Friday, November 7, 2008

I miss the colour the most – Ebren

Jim Clark was one of the finest racing drivers that has lived. At the time of his death in 1968 he had two world championships, 25 Grand Prix wins and 33 pole positions – the last two both records.

But he raced and died in black and white and his car roared in crackling mono. That's the problem with looking back, the races and games, matches and Tests are grey muted affairs. And I miss the colour.

There is a place you can go, though. A throwback to days when cars' screams echoed from the walls around you; where the brilliant greens, reds and yellows of the cigar tubes that carried drivers into history sting the eyes again; and better still, you get to dress up.

Dressed in a natty tweed jacket, hair Brylcreamed to within an inch of its life, and with a crimson handkerchief proudly protruding from my pocket I headed to the Goodwood Revival this year. It was a shock. I've always admired Clark, Fangio, Ascari and the others. But reading about their deeds and watching newsreel footage tells you nothing about who they were.

Standing among men and women stepping out in full 1950s regalia, you could smell their world. Not imagine it, not re-live it through film and paper, actually be there again.

Watching cars sweep towards you from trackside, you could see just how small they were, how fragile. You could hear them again, see them in colour and smell the exhausts as these grand old machines were allowed to race again, to do what they were made to 50 years after others overtook them with newer technology.

On the track, Stirling Moss four-wheel drifted a vintage Jaguar 60 years after he won the first Goodwood meeting as an 18 year old, and then the spell was broken.

Four cars were fighting for the lead, following closer than a modern racer with its need for clean air can, and two clipped wheels. As machinery lovingly cared for and restored to former glory ripped itself apart against tarmac and concrete I saw the danger that came with the glory.

Jim Clark died on the track so did Alberto Ascari, they were not alone. As well as a window onto a lost world, Goodwood taught me something else: nostalgia is fine, but for all the glory that was – some things are better left in the past.

28 comments:

Ebren said...

I should probably point out I didn't actually enter this. But the other work here got me thinking, so I thought I should join in.

TheHappyMonkey said...

"For those of you watching in black and white liverpool are the team with the ball"

zeph said...

You should have put this in for Big Blogger, Ebren, it's good. And it has links, which are apparently essential:)

The Tuesday deadline's a bit awkward though, isn't it? I reckon it's Mr Ingle's way of keeping the submissions down to a manageable number...

Mouth of the Mersey said...

Ebren - a definite contender had you submitted.

The list of car racing deaths is long, but just look at this - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Snaefell_Mountain_Course_fatal_accidents.

mimi said...

I did my British Heroes last year. and failed.

I didn't enter the Nostalgia cos I wrote my heart out for Ebren's space last year.

I have written a SPOT for this week. Guess who is my SPOT?

I won't win, but hopefully my Cav spesh will get published here.

ElSell said...

After reading the 3 winners and comparing them to the ones on here
(& yes i am including my own)im a bit confused as to what they are looking for, as the ones on here are Defo better than at least 2 of the final 3

I know this wasnt entered, thats why i posted this here, that and it being the top one.

Nice post Ebren btw :)

mimi said...

I find the new GU so difficult to navigate that I just lurked waiting for the bestest bits to be here.

And not mistaken.

This particularly touched the spot. Thanks Ebren.

Ebren said...

Thanks for the kind words peeps. I tried cutting down my Walter Tull piece to 400 words to enter, but just couldn't make it work. Then I forgot.

Not sure how far this would have got anyway, looking at it again, I use the word "glory" three times in two sentences. And that's just sloppy - of course the advantage of this place is I can go in and change, something I couldn't have done if I had entered the main competition.

mac millings said...

I enjoyed it, too, ebren. The only disappointment, I thought the link about dressing up was going to be to a shot of you in costume.

mimi, I look forward to your Cav piece.

zeph - I hope you're submitting work, too.

miro said...

Thanks everyone, it's a great joy to be with you.

miro said...

'Jim Clark died on the track so did Alberto Ascari, they were not alone. As well as a window onto a lost world, Goodwood taught me something else: nostalgia is fine, but for all the glory that was – some things are better left in the past.'

Ebren, I was watching Graham Hill on Monza, a few months prior to his tragic death. Every single word of your great peace reminds me on of these brave people and this strange sport which happened to be more deadly and dangerous some decades ago than it's nowadays.

Ebren said...

Aww, shucks. Thanks Miro.

I would have love to have seen Hill, Clark, Ascari and Fangio race. But I can't say I'm sad to see the drivers emerge unscathed after crashes these days.

Great to have you round ours too. Don't be a stranger now.

Mouth of the Mersey said...

Miro -

In the UK we have a channel called ESPN Classic which ran a French produced series of hour-long documentaries based on each F1 season from the 70s.

The cars were beautiful. the gilrs were beautiful, even the drivers were beautiful! But the attrition rate was horrendous. Who now remembers http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cevert or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Pryce

miro said...

Ebren/MoM

I made a mistake. I was actually watching the 1974 and not the 1975 Formula One race in Monza. The winner was Ronnie Peterson, nicknamed 'Super Swede', who died from injuries in 1978, age 34.

MotM said...

Yes Miro - the tragedy of Ronnie Peterson is that his injuries sustained at the track were not fatal. He died on the operating table in the hospital.

greengrass said...

Pop stars, footy stars, racing stars; drink, drugs, speed; do we have fonder memories of those who died far too soon?

offsideintahiti said...

Dear Honourable Chief Lord Ebren my Lord,

you know I'm not one for sycophancy, but that wasn't too bad.

You're probably too young to remember but, as well as the racing being dangerous, there was a time when sex was safe. (I think someone said something about that, Jackie Stewart?) Anyway, I do remember it, and that it didn't last very long. Just enough to feel nostalgic about today.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Offy - I was once a man of letters, but they certainly weren't French.
These days, I hardly even indulge in a bout of lap-top dancing with Page 3 girls.

greeengrass said...

sorry, I was "anonymous"!
Mrs. GG was looking over my shoulder...

guitou said...

Ebren,
Thanks for this, Jim Clark, I never have enough of him-Better in black and white though, because it's real vintage grand prix stuff-Isn't black and white the true colors for nostalgia?

zeph said...

Ebren, there's a BBC4 drama about Walter Tull. Haven't watched it yet, but the drama on BBC4 is usually pretty good.

Mac, I didn't enter the nostalgia comp, I might do a SPOTY one.

greengrass: do we have fonder memories of those who died too soon? Absolutely. First of all their fate encapsulates our feelings about the unfairness of life, and secondly they never got middle-aged and boring. Imagine James Dean all botoxed up and appearing on chat-shows...

MotM said...

Zeph - James Dean would have become Mickey Rourke!

guitou. said...

Please don't kill the myth......could you imagine a Fat Elvis? no way.

zeph said...

MotM, yes! and Marilyn Monroe would be in a soap opera. Jim Morrison would be on chat shows too, usually drunk. Marc Bolan would be running a hugely successful cult TV channel. Hendrix wouldn't have got showbizzy though, he'd be a recluse on a remote island somewhere.

Ooh, such a lot of dead people.. better stop there.

greeengrass said...

guitou,
a fat Elvis?
Nah - can't imagine that!

mimi said...

Not usually one to read The Sun or a Clarkson column, but there was a fun bit today about Lewis not being able to be an F1 Champ in the way of James Hunt and those of the past.

Obviously no-one wants the drivers to die as they did so much, but there is a point about heroes.

F1 heroes can't be the same nowadays.

And to be honest, and it may be my age, but Hunt v Hamilton - no contest!

guitou said...

GG,
Right,as he said: it's impossible-He probably meant.
Fat or bold.

offsideintahiti said...

Bold Elvis? Is that a font?

Tweet it, digg it