Senna.  It is a statement that I completely agree with, as I feel the same.  It also is a statement that reminds me of the amazing loss I felt when we lost Senna at Imola in 1994.  Despite being only 10, I still remember that day like it was yesterday.  That weekend, when we also lost Roland Ratzenberger, was utterly unbelievable for the motorsport world.  To have that much sorrow over a weekend was horrific. 

Last weekend in Las Vegas British motorsport lost a huge personality, although those not familar with the sport probably wouldn't have heard much of Dan Wheldon.  At this point it is only fair that I say that although I followed him, I didn't know him personally.  I do know people who did however.  It was Monday morning UK time as I was preparing for work when I saw the accident on BBC Breakfast News. I couldn't believe what I was seeing.  I had to stop everything and just sit for a while.  I still can't believe it now.  Champ Car and Indycar - both together and when they were seperate - has experienced alot of awful weekends (Paul Dana, Alex Zinardi, Greg Moore to name a few) but this latest event seems to have sent real shock waves internationally.

Despite the obvious journalistic comments about safety issues, I am amazed that more people got away with it.  It was such an intense, violent, wide-spread accident that even the safest car on the planet wouldn't have assured protection. 

I'm not in a position to make comments about safety in Indycar.  I simply have no right to.  But my closing statement would purely be that the tragedy that can occur in motorsport affects every stakeholder in the industry - from drivers to fans.  Everyone knows the risks associated with such a high speed, cutting edge sport - even spectators are reminded on all their tickets over here in the UK.  But it's a sport with a passion and adrenaline rush that I can't define.  It's the families who suffer the most as it's always so sudden.  My thoughts are with Dan's family, friends and all the many people who worked along side him over the years.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Integra takes its final bow

Lea Wood’s British Touring Car race meeting at Silverstone with his Central Group Racing Team's Honda Integra may, on the face of it, seem nothing to particularly shout about.  However, I beg to differ.

The third race on Sunday was a significant moment as it marked the end of the Honda Integra's use in the BTCC.  Since its first use in 2005 in the iconic orange colour of Team Halfords it's provided many memories for many people, including myself.  Maybe none more so than newly-crowned triple BTCC champion Matt Neal, who won two of his championships at the wheel of the Integra.

I will always have a personal connection to the Integra as I worked for a team that ran one in the BTCC a few years ago.  I even think the Integra I was involved with was the one on the grid at Silverstone. By the time I worked with it it was starting to lose its edge, but it was still a heavy points scorer.  Now, sadly, its competitive edge is over - but to still be on the grid after seven years is a true credit to the car and Team Dynamics, who built the thing in the first place.  What's even more interesting is that the car was simply imported into the UK with no manufacturer backing - it was never an official UK car.

So here ends the story of the Honda Integra Type-R DC5 in the BTCC.  May it grace club level motorsport for years to come.

Tonight I will be raising a glass to the DC5 - a true legend in the history of the British Touring Car Championship.  Cheers for the memories!