There is a certain inherent energy in the focus of the eye as one watches the sleek body of artistic form, an engineering masterpiece ripping through the atmosphere surrounding the course, the lightening swiftness of the approach as the vehicle hurtles down the straight at around two hundred miles an hour. The howl of the engine assaults the ears like a wailing banshee as wheels, colour and sound scream past in a blaze of motion and force. Yes, that energy dances and sparkles in your eyes. A smile slowly creeps across the faces of spectators one and all. The race is on, and the smell of burnt fuel hangs in the air, the roar of approval from the crowd overtakes the crescendo of noise rising from the track.
I am a Formula One junky. I have been since I was a child, watching the tension unfold on the family television, rooted to my spot on the floor, silently willing my team on, dreaming them to the finish line, the reward of a chequered flag waving its signal to all that this man is a victor, a man among men. That passion for these beautifully crafted racing machines spilled over into my adult years, and only grew more acute as I became more engrossed in the sport.
At twenty four, I began my pilgrimage following the sport across the globe. Every year I would faithfully save up and choose a set number of races to visit, from Canada to Australia and everywhere inbetween. It was never a cheap hobby, but the pursuit of things that produce the most pleasure in life never are. Year after year I remained faithful to the cause, blogging about my journey in the shadow of the trail blazers whipping up a storm in the competition as competitors and teams chased each other in an effort to win the coveted title of the very best at the end of the season.
Somewhere along the way it was my blog that got me noticed. I am not even sure which post or what I said, but somehow I impressed someone, and an email plopped into my inbox with a personal invitation to join the Virgin Racing team, trackside at the Silverstone Grand Prix. Whatever it was that I had said that got me this unique opportunity, I was beside myself. This was the culmination of a dream, a desire, a lifelong ambition to one day be able to afford a ticket to go into the pits.
I would never have imagined how attending the race that day would so radically impact and change my life. How could I know that fate would bring me luck more than any luck the lady of luck could have given me? No, I think even she was clueless to this one, in as much as I do not think that anyone to this day other than myself and my significant other knows any more than a quiet, shy, somewhat awed and enthralled South African visited the Virgin team and became more than just a casual enthusiast and avid fan of the boys in the dazzling white and red machines.
You see on that day I was to meet the ace himself, Douglas McBride, the man from Scotland that captured the hearts and minds of every British Formula One fan. The man who had propelled a virtually unheard of racing team into a phenomenal position in the battle to win the crowning achievement awarded to both the individual and the team. Under the stewardship of Sebastian von Klein as the Racing Director for the Virgin Racing Team, Douglas had found the ideal balance between perfection on the track and drawing out the best from the support team that helped him hurl his demon fast rocket to victory.
I was standing in the presence of this greatness, meeting a person whom in my eyes was potentially a god in terms of racing ability, when I made quite possibly the most ridiculous statement of my life. I think I may actually have swallowed my tongue and lost all sense of moral normality as a result of my awe of the man, and proceeded to blurt out what brilliant blue eyes he had. I would further exacerbate this statement by continuing to speculate aloud how his lovely eyes must surely make the track easier for him to see.
To my amazement my faux pas did not elicit a disparaging remark from my idol, but instead he chuckled to himself and told me that he hoped I was right, as he would need to see the tarmac clearly in all the rain that dogged the race that day. In a flash he had gone, and I found myself left cursing my blunder into eternity as I stood by the docking station for the Virgin Team at trackside watching Von Klein manage and direct his team into a dominant race position.
McBride was always on course to win, but what was even more astonishing to watch was the skilful mastery with which Von Klein used his vast experience to place his competitors with remarkable ease into positions from where the advantage lay in the hands of the operators of those high powered machines to romp home in first and second position.
I stood in the circuit ring watching my hero as he climbed to the top tier of the victors platform to be awarded his just deserts. I knew that I for one was a proud man, but knowing also I was witnessing the sheer jubilation of a blue ribbon competitor win his home Grand Prix in front of thousands of local supporters. What a glorious victory and the falling droplets of the Champaign spray that fell from above us was the sweet taste of success up close and personal for me.
That experience will live with me long into my distant future, but what was to follow was the stuff that only dreams are made of.
I left the circuit to make my way back home, and while standing on the platform of the Northampton railway station, waiting for my train that I got a blip on my iPhone to announce the arrival of a new email. I flicked it open, and my hand trembled as I read…
“I guess my blue eyes were on form today. Meet me for dinner.”
A time, venue and address were with the message. I stood there, my knees trembling, my mouth was dry as I read and reread the message I had just received. It could only be from one person, as only one person had been close enough to me to hear me say a word about blue eyes, and I therefore felt I had every reason to feel appallingly weak and breathless.
I summoned the courage to respond using the only two letters my trembling fingers seemed able to find, the two that make up the word ‘ok.’
I know not how I managed to steel myself to make the date. I am not even sure that, at that time, I considered it to be a date, or even knew what to expect. The thing is though, through a mixture of attraction, passion, acceptance and commitment I embarked on a secretive yet thrilling relationship with a man I had never dared dream about in this way.
A single stupid comment lead to the date of a lifetime, and the existence I now lead, where I quietly observe from the shadows, secretly satisfying my stead’s desires when outside of the media spotlight, yet I appear as just another one of the pack at track side on race day. It is a life mixed with stolen kisses, private jets, Ray Ban sun glasses and Champaign dinners.
When we are not hidden away, privately spending time enraptured in the splendour of each others affection, I may be found where I find myself today, standing observing the man of my life as he sits in a machine which will hurtle him around the Hockenheim racing circuit at a velocity that could be considered ludicrous. This artfully designed machine, created by some of the finest minds in the racing world is sitting on the tarmac, its sharp lines and graceful curves belying the power that hides within its V8 2.4 litre engine. This beast has been manufactured to throw out a phenomenal nine hundred and eighty horse power, and it is ready to thrust my man down the straight accelerating to one hundred and eighty six miles an hour in under nine seconds.
During the race, the carbon fibres of the body will help along with its wings and ducts and trim to force the car to sit down on the track, granting its wheels the maximum grip needed to force the motor forwards. This thing is designed to break records. It is guaranteed to transpose ridiculous forces on its operators body and cocoons its precious cargo in a frame of relative safety. That is not to say that this sport is not dangerous, and my heart is in my mouth every time another vehicle approaches the screaming bomb my love races around this circuit strapped into.
Today his car will burn off four hundred and fifty litres of high octane fuel in his bid for glory. The team will have up to four sets of ultra high grip tyres on stand by in the pit lane to change through the course of the race as ordered by the race director. Douglas will typically experience anywhere up to five g’s in force during acceleration and deceleration during the race, repetitively for over an hour. Every vehicle will attempt to complete seventeen corners sixty seven times as they charge to the finish line, travelling a total of one hundred and ninety miles by the time they finish the race.
An individual will compete for points awarded to the top ten place finishers which will contribute to their overall ranking in the competition through the season, both as a constructor team and as an individual. Win the greatest number of points and glory is yours in a sport that is so fiercely competitive that racing strategies, technological advancements and design concepts are secrets more closely guarded than some matters of national security.
I have been a lover of Formula One racing for a considerable number of years now, but never before did I suspect that my love of the sport would surpass my pure enjoyment of the race as a fan, to become a love, desire and passion that grips me as much on a personal level as a mental one. I can only hope that once more my love gets rewarded for his battle with the laws of nature and the powers of mankind’s ability to go faster, further, higher.
The five words I chose to ignore were - Speed, Car, Driver, Championship, Podium. These are all words that you would associate with Formula One Racing and proved to be quite a challenge to avoid using, especially the word driver.
I wasn't entirely sure how to describe the event as instructed in the challenge, so I just decided to throw a little spice and drama into the story to make it more appealing to write about while I hope to also read.
I really hope that you enjoy reading, and even more hope that you leave a little feedback. Thanks