On Oct. 26, 1997, I got up bright and early to go over to a pub on Bayview Ave. in Toronto (long gone) that used to open early on Grand Prix Sundays and serve up a breakfast for a couple of dozen F1 fans who – unlike today – couldn’t watch the races on their home TVs because they weren’t available.
I got there and the place was dark. I looked at my watch and looked at the pub and realized I’d forgotten to turn my watch back an hour because it was the Sunday that daylight savings time ended.
Don’t be a stupid like me. Turn your clocks and watches back an hour before you go to bed tonight because, if you don’t, you’ll turn on your TV Sunday morning to watch the last race of the 2009 season and there will probably a fishing show, or something, on instead.
In any event, I went home a dozen years ago and read the Sunday Star to kill an hour and then went back to the pub where, that morning, the several dozen regulars had turned into a full house and I can still hear the roar of delight when Michael Schumacher tried to block Jacques Villeneuve’s pass late in the race and wound up stuck in the kitty litter.
Every time Michael spun his wheels, the cheering got louder. It was almost an anti-climax when the race ended and Jacques had become Canada’s first World Champion.
But, all in all, a great day.
Villeneuve won the championship that day at Jerez, in Spain – a wonderful racing circuit out in the countryside that had hills and trees and grass – unlike the brand new track in Abu Dhabi that looks – from the air – like Pearson International Airport, or LAX.
All concrete and pavement and flat as a pancake – except for the tunnel leading out of the pits that reminds me of leaving a parking garage.
I mean, it’s beautiful and gorgeous in its ultra-modern way and that, I guess, is the way Formual One is going but it just doesn’t look or feel right.
And we all know that watching any sport on TV is nothing like the real thing – hockey in the ACC or baseball at the Rogers Centre is much better in person than on the tube (until, I guess, the day comes when it will all be in 3-D) – and that’s particularly true of auto racing. Only when the cars flash past and you have to wear ear plugs to protect your eardrums from the shrieks of the engines can you really appreciate the spectacle that is F1.
I watched the qualifying earlier today and it didn’t look like the cars were moving at all. You could get a little of the sensation of speed when the director switched to the in-car cameras but even then it looked like Hamilton, Vettel, et al, were just toodling along the Strip in Las Vegas.
I hope the race is better. We’ll find out tomorrow on TSN at 7:55 a.m. STANDARD TIME.