Friday, 11 March 2016

Celebratory Reflections...

Today I become a year older. It is not a significant birthday, in the sense that I reach a nice round number of years, unless you are one of those people who attach especial importance to prime numbers; and in any case, I am not one of those to celebrate birthdays overmuch. Devoted readers may remember my acknowledgement of the passing of 20,000 days a few years ago – it’s here if you want to go and look, so the fact of my birthday is not a ‘huge big deal’ in my life.

However, I am surprised how many people choose to use the moment to say ‘many happy returns’ on facebook – and I have to say I am also flattered. Perhaps here and now is a good opportunity to thank you for your good wishes – and I hope that I go on to have many more happy birthdays! A wonderful feature of our humanity is that we can choose to pour out goodwill towards our fellow man – simple acts of kindness, if you will.

Yet although we are broadly good-natured animals, there seem to be many occasions when we think only of ourselves and what the outcome will be for us as individuals. With the upcoming referendum in the UK and presidential elections in the US, we have the opportunity to make a choice that will benefit our respective nations – at least one would hope so. More often than not, it simply boils down to a question of whether one can expect to be better off in one situation or another.

None of this has anything to do with motor-racing, of course. But I do not live such a one-dimensional life as you might think. Well, not quite. The point here – as I reflect that another year gone by means another year closer to the grave – is to set a context, and for that you need also to read my previous post speculating on where we might be in six to eight years’ time.

There are currently - without even considering series at a national level - at least four organisations running races for GT3 cars: SRO, the ACO, Creventic and IMSA. There are others, but let’s not get bogged down in detail. Then there is the GTE class of the World Endurance Championship and GT-LM in the IMSA-organised series in the USA.

Now it may be that my mind’s eye has been put a little out-of-focus by a couple of glasses of claret to celebrate my advancing years, but I can envisage a time when there will be a single, worldwide definition for a racing grand tourer. The trouble is that those two (“honestly, officer!”) glasses of wine have obscured the two big obstacles: co-ordination and goodwill.

It strikes me that both of these have to do with the personalities involved: for once I don’t mean the drivers, but the organising bodies. One thing that is remarkable about the current state of GT racing is the cross-over of drivers and teams between the various series and championships. The enthusiasm for participation in endurance events is refreshing, although politics is never far away, it is seldom visible on the surface.

As I have mentioned before, some manufacturers are spending a great deal of money, as are sponsors and some wealthy individuals who are participating. The ones who are not spending any money are the organisers. Their attitude seems to echo that of the unsavoury side of human nature: what’s in it for me?

There is nothing really wrong with this, of course: Darwinism is based on much the same approach, but am I alone in detecting antagonism where there could so easily be co-operation? Competition may improve the breed, but it also divides the market. In a perfect world, such division would not have to exist, and my vision of unity might be possible. Sadly, that’s not the way it is and I don’t see how things will change while there are people out there whose jobs and income depend on the sport. But I fear that is the problem with all professional sport.

Enough of this – it’s time to get on with some racing. And possibly a glass of port.

1 comment:

  1. Good to meet you on Sat night and a shame we didn't know it was your birthday. Thanks for the positive comments about Fraser and Amy's racing.