Out of touch motor racing giants speeding down the wrong road

Our man Frank on a bad week for some major names in motor racing; Welcoming new arrivals in Castlecoote…and more reflections on Galway v Armagh…

As readers must know by now, I have a big interest in and follow a fair number of different types of sport. However, there are a lot of sports that do nothing for me. The likes of basketball, cricket, baseball and American football, among lots of others, are sports I would never dream of watching.

Also included in this list is motor racing. I cannot understand how hundreds of thousands of people go to Formula One races all around the world just to watch cars fly around on a racetrack for what appears to be hours on end.

And yet, despite never actually watching any of these Formula One races, I will admit I’ve always had an interest in the sport. Back in the day, I would have been very familiar with legends like Jackie Stewart, Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost, Damon Hill, and the incomparable Michael Schumacher. There was also Nelson Piquet, a three-time world champion who was revered in his native Brazil. However, in the last few days, footage has emerged of Piquet seeming to make both racist and homophobic remarks about Lewis Hamilton – who apparently is one of the nicest, humblest, and most generous drivers on the planet (as well as being the best and most successful currently). The Scot, Jackie Stewart, also had uncomplimentary words to say about the young Englishman, prompting Hamilton to suggest that old legends of the game should keep their comments to themselves.

As long as I can remember, billionaire Bernie Ecclestone has controlled everything in the world of Formula One. He too has also done untold damage to the sport having recently defended his friend Putin and the latter’s outrageous attack on Ukraine. Ecclestone declared that he would “take a bullet” for the Russian president.

Funnily enough, the British Grand Prix is taking place in Silverstone as I write today (Sunday). A friend of told me her husband has been a race marshal there for years, and said that of all the drivers to ever take part in the race, Hamilton is the one who always makes a point of talking to all the marshals and thanking them for their work. At a time when he is struggling a little on the track, the last thing he needs is old-timers having a go at him, so maybe he is right in asking them to shut up!

Many years ago, I too was in Silverstone – but not on the racetrack. My truck broke down on the motorway just beside the village when the alternator went in it. We had no lights, but Ralph (my brother-in-law) said he would keep the engine running until morning. And so, our former neighbour Ludovic and I went for a few pints in one of the local pubs.

Ludovic, a Dutchman who was about six foot six inches tall, looked a bit like Marv in Home Alone. He was wearing big wooden clogs that were riddled with woodworm and you could hear him from miles away (maybe a slight exaggeration). I will never forget the looks we got from the regulars when we walked in.

Anyway, we had a few pints, waited ‘til morning (not in the pub), got going again at daybreak, and never saw Silverstone again. And yet today, I know all four of our children will be glued to the action on the racetrack, as they all have been bitten by the bug that I missed. I hope they get a hugely exciting race (Editor: They did; it was won by Carlos Sainz, with Lewis Hamilton in third).

Many years ago I sold a beautiful Ford Capri to one of my good friends (at least he was until I sold him the car). I always reckon it was that car that turned Mickey Maloney into one of the most passionate Formula One followers you would wish to meet.

For me, rugby, football, and hurling are my main sporting passions, but only for the hurling today I might just have cast an eye on the happenings in Silverstone.

Anyway, whatever about anything else, Bernie Ecclestone did the sport no good with his ridiculous statement supporting the murdering dictator Putin.


Players like Shane Walsh need more protection

I wish to make just a fleeting return to the Armagh-Galway All-Ireland SFC quarter-final, and the fall-out from the huge brawl at the end of normal time.

From what I hear it was no surprise that the melee happened, as the treatment dished out by some of the Armagh players during the game was appalling. Apparently Shane Walsh was the subject of some extremely unwelcome attention by the Armagh backs.

What I can’t figure out is what exactly do linesmen and umpires do? It’s obvious that the referee can’t see everything, but he has six assistants who are surely meant to serve some purpose. The number of incidents that happen off the ball – but in plain view of linesmen and umpires – is amazing, as is the complete failure of anyone to do anything about them.

In the lead-up to the game, I predicted that Walsh would be targeted, and gave the opinion that it was quite possible he would not finish the game. If I knew that, surely the officials should have known it. It’s time talented players like Walsh received proper protection.

The other thing that surprised me about that game is the large number of Mayo supporters who were cheering Armagh on! I know there is inter-county rivalry in Connacht, but surely if you can’t support another Connacht team, the least you should do is keep your mouth shut and not shout against them! As long as I can remember I have always cheered on Connacht teams (even the Rossies) when they are playing any ‘outside’ counties, so I find it hard to understand why some of our neighbours would cheer for Armagh. I wonder are there many Derry flags in Mayo?


And finally…

It’s Saturday night, and for the first time since Covid changed the face of life for everyone all over the world, Carol and I find ourselves in Leyden’s Dáil Bar, a couple of miles over the road in Castlecoote.

It’s funny how time flies by, but thankfully Leyden’s hadn’t changed a bit. There was a big crowd, a great atmosphere, and most importantly, excellent porter. The truth is it was great to be back.

Terry and Mary were in attendance, greeting their customers. They very kindly invited us to a big christening on Sunday afternoon, when two new arrivals, a boy and a girl, were due to be named. However, there was a slight difference to the normal christening, as in this case they were christening two new donkey foals!

As it happens, we couldn’t make it on Sunday, but I am reliably informed that the ceremony took place and that we now have Bobbins and Jack (another Jack-ass) roaming the fields behind the ‘Castlecoote Dáil’. Many would say there are plenty of asses already roaming ‘round the real Dáil, but that’s for another day!

Anyway, it was a pleasure to be back in Leyden’s, and while we missed the big christening, it was great to meet up with some old friends and enjoy the craic. I must remember to bring a carrot or two with me for the donkeys the next time we go back.