Sunday, October 12, 2008

Circle driving: It ain't just about two races.

It's Bathurst weekend. Yet another chance for New Zealanders to pretend to care about motorsport and for the Holden 'fans' to come crawling out of the woodwork to slang the Fords. There was an interesting interview on Radio Sport with Mark Winterbottom yesterday, which proved this very point.

But it was odd, because D'Arcy Waldegrave comes from a motorsport background, having done commentary for the then Shell Helix Motorsport, as well as this years Rally New Zealand. On a side note, BSport is a far better station and I encourage you all to listen to it, for the simple fact that [to coin a cliche] they ask the hard questions. Just listen to the interview with Steve Tew from last week and this will be apparent. But I digress.

I can remember going to the old Mobil street races in Wellington and meeting Peter Brock (my mother was a flag marshall) and watching Bathurst a couple of times as a kid. My father had a good run in go-karts and Formula Ford during his university days, but oddly, my family is not motorsport orientated. I'm the odd one out.
It was the 2004 season, at the age o 16, that I saw my first race. My father had been flicking through tv channels and I was laid up on the couch with the flu. All of a sudden, a wet race track comes on tv right as Marcos Ambrose at the Eastern Creek round goes off and gets collected as he reenters ahead of Todd Kelly.

That was it. I was captivated. I made my father promise to take me to Pukekohe that year (we were living in Auckland at the time) and he did so.

So, as an avid (meaning I spend at least two hours at work each day catching up on the V8 news) V8SC fan, it really irritates me when Bathurst rolls around. I love the race. I love the track. But what it is is this sudden feigned interest by broadcasters. My father once told me that Pukekohe and Bathurst are 'the only races that matter' (during a debate on the merits of Greg Murphy, to put it into context) and I think this is true of the New Zealand media. I'm so glad that TV3 have wrestled the rights off TV ONE, where for years I had to deal with staying up until 1am on a school/work night to watch a race held 7 hours previous.

But still, if you watch the news from this week, it's all just Greg 'Murph' Murphy and Jason 'Jase' Richards (Nothing against you Jase, but I hate Nelson so I can't root for you). This was evidenced when the TAB had them priced as third favourites in a year where I struggle to remember either breaking the top 10, bar Jason's fantastic drive at Winton.

Where is the love for Lowndes/Whincup? Tander/Skaife? Winterbottom/S. Richards (go you beauties)? Ingall/Morris? Dumbrell/Kelly? (Feel sorry for Dave Reynolds, touted as HRT's answer to Lewis Hamilton and last year doesn't get to turn a lap when McConville's engine gives out and this year gets his place taken by Kelly after Radisich bins it in practice. PS hope you're ok Paul, and not reliving 2006 too much.)

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