Silverstone was a blast! (1)

Being at Silverstone this weekend, after 21 months O.O.O. (out-of-overalls), brought home to me just how true it is that I came forthe racing, but I stayed for the people. I had a blast. Here, again in a totally random fashion, my thoughts and feelings about working at my first MotoGP race.

I rediscovered that draw-dropping wonder at watching these lunatics riders on those stunning little jewels of machines. Yes, F1 holds me in thrall, but over the years I’d lost much of that very young boyish feeling of . . . Almost not believing I’m seeing what I’m seeing. In fact, I spent the weekend saying “awesome” constantly. Our standby position allowed us to watch them apexing and accelerating out of Copse. It is a seriously thrilling sight.

The open-face helmet. When I worked with Sid, we donned helmets for race laps only. After Sid retired, all the car-borne personnel agreed that we should always be lidded.

First of all, I assume that any of you who know anything about me realise that I’m pretty serious about head injury and its prevention/mitigation. Our requirements were relatively simple, and after due consideration we opted for high quality open faced helmets. In the case of the medical car crew, we felt that the most likely mechanisms of head injury ON SCENE would be falls and flying debris. (That’s why in most pictures of me ready for work I’m wearing ballistic eyewear also). It was clear that both to maintain protection as well as to foster the most professional image possible, we would not remove our lids while working. This essentially eliminated full face helmets from consideration.

Remember, we’re in a huge road-ready Merc that’s been reinforced just where you’d want it to be. We’ve got 6-point harnesses in front and we’re on a circuit that is purpose built to make sure that decelerations are as gentle as possible. Yes, of COURSE we’re travelling a bit . . . swiftly . . . but Alan and I felt utterly protected with our helmets on.

The local team providing medical cover for the Silverstone leg of the MotoGP championship is the team that covers the British Superbike championship. These guys are spectacularly devoted, utterly professional, and really are a model of efficiency, good humor and passion. They take their JOBS, not themselves, seriously.

They didn’t assume I knew nothing about doctoring for bikes, but nor did they assume I knew everything. So I learned TONS. How can that not be fun?

Interestingly, and this came as a huge surprise, there’s almost no intersection between the medical/rescue people doing cars and those doing bikes. My non-random sampling indicates that a large proportion of them are actualy bikers. But the passion, the commitment, and the willingness to tolerate hours of boredom/discomfort/heat/cold/wet/mosquitos etc, is the same as everybody out on a corner or in an intervention car, whether it’s bikes, cars, boats, airplanes or trucks out there.

Hey this is getting long. I’ll finish up tomorrow, and talk a bit about the people sitting in the front seats of the medical cars.


8 thoughts on “Silverstone was a blast! (1)

  1. Gary, thanks once again for a superb blog. You have a wonderful way of mixing your passion, jaw dropping awe and mixing that with the seriousness of your profession and your pet desire to see some distinct strides forward in head protecting helmet design.for all Sports. Thanks and you have admit that the Moto boys seem to inject more excitement, thrills, and passes, than the GP’s to say nothing of the stunning Grid Girls …….So sorry you are stuck behind the grid so you miss this (also) jaw dropping bodywork. – Great Blog…. 🙂

  2. It’s amazing to read the passion you still put in your job after so many years. You’re a lucky man for finding the perfect place for you (something many of us will never do), and we’re lucky you’re sharing them with us. 🙂

  3. It’s a great pity that we no longer get proper BBC tv coverage of MotoGP in the UK, we now just get highlights on ITV4 a day later if you remember it’s on.
    We use to think Rossi was daring in the days of knees on the kerb, but now we have elbows and almost shoulders on the ground in cornering. The tyre adhesion is just impossible!
    Marquez looks so far over the edge that he is bound to emulate his unfortunate predecessor.
    The injuries obviously have a much wider disposition than in F1

    But Gary, MotoGP is kids stuff compared to the IOM TT. the onboard shots from that are almost completely suicidal, F1 standards of fifty years ago! The odd bale of straw is the only form of track safety. In particular watch Guy Martins spectacular 2010 fireball of a crash, his later response from hospital was that he got it a tad wrong and needed to go back and try harder. He reminds me of Sir Stirling Moss, who when asked why he did it said, “the danger, the thrill” In another interview Guy is absolutely clear that it is the closeness to sudden death that is the thrill. Yet he has done two tv series about British industry, how things work etc and appears quite a normal sane bloke! Speed mad but normal!
    There is a good AlJaz documentary here.

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