Friday, 28 October 2011

Tragedy strikes when you least expect it...feelings of a motorsport fan

I'm a pretty big fan of motorsport. I've written about it on this blog a few times about my love for Formula 1, and the sport in general.

"Even aside from Formula 1, I love watching motorsport. This year, I've found myself branching out and watching different categories to explore different racing. I finally started watching Indycar and NASCAR from Stateside (and I definitely prefer Indycar), GP2 and GP3 from the F1 support races, British F3, British Touring Cars, Le Mans (both the 24 hour race and the Intercontinental Series) and then bits of Formula Renault (including the World Series events)."

So there we go. I love the sport, and if I can find it on TV (or online) I'll watch it.

Sometimes though, there are moments in life that make you question the things you love, why you love them and how you can continue to do so. Without a doubt, this week has been one of those.

For anyone unaware, two weeks ago, we had the Indycar finale in Las Vegas. As part of the attractions, the organisers had set up a $5million challenge for Dan Wheldon to start at the back of the grid and try to come through the field to win the race. If he did that, he'd split the $5million with an Indycar fan who had entered their details in a competition.

Plenty of people who know far better than me have plenty to say about the Las Vegas track, mainly saying that it was far too dangerous to race Indycars on, and that having them driving flat-out for the entire lap and being able to run 3 wide would end in disaster. They were right, but I suspect none of them could foresee what actually happened.

In a few seconds of absolute horror, some 12 cars were involved in an accident after two cars made contact. Driving so closely behind each other, the drivers behind found themselves in an impossible position and facing an accident. Some drivers were lucky in that they made light contact, others weren't so lucky and found themselves being catapulted through the air. Pippa Mann, JR Hildebrand and Will Power were all sent to hospital with varying degrees of injury as a result of the crash while Wheldon tragically lost his life.

Watching it live at the time, there was no question that the accident was one of the scariest accidents I've ever seen in my life. In Formula 1, you never really see such levels of destruction, and that's mainly because cars aren't racing in such close proximity. It's safe to say that I never want to watch that accident again in my life though. Knowing the consequences of the incident and the fact that a great driver lost his life, I can't watch it again.

The two hours waiting for news on Wheldon's injury were some of the most difficult pieces of television to watch. Obviously, they didn't want to show replays of the accident because of its severity, and not many drivers were wanting to give interviews. Both in the USA and on British television, both teams of presenters did an exceptional job for which they have to be commended, and even when the news broke that Wheldon had passed away, they kept it together. The five lap tribute was something that I was unsure about at the time, but watching it, it was the right thing to do. The sound of bagpipes playing Amazing Grace was enough to make me cry during this, and it really was a sad occasion. I don't think I've ever seen racing cars look sad while they're going around the track, but these Dallaras certainly didn't look happy, and it wasn't the nicest way for them to end their time in Indycar before moving onto the new chassis, which has been named in Wheldon's honour.

Then, this Sunday the motorsport world was stunned again by the death of Marco Simoncelli. I can't say I've been an avid viewer of MotoGP this year since the races have been largely processional (and Rossi hasn't really been that strong on the Ducati). When I have watched races though, Simoncelli has been one of the most exciting racers in the field. His wild, curly hair made him stand out in the field and his racing was some of the finest seen in a long time. Perhaps he would have made it to the top and dominated MotoGP for several years, but he was definitely on his way to becoming one of the top names in the sport.

Simoncelli's accident could have perhaps been avoided had he not been so determined to save himself from falling in the middle of the corner, but he was a racer. He fell, and Rossi and Edwards were unfortunately behind him and virtually powerless to avoid making contact. I've not seen the accident since it occurred, and once again, I don't think it's something I want to see in the near future.

To have one death is tragic, but to have two top racers die within a week of each other...there aren't really words to describe it. It's a dark cloud over the motorsport industry, and it highlights how important safety is. No matter how safe you try and make a sport, there is always the risk of injury or death. That's why when you go to most events, it'll say on the ticket "Motorsport can be dangerous"

I'll leave it on this note. The Indycar commentator, Marty Reid, signed off from the broadcast on that Sunday evening with this: "Many people ask me why I always sign off 'Til we meet again'. It's because goodbye is always so final. Goodbye Dan Wheldon" Goodbye Marco Simoncelli

Sunday, 16 October 2011

It's been a while...

I've really let this blog slide over the past month or two. I've gone from writing at least once a week to struggling to make it a fortnightly thing. To be honest though, I've been keeping myself pretty busy, and at times it feels as though I'm struggling to make any free time for myself as it is without managing to scribble something on here.

The last two weeks have been pretty busy weeks though. The workload at university is slowly starting to increase and I've been finding myself caught out a few times in forgetting how much time I need to dedicate to doing work on my own time to make sure I'm getting everything done. I'll slip back into a more natural routine and get completely on top of everything, but I've definitely had a couple of late nights finishing off bits of work that I really shouldn't have left until the last minute. Four months off is a hell of a long time, and it's really easy to get into a routine of switching your brain off relatively early in the night and relaxing. You definitely can't do it at uni though!

I'm definitely keeping myself pretty busy. I'm not complaining though, it's much better to have something to do with my time instead of watching something bizarre on YouTube, reading the weirdo thread on UKFF or thinking about how to get a moment with Bert River at the TV tapings next month with Crawley and Hamling. Like I say though, there are definitely plenty of things on my plate at the moment to keep me busy.

HD1C has started off pretty well in the union (despite a small screw-up on my part regarding a change of room/date), and we've got a good base of new members. Over the next few weeks, hopefully we can build up to become a solid little group and go from strength to strength. There's an Austrian girl who has joined, which means that I'll hopefully get a little chance to speak some German during rehearsals as well...which is always good!

On the German note, I somehow found myself talking to Mandy after the Core lecture on Tuesday and telling her I was interested in being involved in the Theatre project...and most likely would be interested in acting too. Really...I have no idea how I ended up saying that, and now I'm staring at an audition on Tuesday for one of the roles in the play. I wasn't aware I could act. I suspect I can't, and we'll all find that out relatively shortly to everyone's amusement. Still, it'll be interesting.

As I said in my last blog at the start of the month, I'm in my final few weeks of teenage life. I'd like to think I've managed to do pretty much everything that I would have like to have done during my teenage years...well, what I can remember of them. A hazy memory will be my one main memory of teenage life.

I've regressed quite a lot though and become a small child at various points. Over the last few weeks, I've made a fort in the living room using cushions, curtains and beanbags, I've thought of having gigantic games of hide-and-seek around the university campus (I've not forgotten about this WILL happen!), had an imaginary friend come round for the evening and I've played several pranks and tricks on my flatmates.

Of course, I realise that if I didn't spend so much time in my fort or being a 5 year old in general, I wouldn't be sat up at midnight finishing off some homework for the next day at uni or having to get up nice and early to make sure I've got all of my reading done.

Where would be the fun in that though?

That's the note I'll leave things on for now. Yes, things might be quite busy at times and I might end up pulling a few late nights to get everything done, but the fun is still there. We just need to realise it's there, take it and enjoy that moment of childishness.

"Never underestimate the importance of having fun". ~ Randy Pausch (The Last Lecture)

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Pinch, punch, first of the month

Yes, I am recycling titles. That's not due to a lack of imagination, it's due to my having to distribute my imagination more carefully since starting back at university. Either way, the title still works. It's October now, though you definitely wouldn't think it looking outside! We're enjoying a bit of an Indian Summer at the moment, and the last week has been absolutely glorious. At times, almost unbelievably hot, but glorious nonetheless. The walk to uni has been really enjoyable, and I'm definitely making the most of it because when it's grey, raining and cold, the walk through the park is going to be grim.

It's been a good first week back though, and I can feel myself getting back into the swing of things when it comes to focusing and getting down to work. Which is why after I finish writing this blog, I plan on spending the rest of today doing homework and getting all of my preparation done for the coming week. Having now had a full week of all of my classes, I think I've made the right decisions for me when it comes to module choice. There are some really interesting things coming up over the year at various points in my modules and I'll get a chance to explore some things I've not really looked at in too much depth before.

When it comes to my comedy writing, I've probably not written as much as I would have liked over the last few weeks, but I'm starting to shape together some of the ideas I've written and mould them together. I broke my earphones for my iPod earlier in the week, so the walks to uni have been quieter than usual (and I've got a huge backlog of podcasts to get through). As a result of it though, I've been having ideas springing into my head, so as well as having some straight routine ideas for material, I've started playing around with some sketch ideas. I joined the Comedy Society which should be really useful for this, and hopefully over the course of the year, I'll get the chance to expand on some of the ideas that I've come up with, and maybe even get some writing done with other people. The society have had some ideas for starting an improv group and a night for new material, and with both of those being pretty interesting for me, I'd like to think there's some chance for progress for me in that department.

Anyone who knows me fairly well knows I've been having problems with my knee (well, both knees...but mainly my left) over the last year or so. A year's a long time to carry an injury, especially when you can't remember what caused it in the first place. I gave in to the now-constant pain and saw a doctor to try and figure out what was going on down there. Knees are fairly tricky things to sort out because there's only so much that can be done without going into major levels. Sadly, I won't be getting a brand new knee any time soon (which is a shame as I really wanted some pogo springs), but I will be getting sent for a few weeks of physio to try and see if that helps. It probably should.

To be honest, I think the knee would have been fine if I hadn't slightly overdone it during the past two weeks. At the Headphone Disco (which was a really awesome night) I twisted the knee a few times and took a few knocks. At the time, I brushed those concerns to one side as I was busy enjoying the night and dancing like a bit of a fool, which we all know is what I do best. Then during the week, I was on a languages night out and took another couple of knocks to the knee which were enough for me to call quits on the night and hobble home.

I just realised that I'm now in my final month of teenage life. That's a rather scary thought...the next time the calendar page turns over, I'll be 20. 20 is at a stage where I have to start to think about being "grown up" (I think). I don't really know, I've not been 20 before. Maybe I'll be able to just continue being the same person I am and maintain my excellent level of (im)maturity. If I've got just a month left of teenager-ness, let's make it a good month!

Enjoy the rest of your day/weekend/week (delete as applicable depending on when you read this). While the sun is shining, let's enjoy it. It's a beautiful day.