With the 2017 Formula 1 racing season fast approaching its climax, we should take this opportunity to cast our eyes to the fortunes of the CaraIrishpubs Formula 1 racing club. Regular patrons of Carairishpubs and readers of this sports page will be aware that in 2010 the Carairishpubs racing club was born in the august surroundings of The Local in downtown Minneapolis. So far; so good
A group of racing enthusiasts, or to use the more popular vernacular, “petrol heads,” decided to propagate an idea that had been swirling around for a while. Members of the club, who should know better, touted the idea that attending a live Formula1 Grand Prix would be a great experience. A decision (unusual for this group and more of that later) was made and the 2010 F1 Grand Prix in Montreal, Canada, was duly selected for the inaugural race. Since then members of the club have attended a Grand Prix race annually. The idea was to cement and further the cause of F1 racing in Minneapolis. It was also decided that a different venue would be visited each year. So far; so good
Thus far Carairishpubs F1 members have attended races in: Canada, Italy, Abu Dhabi, China, Belgium, Hungary, Japan, Austria, and the USA. Not only is the aim to watch and enjoy quality live Grand Prix racing but also to engage and experience the numerous and different cultural aspects of each venue. So far; so good.
Liam Scott, Peter Killen, Simon Dawson and Rick Molyneux
Founding, or we should we say floundering, members of the club include Peter Killen, CEO of Carairishpubs, Vincent Francoual, executive chef of Carairishpubs, Simon Dawson, Liam Scott and last but not least, Rick Molyneux, your humble correspondent. Members of the club meet regularly to discuss future plans and excursions. Similar to any democratic process a committee was formed with the intention of formulating plans, booking race and flight tickets and having (hopefully) a plan of campaign. Taken at face value this should be a simple process. We can only hope. However, the process is proving far from easy.
The members continue to meet regularly to revise plans already agreed upon in a previous meeting; they continue to meet again and again; they continue to revise again and again; they continue to meet, discuss, argue, get frustrated with each other and then revise again. Eventually through sheer exhaustion and much alcoholic inebriation a decision is made that bears no resemblance to the original plan. In essence this group just “wings” it. Planes have been boarded with no idea what will happen at the other end. Putting Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon was easier.
Responsibilities are assigned to individual members of the club. For example, your humble correspondent is tasked with keeping a photographic record of each trip. It must be said that enthusiasm triumphs over any proficiency. Focus tends to be a problem with pictures. However, the photos tend to be a better quality before Arthur Guinness exerts his influence. Mr. Scott, being the kind, caring and considerate individual he is, was appointed director of “health and welfare”. Your correspondent gets a headache even thinking about that decision. No more needs to be said on that subject.
Mr. Dawson takes the lead with respect to “tourism and planning”, in fact he is the self-appointed “captain of the ship” and F1 guru. Think large ship; think large iceberg; you get the picture. Mr. Killen, a man noted for his incisive organizational skills, is excluded from any decision- making whatsoever and for reasons that only he knows best. A question was posed to Monsieur Francoual with respect to his opinions on Ferrari this season. Disconcerting it was when our esteemed French chef offered the view that Ferrari is a new range of men’s underwear from Louis Vuitton and Force India is the next tropical storm to hit the Florida coast.
The main focus of the overseas trips is to watch the Grand Prix races and due diligence is served in this area; however, the group uses the opportunity to embrace and savour local culture. This writer in particular holds fond memories of his most recent trip to Tokyo for the 2016 race. The race was wonderful; however, the stand out experience was a three hour trudge through the backstreets of the Japanese capital looking for that most elusive of holy grails: an English establishment that offered liquid refreshment. And it was shut!! There was a palpable threat of violence and was directed specifically towards the director of tourism and planning. Ahhhhh, the memories. After that experience this writer has a fraternal connection with Frodo and Sam’s trek to the fire of doom in Mordor
Other standout moments include walking through the Piazza del Duomo in Milan, Italy, for the 2011race. It is named after, and dominated by, the Milanese Cathedral (the Duomo) and it is a truly wonderful sight; however, the journey both to and from the racetrack could also be described as an epic; a trek to discover the source of the Amazon River wouldn’t involve the same angst.
The Abu Dhabi race in 2013and the sights and sounds of Middle Eastern culture provided many not to be forgotten moments. The group became familiar with and on first name terms with all the taxi drivers in the Middle East. In short: the group had not a clue what was going on, and went through the trip in a constant state of oblivion. All the members of Carairishpubs racing club came back sick. Mr. Scott took his responsibilities very seriously on that trip
During the 2012 Chinese Grand Prix; three lost and intrepid souls wondered, whilst learning about and respecting ancient Chinese pottery, miles through the European quarter in Shanghai. The group experienced a yearning and a thirsting for sustenance during a hot day. And there, on the horizon, this loyal band found an oasis, a port in a storm; they found a local establishment with connections to the Emerald Isle. Yes! We went 5,000 miles and went to an Irish pub. The same trip offered a wonderful opportunity for interaction in a local hostelry with the Expat community; hands were offered out in friendship, received in the same way and the memories will last for a lifetime.
We’ve taken planes, trains, automobiles, taxis, boats, ferries and all other forms of transportation. A hazy recollection involves a rickshaw in Shanghai. At the races we’ve had good seats, bad seats, great ones and indifferent ones. We’ve been burned by the sun and chilled by the rain. We’ve had good food and bad food; the same with the beer. We’ve learned to say “can we have 4 beers please?” in as many languages. And we can say “how much? We’re not paying that” in the same language.
We’ve laughed uproariously and had quiet moments of reflection. We’ve never left each other’s side and found moments of solitude. We’ve wondered aimlessly and somehow got there. We’ve laughed, cried, argued, bickered, slept together, ate together, drunk together; we’ve slept in the same room and in single rooms; on the floor of a room and on one marvelous trip, one of us slept in a closet; we’ve toasted birthdays, spouses, children and each other. Would we do it all over again and continue on? Not sure that’s worth answering.
In addition to attending yearly races the club also formed its own F1 fantasy league, with the winner being awarded prestigious prizes. The fantasy league was won in 2011, its inaugural year, by Killen GP under the management of CEO Peter Killen. Suspiciously, the same team regained the trophy in 2012. Luke Utting’s One Gear Wonders prevented Killen GP from making it three in a row in 2013. Two consecutive triumphs for the Big Cheese team under French chef Vincent Francoual in 2014 and ’15 lead to accusations of skullduggery amongst other members of the league, vehemently denied by Monsieur Francoual. Team Rollocks under the leadership of Lee Jarvis took the honours in 2016. And at the time of writing the Big Cheese team is in pole positon for victory this season with 3 races to come. The plaque that records all the winners is located on the wall in The Local and is the subject of many inquiries in the pub.
Many conversations have taken place under the shadow of the plaque. Previous trips and adventures have been talked about; future ones have been planned and revised; planned and revised again etc,. etc,. We’ve talked about torque (whatever that is, ask the guru), we’ve discussed downforce, and we’ve chatted about soft tires vs hard tires. Many days our resident F1svengali can be found holding court and talking about F1 while other members of the club are held in rapt attention. Anybody wishing to watch Formula 1 racing will find a warm welcome at The Local. And if you see an individual watching a race with grey, ashen features, twitching uncontrollably and continually sobbing, please talk to him soothingly; your correspondent has just found out another trip is on the horizon.