It is Saturday, in June 2000. I’m standing on a bridge, in Canada. A week married, my bride beside me. The bridge looks impermanent, but isn’t. What look for all the world like railway sleepers make up the floor. I’m not sure why we paused, but pause we did.
Behind me, an unholy scream approaches. It truly sounds like the world is being rent asunder. I turn to look. Whilst my physical, hormonal, descended-from-cavemen self wonders what this awful noise is, the intellectual in me understands that a tiny car is responsible.
It approaches. Every single component honed to ultimate perfection. Demonstrating the glacial pace of natural evolution, the Ferrari coming towards me is pretty much totally unlike the one that competed in Europe just two weeks earlier, with the same number on the chassis, and the same dude driving it.
Two hundred miles per hour. That’s what it’s doing. This flyweight. This European interloper on the North American motor racing scene. It’s coming at us, its ten cylinder engine literally screaming for more air to cram inside with fuel to make power. It truly sounds like a horseman of the apocalypse. Nearly one thousand horsepower from three small litres of swept capacity.
It passes underneath the bridge. Air coming off the Ferrari’s front and rear wings is heading up into the sky. Creating a force that literally rams the racer to the road. The whump is from those sleepers moving in the turbulence. A 550 kilo car just moved a set of railway sleepers with humans atop them, from a distance of 8 metres.
The unholy scream of induction howl changes to a stronger bark of exhaust. But we’re only treated to that for a second or so before the driver stands on the brakes. The scream becomes a plaintive shout of “STOP.STOP.STOP.STOP” as sixth gear becomes second. Each downshift like a gunshot. Suddenly Montreal sounds more like Beirut.
He’s left it too late, surely…
The blood red car snaps right and then left. Now steaming towards the first turn. The engine howling again.
Our Arrows host urges us forward, to hospitality, to luxury. To a garage tour.
Later, in a Formula 1 pit lane in Canada, I will speak over mobile phone to my father, who is walking the pit lane of the world’s greatest endurance race, at Le Mans, in France. It doesn’t get much more awesome than that.
But the memory of that Ferrari rending the air asunder and moving the floorboards beneath my feet will remain with me forever.