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Flaunting Credentials


The mention of Love Hotels in last week's column brought a reminder that the Hungarians were actually ahead of the, as it were, game in 2000. They did it for real by establishing a rowdy place known as 'Erotik Camping' at the foot of the hill as you left the Hungaroring.

The title seemed to suggest some form of wacky meeting place to discuss the thrill of erecting a mixed-sex pyramid tent while naked, and the accompanying danger of straying close to a hot primus stove while you were at it, so to speak.

In fact, it was a temporary workplace for the oldest profession in the world - and I'm not talking about 80-year-old Mr. Ecclestone's entrepreneurial skills evident ever since he sold sticky buns at a profit in his school playground.

The surprising thing was that the business of prostitution was - and still is, for all I know - officially frowned upon in Hungary. Mind you, it was probably much the same as team orders not being allowed in F1 and yet everyone knows some poor Number 2 driver is being screwed - and, come to think of it, probably paying good money for the privilege.

And yet here we had a collection of, for the want of a better word, workbenches in hutted accommodation that was signposted and in full view of the glitterati on their way to and from the Paddock Club. Whether there was a connection between the two was difficult to establish although it did give possible new meaning to flaunting your credentials.

But let me just remind you that this was the year when Mika Hakkinen caught Michael Schumacher by surprise as the McLaren shot past the Ferrari going into the first corner and was never challenged for the rest of the afternoon. Nor was anyone else during a tedious race, leading to the suggestion that Erotik Camping probably witnessed a brisk trade from about 2.15pm onwards. Or, at least, an influx of curious visitors, the majority of whom would have needed to be either brave or desperate to take the next step.

To call the premises temporary would be like saying the USF1 team were well advised not to consider eventually gaining admission to the Motor Sport Hall of Fame. The operational quarters comprised a row of rooms made from chipboard. (I should add straightaway that all of this is hearsay as far as I'm concerned. I relied on feedback from colleagues who took a look around, purely in the interests of research, you understand. But we did conclude that you might leave with slightly more than bargained for when entering.)

The point about the absence of sound-proofing is that it was not needed to prevent the resonance and reverberation of intimacy from being anything but. It was the participants who required protection from the leering gallery of pissed Austrians and Germans frequenting a bar alongside.

It took a fearless fellow to run the gamut of bad taste heading his way when he stepped up to the plate. More so on his re-emergence into daylight when the more rowdy members of the audience, beer-stained vests failing miserably to cover ample stomachs, proved which end of the evolutionary scale they were from. And woe betide the client detained inside for a matter of minutes.

Certainly, there was only a slim hope that the panel of self-appointed experts might be distracted by a nearby portable 'Peep Show', on top of which the enthusiastic activity of a stripper was making the word 'Peep' somewhat redundant. Can you imagine a similar scenario on the harbour at Monaco? You'd never be able to get decent chipboard in the Principality on a Sunday for a start.

The bizarre scene was excused because there was, apparently, a heavy demand for this sort of thing. One wonders what led the Hungarians in charge of extra-curricular F1 entertainment to reach that conclusion. Perhaps they thought this is what went on behind the smoked glass of team motor homes, some of which could be excused for comparison as high class versions of the transient bordello at the bottom of the hill. Certainly, it put an interesting slant on social and business intercourse.

In truth, the only similarity was a certain amount of reaming going on within each type of establishment. Who was getting the better value, I really wouldn't know.

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