Is there anything more enlightening to a racing fan than hearing a legendary race driver — with no sponsors to worry about pissing off — talk about racing? Not a whole lot, we think.
As part of /DRIVE's 2013 Le Mans 24 wrap-up, we recently posted a video chronicling executive producer JF Musial's trip to Le Mans with legendary racer Derek Bell and Bentley Le Mans winner Guy Smith. The interview JF did with the two may be the only such interview ever conducted inside a Chunnel train.
Bell, who competed at Le Mans 26 times, talks about his glory days there: "It was the only track in the world that ever gave you that sort of tremble in your stomach. Because you were driving through, into the unknown."
On the subject of racing losing its entertainment value, he had more to say. "Motor racing is about entertaining the fans," he said. "Without them there wouldn't really be racing." That's a message that race organizers must heed, particularly as racing outcomes start to feel arbitrary in the face of byzantine series rules and highly advanced but less sexy racing tech like advanced diesel hybrids.
"To me, racing is about noise," Bell says. "I personally don't think I want to go and hear a car hissing as it goes by."
Is that a retrograde attitude? Is high-technology racing doomed to become a nerd's niche sport, like a battle between remote-controlled saw-blade cars, or can a new generation of racing fans get past the relentless de-coarsening of modern racecars in service of efficiency and performance? What do you think?
If you watch all the way through, you'll see what at least one young fan thinks about racing.