The death of two motorsport stars is a terrible tragedy for all. It is something that ultimately does come as a shock to all those involved in the sport and despite the fact that it is of course dangerous, it is also generally pretty safe. Thankfully modern technology and safety advances have made the sport safer than it was in years passed despite the increase in speeds achieved.
However, despite the terrible loss of Dan Wheldon and Marco Simoncelli, the media still feel it appropriate to splash graphic images across newspapers and the internet along with video footage of the accidents which caused both deaths. This is unbelievable, disgusting and damn right disrespectful. Family and friends of both sportsmen have to come to terms with their loss yet the whole time these gruesome images are paraded about within the public domain. I saw the replay of Dan Wheldons accident soon after it happened and before his death was announced. I didn’t see the Simoncelli incident and have not made an attempt to see it. Had I known the Indycar accident was to cause someone’s death I would not have wanted to see it and I wish I hadn’t in all honesty. Those people who have actively gone to view either or both video’s knowing what was to result are not fans of motorsport. Those who decided to print and display graphic images in the media are not fans of motorsport either. It leaves me with a sick feeling and a question of morality within human kind that people feel this is acceptable.
It is not just the images that are displayed and printed that upset me either. It is the resulting reports, views and opinions on the tragedies and motorsport that also get to me. One reporter went as far as to suggest Dan Wheldon’s death was a direct link to his desire to win the five million dollar prize on offer. How could someone who clearly knows nothing about the driver say such a thing? The media is full of tripe written by people who know nothing about the sport having their say. Reporters and Bloggers alike have felt it is the right time to stick their opinions in where it isn’t wanted.
I read one online report from an apparently well regarded writer who even clearly stated to knowing nothing about the sport, yet goes on to tell everyone that motorsport should be banned because it causes countless deaths. She is however not alone. There are many more out there who give off their opinion and some even suggesting that Motorsports fans bay for accidents to happen and are disappointed when there aren’t any. This is just outrageous guff. The very fact that motorsport fans from around the world have been united with their heartfelt tributes to both men speaks volumes and how misinformed many outside of the sports ‘community’ are very much misinformed or delusional they are.
A competitive nature is within all of us. It is part of our genetic makeup. We all want to be good at something and enter competitions with the hope of winning. We all push ourselves to be better, faster, or stronger. It is part of live. Races take place in all forms, on foot, on horseback or on bike. The invention of the motorcar provided another alternative form of competition. Let’s face it, Romans raced chariots around an oval thousands of years before the car was invented.
No one denies the fact that motorsports is dangerous. Of course it is. You would be stupid to think it wasn’t. But let’s get real, is this a reason it should be banned? No. Driving your own car on public roads is dangerous, but that doesn’t stop people doing it. There is risk in practically everything we do but we can’t wrap ourselves up in cotton wool. Stupid opinions, unnecessary comments and images at a time when people are still mourning and coming to terms with the loss of two talented individuals is totally out of order and highly disrespectful.
We all know that certain forms of media are severely lacking in morals yet they continue to stoop to new lows. Dan and Marco weren’t bad people, they were and still are adored by many who realised their talent and ability. So I plea to the worlds media, for the sake of human kind, stop using their deaths as a platform to make money, sell papers & magazines or boost popularity and show some respect for a change.
Rest in peace Dan and Marco.
It is with a heavy heart I sit down to write another tribute to a lost talent within just a week of the tragedy of Dan Wheldon’s loss. But unfortunately the world of motorsport has been rocked again so soon with the devastating news of Marco Simoncelli’s fate.
Marco, or Sideshow Bob as he was sometimes affectionately known, thanks to his big hair, was a great character within Motorcycle racing and his talent was clear for all to see. Loved by many, he had a bright career ahead of him and was without doubt a future champion. Fortunately I wasn’t watching the coverage of the fateful Moto GP race in Malaysia but he died doing what he loved and was ultimately very good at.
My thoughts and heartfelt condolences go out to all his Family and Friends. Rest in Peace Marco.
I’ve been very fortunate to have been given a number of great opportunities within the world of motorsport and recently I was given another.
Having had a number of days holiday saved up and work keen on me to use them up before the end of the year I was left wondering what to do with them. Cat Lund got in touch and asked if I was interested in being part of their chase crew for the immanent Mull Rally. Although I do like Rallying I’ve never been to a rally before and it was a great opportunity to get firsthand
experience of one as part of a team, so naturally I jumped at the chance.
Cat, the co-driver along with driver Andy Rowe were competing in the Mull Rally for the first time in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo3 which has seen them to great success over the past four years and it was to be the car’s last hoorah before being replaced. Being a new rally to the pair a lot of work was needed to be put in on pace notes etc so we headed up on Sunday night to allow plenty of time to reccie the stages.
Having stayed overnight and picking up the mechanic Dan Green, we arrived on Monday. After issues with the Initial accommodation plans, Richard at Crannick Farm was able to come to our rescue at the last minute for which we were all very grateful for. With our new accommodation came a great spot which served as a service area for the car which was ideal and with Richard’s fantastic hospitality we settled in well.
Whilst Andy and Cat spent the next few days out and about perfecting pace notes and checking the stages, Dan and myself were left to sort out the Car. Well, as I know pretty much nothing about mechanics, Dan did most of that side whilst I did odds and sods like sorting out the onboard camera, cleaning wheels and bodywork and as I like to call it, applying race tape to strategic areas on the bodywork etc. We also had to go and check out the services areas for the rally and the emergency service points where we would need to refuel the car. As well as that we needed to get some mud flaps too. So we spent a long time driving around the island which is deceptively large and only has a few roads which, with the exception of the stretch between Salen and Craignure and a few miles into Tobermory are all single track with passing places. Mud flaps were exceedingly hard to come by and almost at the point of giving up on our quest to find some and having asked almost every Mull resident where we might find any, we were tipped of about a guy who repairs Land Rovers. After eventually arriving at said yard, we managed to acquire a pair of Land Rover mud flaps which eventually proved to be a great fit to the rear. The front mud flaps were slightly less desirable though as those had been fashioned with a pair of car mats. But they still did the job.
Friday morning soon came round which meant heading to Tobermory for scrutineering. With 117 entries ranging from Subaru’s and Mitsubishi’s to Mini’s and more Mark2 Escorts you could shake a stick at, the bay was heaving. The scrutineering took place within the yard of the Islands distillery and the Evo3 passed without major issue. Dan spent some time making sure the light pod was fixed securely to stop it vibrating and after we had taken the van to the first leg’s service area, we were back in Tobermory ready for the Rally start that evening.
With Andy and Cat being number 17 they were one of the early starters and after watching them head off to start Stage 1 Dan and I headed off to the service area in Craignure. On the way the team mobile phone rang. My heart sank as I knew it would only be a call from one other phone, that of the phone in the rally car and it would only ring for one reason. Sure enough, there was a problem. The alternator belt had gone on stage one and despite assistance from some ever enthusiastic rally fans, too much time had been used on stage getting it repaired. Stage two was completed before the car made it into service and a great feeling of dejection was hanging in the air. A full fix was carried out by Dan and Andy before the car was ready to continue. It was decided that only a few more stages were to be contested that evening as after going over time meant the car wouldn’t be classified and it wasn’t worth taking a risk and damaging the car further when entry to the trophy rally the following day was a very viable option.
The trophy rally was indeed the option taken which enabled the retirements from Friday to still be able to continue behind the field on the remaining stages so despite the disappointment of Leg One, there was still plenty to do. It was a pretty miserable day and a steady rainfall had caused difficult conditions so wet tyres were put on and the Car headed off to Bunessan for the start of Leg two as Dan and myself packed up the van ready to head off to the service point. On the way we needed to get fuel for the Rally Car and the dreaded phone went again. A rally organiser was on the other end. The car had gone off and had suffered serious damage about a mile into the first stage of the day. Thankfully Cat and Andy were ok but the Rally was definitely over this time. It turned out that upon landing after a jump, the car slid on mud and the rear went into a ditch. The impact then spat the car back out across the road and another rear impact with a concrete post sent the car into a spin. The onboard footage can be seen here.
As the car arrived on the back of a recovery lorry the damage was clear to see. Both rear wheels were pointing outwards in opposite directions. It was a sad way to mark the car’s final rally but thankfully no one was hurt. Clearly the Mull Rally was a tough one and very unforgiving as over half of the field that entered failed to reach the end. Over the course of the week many people asked how many Mull Rally’s Cat and Andy had done and we were met with the same reaction on the response of it being the first. A sharp intake of breath. They all knew something we didn’t and so it proved.
With the final leg to take place on the Saturday night, the team headed into Dervaig for dinner, to watch the remaining runners come through and to drown our sorrows. I was able to get some photos of and watch the section of the Glen Aros stage which came through Dervaig which was good fun, although I would of course have preferred to have been sitting in the Service area waiting for the Evo3 to arrive before sending out to complete the rally but it wasn’t to be. The village was packed with spectators, and so was the pub creating a great atmosphere, despite the local chav’s, girls of loose morals, drunkards young and old and the fact I’m sure I was charged more for a round of drinks because I was a southerner. The same round Dan bought, who’s a northerner, cost less.
As we headed off the Island on Sunday at the start of the long 13 hour trek home, underneath the sense of ‘What could have been’ I took great pleasure in what I had experienced and I thank Cat and Andy so much for giving me that. I’d like to think I will be back at Mull in the future for the rally even just as a spectator. But secretly I’d like to think it will be with Cat and Andy as they give it another crack of the whip.
I’m not a big Indycar fan and I didn’t know Dan Wheldon personally. I’ve never met him either. But I couldn’t let the recent tragic event pass without paying my respects to the double Indy 500 champion. It is clear that he was a great talent behind the wheel and it is with great sorrow that his life was taken so early. The world of motorsport has united in their grief at the passing of ‘One of their own’. Whether you are a Driver, Mechanic, Team Member, Organiser or just a fan of Motorsport you cannot help but feel great sadness at the passing of Dan Wheldon. My thoughts and condolences go out to all his family and friends during this difficult time, especially his wife and two young children who will now grow up without a father. It is such a shame that it has taken such a terrible event to make people notice what a true motor racing great he was.
To many, Motorsport is a drug. Once you have experienced it you want more and more. The highs are euphoric, but the lows can be devastating.
Rest in Peace Dan.
Last weekend saw the annual Britcar 24 hour race at Silverstone, the premier 24 hour race on UK soil. Once again the entry list was full of a whole host of car makes and models from the front running Ferraris, Moslers and Porches, to Honda Civics, BMWs and a Smart Four 4.
I was there covering the event for the Checkered Flag taking photos whilst the three other team members were providing Hourly Updates and live feeds online. You can check out our coverage and race report here.
The weather was incredibly favourable, unlike last year and the sun was beating down on the circuit. The crowds were gathered in large numbers which was great to see as It is a superb event and deserves all the support it can get. I’m sure those who were there will agree that they were treated to a spectacle. I love covering the 24 hour race as I can get photos from a whole host of places and in different lights. I really enjoy trying to get evening light trail shots too, and although I didn’t get the fantastic red sky in the evening I did last year, I did get a nice sunrise. Also, shooting a 24hr race gives you plenty of time to muck about with your camera and try new things, new angles and find new spots to shoot from. I spent some time in the pit lane too which is always fun trying to get some good shots whilst dodging expensive race cars. You can see a bigger collection of photos from the race on my Facebook group here.
As with all endurance racing, reliability is key and this year was no exception. A number of class four cars finished in the top 10 beating their quicker and more powerful rivals and the Aquilla, which was setting blisteringly quick times, about five seconds faster than anyone else, showed its vulnerability and a host of problems dropped in down the timing screens. As the race headed into the midday sun of Sunday, it looked like it would be an exciting climax between the Topcats Racing Mosler and the Eclipse Motorsport Ferrari 430. However, disaster struck for the Mosler with about four hours of the race left to go and whilst leading when a stuck throttle caused the car to career into the tyre wall at the end of the Wellington straight ending its hopes of victory. It was a bitter blow for the Topcats team who were recovering from having their team base broken into and almost everything stolen. Tools, wheels, tyres, spare parts etc. Pretty much the only things left were the car chassis. It was a great effort to see them on the grid and get everything ready and it was good to see their other two cars, a pair of Marcos Mantis’ finish very respectfully.
This year saw a team of Gadget Show presenters tackle the 24hr race on a simulator from one of the garages. Running in sync with the race on track, Jon, Jason and Polly drove a state of the art gaming simulator. I’m not sure how they got on but I’m sure you will see it on the TV. I cannot recommend the event highly enough and it is well worth going to next year. So don’t miss out.
I’m back at Silverstone this weekend for the British GT and Blancpain endurance series which will be great and then after that, on the Sunday night I head off to the Isle of Mull for the Mull Rally with Andy Rowe and Cat Lund as part of their Support Crew. I cannot wait for that and it will be a great new experience for me which I will share when I get back.