Phil Mon, 30 May 2005 06:51:47
>It was the mickey mouse short circuit, only Kagayama had raced on this one,
>made passing very difficult, the track
>suited the Ducs, nice to see Haga competitive again, Corser increases his
>lead in the championship after Laconi
>crashed out in race two.

It's actually not a bad track in that configuration but it misses out on some of the more dramatic corners of the longer courses at Silverstone. But that's "not bad" from the rider's point of view. For the spectator it's complete and utter crap. I haven't been to Silverstone much over the years. Many, many times as a kid; once to see Sheene and Roberts at a F750 race; a few F1 races on hospitality in the early 90s; And yesterday. It was always flat and hard to see much but there were places where you could get reasonably close to the action and see something. But now the F1 safety issues and Ecclestone's demands have created a sterile, soulless track that exists to make money above all else and where there's so much gravel trap and fencing that you can't see a damn thing. While WSB was running on the short track, the other half of the circuit was running a car based hospitality day. Even with all the control and organization, they still manage to screw up. The PA on the pit straight was pathetic and several parts of the circuit which might have been good places to watch had no PA at all or it was turned off. The one Starvision big screen was pointing at grandstands across the whole Luffield complex so even if you were in line of sight, it would have been miles away. And yet at 90 deg to the way it was setup there were lots of spectators at good viewing points on both sides. Finally, there were no camping facilities *at all*. So no incentive to go for the whole weekend. And of course, no campsite mayhem. So we went up expecting to camp illegally in a field in the surrounding countryside and that's exactly what we did. On the good side, it was dead easy to get in and out, all queues were short and the toilets were clean (Donington, take note).

Any road up, I won't be going back and my guess is that anybody who went the last few years won't go back either, so I expect the small crowd to dwindle further.

Donington GP last year was like a police state. Now whether this was the effect of insurance or the "War On Terrah", I don't know. And although there are a few good places to watch, the racing is rarely close. Silverstone is utterly boring. So I think I'll only bother to go to Brands Hatch now and then just for the day. Or go to the continental circuits where they still know how to have a weekend to remember, loosely surrounding some decent racing.

Warning. This is somewhat off topic and veers into areas that might be political.

Mankind is a tribal species. And every so often the tribe needs to get together for a great festival. Get large numbers of people in a relatively confined area with a central event to provide the reason. Let them all get happy drunk, mashed or whatever and just let them get on with it. Inevitably a few people will get hurt in some way but the temporary autonomous zone will fulfil its purpose of bringing the tribe together.

This seems to be a very basic need that keeps bubbling up. In recent history, the free festivals of the late 60s and early 70s. The Punk era. The rave culture of the late 80s and early 90s. Goa beach parties. Glastonbury up until the early 90s. The Berlin Love Parade. The Grateful Dead caravan.

M/C racing events have been very much part of this and in the same spirit. From The Bol D'or to the TT to Donington (in year's past) to Assen to Jerez to Mugello. Motorcyclists got together and re-affirmed their membership of the tribe with a full on party.

But somewhere along the line, central reality control in the form of Northern European societies (and those like them in USA and Canada) have decided that this sort of free form gathering is too dangerous. They need to be sanitised and controlled and preferably eliminated. If it's not the governments that do this, it's their cohorts; lawyers, insurance companies and petty bureaucrats. And if not them it's the bourgeoisie. The moneyed classes with so little sense that they can't work out that buying a house right next to a race circuit means having to put up with noise on a lot of weekends each year. Or it's the same moneyed people who may even pay to go some of these events just as long as it's not in their back yard.

Some of my stand out memories, that I take out and polish every once in a while, are of these temporary autonomous zones. So it makes me very sad that in so much of the western world, these tribal gatherings are now basically outlawed. It's enough to make me want to emigrate to some country that's developed enough to have modern infrastructure but still anarchic enough to actually allow people to party en masse.

But perhaps this is just the mid life crisis talking. I just have to make the effort to get myself to the great Southern European races where this still happens. And to go back to those parts of Asia where a few million people gathering for some reason in one place is normal and not a disaster in waiting that must be stopped. And right now.

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