Connect with us


A Reminder of Racing’s Constant Evolution



Image for article titled Cars at Speed Is a Strange Reminder of Racing's Constant Evolution

Photo: Elizabeth Blackstock

When I think of Holland’s Zandvoort Circuit, I almost undoubtedly think of the deaths of Piers Courage and Roger Williamson. When I think of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, I think of the reverence that drivers have for the event, of the immense challenge the event provides. So, while reading 1961’s Cars at Speed: The Grand Prix Circuit by Robert Daley, it was almost surreal to see Zandvoort described as one of the few safe, death-free circuits on the calendar, or to hear that Le Mans is universally detested by drivers.

Daley’s book was published in early 1961, so the most up-to-date information is drawn from the 1960 Grand Prix season — which, for Daley, encompasses World Championship events for both Formula 1 and endurance racing. It’s organized as an event-by-event recap of iconic events like the Mille Miglia or the French Grand Prix, and Daley offers a little bit of history about each event, a small profile of a driver (or multiple drivers) associated with that event, notable years or events in the context of motorsport history overall, and Daley’s impressions of various tracks that have hosted each event (for example, the French Grand Prix had been held at Reims and Le Mans, in addition to other circuits).

There’s a very obvious romanticism in this book, which I found fascinating in the context of racing history. By 1960, Daley was already one of many people lamenting the fact that racing was getting too sterilized, that drivers were too boring, that cars were too technologically advanced. He’s critical of early racing endeavors, yes, but it seems that he also deeply misses something of the inter-war motorsport. As an example, here’s a brief excerpt from Daley’s chapter on the Targa Florio:

The Targa Florio was in the beginning, and is now to a lesser extent, not so much man against man, as man pitting his machine against the worst Sicily might do to it. It was man in a wilderness. Did he have enough resourcefulness, enough stamina, to overcome the dust, the head, the battering of the roads, the precipitous plunges down mountainsides, the agonizing sputtering crawl up steep slopes — the doubt if the car would make it at all? […]

The Targa was not a race, it was an adventure. Some believed it the greatest adventure in motor racing. It was not a race of exhilarating speeds such as a Grand Prix at Reims; bravery did not count for very much. It was 1924 before the Targa’s average got over forty mph., and even in 1960 an average of fifty-eight mph was good enough to win. Sixty mph seems to be an unattainable dream for the Targa. At such speeds it is relatively difficult for a man to hurt himself, and so it was was, and may always be, a race favoring not so much the brave man s the man with the soul of an adventurer. It is no place for a sprinter; it is for a man who loves to pit himself against the country.

For Daley, true motorsport takes place on the streets of cities or the wild roadways of European countryside. Places like Silverstone or Sebring are farces in his eyes, places where the standard fans can’t measure speed against the landmarks that they could theoretically drive past in a day. Fast, flat-out circuits like Le Mans are bores — events that exist more as a mechanical feat than anything else. Drivers, he says, hate those kinds of events. They prefer the technical challenge of Lisbon, the constant challenge of the Nürburgring.

It’s a gorgeous book, and even in its romanticism, it seems to be conscious of itself. It highlights the inevitable politics of motorsport, the reasons why some circuits are better than others, the cultural differences between American racers and European racers. It features quotes from drivers and opinions from Daley. It critiques tragedy, but it recognizes the delicate balance between pushing for more speed and maintaining safety. It’s dated, yes — but it’s exactly the kind of book I’d love to write.

Continue Reading

Recent News

Personal Injury Lawyer Personal Injury Lawyer
Law1 day ago

Finding the Best Personal Injury Lawyer in Lumberton, NC

Personal injury law is designed to protect individuals who have been harmed due to the negligence or wrongful actions of...

WhatsApp Business WhatsApp Business
Business2 days ago

Running WhatsApp Business with Pro+VPS for Android Emulator

WhatsApp Business is one of the most powerful tool for Business to manage customers communication. Running it can enhance the...

Civil Partnership Visa Civil Partnership Visa
Finance3 days ago

Civil Partnership Visa vs Spouse Visa: Which One is Right for You

Choosing the right visa to join your partner in the UK can be confusing. Two common options are the Civil...

Crypto Crypto
Crypto4 days ago

Staked Crypto – A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

Ethereum staking has become an increasingly popular way for cryptocurrency holders to earn passive income through staking rewards. In this...

Ethereum Staking Ethereum Staking
Crypto6 days ago

Maximizing Ethereum Staking Rewards: Tips and Tricks

Are you looking to maximize the potential of your Ethereum holdings? Stake Ethereum using OkayCoin and take advantage of the...

Wedding Wedding
Wedding6 days ago

4 Wedding Services You Can Quickly Check Off Your To-Do List

Organizing a wedding might like arranging a large-scale symphony, in which each element must work together to produce a beautiful...

Luxury Shopping Luxury Shopping
Lifestyle6 days ago

Luxury Shopping in Ibiza: A Guide to the Finest Boutiques

Ibiza is synonymous with lavish lifestyles, sun-soaked beaches, and electrifying nightlife. But beyond the party scene and stunning seascapes, the...

Indian Brides Indian Brides
Fashion1 week ago

Top Trends in Diamond Necklaces for Indian Brides

As Indian brides gear up for their big day, the selection of the perfect diamond necklace is crucial. Diamond necklaces...

Snaptik Snaptik
Entertainment1 week ago

Snaptik: The Ultimate Tool for Watermark-Free TikTok Downloads

Snaptik stands out as the top tool for downloading TikTok videos without watermarks. It fights the issue of videos having...

Bedroom Bedroom
Lifestyle1 week ago

Refresh Your Bedroom: Summer-Inspired Interior Designs

Not only does June signal the midpoint of 2024, but it also signals the arrival of summer. With the changing...