Places that make the heart race
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My grandmother had a saying: “After the Lord Mayor’s show comes the dust-cart”.
Perhaps that saying is apt for these past few days of motorsport.
The glamour of Monaco disappeared immediately the chequered flag dropped.
The mechanics set about taking apart the garages. Trucks were brought to the pit lane to get tonnes of gear back to their bases.
“Motorhomes” parked in the world’s most expensive paddock area on the harbourside, Quai Antoine 1er, were in full swing for a couple of hours but eventually the beautiful people floated away to prepare for the overbooked, overpriced restaurant evening or the party on the boat.
Many of those larger boats vie for priority, like cars exiting the car park at any other race meeting, to leave the crowded harbour so they can take their precious cargo a few kilometres along the coast to San Tropez for the evening’s festivities.
Monaco even has a special diving division of the “police maritime” who make huge money in tips and bribes by trying to untangle the maze of anchors and chains caught up in the frenetic scramble to depart as excited crews yell at each other in a dozen different languages.
Some of the most important beautiful people will have donned black ties and evening gowns to attend the traditional and exclusive “reception en l’honneur du Grand Prix de Monaco” hosted by Prince Albert at the chocolate box palace atop the principality.
The crowds of tourists drift away to the airports and motorways to get back to work on Monday morning and the enormous floating Red Bull “energy station”, which took three weeks to assemble, is towed back to a port in Italy to be stripped down.
Within one month, Monaco resumes its normal soporific heartbeat, with hardly a trace of the grand prix.
Just a day after the race, the cars are back at base, stripped and being prepared for the next grand prix at Montreal.
Over at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, 2017 winner Takuma Sato will have had to endure up to 12 hours of media interviews, probably still reeking of the souring milk he doused himself with.
On the Monday he would have been back at the Speedway for the traditional kissing of the yard of bricks before going to the victory banquet to collect his replica trophy and the winner’s cheque, estimated at NZ$3.5 million, out of the total purse of around $21m.
Then Sato will have gone on a four-day media tour with thoughts of the next event buried deep below his euphoria.
That euphoria will be gradually displaced by the need to concentrate on the racing at Belle Isle on the Detroit river, today and tomorrow, just six days after the shenanigans of Indy.
His team, led by Andretti Autosport’s Kiwi team manager and chief strategist on Sato’s
car, Paul Harcus (Ziggy to one and all) will have driven the comparatively short distance to the Indianapolis base and started to change the cars from super speedway configuration to road course.
The normal season for both codes will then be back on track without the distraction of the headline events.
With Formula 1 going to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, for the “Grand Prix Du Canada” — one of the best kept secrets on the “must-see” list of Grand Prix” — the F1 cars will be back in their natural environment, a race track. As opposed to “like riding a bicycle around your living room” as three time World Champion Nelson Piquet once described it.
Be it Belle Isle or Montreal, thoughts from the teams, drivers and organisers will already be focusing on next year at the Speedway or that tiny gem of a principality on the French Riviera.
Good or bad, love them or hate them, both places are distinctive, exceptional and no follower of either discipline can truly understand their sport until they have been there, done that.
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