Right, I’ve had enough of something and I’m going to make a suggestion. I don’t expect it to be liked, agreed with or universally accepted, but I shall at least try and present my take on something that is beginning to irk me. Drugs. Not the recreational or health kind, but the performance enhancing ones. Yet again we have had another famous name outed for using them, and today there is a report into a doctor who has been supplying them. This has crystalised an idea I had years ago and so here it is; The Drug Olympics. Let’s do it. Instead of having people and chemists around the world working on ways to beat the testing, let’s endorse it and allow these so called athletes to go for it. All out. Gloves off. Just how far, fast, high and long can they go? ‘That’s a completely irresponsible idea’ I hear you say, but imagine this We control who can actually watch it with pay per view and then we just let them rip. Take the 100m sprint for example. Guys the size of a village lining up for the gun, taking off at great velocity and around six seconds later bombing over the line at thirty-five miles per hour. Who wouldn’t want to watch that? Granted at the end of the run they may then explode out of their own eye sockets at but that’s surely their choice. They will clearly do or take anything to be the fastest, I say let them. Then there’s the Javelin. Currently, they have to deploy a set of criteria when manufacturing the modern javelin in order to stop them flying over the end of the track and puncturing someone in the stadium. Stuff that. Obviously, I don’t mean I want to see a spectator on a stick, but go let the competitors pump themselves full of whatever it is they need and throw the thing three hundred metres into the distance. So what if their arm comes loose and goes with it, that’s a risk that they’re obviously willing to take.
Another benefit to these pumped up events is that long distance running won’t take so long. Marathons will be over in minutes. The boating lake will look like powerboat racing is taking place. Swimmers will have feet like outboards. Weightlifters will have the ability to lift cathedrals and cyclists will be travelling so fast it will be more a wall of death instead of a velodrome. Instead of cheating, encourage the bastards to see how far they can go. Release the rulebook and see what happens. Now, for the more Daily Mail of you reading this, before you go and get all perplexed and reach for the comments section, I understand that there is the question of safety. No sane person wants to watch a sport where injuries or fatalities happen, but surely if people take one look at the rules and their first thought is ‘how can I get around these’, then I think it fair and reasonable to give them the chance to take part in a different series. One where they can push all limits, be it of themselves, the human body or the machinery they use in that endeavour.
As if to prove my point, I’d like to apply this type of thinking to the world of Formula One. Having just finished another season, Formula One was always seen to be the pinnacle of motorsport for many years. Technical innovation. Daredevil drivers, Out-of-the-box thinking. Momentous circuits. Guts. Glory. Glamour. It had it all. Of course safety is paramount, I completely agree, and although in my lifetime we have lost drivers, the level of innovation in safety has left us with more drivers still going than not. As if to highlight this, the season opener in Melbourne with that stomach churning crash of Fernando Alonso showed us yet again just how far they have come. And thank goodness for that. Yet we are still left reeling a little, because the advances that they are making in Formula One these days means that they are allegedly trying to make it relevant to the road going public. It has become an economy drive. Excellent, you can now go further on the roads thanks to harvesting braking energy. You can look like you give a shit about the world by driving an electric car around town. But you can’t sit down on a Sunday afternoon and watch a good old fashioned motor race. The entertainment has gone, the drivers can’t speak their mind for fear of losing a sponsor, or worse, social media followers, the liveries are as exciting as reading a financial report and he who shall not be named wants the viewers to now pay to watch it. Well done, well played.
Luckily though, you can still get your F1 kicks out here in the real world and you can get up close and personal to the cars that did make this sport the spectacle you once loved. Go and look around for the classic series; F1 Masters, classic meets such as those at Silverstone, Goodwood, Shelsley Walsh, Barcelona, Spa the list goes on. Not only can you see the way it used to be but you can celebrate it, because there are people out there who still race these cars, and paddocks where you can still walk around without the need to empty your bank account, just so you can peer at them over a burly looking oafs hi-vis jacket and a rope. We did just this at Goodwood, where we had the joy and privilege of getting up close and personal with the ground effect cars of the seventies and eighties. Here, we had the sights and sounds of classic Ferrari’s, McLarens', Lotus’ and the amazing looking Shadow Formula One car. Currently under the expert care of Sam Thomas Racing, the car took to the track with Sam at the helm on the Saturday of the 74th Members Meeting, and instantly brought the sunshine out. “Having Gilles Villeneuve as my hero and today actually taking to a circuit with one of his cars in front of me, it was all a little surreal” said Sam afterwards, clearly pumped with endorphins and grinning like a maniac. The pickup on the throttle, the dump of power and the sheer feeling of driving such a classic was so great that Sam went home that evening and jumped straight online.
“I’ve entered into the Silverstone Classic” he bumbled early on Sunday morning when we met in the paddock. “I can’t not drive it again.” While we’re having a chat about the car, people are coming over and looking in the cockpit, taking photo’s with it, talking to the mechanics and, more importantly, introducing their children and grandchildren to the cars and explaining how they worked. It was a joy to be a part of, and seeing them afterwards when they’d seen and heard the cars parading around a classic racetrack, it made me think of my opening idea once again.
The rules and regulations within modern Formula One regarding safety, I get. The pushing back of spectators and increased run-off areas for cars, I also get. But there are competitive people out there who wish to race. The designers want to see how fast they can get the car to go, how they can marry power and aerodynamics with whatever power they can get, to propel the car and its driver to victory quicker than the other team. And we, the fans, want to see that too. With all of that will come the entertainment. As with all things, rules and regulations meant that instead of exploiting ground effect aerodynamics at the time, it was legislated against in favour of flat undersides to cars. It has been accepted because, ‘them’s the rules’, but wouldn’t it be great to have Formula One today with the fastest cars, the guys with the biggest balls and the most open paddock and well supported race series? And, until we do, bring on the Drug Olympics.