Atlas F1

Rory's Rambling

An Occasional Column from the Antipodesby Rory Gordon, Australia


What's in a name? What's your name?

Names are funny - strange - things. Take a look through your local phone directory and you'll see what I mean. Mind you, you'd have to be pretty bored and pretty devoted to do something like that. Nevertheless, I think you'll find some strange names in there if you look carefully enough (after all, it is the strange ones that you have to actually look for).

Taking a look through a phone directory from a foreign country, on the other hand, can prove quite quietly amusing. Of course, it's not the sort of thing you'd want to go and start talking about in a local coffee shop, but you can have a quiet giggle to yourself.

To me, there's nothing wrong at all with a good solid name like Hill or Herbert or Irvine or Coulthard. But they're all good solid Anglo-Saxon Judeo-Christian names like ... well ... Gordon, for example.

To an Anglo-Saxon Judeo-Christian like me however, there are other names, taken purely at random you understand, that can lead to a certain amount of mirth.

Trulli. Really, truly?

Panis. Don't you mean "penis"?

Wurz hurts.

Berger burger.

At least all those names are relatively easy to pronounce, but I've seen some names that I find almost impossible to get my tongue around. No doubt I've offended some people by now, but stick with me, please.

There does tend to be one common factor about names, though. We are all unusually proud of OUR name. We tend to be more than slightly egotistical about our names and, more than that, many of the males among us go out and seem to spend their lives spraying their "seed" around to ensure that "the line is continued."

In a past Ramble, I made the comment that, among other things, one factor seemingly common to all Formula One drivers was that they all had egos bigger than... ummmm... something really, really big.

That may still hold true. Ask any driver if he could win this year's Drivers' Championship if he was driving for McLaren or Ferrari, and he probably wouldn't even bother answering you.

But there is a group of people in Formula One who have even bigger egos than the drivers.

What happens to a driver when he leaves Formula One? Basically, and simplistically, he disappears, never to be heard of again. Oh, he may go off to another series or to TV, but basically he disappears from world view. I wonder what that does for his ego? Not much, I suspect.

However, there is a group of names that crops up in F1 year after year after year: Bruce McLaren, Enzo Ferrari, Eddie Jordan, Frank Williams, Alessandro Benetton, Peter Sauber, Alain Prost, Jackie Stewart, Giancarlo Minardi.

And if you dig back a little, you find that there used to be Ted Toleman, Guy Ligier and Ken Tyrrell around the place as well.

Dig back a bit further, and there's Chris Amon, Jack Brabham, Enzo Coloni, the Coopers, Gianpaolo Dallara, the Fittipaldis, Guido Forti, Graham Hill, Gerard Larrousse, Enzo Osella, John Surtees and Walter Wolf.

Of course, the one thing all those names have in common is that they were or are Formula One teams.

Even Arrows should really be in there too as it is actually made up of the names of five people.

It seems to me that perhaps the only name missing from those lists is Gordon (in my dreams - there hasn't even been a driver named Gordon!).

I suppose that to a certain extent, it is extremely brave - or foolhardy - to want to have a team in Formula One and to suffer all the trials and tribulations that go with that. And, certainly, why not name the team after yourself?

But I wonder how much of an ego-trip it really is? Most of us probably have no problem recounting the history of Bruce McLaren or Enzo Ferrari or one of the modern team-owners, even if a little vaguely. But what about some of the names from years past?

The name might ring a vague bell as you come across it in this column (I did try to pick recent and well-known names!), and the older ones among us might remember well some of those names.

So, is having a team named after you such an ego-trip after all? Does the name travel through (F1) history for ever and a day?

Of course it doesn't. If you think back over the years before you became interested in the sport, how many drivers' names can you remember? For example, how many of those names above were drivers before they became team owners? (No cheating - just from your memory.)

No, we all have things that we think are much more important than remembering the names of the drivers who were classified last in the 1992 Brazilian Grand Prix or the 1989 Grand Prix of Canada.

We may remember who won the Championship in those years - it was Nigel Mansell and Alain Prost to save the stress on your brain - but we certainly don't remember the "also-rans". (Before you rush off to your record books, a clue generally: "classified last" means the last driver to be classified, and not the driver who retired first. And a clue for each of those drivers: the first mentioned will maybe possibly probably certainly become a great; and the second's nickname had a certain "tasty" complexion to it.)

Much the same as with the great drivers, it does tend to be the great teams that are remembered. Get a good F1 record book and you may well be surprised how few teams you do know, and you may be surprised at how many teams are named after a person... and how few of those you know.

Perhaps having a team named after you isn't such an ego-trip after all.

But that's just me.


Rory Gordon 1999 Atlas Formula One Journal.
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