New readers may wonder why I go quiet on the Thursday before each race. This is simple. It is because I am travelling to the race in question. As you will gather if you read this column on a regular basis, there are an awful lot of Formula 1 websites that give the impression that they have people present at races and in the know, but the reality is that there are only a few that have real paddock access and can talk to the people involved. So, be warned, the websites that you are reading may simply be regurgitating news from material that is being published elsewhere, and they often put their own spin on the stories to make them look new and different. There are, would you believe, even agencies that make a living selling the regurgitated news that they have simply trawled up from the Internet, written by people who have rarely, if ever, been into an F1 paddock.
I get accused of elitism and such things when I write these facts, but this could not be further from the truth. I am always willing to help young journalists who try to be get into F1 and do it the right way, which is to get off their backsides and go and learn the job, make the contacts and not pretend to be doing it, while sitting at home. When I was a youngster going from race to race with a tent and a typewriter there were many people who helped me and I think we owe it to the sport to help develop new generations. I have no time at all for all the fraudsters who sit at home and complain that no-one will give them a pass.
You have to earn a place in F1 and precious few have the gumption to do it.
I am telling you all this just so you know that you need to be careful with the news sources that you read. There are some websites that trawl and analyse very well. There are an awful lot that do not. There are some publications and blogs that you might assume have people at every race, but you need to be very careful with that, because once again there are a lot of people who give the impression that they are present when they are not.
Anyway, so I spent today driving across from Paris, by way of Reims and Verdun and Metz. I did not rush and took a few side trails along the way, looking for odd details for books from the past and the future. I had a decent lunch as well, but not the stuff of legend. For those who love the old racing tracks of France, I passed close to Reims, but did not stop off on this occasion, I also went around a part of the Argonne road circuit that was used over 100 years ago for the elimination races for the Gordon Bennett Trophy. As I was passing Reims, I remembered a story that I once heard about a race that actually took place in the champagne cellars, which if totted up come to around 100km of tunnel. I wonder if anyone can furnish any further information about this legend?