Wednesday, 8 May 2013

The sprint at Aintree reminded me why I miss the North

THE other day my sister posted on Facebook a list of things that I – as a Sandgrounder now ensconced in Peterborough – would be missing about T’North.

Among the suggestions it offered up was coffee served in mugs rather than cups, chatting to chirpy Scousers on Merseyrail trains rather than sitting in silence on the London Underground, and quaint pubs in the Lake District serving dark ales named after poets and fell walkers. What I miss most of all, though, are our car events.

That’s why I found myself in Aintree last weekend, a town well known for its connections with horsepower and racing – yep, part of the old Grand Prix circuit was being used for a sprint event. It’s a surprisingly simple formula for motoring fun; just bring your wheels of choice to the start line, put your foot down, hold on for dear life and hope your engine doesn’t pack in. Which, in the case of one Caterham which left a half-mile of blue smoke and a similarly sized oil slick down the final straight, it definitely didn’t!

The best bit, however, wasn’t watching everything from an E-Type to a Lotus Elise being nailed around the historic circuits corners and chicanes; it was being able to wander around the paddocks and get up close to this mouthwatering machinery and have a bit of a chinwag with the owners. There is something wonderfully egalitarian about the whole event, because it doesn’t matter whether you’ve brought half a million quid’s worth of classic racing machinery or a Renault 5 GT Turbo. At Aintree, all that matters is getting the fastest time in your class.

The one thing that summed that up more than anything else was clocking a lightly abused Renaultsport Clio 182 parked up next to an Aston Martin DB6. The two couldn’t be more different, but both of their owners were the epitome of loveliness and were there not to show off, but because they enjoyed putting their cars through their paces (and, without wanting to offend either, I bet their lap times weren’t dissimilar either).
So the smorgasbord of car shows across the region which always get into their stride at this time of year is something I can add to my list of things I miss about The North. 

Next week; gritty movies directed by Ken Loach, people who insist on lolly ices instead of ice lollies and Brian and Michael’s Matchstalk Men and Matchstalk Cats and Dogs. Only joking!

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