By Carlo Carluccio
Written in association with Missed Apex Podcast. Listen in the player below the article and please don't forget to comment.
Would it be fair to question a football fan whether the new Wembley stadium can hold a candle to its predecessor? I ask because I struggle to get excited by the Red Bull Ring. Having watched races on the old Zeltweg track – it’s difficult to embrace the new layout.
This life-long emotional investment applies equally with any classic tracks that have changed to accommodate the push for uniformity and the chasing of the dollar - “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.”
The history of motor-sport has attracted its fair share of unethical characters from all corners and all walks of life. One who seemingly pushed the boundaries in every facet of his life is the legendary Colin Chapman; arguably the most influential designer motor-sport has ever seen.
I could write at length about his design legacy and how his ideas can still be seen in modern cars. Another chapter would obviously have to encompass his decision to forego the national racing colours and replace them with the brash sponsorship money that has come to define the sport. In addition, of course, Chapman’s uncompromising nature regards the lightness of his designs meant that drivers often played Russian roulette with their lives when employed to drive for him. What about the DeLorean scandal which preceded his death but according to a Judge would have seen Chapman landed in jail with a 10 year sentence?
The cars are legendary, his use of sponsorship - prophetic, for all the drivers killed in his cars (God rest their souls) there were many more who celebrated with champagne. Ultimately it’s about choice. John Surtees, for example, refused a contract from Chapman. As to the scandal? It constantly intrigues me that financial misdemeanors receives longer sentencing than many far more heinous crimes.
My one over-riding memory of Chapman was his celebrations. He would stand by the pit-wall with the team’s mechanics and would bounce around like an excited child and throw his cap high into the air irrespective of whichever stunning black and gold creation took the chequered flag. The last time I, and the world, witnessed this was at the end of the 1982 Austrian GP.
The Osterreichring was a classic power circuit which in effect suited the powerful turbo cars ahead of the normally aspirated cars. This new technology had teething problems with reliability though - hence why race results could never be guaranteed until the flag dropped.
With the sole Ferrari delayed by a 1st lap puncture and both Renaults and Brabhams retired, it meant that Keke Rosberg’s Williams was chasing down the Lotus of Elio De Angelis over the last 5 laps. I screamed out encouragement to the black and gold dart and was as overjoyed as Chapman – bouncing around the lounge in unison with the legendary hat thrower.
I have to admit I had a vested interest. With Didier Pironi having suffered a career ending accident at the previous round, I despaired that Rosberg was catching him up in the standings.
When Rindt had been killed, the gentleman known as Jacky Ickx was grateful to have lost races so that he didn’t beat a man who couldn’t defend himself. Something that Rosberg never considered as he took the empty prize of 1982 World Champion. Yeah Keke, what a man – I heard he learnt very well from his false success…