Some things need to be experienced in order to be truly appreciated. One of Formula 1′s most famous corners is Spa-Francorchamps’ Eau-rouge, which seeing it on television does no justice to the true gradient of this spectacular piece of Belgian race track. I have had the pleasure of travelling to Spa a number of times with work and each time I was taken a back by the scale of the climb cars make racing up Eau-rouge. My first trip there was with two drivers I was promoting, one of whom was racing there for the first time in a round of the European Formula Ford Championship. Like any driver making their first visit to a track and having clocked up hours learning it on the Playstation he wanted to check it out for real but at 7km long and it getting late walking it was not really an option. The next best thing was to borrow his team’s pit bike and together with his race engineer they set off for a sighting lap which while on a 50cc was never going to be quick would beat walking but it wasn’t long before they found themselves on foot. Half way up the famous corner the bike simply ran out of steam with both of them having to jump off – thats how steep it is. The reason for reminiscing is that this rather funny moment came back into my head when I travelled to Round 5 of the Euro Touring Series in Luxembourg.
In my last column, I wrote about encouraging more new drivers into our sport. I had a lot of comments from racers about ways that they think we could help to get more youngsters into the hobby. That’s great! Make sure you don’t just keep your ideas on internet forums or in emails, go and talk to your local club and help get the ideas started! This time, however, I wanted to look at what is perhaps the “next stage” for drivers. I’ve been fortunate to grow up with friends from racing across the spectrum – for the classic club drivers through to drivers at the top of the international fields.
It’s a topic that’s often discussed and bought up, and something I’ve alluded to in a number of my previous columns. But I thought it was finally time to dedicate a whole piece to the subject. In fact, so much so that I know I’ll need to split this out into a couple of parts! How do we get more youngsters involved in our sport?
Over the last month my work commute became a bit regular, well regular in terms of the destination country as I made three consecutive trips to Austria. The first of these was for the season finale of the Euro Offroad Series which thanks to a change to the weekend schedule would turn out to be the first time in the championships’ 11 races that on a Sunday evening as I did my final wrap up that I made the comment ‘I enjoyed that’. From there it was ETS action that brought me back to Austria, this time to a small town called Mattsee. In my time as Events Editor of Red RC I have got to meet many great people around the world but on that weekend I would get to meet someone who a few years ago as a huge motoring fan I would never have expected to meet let alone be invited to have dinner with. While appreciative of its picturesque countryside and enjoying every second of driving on its twisty mountain roads my Austrian ‘tour’ would unfortunately end on a very damp note as the rain did everything in its power to try and prevent the running of the second round of the new Euro Nitro Series.
I’m sure that when schools in the distant future study the early 21st Century as part of their history lessons, the one thing that will stand out to define this period of time will be the development of technology that has occurred. We’re now becoming a world full of gadgets, apps and connectivity, and scarcely a week goes by without some new product being launched.
This weekend, it was the time of the year when I celebrate my birthday. Normally, it ends up being on a Bank Holiday weekend in the UK, and therefore I’ve often been at some race event, somewhere, making full use of the extra day off. However, this year that wasn’t entirely the case – I had a weekend off from major events and so spent the time with my friends and family. OK, I did make a trip to a club race, but would you really have expected anything else from me?!
While my own racing activities are far and few between these days, one of the things I enjoy most about racing is the actual building of the kit in preparation for hitting the track. I like the piecing together of the various elements of engineering that is to be found in a competition rc car, most of my builds being onroad nitro kits, and I suppose that stems from my general interest in how most things are made. Happy to sit through a few episodes of Discovery Channel’s ‘How is it Made’ series, I have always been keen when an opportunity arises to get an insight into the behind the scenes of how a product comes about, be it a visit to a Skoda car factory in the Czech Republic while there for a friend’s stag or a recent visit to the world’s oldest operating distillery which is located not to far from my home town. With the start of the all new Euro Nitro Series came two such opportunities involving rc manufacturers, one of which would turn out to be a lot more interesting that even I expected.
In any form of sport, a large number of people enjoy cheering for the ‘underdog’. With the news this week that a new team was set to join the Formula 1 grid in 2015, and the debut of Porsche in the World Endurance Championship (Le Mans Series), ‘new’ motorsport teams often gain that same level of support. Will these new-comers be able to challenge the established teams? Perhaps not immediately, but will they ever be able to haul themselves up the grid and become serious competitors?