By Full Contact News and Views
“Winning has nothing to do with racing. Most days don’t have races anyway. Winning is about struggle and effort and optimism, and never, ever, ever giving up.”
The season began in the most glorious of circumstances for the young Welsh racing driver Seb Morris; against all the odds, the rookie driver from the UK, unknown to the vast watching American audience, was leading the Rolex Daytona 24 Hours race. Not only was he leading, but he had stunned the world of motorsport with an audacious pass on Jeff Gordon following a safety-car induced restart.
Jeff Gordon, for those not in the know, is regarded in the United States as one of the greatest racing drivers of all time and was the first NASCAR driver to reach $100 million in career winnings in 2009.
It was only mechanical problems suffered by the car following Morris’ handing it over in the lead of the race to a team-mate that might have prevented a quite remarkable victory. But there was a second opportunity for Morris to shine; in the early hours of Sunday morning, in pouring rain, Morris lapped at times that just beggared belief. Here was a young UK rookie able to lead this race in the dry and post times in the wet that none of his rivals could match.
That the season ended in slightly less glamorous surroundings than Daytona defies the importance of the occasion; aged just 21, at Donington, Seb Morris was crowned British GT Champion.
As I drove home from Donington that Sunday night I felt that feeling I had last encountered watching through the windows of that impressive hospitality box overlooking the vast Daytona arena. That I was witnessing and part of something quite special.
Motorsport is much maligned in many quarters; how can it be a sport, some say, when one has to pay to compete? Genuine talent is promoted based on merit not affluence, and there are many more talented drivers out there who could have done just that, too, some will proffer. But that is to miss the point; a young racing driver like Seb Morris is probably within the top 50 in his sport in his country. If he were a footballer, and in the top 50, he would be a Premier League player earning a small fortune.
Moreover, to lament the funding inequality of motorsport ignores two realities. The first is that all but the most fortunate racing driver is a victim of it. Seb Morris progressed to GP3 in single-seater racing, just two steps away from Formula 1, and a lack of funding meant that in 2016 he had to move to the British GT Championship and walk away from the F1 dream. A dream that had been promised to him but then, as it so often is in motorsport, those promises dissipated to become broken horrors. The second is that, as frustrating as it is, it makes those moments of victory all the sweeter for drivers like Seb and it is why – as I enjoyed my drive home – I smiled at the sheer magnitude of effort, from so many, that plays a part in a success story like this.
For this is what is special about motorsport; it is not just a team game, as some would say. It is so much more.
What I see when a young racing driver like Seb Morris takes the lead at Daytona, or wins the British GT Championship, is so much more than just this talented, effervescent and bold young man behind the wheel. I see the joy on the faces of his dedicated parents, who have sacrificed so much for potentially so little. I see the exhausted relief of the Team Parker personnel, utterly proud and dumbstruck at the fact that they, for the first time, have secured a title that is not only monumental for them but for the Bentley marque, too. Jobs can be secured from moments like this and children can be fed. I see the rewards for those that have mentored, coached and trained the racing driver since he was but a small karter, and the heart-pumping pride exemplified by even the distant family members and friends who are there to share the moment. The sponsors – for they are vital – are rightly delighted at the profile their investment is about to receive as the paddock fills up with the paparazzi of the motorsport world. I see the racing driver hug his team-mate with an emotion that can not be explained but few sports can dare to match ; the shared exploits that see life and limb put on the line, each time the roaring Bentley GT3 leaves the pits.
What I see is a passion and dedication from so many, to benefit so few.
And for me, that is what makes motorsport truly special.
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About Full Contact
Full Contact News and Views includes articles contributed by Associates and professional contacts within the Full Contact team and includes opinion on sports law, PR and media, football agency and more.
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