Thursday, 28 June 2012

Bernie Ecclestone and Bomber Command; strange but true

Two items of news today are linked in a less than obvious way - the unveiling of a memorial to the crews of WWII's Bomber Command, and plans to run a Formula 1 race on the streets of London.

Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five is probably the easiest way to understand the horror of Dresden, and I was lucky enough to know a navigator of one of the Lancasters on the raid - even at the end of his life he felt guilty about the consequences of that raid. But the bravery and heroism of the crews deserves recognition, and about the only way to understand what they went through today is to get a mate to lock you in a freezer for eight hours a night then puts on a blindfold and repeatedly unloads a twelve-bore shotgun in the rough direction of said freezer while you shout out the answers to a trigonometry test. Repeat until you die or six years has passed. Or just thank those who did.

Apart from freedom and (economic woes apart) access to the wonders of Europe, another legacy of the war is the UK's racetracks. This weekend's Festival of Speed wouldn't be happening if Goodwood hadn't been a wartime airfield that became a racetrack (see Benzina issue 4) and ditto Silverstone's MotoGP race. The reason for this is that Britain was unique in Europe in prohibiting racing on public roads - many European racetracks (Spa and Le Mans spring to mind) grew out of public roads. The reason we have "British Racing Green" is by way of thanks to Ireland for hosting British racing in the days before we had race tracks (more in Benzina 4).

Presumably Sir Bernie of Ecclestone will therefore need an Act of Parliament before he can run an F1 race on the streets of London - he's not the sort of person to announce things he can't pull off, and Boris Johnson would surely love to be remembered for more than a grasp of Latin, floppy haircuts and bicycle hire. All of which means the law can and will be changed, which opens the door for a mainland motorcycle TT. Excellent...

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