Sunday, March 29, 2009

Formula One grows a heart

It's funny, as I grow older I think I am becoming a little more aware of the little things in life, like beauty, compassion, concern for what is right rather than just what works.

Although some say I am becoming even more cynical, jaded and brutally conservative. Who the hell knows really?? But a true barometer of my social/personal leanings, can be measured from that yearly religious experience, the Grand Prix.

F1 teckos surrounding by opulence, no doubt discussing the GFC (thats Global Financial Crisis, for those who don't work around many TLA's. That's Three Letter Abbreviations, by the way)

You see, I have managed to shock some people, who rightly say they know me well, by saying that Formula One is a ridiculously indulgent, hideously expensive exercise in hedonism and half the money burned to live out these fantasies could better be spent feeding several small poor countries. Or freeing them from despotic regimes and installing healthy democracies (just in case you were worried I was sounding too progressive and compassionate there).

ha-HA, plebs!! If you want to get on my side of the fence, volunteer and help out. Unfortunately you'll have to give up being drunk, loud and annoying. Think you can handle that? Sure you can...

Indeed, I have even let slip once or twice that I reckon being manipulated by that greedy little Bernie Ecclestone into paying more bazillions and having a"twighlight race" to passify his Euro TV requirements is ludicrous. And, if Melbourne is really losing $40m a year on running it then we should say bye-bye GP, send it over to the Arab Bloc with their oil fortune, good riddance, Bernie and them are made for eachother. I could, believe it or not, live without it.

Button's winning car post race, awaiting weigh-in

But there's still that nagging tinge of respect: I love how humanity can achieve. Expertise, skill, and desire to compete are all good. There's just too much to like about that. And I will volunteer my time to help the event run well, and try and do the job well for the sake of doing it well, not just because I get the best seat in the house (for free).

No this is not Kimi Raikonnen walking on air toward me. Although I suspect if you interviewed this wall mural rather than the real Kimi, you'd solicit a more detailed response.

And occasionally I get rewarded for that. Not by getting to see these engineering masterpieces close up (which I do) or witnessing a cracking race (which I did). Not by getting two free access-most-areas tix which I seem to have trouble giving away (Adelaide peeps, are you listening? Need any more excuses for a trip to Melbourne?)

Nope. The big reward in 2009 was seeing F1 step up and pay tribute to those amazing folks who fought deadly bushfires over a month ago.

Officials' briefing usually consists of senior CAMS boffins telling us all how great we are. AS IF we didn't know.

So even the filthy, indulgent capitalism of F1 has a heart. Even if it is only a V8 Supercar clearing a $50,000 piece of advertising space on their bonnet for a Bushfire appeal notice. Or a bunch of second-string F1 cars and relatively unknown drivers doing runs up and down the main street of fire-ravaged Kinglake. Or an F1 driver's parade on CFA trucks, instead of shiny Corvettes and exotic open-tops.

And, as if humanity's massive outpouring of financial aid to the victims (during a GFC, no less) was not enough. Before the drivers' parade, these superstars of F1 milled around in the background while an army of fire fighting volunteers lined up in front of the grandstands, and guess who got the loudest in applause and cheers. And so it should be. Maybe our indulgent, money-dependent, planet-wrecking humanity ain't so bad after all.

As always, I got some great F1 shots this year. But here are the best ever.

The King Lewis congratulates Kinglake's finest

F1's 2008 oh-so-nearly man, Felipe Massa

Sharon's fave and the nicest guy on the grid, Rubens Barrichello


Pole Robert Kubica and Colac.

Mark Webber chats to one of his heroes


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