Site logo

Oranges of their Fathers

FEATURE BY MAX NOBLE
31/03/2017

Sometime back I wrote an article, Apples of our Fathers, about the tricks recall and the passage of time play with each of us as we meander through life, aiming for the most positive side-effects possible prior to shrugging off this mortal coil.

As I reflected on the season opening event that was Melbourne 2017, my own recall was drawn to that article. And, thankfully, my mind generated the path to wander down that is this article.

Pitpass readers tend to be aware of the flavours and delights of recent English, and wider-European history. Even those based in Australia or New Zealand are well aware of the foibles of that green and pleasant land, where tea is served correctly, bread mould is the damp work of a moment, and apples stopped being crisp and natural on 7th April 1968.

So now we have those pesky ex-Colonials from across the (Northern hemisphere) Pond, trying to compare apples with oranges, while endlessly recalling just how great the orange juice created by their own hands was all across the mighty American landscape. World famous from New York to L.A., Seattle to Fort Worth.

One would need to be on some very special juice indeed to consider this year's cars as "Beasts", which would appear to be the official label preferred of our new juice store owners. In race trim, even on wider tyres than of recent years, they were comfortably off the 2004 V10 powered Michael Schumacher lap record. Michael being a solid 2.4 seconds ahead of Kimi with the fastest lap time of 2017. The legend remains a crisp bright apple of the past for another season, in Melbourne at least.

On television the freshly squeezed, juiced-up cars look most like last year's cars. They most certainly sound the same. Racing numbers are still hard to find and decipher, and for all the effort drivers put into perfecting their helmet art, on TV the over complicated modern designs all blur one into the other, even when viewed on an HD feed. The oars on Damon's helmet, the simple bright yellow of Ayrton, the neat tartan strip of Jackie. These could be picked on the worst of television feeds, and indeed Damon's and Jackie's could even be easily picked at speed if viewed on a black and white feed. Now that is simple elegant, iconic, design at its best. Those apples of the past, are shining as bright as ever.

And let us not forget that those driving in the 1950's and 1960's had cars that the engineering of the day could only deliver as performing well within the human performance envelope. So a top driver of the day was always "out performing" his car. Today the cars, even in their current rule hobbled form, act and react to physics far faster than a human driver can control. The cars basically out-perform the drivers now. So all those massive four wheel drifts, and tail-out adventures are far harder to instigate, control, and end as intended.

A modern car travelling as fast as possible barely slips, slides, rocks or rolls. Or rather, not to an extent anything but a high-grade computer with advanced modelling software would notice. The human eye was left behind long ago.

Let us move to our joyful Melbourne podium, all smiles as no championship is at risk this day. Lewis is now 32. Vettel turns 30 this July, Valtteri Bottas turns 28 in August, and the trophy presenter, Sir Jackie Stewart turns 78 in June... giving us an average driver age on the podium just short of 30, and including Jackie the average age moves up to 42 (amusing for Douglas Adams fans...).

Is the 42 year old age range, which allowing a generation each side gives us approximately 32 to 52 years old the heartland of new fans for F1, or is it close to being the existing fan base heartland?

Certainly most people eyeing off a new Oyster Perpetual are likely to be this age or older. There is a good reason Rolex have Sir Jackie as their ambassador and not the equally remarkable younger Scot, Danny MacAskill, or Justin Bieber.

Are we chasing Millennials in the seven to seventeen age range via new social media coverage, or the "missing generation" between, roughly, 17 and 35?

If so the task ahead of us is towering. The under 20's are ceasing to buy cars in the Western World at an accelerating rate. People relate to football because they can kick a ball around down the park, and many played on school, or social teams in well organised leagues.

When we see Messi, or Ronaldo, dancing past defenders and thumping it into the back of the net we can relate to the general game, and be in awe of their skill at the same time, because of directly relatable personal experience.

If you've only ever travelled by number sixteen bus, with your in-ear phones killing all engine and road noise, and see no relevance to controlling a sweet four wheel drift on a drying country road, how do you relate to a bunch of guys twice your age driving cars to be awarded a trophy by a guy who looks older (and probably is older) than your grandad?

So Liberty is set to change all this...? Well they've retained two quality managers in their 40's (which is a number bigger than 21) from the Bernie era, and at the top we have Chase Carey (63), Ross Brawn (curiously also 63), and Sean Bratches (over 50...). With Liberty Media ultimately being owned by John Malone (75 - a heart-warming twelve years younger than Bernie, which rather makes him the same generation actually). And this gives us a leadership team with an average age of 64. Which is a full 23 years younger than the average age of Bernie (but if Bernie continues to prove to be immortal this average age thing could go out the window...).

So with an average age of 64 (will you still need me, thank-you John and Paul) the leadership team for the new dawn of F1 all qualify for over-55 life style villages, and are about to be awarded their senior's cards, free coffee at McDonalds, and all those other amazing moments of impending retirement and twilight years.

On the grounds my own mother (long may she roll on non-Pirelli tyres) can operate her Samsung smart phone quite ably I'm not saying all hope is gone.

Equally my mother does not use SnapChat, Instagram, Pinterest, and she does not have a twitter feed clogged with pictures of Lewis Hamilton hugging dogs on private aircraft.

Chase attended Colgate University, located in Hamilton Village, Hamilton, New York in the 1970's. He played rugby and went on to attend Harvard. He's a smart sporting man, and a world class businessman.

He will recall the oranges of his youth from those formative years. The NFL growing stronger with each passing year. The thrill of sport on the field. The excitement of moving on to world class business deals. That vibe that is life at full throttle in, and around New York, and the wealthy East coast unstoppable dollar.

Hendrix played in New York in May 1970, and at the New York Pop festival at Randall's Island in July 1970. I wonder if the sixteen year old Chase made it to either of those?

I recently quoted Jimi Hendrix, "Knowledge speaks, Wisdom listens." If the Liberty crew have the right people with the right knowledge in the right roles, seamlessly connected to those in positions of power that possess the wisdom to listen, and not hear what they want to hear, there is plenty of scope for great outcomes.

It all rests on the quality of light dancing on those oranges as Chase recalls their sweetness. If the crowd roar of the Super Bowl is drowning out all other sounds in his mind, those expecting a symphony of delight in the seasons ahead might be shocked when Chase serves-up rap, country, or post-rock.

Car ownership in the under 30's is dropping. Ride sharing, and car sharing, is increasing. What knowledge is Liberty seeking out, and what wisdom do they have to listen? What if they successfully attract a new audience with a product that leaves the existing, ageing, audience cold?

Put simply, will we existing fans want to buy the product Liberty is about to push to attract new fans, and just how many of these new fans will stay (pay) for the long haul to replace those of us who fade away?

When the next generation look back on this change in the sport from English apples, to American oranges will they see it as a time of change when we went from bitter to sweet, or to crushed and sour?

Max Noble.

Learn more about Max and check out his previous features, here

RELATED ARTICLES

LATEST FEATURES

more features >

LATEST IMAGES

galleries >

  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images

POST A COMMENT

or Register for a Pitpass ID to have your say

Please note that all posts are reactively moderated and must adhere to the site's posting rules and etiquette.

Post your comment

READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Steve W, 02/05/2017 11:57

"Older guy here, and back in the day, I could watch F1 on a free over-the air broadcast on my $75 12 inch black and white TV. Now, I'm watching F1 on my $1,000 HDTV and my $180 a month cable TV subscription. Am I going to pay any more to watch pay-per-view on top of all this? Probably not... "

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Uffen, 09/04/2017 23:10

"My two sons have each attended two G.P.s. They had fun but they are not interested in F1 and don't follow it. One drives and the other has no interest in driving, despite the fact that he could have had a license for the past four years.

Cricketpo, F1 evolves but not all evolution is positive. F1 has turned away from an evolutionary path twice that I can recall immediately. Ground effects with sliding skirts, and driver aids (well, mostly). There are surely others. So, yes, let's avoid preserving it in aspic, but let's also not have F1 chase "fans" who aren't interested. "

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

3. Posted by cricketpo, 08/04/2017 13:28

"I always felt that this website was a mouthpiece for grumpy old men who think nostalgia aint what it used to be! However kudos to the comments on this one

F1 has always evolved. From the acceptance of aerodynamics to turbo all the way to todays "power units". F1 will only die if we try to preseve it in aspic and not let it grow. Whether we have sweet or sour feelings really depends on which side of the evolutionary fence we fall on.



"

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

4. Posted by airman1, 03/04/2017 12:10

"@spindoctor, nailed it!....the accessibility and the relevance to the younger audience are what it counts, and let us be honest, motor sport was always a privilege of the rich, but there were ways for young talent to get in, even in F1. Not so anymore, and in the way I blame FIA for not insisting that anyone that fields a team in F1, should in some form or fashion, support a grass roots motor sport, they have to get involved somehow, an upward mobility has to exist. It cannot depend only on the sponsors, because if the talent is not coming from a "target" market, he or she can forget it...."

Rating: Positive (2)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

5. Posted by Max Noble, 03/04/2017 11:17

"@spindoctor - an eloquent comment, capturing yet another view of the emotion around F1, and the current state of affairs.

While us "oldies" who frequent PitPass might represent a minority of total fans, we would be a reasonably representative slice of long term "core" fans. If the sport continues to fall in relevance for the younger generation, AND us oldies are unimpressed by changes to the sport, Liberty would be left with a perfect storm of issues to address in an environment that had ceased caring about the outcome.

...as with all things... time will tell.

"

Rating: Positive (2)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

6. Posted by Spindoctor, 03/04/2017 6:40

"As someone whose threescore & ten are rapidly running-out, I guess I'm firmly in the "Rolex" demographic. Certainly (well anecdotally, anyway) and assuming our offspring are anything to go by the 20\30-somethings have a very pragmatic view of Cars & Driving. The Call of the Open Road, should there still be one, is at best muted, at worst inaudible to them.
I'm not sure what (if any) link exists between Car Ownership\Driving and potential F1 fandom, but after a reasonably enthusiastic baptism into the Faith, our Son (a non car-owner) is now utterly contemptuous of F1....


I suspect that a significant underlying issue is, as you (and airman1) suggest, one of identification. We like having heroes\role-models etc. preferably ones who manage to be sufficiently like us that we may aspire to emulating their achievements "if only..." various opportunities, luck etc. come our way. Ian Wright came from nowhere to become a star player, if he can, we might. That type of opportunity simply doesn't exist in F1. Failure to be born into sufficient wealth (those Rolexes again) to start Karting at 4 pretty much precludes any chance of racing at the top level; irrespective of talent or hard work.

We oldies too are increasingly unmoved by a "Sport" which kowtows to undesirable regimes, actively discourages innovation in cars and forthrightness and directness of approach in favour of fake "relevance", circumlocution and BS.

So maybe the problem with F1 is not lack of overtaking, or noise, or even wealth, but quite simply that it is becoming increasingly irrelevant and uninvolving to everyone, at every level.

"

Rating: Positive (2)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

7. Posted by Max Noble, 03/04/2017 0:51

"@airman1 - no worries over long replies; it's great to see the understanding and passion of PitPass readers!
And I agree the Group B cars were stunning beasts. A remarkable time in rallying.

@Uffen - agree about the weak link to road cars. I believe it is only to allow the race lovers in these huge companies to convince the rest of executive management to go racing. :-) "

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

8. Posted by airman1, 02/04/2017 20:12

"And here's another perspective....the other day I watched a documentary on the arguably the greatest era of rallying..."The Group B" era....and while rally is fundamentally different sport from F1, the fans were not concerned about overtaking and such nonsense, the wanted to see their heroes, driving on an absolute edge, driving these hard handling monsters, showing unprecedented levels of skill and courage. They were truly heroes, supermen of their time. It would seem that modern day racing have failed to create such figures, larger than life, completely outrageous people, far from a sanitized present-day racer...so Liberty, take a note, the sport needs its heroes to be truly great!

P.S. Sorry for the lengthy responses, but it is so emotional for me...cheers! "

Rating: Positive (2)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

9. Posted by Uffen, 02/04/2017 18:48

"airman1, you're comments ring true with me. A cousin went to one F1 race back in the nineties and he still talks about walking over a pedestrian bridge and the effect it had on him when a car passed under the bridge - the sound, the vibrations, the onslaught on his torso. He beams with pleasure remembering it.
I've never considered F1 the pinnacle, except as the peak of a set of race leagues, FF, F3, GP2, etc. Anytime it adopted "pinnacle" technologies it was to the detriment of the series - here I am thinking driver aids, including the (semi) automatic transmission. We still have some driver aids and we have a "pinnacle" technology in the power plant, but that particular item has proved to be a bust and they're already arranging to drop it at the next opportunity.

So, I tell F1 to relax and forget road relevance and pinnacles and just be the top of the ladder in size and power and let the fans fall where they may. "

Rating: Positive (2)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

10. Posted by Max Noble, 02/04/2017 8:14

"@airman1 - many thanks for a response nearly as long as the article!

I hear what you are saying about the younger generations. It will be fascinating to see how Liberty seeks to attract them, while retraining us "oldies"!

"

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

11. Posted by airman1, 01/04/2017 8:29

"My son is 24, and my daughter is 15, so they are good cross section of young folks and their views. While my son can relate to the time before Internet (on account that it came in slow in Bosnia), and particularly the time before smartphones, social media and stuff, my daughter cannot. For her it is impossible to comprehend the world without it. Her relationship to life is entirely different from ours, we might as well be speaking a different language. She is a millennial through and through. I suspect it would be much the same if she were a boy, when it comes to car racing, it is just not their thing, it is something akin to a relic of the past, no matter how modern it might be, or how modern it may become. Our son is different, he's a bit of a grass roots racer himself, so he likes it, but for him F1 become too technical, to hard to understand what it is now, what it entails.....me I like it, I like the technology, I accept that if you do not go forward you will die. If that is the premise of your life, or your sports creed...the pinnacle of technology..., then there is no alternative to that. Do I like the lack of overtaking? I do, but I am used to it, because the entire decade of the 90' saw almost no overtaking, but we watched some great races. So it is really, what F1, and the owners, and up to a point the fans, wish F1 to be. A spectacle, dumbed down, made cheaper and understandable, but maintaining the pizzazz and the spectacle, albeit loosing its creed, the technological edge it had for years? We have NASCAR for that, and IRL up to a point, we have Super 8 league, we should be looking at F1 in the a broader sense of the world of motor racing. It is a pinnacle, it is indeed the highest form of Motorsport, the most expensive, and most demanding on all involved, even the fans. The real question is can it survive like this, will it be rolled back to a niche Motorsport, away from mainstream of NASCAR, IRL, Super 8? F1 was never a mainstream, it never really was a global sport in a sense football or basketball is, it did not manage to attract audience broad enough. Everyone I know, literally everyone, that loves F1, is not too crazy about any other form of sport, motor or otherwise. Sure we will watch an occasional football game, but be serious, would you rather watch Spa, or any football match? If you would then maybe, just maybe you are not a core F1 fan, and then NASCAR is for you...(and no, you cannot make current engines in F1 louder, because there is a great big honkin' turbo in the way)....and if F1 dies off, well it will die off then, like all things must eventually..."

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

12. Posted by Max Noble, 01/04/2017 8:11

"@ZJAY - and you get a tip of the flat cap for correctly spotting the date reference!"

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

13. Posted by Max Noble, 01/04/2017 8:09

"@Motorsport fan - many thanks!

@Uffen - Yes, you've got it. It's that classic Atlantic divide. Both sides have amazing positives, and some annoying negatives... and which is considered which is very much a personal thing. Coupled with trying to keep the older existing fan base onboard, while recruiting the two younger generations 'below' them (age wise) is going to be a remarkable feat.
"

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

14. Posted by ZJAY, 31/03/2017 21:33

"Tea stooped being served correctly on August 6th 1991, one of those conveniently forgotten dates since landing a man on the moon, when America made another significant contribution to the world. In any case Max, you are forgiven courtesy of our shared love of F1 and the memory of Jim Clark."

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

15. Posted by Uffen, 31/03/2017 20:17

"Nice column, Max. Liberty has a fine line to walk. There are so many views of what makes for good F1 racing that the audience will easily splinter. I take heart from Liberty's statement about protecting the F1 heartland (Europe) because F1 has always been very "European" rather than "American," and that can be a strength. It can be seen as more exotic than, say, Indy or NASCAR. This was part of what drew me to F1 back in the day. There was virtually nothing about it that was "American" (I knew the "Ford" engine was really a Cosworth, not a 302 c.i.d. engine, as many thought). Don't misunderstand, there is noting wrong with being "American" but in North America you can use the differentiation to your advantage, given the vast array of competitive events chasing available eyeballs. "

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

Share this page

X

Copyright © Pitpass 2002 - 2017. All rights reserved.

about us  |  advertise  |  contact  |  terms  |  privacy & security  |  rss