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Having lived, loved and taught in England, your author has a special fondness in his heart for almost everything British (with the exceptions of the food and weather), but most especially her people. It’s an endlessly historic and fascinating nation full of wonderfully accented, polite and thin folks. As The Stranger once said, “and in English, too.”
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Who can blame them for a little latent Franco-phobia towards their neighbors? Britain has far larger problems than frogs in the foyer, though. Often it takes a dear friend to stage an intervention, and Britain – you diminutive, pub crawling, cider swilling country – your time for a rude awakening vis-a-vis IndyCar participation has come.
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With the announced loss of Mike Conway and quite possibly Justin Wilson, the 2015 IndyCar season will feature exactly one full time British driver in the series – an unproven and unaccomplished second year driver, at that. For the proud homeland of Jimmy Clark and Nigel Mansell, that’s simply appalling. It is a number precisely equal to that of IndyCar drivers from lesser nations such as Canada and Japan. Certainly most insulting of all, Britain’s arch-rival France has not one but two veteran drivers in the series – both with recent wins.
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The purpose of this IndyCar intervention is to stop the destructive and disturbing trend of declining British involvement – to turn it around and regain the glory days of Empire when three or even four brave Brits regularly raced and won. The question facing Britain is, are you up to the challenge of increasing interest and participation in the artistry on wheels that is IndyCar?
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Currently her Majesty’s sole IndyCar hopes lay upon twenty three year old Jack Hawksworth from Bradford, England (of all places). Bradford lies in the hinterlands near Scotland, an unremarkable place in the more rural and colder north. After a mediocre rookie campaign in which he finished seventeenth in the standings – out of twenty two full time drivers – he’s recently hooked up with A.J. Foyt Racing. South Texas must seem like a tropical island for young Jack compared to the moors of Yorkshire in winter time.
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Until recently Foyt’s team has been a veritable turnstile for drivers, with little in the way of stability much less regular tea breaks. A.J., Hawksworth and Japanese driver Takuma Sato seem like an exceptionally odd ensemble, although A.J. last had success at Indy with Swede Kenny Brack so anything’s possible. Like Brack, Jack, Taku and A.J. all have terrifically amusing though quite different accents in common.
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Since the UK’s down to a single IndyCar driver – which is by the way exactly one more than the number of aircraft carriers the Royal Navy currently has – we at IRR have decided to give some helpful advice to go along with this intervention, applicable to both young Hawksworth and his British fans alike as they adjust to their harsh new surroundings in Waller, Texas. Knowing both A.J. and the British, there are some items that just don’t translate between the two.
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A fiery Texan, A.J. has never been one to simply maintain a stiff upper lip, or for that matter to “remain calm” as the signs urge. When he starts yelling, throwing things and stomping around, simply pretend it’s an old Monty Python episode and chortle along nervously at the scene. Foyt will normally calm down after several minutes of this. If he doesn’t, then pretend it’s an Argentinean air raid and head quickly to the nearest tube station. If A.J. follows you and continues ranting, run faster than Arie Luyendyk and you’ll be fine.
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Advice for the legendary near octogenarian Foyt is obviously a different matter altogether. Fully aware of A.J.’s reluctance to accept our friendly counsel, we nonetheless offer it up in the spirit of furthering international relations. Plus, we’re huge fans of the Indy racing legend. Linguistic differences between American English and British English – colloquialisms, slang and the like – make the possibility of mis-communication within the team a very real one. For example, when Jack starts talking about someone’s “bum,” take our word that it’s probably not what you think, A.J. Not at all.
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Sadly it seems that Conway and Wilson may well join Pippa, Franchitti and Blundell who’ve gone the way of Manning, Mansell and Clark before them. We bid these recently bygone British blokes good luck, and plan to spend a night out on the tiles tipping pints of Stella in honor of their retirement. Any excuse for a trip down the pub, right? With a solitary limey from across the pond left fully participating in big league racing, it seems as though it’s young Jack who’d best “mind the gap.” Else there could be yet another area of sports in which Britain is shut out completely and – horror – the French dominate them yet again.
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