Lincoln’s crying out for a sporting spectacular, something that will attract people in their tens of thousands and boost the city’s coffers by millions. How? By being bold and staging a Formula 1 race right here in the heart of Lincoln.
Jade Etherington’s awe-inspiring display in the recent Winter Paralympics has confirmed that Lincolnites have a desire to share and celebrate sporting glory. It’s not as if there’s much else to get excited about on the local sporting front. Do they even still play football down at Sincil Bank?
Anyway, I digress. Sochi itself is capitalising on its own legacy by hosting Russia’s first F1 race around the Olympic Park later this year. It’s not the only street circuit vying for attention either, with New Jersey almost there, and Rome, possibly even London in the pipeline. Every major city it seems wants to do their own take on Monaco.
So what can Lincoln offer that they can’t? A challenge. Listen to any interview with a top flight racing driver and what they relish most isn’t merely driving a car fast, it’s driving it on the very knife edge of what the conditions deem possible. We all know what it’s like threading a normal car around Lincoln’s streets – imagine doing it in something as powerful as a tornado that weighs as much as a wheelie bin.
Of course, it’s not as simple as dropping Bernie Ecclestone, the magnate behind modern F1, an email and inviting the sponsor-laden circus into town, work has to be done. And that’s where we all benefit. How? Well, firstly the roads all need to be up to scratch which means uneven ironworks and potholes become billiard-table smooth. Years of ordinary motorists’ complaints could be ironed out in a matter of days.
Not only do motorists benefit but pedestrians do too, as they’ll all be safer – all those miles of safety barriers and tyre walls will line the kerbsides for months prior to the event as they’re installed, as well as taking a few more weeks to dismantle afterwards. The inconvenience a small price to pay, really. Besides, those red and white raised kerbs on the corners make it easier to manoeuvre buggies and mobility scooters around too, don’t they?
It’d do wonders for tourism too when the race weekend isn’t on. The myriad of television cameras would capture all the special sights in the city: the Cathedral, the Castle, the neon lights at Wetherspoons…
Talking of the Cathedral, what better place to locate the pit lane than around the side of it, along the cobbles of Minster Yard. The cars could peel left as the circuit heads towards the chicane of Priory Gate for their necessary tyres swaps, before squeezing through Exchequer Gate and turning right at the White Hart.
Of course, all the teams’ trucks couldn’t be parked around the Cathedral – that wouldn’t be right, and besides, they’d get in the way of the sponsors’ logos draped down the sides of it. No, we’d have to increase the height of the entrance arch at the Castle and they can all park on the grass in there. The drivers could do autograph signings near a display of the Magna Carta to boost visitor numbers for that too.
Though there’s a problem in the name. There’s a bike race already called the Lincoln Grand Prix. We’d have to be fiendishly clever and call it the Grand Prix of Lincoln or something.
All I need to do is come up with a handful of alternative course layouts, which I’ll display somewhere public so that everyone can choose their favourite. Oh, and raise the umpteen million required for a multi-year contract. Anyone up for a spot of crowdfunding?
Keith Jones is a self-confessed car geek from Lincoln with over 30,000 car books, magazines and sales brochures being testament to that. Keith took his first steps in motoring writing launching his blog in 2011, contributing to Autocar, BBC 5 Live, CBS and MSN in the following months. In 2013, he gave up his teaching career to become a staff writer at Parkers.