by Steven Benjamin
The howling wind, and the rustling reeds.
Listen to the silence.
As the sun dawn’s, over the lonely racetrack
There was a time when championships were run here,
The track is clear now, the crowd long silent, passed on even.
I still hear their roar, or is it the engines
An echo of memories, or imagined.
Here, the earth moved once,
The chequered flag was there, raised,
breaths were held
heroes were made
and lives were claimed.
With weeds glancing my shins
I stride through the beautiful decay,
A monument to past untamed passion.
Abandoned, ever waiting
Whispers of her past on the backs of leaves tumbling down the embankment
over cracked tarmac.
A past of danger, and of glory.
She dared men.
A different time, a different world.
And in the minds of a brave few, long gone
This patch of brokenness, was a frightening and daunting giant of chance.
The world evolved around her.
She remained, now
Half claimed by time
Waiting for death, or an odd few wanderers
Willing to linger, and listen, to her soft whisper,
that was once an old taunting song of vigor,
once vibrant and wild, now
just a cold,
I went looking for it again because I was reminded of it after watching the film ‘Rush’. I reviewed it last year for ‘In The Kan’, and I recently bought the DVD… I highly recommend it. The feelings of nostalgia I felt prompted me to have another look at this piece.
The changes I made (call it the 'decay' portion) were simply to reflect a lifelong desire of mine to visit some of the old racetracks of the world – something I imagine only aficionado’s dream about. You see, the old tracks weren’t governed by how many spectators could be seated in the stands (some didn’t even have stands) or which corners could best be captured on TV to cater for the massive audience and commercial rights… no, the best tracks were carved or laid out on unforgiving landscapes – a niche sport that was half banished to rural back countrysides, mountains and forests, well outside city limits (barring Monte Carlo of course, the first anomaly and part of what made it the jewel in the F1 crown, because it was and still is – 100 years on – the center stage filled with glitz, glamour and not to mention royalty - the first street circuit).
Tracks like the old Nurburgring around the Medieval castle from where it got its name, the old Monza Oval, Spa Francorchamps – the original was a 15km monster track in a rough triangle connecting 3 towns, the original Osterreichring in the Styrian Mountains, the beautiful Charade Circuit in central France – and those are just the famous ones… there are so many that lay forgotten, overrun with weeds, half demolished, like forgotten cities of yore. Just like the Roman Colosseum and other such ruins, these tracks are ruins with less age but a folklore all their own.
It says something about time – something like the automobile, that has captured the hearts of so many men, yet as it has evolved and outgrown eras and arenas, so we can see how fleeting it all is, just like the moment when one of those cars speeds past – it’s all recorded by time… one race after another, trying to beat the next man or just the clock, and that, as it turns out, is ultimately what always wins.
--- Here's a short story I wrote with similar nostalgia "Black Velvet Ring"...
| || |