KONTAK PERKASA FUTURES – I love racing, all racing. From Formula 1 to the 24 Hours of Le Mans to circle-track racing in rural Michigan, it’s fantastic. I’ve attended two wonderful European historic racing events already this year. In March, I flew to England for the semi-private Goodwood Members’ Meeting. Two months later was the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique event, run on the same circuit used by the modern F1 cars. Both events featured a diverse mix of automobiles and drivers. Both events also reminded me of the loss of purity and magnificent engine notes in modern racing.
Lord March, owner of Goodwood Estate, makes sure each race meeting at his famous circuit is a proper event for any and all who attend. It’s the details. It’s the clothing worn by the track staff, the (excellent) British food, the proper beer, and the historic buildings. Spectators are given uncompromised access to the cars in the paddock and the viewing areas around the circuit.
The echo of various engine notes under deceleration and the insane slip angles in the corners makes Woodcote corner at Goodwood a must-see. Wander over to the chicane and walk along the strait that follows to hear the historic powertrains at full song.
Compare that with the snobby circus of modern Formula 1. Access is limited—you can’t get close to the cars or drivers unless you work for the team or you’re a celebrity. The new turbocharged engines don’t sound very special. F1 is all about the teams, not the spectators. It’s a shame. Sports car racing in the U.S. pays better attention to race fans, but the giant slick tires keep the cars from moving around much through the corners, which diminishes the fun.
From the roof of the Fairmont Hotel in Monaco, I watched a wide variety of sports cars and historic F1 cars drift around the famous hairpin. It was magnificent. There isn’t a modern racing car that sounds anything like the glorious exhaust note of the Matra MS120’s 3.0-liter V-12. Well, the flat-12-equipped Ferrari 312B comes close, and I was lucky to watch and listen to the two dice with each other on the streets on Monaco. The amazing livery and bright colors adorning the cars drive home the point that there is just something lost in modern racing.
But there’s safety to think about. My old friend, Craig Bennett, severely crashed a 1974 Shadow DN4 Can-Am car at Road Atlanta in April. He spent nearly a month in the hospital, where he had six surgeries to sort out 12 broken bones and a shattered vertebra.
I’ve also had friends die in historic racing cars. Sure, you can be injured or killed in modern racing cars, but I’d much rather have a large shunt in a dull-sounding new F1 car than in the ear-tingling Matra.
And that’s where the balance comes in. Today’s race cars are getting more and more complicated, with hybrid powerplants and more buttons on the steering wheel than in Adam West’s bat cave. Drivers have to be as tech-savvy as they are quick.
They also have a race car wrapped around them like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, allowing more aggressive—and controversial—driving. Consider the first lap incident between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg at the Spanish Grand Prix in May. I saw the altercation as a racing incident—nobody’s fault—but the leader, Rosberg, was fiddling with the settings on the steering wheel as his car was losing pace. Rosberg aggressively moved over in front of Hamilton as the British driver tried to pass with equal aggression. The end result was two mangled Mercedes team cars with the drivers none the worse for wear. In the 1950s or ’60s, the lead driver would have given more space to his teammate, though the competitor would not have tried such a pass because of the severity of a potential accident.
Most racing is still wonderful, each series in its own way. I hope modern series organizers come to understand why historic racing is so good for the spectator. If fans don’t get a different aural experience than on TV and can’t get close to the action, what’s to stop them from watching it at home—or skipping the races altogether?
Source : automobilemag.com