Sunday, June 27, 2010

Back to the UK, for the fifth time, (in twenty years). Oh and GO BEN (Spies)

It didn't rain.
Going to the UK just doesn't have the same "pull" as gong to Spain for me.  I grew up there.  It does mean I can stop in and see my Mum, and I had a super time seeing her, even taking time out to take her out to dinner to the George at Bathampton.  Oddly enough, it was this same country pub that I took my Dad to the day before I left the UK for good on September 4, 1990. It was really nice seeing her looks so well.  She has a new house in Larkhall, and for the first time in years seems to have a good positive outlook on life.  Which thrills me no end.  It was with some sadness I left her on Tuesday morning to drive to Woking for the first overnight stay en route to Silverstone, where I'd be staying with good friend Bonnie Lane.
On Wednesday, we'd go to Brooklands Museum near Weybridge and spend a good four hours walking around the museum (and graveyard) of British racing and aviation.  It's a really cool place to visit, with some of the old banked race track still in existence. It doesn't take too much of a stretch to imagine the nerves of steel these racers had during those early days of racing, on two and four wheels.  When one thinks of the levels of safety that are built into todays motorsport, the driver aids, run off, Dainese instant inflatable leather race suits for example, the lack of so many of these safety features back then only adds to the cojones these racers must've had..(or lack thereof) because women raced as much as they do these days.
With the British MotoGP being previously held at Donington, it is simply shifts all the events that were held at that track over to the new digs at Silverstone.  I had heard one funny story about one of the race teams truck drivers made a huge deja vu moment and drove almost to Donington, realising when he had got to Birmngham that he was meant to be going to Silverstone. Therefore, as it's Thursday it must be the Day of Champions at Silverstone.  This is always a great event with a great cause, to raise money for the Riders for Health cause.  As before, riders and many others donate memorabilia, items of clothing, art and so forth to be auctioned off to raise much needed funds to allow Rider For Health to continue their efforts to bring health care to those in places who cannot or may not have access to it.
Having been granted in Mugello a 2010 season scooter pass.  I now have access to scooter.  Does this mean I have arrived in MotoGP? Who knows.  After your camera equipment, access to a scooter is the next most valuable tool in a photographers arsenal.  With scooter beneath me, I head off to do a reconnoiter of the track.  It ends up being nearly two and half hours of going round, looking for photo possibilities to shoot.  As with all the photographers and the riders, this is a new track to all.   I end up meeting Jorge Lorenzo and Hector on track as they're discussing the lines that he'll need to take around the track.
As many of the photographers would discover, it wouldn't just be where to take photos that would be the problem.  As the weekend progressed it would be a question of dealing with the security, and those who appeared to enjoy their jobs a little too much and wanted to make life difficult, that would be the greatest obstacle to overcome.  The lack of a decent service road, or road that circumnavigates the track away from spectators would also create more problems with people who took great pleasure in telling everyone to "slow down".
Race day was cold.  I mean it was very cold but would throughout the day improve and warm up.  The only problem with such a huge facility is that it will never look full.  It's no different than Indianapolis when the GP is being held there.  It is such a huge site, with so many seats that cannot be filled that it will never look well attended, when in reality it is.  The support for the the British riders Scott Redding in Moto2, and for Bradley Smith and Danny Webb in the 125cc class was loud and very obvious.  There was also the huge support for the non existent Valentino Rossi, obvious with the number of coloured wigs, yellow number 46 flags and of course, the obligatory get well signs everywhere.  Something I have only witnessed in the Spanish rounds, was the fans clapping as the riders came round during the race.  I like this and think it's a nice touch.
But again, the difficulty with getting around the track, combined with the lack of communication and understanding (of security) of who has access to where only made what could've been a good weekend, a very long and trying weekend instead.  Hopefully, somethings might've been learned, and changes may be put in place for those covering the World Superbike round at Silverstone in a few weeks.
I decided to skip Assen to have a week at home being that I haven't had a full weekend at home for almost two months, and I still leave on Sunday for Barcelona.  Annoyingly, I broke my own rule and had a beef sandwich at the airport in Detroit.  Just a word of warning about travelling via DTW.  I have never ever witnessed such appallingly slow passport control.  After arriving on time, and arriving in the controlled area at 12.50pm, it took until 2.10pm to clear customs and baggage transfer and to go onto my gate.  If i didn't have the almost three hour window I had between flights, I'd have missed my connection.  Appalling slow, cumbersome TSA and I really didn't appreciate being X-rayed using their Joe90tron machine with other people looking on.  I thought this process had to have some dignity?
/Rant over.   OH!  Go Ben...
Last but not least, thank you to Bonnie Lane and her husband Chris as well as George Martin for being such wonderful hosts during my trip back to the UK.  Miss you Mum! Next. Off to Barcelona for MotoGP.  Actually, I just updated this blog whilst flying over Nebraska at 35000ft...haha!  Hilarious.

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