Atlas F1

Why It is F1 and NOT Grand Prix

Don Capps

I am sure that many of your readers weren't alive in 1954, much able to remember the thrill of actually getting to shake the hands of gentlemen like Karl Kling, Hans Herrmann, Herman Lang and -- The Racing God of all of us seven year olds -- Juan Manuel Fangio. As an American who grew up in Europe during the 1950's and early 1960's, I was extremely fortunate to be able to attend a number of races during that era. We all worshipped Fangio and Moss. However, I still remember how devastated I was when I heard about Ascari's death at Monza. Ascari was in the same league as Fangio and Moss in his day. By the way, I subscribe to the theory that those miserable Englebert tires killed him -- they were Ferrari's biggest mistake (of many) in that period when the Scuderia was floundering.

And then there was Clark. And Gurney. And Stewart. And Andretti. It was something different in that era, a period that seemed to end in the late 70's and eraly 80's. The last racers were Giles Villeneuve, Alan Jones, and Keke Rosberg. However, they raced in an era where it was no longer Grand Prix, but Formula 1. Notice how I have avoided the use of the word "racing" in conjunction with Formula 1. I recall being somewhat mystified when Jenks stopped calling it "Grand Prix" but soon got the message.

Although there is apparently an amazing amount of coverage available on Formula 1, so what? What that moron Balestre tried to do, Mad Max and Billion Dollar Bernie have accomplished: the destruction of Grand Prix racing. Of course, the long simmering feud between Prost and Senna didn't help. As tasteless as it may sound, Senna was in no way the best F1 racer as a periodical (not to be named) stated. Senna was an asshole who should have been banned for life after shoving Prost off in Japan. What little respect I had for Senna, evaporated at that moment.

Today, I find myself observing the events mostly out of habit. I usually watch the delayed broadcast on Speedvision so that I will at least be entertained by dear ol' David Hobbs and Sam Posey. The events can scarcely be called races since no one does much passing or dicing or mixing it up. It is almost hysterical to listen to the announcers when something remotely resembling actually occurs! Yes, this is now and that was then. But, what a farce this has all become. The circuits are generally no good, with rare exceptions the drivers aren't interesting, the cars are completely ridiculous and the idiots racing this whole mess are so myoptic that there seems little hope that much can be salvaged.

Formula 1 is not a very big item here in the US for two very simple reasons: NASCAR and CART. NASCAR and CART offer in abundance what Formula 1 can have wet dreams about: racing! Whether it is Winston Cup, Busch Grand National, or the Craftsman Trucks, NASCAR provides racing and entertainment. Ditto CART. Hell, the IRL is ifinitely better than Formula 1 for Pete's sake! And the IRL is something I usually lump down there with figure-8 racing.

Gee, Max, Bernie, and whoever, wouldn't it have been easier to replace those exotic brakes made out something that costs more than most households make in a lifetime with plain old steel brakes? Or get rid of those magic gearboxes and make the drivers actually shift the gears? Plus ditch those fly-by-wire throttle? Not that any of this seems to really make a difference since they all manage to bash into each other at the first corner since they are too retarded to lift off the throttle. And, what is so sacred about a standing start any way? The time for adopting a rolling start came well over a decade ago. The amount of money wasted to develop and install the sensors to detach a jumped start is ridiculous. For a "sport" seeming so interested in safety, why in the world are pressurized refuelling rigs used? Idiots! The true indication of the arrogance that Formula 1 has for reality is that whenever there is a red flag and then a restart, they tie each car separately so the poor spectators -- remember them? -- usually haven't the foggiest notion what is really going on. I agree that the numbers bantered about for the number of viewers watching Formula 1 are -- pardon my French -- bullshit.

Well, once upon a time we had some wonderful journalists who provided great wit and color in their reports on the Grand Prix scene. St. Jenks, the wonderful and delightful Henry Manney, Pete Lyons, Peter Garnier and Rob Walker -- to only mention a very few -- made us believe it really was worthy of being called Grand Prix racing. I was fortunate enough to witness Grand Prix (and some Formula 1) races fom the 1950's, 60's, 70's and 80's. Given a wad of tickets, the accomodations and travel, I wouldn't bother today. Instead, I would chose to tag along and see some real races -- the Winston Cup series. There are no Dale Earnhardt's, Kyle Petty's, Jeff Gordon's, Mark Martin's or Darrell Waltrip's in Formula 1. Think about it.

Well, I have saving up this epistle fo some time. Most of you will have the usual "But, Eff One is the Center of All Being!" sort of bullshit remarks. Get a life. Formula 1 is just traveling road show with no grasp of reality. It is merely a means by which a bunch stupid people pour incredible amounts of money down bottomless holes just to prove they can do it. Maybe Jackie Stewart and Ken Tyrrell can do something to top the rot. But, I am not going to hold my breath. Oh, should Jacques win the championship, so what? The fact that he is the only one so far to dare question the mental dwarfs about anything except money is a mark in my book.

Don Capps
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