Friday, 18 December 2015

Christmas Rumblings from Ebenezer Truswell...

There are 21 Formula 1 Grands Prix scheduled for 2016. There are nine rounds in the WEC. If you are so minded, you could easily find eight 24 hour races (Le Mans, Spa, Nürburgring, Daytona, Dubai, Silverstone, Paul Ricard, Barcelona,) to go to and a three proper 12 hour races (Bathurst, Sebring, Sepang), not to mention the ‘split’ races at Mugello, Zandvoort, Brno, and Abu Dhabi. And those are all top line, international events, not merely national races for production cars. It’s enough. In fact it is too much. The ELMS is expanding to six races, the US sportscar season has twelve rounds and we are in the middle (you may have missed it) of a four-round Asian Le Mans [Winter] Series.

Then there are the ten rounds of the Blancpain GT Series, half of which are billed as “Endurance” races, held over three hours or more. That is more than fifty races and I have not even mentioned British GT, the GT-tour, VLN, ADAC GT, Dutch Supercar or Japanese Super GT. Or the Thunderhill 25-hour race, which seems also to be growing in stature.

I get the feeling these days of a helter-skelter: a headlong rush from one race to another, with no time to reflect between races. If that’s my view as an outsider, then for those involved, whether it be to prepare the cars, to organise the travel and hotels, or to manage, run and direct the races themselves, it is surely only a stone’s throw away from utter chaos.

Does it have to be this way? Can everyone truly hope to have a bigger slice of every cake? I suppose it depends on your point of view. For teams running cars, for organising bodies selling airtime to TV stations, then yes, having more races means more revenue, more turnover, more profit.

For professional drivers, of course, it means more earning opportunities and for gentleman drivers, more chances to indulge in their hobby, even if that means spending more money to do so.

The difficulty that I have with it all is that the abundance of racing diminishes the significance of individual events. Forgive me if I digress for a moment. Our local Rotary Club organises an annual firework display in a park close to our house. We went along this year, paid our £14 to get in, and were treated to a veritable extravaganza. It was good entertainment, thoroughly enjoyed by all the family, and it was made all the more special by the fact that, although the Rotary Club organises it annually, we had missed the last two events.

The point is that the intervening 36 months served to make the event, when we saw it, all the more special. There would be nothing (except some local bye-laws and an uncooperative council, probably) to stop them organising fireworks every Saturday night. But where would be the fun in that? What would be special about going along to something that you can see every week?

It is possible, though, that this is just me, failing to move with the times. I must admit I find the current trend towards social media deeply unsettling, a constant distraction as the appetite for the latest news grows - consumers seem to want less and less content, more and more often. Maybe I am in the minority, shuddering at the words of that Wizzard song: “I wish it could be Christmas every day!”

But all this proliferation may be no bad thing. If it is a case of suppliers providing what the market demands, then is it not exceedingly curmudgeonly of me to groan a little? In many ways I’m all in favour of giving the market what it wants, but then again, there are times when a little restraint can be a good thing. Like at Christmas, when, as my father used to say: “moderation in all things”; although I think it was Oscar Wilde who added “… including moderation”!

Today it seems to me there is a tendency to react (especially through social media outlets) rather than reflect – to think fast rather than to think deeply. The world today is seen through the judgemental lens of a smart phone rather than the eye of wisdom and empathy.

Anyway, to all my readers, merry Christmas: may it be a joyful time of year for you all, and may 2016 live up to our hopes and not down to our fears!

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