Saturday, November 13, 2010

Race - A Tale from the Afterlife

In the afterlife, you find yourself at the most perfect Grand Prix circuit logically possible, an undulating 100-mile meta-circuit containing sections identical to parts of the old Nurburgring, the old Spa-Francorchamps, Brands Hatch, the Osterreichring, Zandvoort, Watkins Glen, Rouen, Montjuich, Monte Carlo, Kyalami, and the old Interlagos.

Around this track, an Eternal Grand Prix unfolds, contested by all the victorious Grand Prix drivers from each of the sport's different eras, driving the cars with which they were most closely associated during their mortal lives.

It is a pure driving contest, for God, in his divine wisdom, has fine-tuned the parameters of metaphysics for each car to ensure exact parity of machine performance. As you watch, Ronnie Peterson's Lotus 72 goes wheel-to-wheel with Gilles Villeneuve's Ferrari 312 T4 into the Flugplatz, whilst minutes later Senna's McLaren MP4/4 joins them in a three-way battle into the Masta Kink. You take your next vantage point at Paddock Hill Bend on a beautiful Summer's day, and there you see Stirling Moss in his Lotus 18, diving down the inside under braking to take the lead from Nigel Mansell's Williams FW14B. After the field has passed, you spot Michael Schumacher trailing around some way off the pace, complaining over the radio about the lack of front-end bite from his F2002 Ferrari; God, after all, is not without a sense of humour.

The drivers, of course, still require teams behind them, not only to replenish their fuel and tyres at regular intervals, but to devise and implement a strategy which remains valid as the future duration of the race tends to infinity. Unfortunately, there is also an ongoing requirement for rules and regulations, and for a governing body to ensure that the teams abide by both the letter, and the Holy Spirit of the regulations. Thus, all the past presidents of the governing body, including Jean Todt, Max Mosley, and Jean-Marie Balestre, can be found in the paddock, arguing eternally with Ron Dennis, Enzo Ferrari, Colin Chapman and Frank Williams.

There is cheating, appeals, disqualifications, hearings, bans, fines, penalties, race manipulation, libel suits, and a culture of fear in the paddock. Suddenly, with horror, you realise that whilst this is the afterlife, the drivers are demonic stooges wearing the helmets of your heroes, that Eau Rouge passes over the River Styx, that there are nine concentric levels to the circuit, and that you are not, after all, in heaven.

(With apologies to David Eagleman)


Unknown said...

It is a nice thought but it has one fundamental flaw - do you really think some of those named will ever get to heaven?

Gordon McCabe said...

You mean no need for demonic stooges in the cars either? I see your point. Perhaps, then, everyone can just happily re-assemble in Hell, and carry on as they were.