Wednesday, 26 October 2016

The thing about age

So here’s the thing. I was watching a review at the weekend of the 1993 Indycar World Series. You know the one with Mansell winning it straight after his F1 championship. It was quite well known.

For me it was the finest season of motorsport, ever, anywhere. I watched a full replay of the Indy 500 that year on YouTube the other day and I was glued throughout. With all due respect, I can’t do that these days with Formula One.

Then it struck me. The leading contenders that year were ‘old’ when you compare that to the present day. Think back to ’93 – Mansell, Fittipaldi, (Mario) Andretti. All over 40. Some over 50. Yet they were still at the sharp end, fighting tooth and nail. I think the battle between Mansell and Fittipaldi at Cleveland’s airport circuit was one of the finest battles ever in motorsport history. Gripping, edgy, lively, gutsy… it was all there.

So this got me wondering about age in motorsport, hence my blog today.

In other sports, physically you are limited when it comes to age. Your body performs better at a younger age – fact. But what about motorsport? Surely if that were true then younger drivers at the time – Paul Tracey for example – would have performed better in Indycar 1993. Or was it just inexperience?

Is motorsport - particularly F1 – now almost obsessed with young drivers? Are ‘junior programmes’ REALLY necessary or is it just based on commercial interests? It’s an interesting debate.

I’d love to put a series of drivers from teenage to 50 in the same car and see who would come out on top. Would younger age beat experience? Intriguing…

Monday, 17 October 2016

Help me get on the grid (well, sort of)

So the motorsport season at large – with the exception of a few – is coming to an end. It’s been incredible once again. Across the categories there’s been classic close racing, strong grids, a last race BTCC title decider and a new F1 champion (well, maybe!).

For me, as most of the teams get to enjoy a small amount of peace and quiet before next season, it’s an opportune moment to address the motorsport industry with a personal message – I can help you in 2017.

Let me explain why. In a nutshell, my time in motorsport isn’t finished yet. I’m 32 and I have many more skills to give now than I ever have. In other words…my motorsport mission is incomplete.

I’m a motorsport PR and marketing specialist primarily, although I’m not working in the industry at the moment. So what actual motorsport experience do I have? In 2007, I was press officer for the Sibsport independent team in the BTCC, who ran an ex-Team Halfords Honda Integra. It was a great experience and something that I will remember forever. I got involved with everything, from writing pre and post-race reports to arranging local TV interviews. I even created a competition that, to my knowledge, no one else had ever run in the BTCC.

Away from this, I’ve worked for some of the world’s leading motorsport suppliers when I was working in a leading motorsport marketing agency. This included gearbox manufacturers, brake specialists, race car builders and even a fire safety firm. I also worked agency side for Donington Park, where I played a key role in an exciting BTCC media day at Alton Towers in 2012.

From car launches to brochures, I've got a lot of skills honed in motorsport

I’m active in motorsport on a personal level too. Together with this blog, I have various social media outlets. I also do a lot of motorsport photography when I get the chance. I’ve even got a National B racing license so I can pretend I’m the new Ayrton Senna (one can dream!).

So what is the point of me writing this blog? Well, just to let you know I’m in the market and would happily discuss terms with anyone. Freelance, weekends or even full time…I need to get back into the paddock.

Thanks for reading; I hope this catches someone’s eye.

Jon Bennett

Twitter: @jbautosport

Friday, 16 September 2016

A true inspiration

I’m writing this just as the 2016 Rio Paralympics is coming to an end. I’ve been so busy recently that I sadly haven’t seen much of it first hand, so I have had to keep up to speed with things via the various sport news apps I have on my phone.

The inspiring stories from these amazing athletes are never ending. I’m probably biased due to my love of motorsport - as you’ll all probably have guessed by now – but the story coming from across the Atlantic regarding Alex Zinardi has blown me away. Perhaps though it’s the general public’s reaction to his achievements that has made me realise what a true hero figure he actually is.

By way of a background, if you don’t know his story, here’s a brief run down.His F1 career started with Jordan in 1991, ending in 1994 after the Lotus team folded. After a brief stint driving in sportscars, he joined the US-based CART series. He won the championship in 1997 and 1998 before switching back to F1 for a year with Williams. He eventually returned to CART.

On September 15th 2001, at a race that was held as a ‘memorial’ to the terrorist attacks in the USA 4 days earlier, he was involved in an accident at the CART race at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz in Germany. Gravely injured, his legs were amputated - one at and one above the knee. Having been so close to death, it must have been so easy to give up. But that’s not the Zinardi way.

He began a rapid, tough rehabilitation. He even designed his own legs. With hand controls, he did ceremonial laps in a CART machine just two years after his accident and his time would have put him fifth of the grid in the race that same race. This inspired him to make a racing return in touring cars, winning races from 2005-2009 before he retired. At the same time, he started handcycling, for which he is now a legend.  

His emotional reaction to the gold medal in the Men’s Time Trial T5 at the Rio Paralympics led to an amazing reaction across Social Media and it was clear it impacted a lot of people. One of my favourite quotes given after this latest Paralympic triumph, he said: “Day by day I managed to regain control and strength, regain some confidence and concentrate on different things and here I am now.”
Of all the Social Media comments I’ve seen, this one had the most impact - from Channel4's 'The Last Leg' – and I don’t think I’m the only one!
Zinardi certainly has inspired me over the years. When you’ve been through what he has and he’s so positive, it teaches us all a bit of lesson.