Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz

Posted on January 25, 2011 by


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Fancy a day out Sunday says the Boy Friend (BF). Brands Hatch? My treat.

BRANDS HATCH!!! Are you MAD? This is me you’re talking to. Why on earth would you think I want to gawp at boy racers hurtling round and round lap after boring lap on a giant Scalextrix splitting my ear drums. Don’t think so.

Could be an article in it. Remember your overdraft.

True. I had forgotten. I have a wonderful tendency to ignore anything unpleasant. It’s a gift. Mmmmm. Can I change my mind?

We have to be up at six.

SIX!! WHAT!!? Get up in the middle of the night on a Sunday morning!!!? Do me a favour.

Brands Hatch is in Kent. Doors open 7am. First race starts 10am. Roads will be choked. Have to allow time to park. It’s big event.

(Thinks – the car will never go out of fashion until it’s possible to get to Brands Hatch on public transport by 7am). Oh lordy. Decisions. Sleeping late, morning in bed with coffee, toast and last week’s Times v. Bank Statement.

What’s the big event?


DTM? Eh? What’s that when it’s at home?

Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters.

Oh. Right. Yawn. Gobbledegook. Better check it out on the web. See if it’s worth the effort. Now let’s see. The world’s fastest touring cars arrive at Brands Hatch this weekend for the only UK round of the DTM Championship. Ex-Grand Prix winner Ralf Schumacher and Ex F1 driver David Coulthard (ooohh, even I’ve heard of them) will compete in an hour-long race featuring team tactics, lightning pit stops and plenty of action. A support race, F3 Euro Series, is the championship which catapulted Lewis Hamilton onto the international motorsport scene. Heard of him too. Should do. He was born and brought up near me.

Oh well, first time for everything. Incidentally, turns out DTM is lucky not to have Trades Description on its tail. These beasts of the track are not touring cars at all; they are racing cars, so precious they are brought over on transporters.

Brands Hatch. My-oh-my. What an eye opener.

Entrance £30. £30!!! Same as a slap up meal. That’s on top of the round trip petrol and £2 each way for the privilege of driving the Dartford Crossing.

What do you get for thirty squid? A patch of scrubby grass. If you want to sit on a proper seat that will be an extra £12 thank you very much squire. If you want to see the cars in the Paddock – yes it is like a horse race meeting – that will be another £12. A programme will set you back £5 and if you actually want to know what you’re seeing that will be another £5 for the radio commentary. The kiddywinks can go-kart for a mere £12 for ten minutes. £12! That’s a takeaway for two! Look. I’m not the only one who equates money with food. The GDP is based on the price of a MacDonald’s hamburger. The bars, restaurants and Megastore are all jam packed. Recession? What recession?

Turns out the first ‘race’ wasn’t. It was a warm up. The strange whine has to be witnessed to be believed. No wonder children wear ear muffs. The build up and trailing off each side of the ear splitting crescendo WHOOSH!!! sounds like a love sick camel pining for his mate.

Round and round and round and round – paint and drying springs to mind but – thinking of Himself parting with thirty quid for me, like Vera Lynn I keep smiling through especially as he’s a photographer who goes nowhere without industrial size zoom lens and could well be filming my sour expression from afar (he was). Oh lordy, the things we do for love. And, thinking of my overdraft, money. Then! Ah! This is more like it. A boy racer skids off the track! Dust clouds! Right in front of me! Hoo blinking Ray!! Something’s happening! Did he take a dive to liven up the morning? Will he DIE!!!? Is this why punters flock here? To see crashes? Yes. Turns out, he’s fine. Motor is not.

After a lunch time snifter – everything better after a lunchtime snifter- comes THE Race. 98 laps! Give me strength. Suddenly the atmosphere changes. You can feel something in the air. Big money at stake on this one. Schumacher, Coulthard et al are coming out to play. Just as stable boys lead out the fillies before a race, eight hands high fillies – surely Aryans – balancing on Manolo Blahnik’s head up the Tourenwagen.

Tension, excitement, anticipation rises. Will a Big Boy crash? This is better. Much better. Am beginning to understand why people part with £30. Every man and perhaps woman – Susie Stoddart and Katherine Legge are DTM racers – wants to be Herr Schumacher. Well, perhaps not.  Ralf drops out early due to steering failure. On lap 30 he came off the track and had to park his mega precious Mercedes in the pits. David Coulthard came 12th: “I don’t know exactly what happened – I wanted to start, but then the red lights didn’t go out and so I jumped the start. Hopefully, I didn’t ruin anybody’s race’. Susie did better. She retired after a collision without own fault: “All of a sudden, Mattias Ekström slowed down right in front of me and I had no chance to avoid him. As a consequence of the impact my left front suspension broke – and that was it for me today.”

I must say. It-was-hypnotic. Hypnotic. These drivers have guts. In spades. Adrenaline junkies one and all.

As for the punters who follow their heroes around the way footie fans do theirs, each to his own, there’s nowt as queer as folk’s dreams How many of the 24,000 who watched him fantasised about being the winner, twenty-four- year old Scot, Paul Di Resta? Far and away in a class of his own. Guess how much he won by? 7.4 seconds. That’s seconds.

But for all that. Tell you what. I’d still rather watch it on TV. As Dr Johnson said to Mr Boswell at The Giant’s Causeway: ‘Worth seeing? Yes: but not worth going to see.’

To buy this article for publication including photography email: enquiries@pamela-shields.co.uk

Photography copyright Mark Playle

Posted in: Article, Sport