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Formula Motorsports

Guilty Pleasures

By Michael Tashjian • May 5, 2015

The emphasis is on pleasure. A guilty pleasure can be anything from food (a bucket of fried chicken) to music (country) to down and dirty catfights. It can be where we go (Greek Islands) and what we go for (Victoria’s Secret). It is anything we want to keep to ourselves. It is what we work hard to own, but cannot admit to! A pair of Minolo Blaniks; better yet, old comic books. A trampoline, sensen gum, long legs in spike heels. It’s almost every single one of Andy Warhol’s obsessions.

Now, that I can do IT with more understanding, traveling through Europe, connecting my past with Porsche alongside current racing activities remain first and foremost on this Guilty Pleasure list, my “giveth” and “taketh” away.

The way the world is now, nothing might seem as superfluous as sports car racing. A guilty pleasure if there ever was one. But it’s not as though we’re (drivers/spectators) ignoring what’s going on in the world. It’s just that we need a respite. And nothing provides that pleasure more than racing. Even if we might be feeling a little guilty about it right now. Just to remind us why racing makes us feel good, we break out the bubbly with a portfolio of images and sensations that celebrate European racing scenes. Images of the broad swatch of Spa’s Ardennes forest, only two hours from Nurburgring’s roiling, dangerous curves, forever carving a path around it’s spired castle, never backpeddling on a fast lap filled with pictorial scenes of Italy’s sun drenched parabolica poised within Monza !

Arguably, ferries remain a favorite means of crossing the Channel. Sure, they’re slow and can grunt when you least expect it, but the ferry from Dover to Calais affects a clean beginning to the competition awaiting my entrance. Accompanying me for the ride is an ending to whatever happened before this continental entrance.

Close friend, co-driver and Ex Pat., Randy Sesson suggests the “Chunnel” trains may cut our excursion by a few hours and I agree. Regrettably, these tunnel dwelling, car crammed monoliths would disallow the cleansing of my spirit. Replaced by contemplation of speed, curves and danger, all which loomed east as our rain soaked coach pierced the tunnels brow surrounded by a frail Calais horizon. A day break; precursor to interpretation of guilt or pleasure. Would it tag us to the end of our journey?

I suppose it is time for stomach ailments to cease. They won’t! Every morning, prior to climbing into a cockpit, I’m sick. From music to fasting, nothing helps. This apparent psychosis emanates through fears of first lap embarrassment.

Kept at bay with butterfly vigilance, it knows no ceasefire and will be with me forever!

First day tests completed at the G.P. circuit, on to the Hotel Reidel, across the road from Der Ring, Nurburg, Germany. Gifted a drive in a DTM car, delivered through the smooth, swift G.P. South circuit is comparative to piloting an F 1 with 4 seats!

Time is ripe for relaxation, come late afternoon. One click down from us, RingMeisters overwhelm, Der Nordschleif! Ring taxis abound, chauffeuring tourists, impressing novitiates with power slides wherever opportunity presents itself. Pecking order is a tradition on these public days. Coupling oneself to the local slogan, Master of the Ring, goes a long way in construction of a reputation. People emigrate/participate clueless, explicitly incapable in discovering the known players, indeed, they don’t know thezeitgeist!

On this late afternoon, Wannabe’s clamor from painted divides, comprising Nordschlief’s parking corral. Stop watches strewn about, frauleins wrapped in Gucci; all, toiling, indeed broiling with expectancy through prospecting low lap times. Machines of significant worth, specially treated for this particular venue, their heaves and snorts fill the air along with anticipation as they await their untested Meister and toll booth ticket holder, who must go out to better the sweeping hands of his cohorts chronograph. Maintaining a voyeuristic approach to this perennial ritual would be healthy, in part due to my required drive in official practice, the following day at Spa. Perched above the fray, securely stationed above this cage, I remark to my colleague, “How many of these ego maniacs get scrapped off the landscape anywhere and everywhere? My German counterpart, deadpanned in response “Ve don keep coun, Mark”! On the morning following our largess at a previous night’s festivities, we discover a Ferrari, coupled to an Italian dinner partner; neither would complete an attempt in becoming part of the living legends that are the RingMeisters. Ever evolving within the cruelty which befalls them, incapable of comprehending the capacity of life’s guilt and pleasures; confined to within Nordschlief, directed to its embarkation point.

Upon exiting a Cup Car, days later in Spa, two hours from *Castle Nurburg, a Brit Crew member bounded over, exclaiming, “Mark, Mark, remember the boy with the red Testarossa…the one we had dinner with at Hotel Reidel, the lad bought the farm at *Bergwerk, his girlfriend is in hospital”. Feeling the cruelty which befell this time traveler, all the while knowing what was discussed at our table, hours before his fate caught up to him. My aggrieved response, “can we contact his parents in Italy; they should know who was with him; we should do the right thing, tell them what they want to hear from someone who broke bread with him, someone who spoke to Vitorio last”. Remembering his bravado coursing through our prior evening, richened in colorful broken English, “Mark, you drive ere, not too match, I wit expedience, I know everyting for deez plaize, Victorio drive ere too many times”. We bandied stories related to the drama, unique to this circuit and kept within its boundaries; taming his boundaries was our hope. Alas, it soon became apparent, my diatribe over dinner fell on deaf ears, and our boy was all caught up in this adventitious RingMeister moniker. Too late for admitted guilt in driving pleasure, its lesson would play “hooky”.

According to my sources, the impact was inevitable, occupant unrecognizable, red car from Marinello…no longer red. Understandably distraught, Girlfriend was ambulatory and escorted away from the hordes who dominated this infamous parking lot. Immediately following; interlopers, vacuous yet contrite, scattered back into daily existences awaiting another public day.Kinder, overflowing with the effluence of the foolhardy. RingMeisters, less one.

On to Belgium. Re-introduced by Randy to a pleasurable, long lost friend who has managed a triumphant de-institution in careers. This talented driver tuned in, turned on, dropped out; bought a house in the Ardennes forest, five minutes from Spa. Beautiful house! $125K! By New York standards it was a palace. His days are filled with tutoring talented drivers ….We heightened stories of race days gone by; spent hours over dinner re-acquainting ourselves in nuances associated with the new Spa circuit……the guilt, the pleasures…..what a life!?

  • RingMeister-Well respected group of drivers knowing every centimeter of the 300 plus turns of the 20 Kilometers, making up the Nordschlief.

*Nurburg Castle-As you shift up to top gear on the very long, kinked straight, there in view sits the Castle of Nurburg, it resides within the town of Nurburg, which in turn resides within the confines of the Nordschleif. Everything about the Ring is HUGE.

*Bergwerk- Grouping of turns on the Nordschleif (North part) of Nurburgring.