Rivalry can be seen in many species across many different habitats, like the gibbon in the forest hooting and gesturing menacingly to ensure it is not seen as weak, or the dominant guppy fish in the river that roughs up any other fish who tries to date one of his ladies. We cats are also known for being territorial and the need to defend our turf against prospective outsiders is in our genes. The desire to assert ones instincts reaches even greater heights in humans who have found ingenious ways to compete for fun, a bizarre concept amongst the rest of the animal kingdom who compete for resources or survival. One of the humans’ rituals is the racing car competition, a phenomenon that involves driving powerful noisy machines as fast as possible around a road with a flamboyance that reminds me of the male peacock fanning his tail and displaying his feathers with pride.
The British Touring Car Championship is a prime example of the enthusiasm that permeates through the racing car community and it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement, the thrill of victory, the sense of achievement and the lure of the prize money that drives each competitor to win. John and I visited the track at Donington Park for the pre-season test which is designed to put the car engines through their paces and establish the order of play for the championships for the following week. The grid line-up consisted of 32 drivers preparing to do battle at Brands Hatch in cars like the Honda Civic, the Ford Focus and the Chevrolet Cruze. I hope you’re impressed with my knowledge of cars there! I guess they make modifications to the cars to change them from sensible modes of transportation to super-charged vehicles built for speed not comfort.
The track was wider than I thought it would be and the cars seemed to snake around the bends like a loud swarm of brightly coloured bees following each other in a line, looking for any opportunity to move ahead. The action was fast and furious and the place swapping was impressive with drivers using chicanes and hairpin bends to take the place of the car in front. I curled my toes at the perilous moves the drivers made to be the best in their game and was grateful for the large expanses of grass and sand and the multiple barriers between the track and the crowd.
While the cars were racing, John practiced his panning skills which involves moving the camera horizontally to capture a travelling object, emphasising that object against the other elements in the frame to elicit the feeling of motion. It was a fun day full of healthy competition and the humans behaved themselves well, smiling, shaking hands and celebrating with glasses of sweet water and strange smelling foods. Some of the children wore ear protection gear to shield their ears from the noise and I experienced a little ear muff envy on the way home so John promised me he’d get me soft pair of ear covers for my birthday in my favourite colour purple, ideal for keeping my auricles warm in the winter.