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GP Week : Issue 189
22 GPWEEK.com // 22 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: We all know that motorsport takes many forms – rallying, street racing, drag racing, circuit racing, cars, bikes, whatever. If it’s got an engine and you’ve got a suitable locale, you can almost certainly race it. And while the many forms of motorsport are incredibly varied, we all invariably speak the same language. We admire a ballsy manoeuvre, speak reverently of the machines involved, and understand the nature of a competitive instinct, the determination that makes a winner. You may have no interest in 2CV racing, but you’ll find conversational common ground with a passionate fan. I was reminded of the unifying elements of motorsport as a whole during the break between Spa and Monza, when I spent a glorious late summer’s day in a Cotswold airfield, watching a good friend perform a series of engine tests on his jet car. Setting up and running a jet car is not the easiest task in the world. While elements like the bodywork and chassis can be quite simple, jet engines are not. They involve layers upon layers of fan blades and hidden components, all of which would be far better explained by someone with actual expertise in jet engines. What I can tell you is that hooking up the engine to the gearbox and miles of piping is not a one-man job by any stretch of the imagination. Consequently, there was a crowd of people gathered around, some of whom were jet car experts and others – like me – who simply fancied spending their Monday watching a car shoot enormous jets of flame out the back. Who wouldn’t, given the opportunity? United by the car, and our excitement at watching it run, a group of disparate strangers spent the best part of eight hours bonding over motorsport, and the pleasure of chasing dreams. We came from a mix of motorsport and engineering backgrounds, and bonded over our shared passion for the purity of competition on two wheels or four. As tends to be the case with test days, there was a lot of time spent sitting around, watching as the engineers tinkered with tubes and wires before it was time to put the ear protectors back on and stand well back from the heat of the flame, which was scorching the grass for metres around. As the day progressed, and different problems were identified and then resolved, it struck me that the day was motorsport in miniature. Far from the over-bloated motorhomes and big budgets that make up the F1 paddock was a group of people tinkering with a jet engine but living through the same cycle of anticipation, elation, and disappointment that makes up a race weekend. The jet car engineers may have been volunteering their time, working for the love of it, but they were no less determined to get things right than a group of F1 mechanics tasked with rebuilding a crashed car in time for qualifying. It was a welcome reminder that when it comes down to it, the purest distillation of competition is passion: the passion to be the best, to attain the highest possible accolades in one’s chosen field. Be it the simplicity of record-breaking, with its clearly- stated goals, or the more complex combination of competitions that makes for world championships, the urge to compete, to succeed, is driven by passion in its purest form. Be it the young child practicing with their first go-kart long past the time they were called in for supper, the club-level racers who plough their free time and disposable income into the sport, or the title holder who stays with his engineers late into the night, pouring over data, motorsport truly is all about the passion. It’s easy to forget when surrounded by the corporate glitz of Formula One, operating to fixed schedules and distracted by commitments and deadlines. But sitting in the September sunshine at a rural airfield, waiting to discover if this latest will be the fix that does the trick? Passion is all you can think about. (PIC: Okay. not Kate's Rocket Man .... but Adrian Reynard on his first Land- speed record-breaking motorcycle. Duxford, England, June 1971.) pASSIoN (noun): a strong and barely controllable emotion OPINION OPINION KATE WALKER Editor