Ok this may seem a bit morbid but I am genuinely interested as to what people might have to say. Particularly older fans who have grown up watching the sport when it wasn’t quite as safe as it is today.
The reason for this is I was watching a documentary about Jackie Stewart and it came to a section about the death of Francois Cevert. Having read about it, it was a really horrendous accident and Cevert had terrible injuries, which robbed the sport of a talented guy who had the potential to become world champion. Now every fan of motor sport knows that it is inherently dangerous. Stuff like the Dan Wheldon crash, or Henry Surtees demonstrate that only too well. However I think those of a younger generation, including myself have been somewhat sanitised as to how dangerous it can be. I am not old enough to remember when Senna died, so fortunately to date I have never seen a fatality live in an F1 race, and long may that continue.
However thinking back to 40 years ago or so incidents like Cevert’s were not rare. I’m sure some people have seen the footage on youtube of Tom Pryce’s crash and that is really painful to watch, as is when Roger Williamson died at Zandvoort in 1973. It must have been horrendous to watch, let alone be an active participant in the sport at the time when drivers were dying very season. And dying needlessly from accidents that could have been prevented. I can’t help but think it must have turned some people off the sport, but then I remembered the reaction Jackie Stewart got from someone like Denis Jenkinson when he began his quest to improve safety. Did fans just accept that was the nature of the sport, and part of being an F1 fan? It seems inconceivable to me in this day and age that I could have continued to watch a sport and enjoyed it as much where people were being brutally killed in accidents as they were. But then someone like Stirling Moss said he wouldn’t have raced and enjoyed it if wasn’t so dangerous so he took his chances and hoped he came out the other side. Any thoughts?
The danger is what was so exciting for fans to watch.
Nobody wants to see racers die or get severely injured in crashes, but the knowledge that that is a very real possibility is what makes racing captivating. Knowing that the guy you see going past has enough confidence in his skills that he is willing to risk his life is what’s awe inspiring.
If you want a modern day example of how captivating it can be, watch the Isle of Man TT.
This year’s event is coming very soon, and there are plenty of clips on Youtube.
The event is absolutely crazy, the riders take incredible risks, and as such, deaths are very common.
Watch some clips, and I guarantee you will be gobsmacked by just how insane it is, but at the same time drawn to watching it.