It’s that time of year again where I’m gearing myself up for the British Grands Prix at Silverstone! And it’s this little but pricey treat that gets me through the year I think. Sunning myself drinking and lolling around a pool in a foreign country, with nothing to do and all day to do it, definitely has its appeal, however, there’s not much that compares with my annual fix of ear-splitting engine noise and fumes!
James Hunt was my hero and in 1976 he won the Formula One World Championship! Coverage on the telly, though, was nowhere near what it is today. Highlights were more or less all you got back then, and as there was no video or Sky+ to record anything to, more often than not, a peek through the race reports at the back of dad’s Monday newspaper, or snatching a glimpse at the sports on the evening news would have to suffice. Sometimes after dad had finished with his paper, he’d let me cut the pictures and the words out for my little scrappy scrap-books – long since gone I’m afraid… And back then I’m certain that tickets to the races wouldn’t have cost what they cost these days (in relative terms) but there was never any chance that I would ever get to Silverstone; we didn’t even have a car, not to mention the money to get there by any other means!
Scalextrix was the nearest thing I would get to motor racing for many years before I would have the chance to watch my beloved cars, in ‘real life’, scooting around a track! And to think, if I did, I wouldn’t have had to lay on the floor to get an exciting perspective, or have to stand up every thirty seconds to put the cars back on the track at the corners. There was another racing game, however, that I absolutely loved to play, and only just today, in the last ten minutes at the office, as we wound down our dusty and tacky day, I called this game to mind and put together the ingredients and raced happily with a colleague….I wonder if anyone else ever played this?
Okay, ingredients to my simple motor racing game. There are no cars, no engine noises, no fans, no air horns, nothing but two pens, a piece of paper and an imagination… Take one sheet of A4 paper, scrap paper, exercise book paper, it doesn’t really matter. Take a pen and draw a crude but page-filling shape, consisting of corners, loops, hairpins, perhaps a figure-of-eight somewhere – two lines, as equidistant as possible around the whole circuit. Two pens. One pen red, for arguments’ sakes, one pen blue or black. And if there are more than two players, and not enough colours, a player’s initials can be used instead of a coloured pen to determine who is who… And let’s be honest, there wasn’t a great deal of need for multiple coloured pens at home…I quite liked the little betting shop pens that dad would often accidentally bring home with him – You might have seen them at one time or another; about three inches in length, red with a white top.
So we have paper and pens, and our race track, crudely drawn. Time to play. There’s a start/finish line. Each player takes their pen, one at a time, and stands it up vertical on the paper. A quick slide of measured pressure takes the pen along the paper and up the track, however, you can’t trace a line, it needs to be a kind of flick. Where the line of ink ends, there is drawn a small ‘x’ or initials if using the same colour pens. If you’re ink line goes over the edge of the track at any point, then that move won’t progress you, and you must wait until your next turn. The first to the finish wins. Simple enough? Unless of course, you’re a tad eager and you insist on a few laps instead of one…like me… And one other thing, under no circumstances rest your paper and anything containing ink on your mother’s favourite sofa arm covers – she might not appreciate it.