EVERY so often when I’m flicking through channels I’ll end up watching a few minutes of lockdown football – and, sorry, footy fans, but I’m still finding the piped cheering a bit weird.
Yes, I know it’s supposed to bring back a bit of the buzz of big stadiums pre-lockdown, but I still think there’s something palpably odd about your ears being bombarded by the roar of thousands of chanting fans, but the visuals being of sorry-looking seats covered up to prevent the spread of infection.
At least with F1, all the noise is delivered by the shriek of a turbo-charged V6s – and I’d argue that as cars provide their own soundtrack, motoring events work better that football matches with the spectators removed.
Certainly, that’s what I hope is going to work for two very different events on the horizon – the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and our very own Ormskirk MotorFest.
Both have decided in the past week to opt for a closed-behind-doors format, with the aim of curtailing COVID-19 infections this year and refocusing their energy on coming back fighting in 2021. As soon as it became obvious that having 15,000 car and bike fans congregate outside Coronation Park wasn’t a smart idea the chaps at Aintree Circuit Club came up with the idea of taking the event on tour instead – rather than you going to see the event, they’d bring all those old Maseratis, Lotus Elans and TVRs to you, on one big drive around Lancashire.
Sadly, the rise in cases in other parts of Lancashire lately has put paid to that idea, so last Thursday this bold new plan was ruled out.
So like Le Mans, which is having its first spectator-free race in its 97-year history, it’s now going behind closed doors.
The new event is an invite-only bash based down the road at Aintree, but with everything streamed on social media.
You might not be able to get up close to all these old cars and have eardrums bashed by the stock cars as they battle their way around Ormskirk’s one-way system, but you’ll be able to enjoy Ferraris and Astons being taken around Aintree’s historic circuit – home of Sir Stirling Moss’ first British Grand Prix win, don’t forget – online instead.
Personally, I think it’s the right move. I’ve spoken to dozens of event organisers across the country, and while they’re taking very different approaches to bringing cars out in these strange times, the one thing that unites them is that nobody wants to behind a spike in new cases.
If Aintree Circuit Club and West Lancs Borough Council don’t feel it’s safe, then I completely understand their decision to postpone their public day of petrol-head fun until next year.
Until then, I’m looking forward to watching – rather than wandering around – this year’s MotorFest instead.
Let’s hope they bring some noisy cars and bikes to make up for the spectators…
David Simister is the editor of Classic Car Weekly
For the latest on the MotorFest, find the full story in this edition.