Columns - The Youth of Today

Let's go with the retro flow?


For the first time this year I have spent a weekend without motor sport. Oh all right there was the Rally of Great Britain but there was scant chance of getting me down to Wales after a few weeks of shivering my bits off at assorted circuits watching Inside F1's stars of tomorrow in Britain's winter championships.

Instead I took madam to the cinema to watch Charlie's Angels, which is a film about Cameron Diaz's rather heavenly bottom. In between the jiggling, wiggling, sashaying and shimmying meanwhile is a homage to the quite fantastically un-PC old TV show in which Miss Diaz and a brace of fellow lovelies coo at a disembodied old codger on the telephone before kicking the somewhat less shapely bottoms of various ne'er do wells.

Now Hollywood knows a thing or two about entertaining people, and it's been doing a roaring trade for the better part of a decade by restoring lost gems of the 1960s, '70s and '80s for the jollification of the MTV generation. It's a winning formula: take any script and apply a familiar old theme tune with a techno beat for the kids, throw in some groovy hairstyles and the odd knowing wink and hey presto! You've got telephone number takings on your opening weekend.

It's not just the movies where retrophilia has taken hold. Your average twentysomething's CD collection now has more Dean Martin in it than his parents had on vinyl and items in their off-the-peg fashion would make Kool and the Gang blush. Things have even got as far as the motor industry - there's the New Beetle, the New Mini, the Jaguar S-Class, the disgustingly desirable BMW Z8 and the plain disgusting Chrysler PT Cruiser to name but a few of these passion wagons.

Ahhh, now we're getting somewhere, because Hollywood's lesson has been taken to heart by the giants of Detroit, Stuttgart and Munich. And where do these bigwigs go to party and plug their product? Why, at Grands Prix of course! And if that's not a reason to get excited about the future of Formula 1 then I don't know what is.

After all, the motor manufacturers are the lead players in the biggest movie in sport, aired live across the civilized world every March and spawning 16 sequels throughout the following months - all in panoramic Bernievision. The locations are faultless too, taking in Australia, Monaco, Brazil, Italy et al before the final showdown takes place in the Far EastÉ it would take James Bond a decade to get around the various corners of the world that Formula 1 clocks up in a season.

Of course the actual sport has been elbowed out of the way by the soap opera but you can't have everything. Why worry? Buy a bucket of popcorn and enjoy ÔThe Show'. All right, the characters are a bit wooden, there aren't too many killer one-liners and the script may lack action at times. Some critics might even suggest that there are too many completely implausible set pieces in the plot for comfort, but the solution is on its way: Formula 1 retro.

I bet Jac Nasser is just aching to turn up in a Hawaiian shirt open to the waist and a pair of Elvis Presley shades. You can just see him in the Jaguar pit between two gigantic leaping cats cast in solid gold with a bikini-clad nubile on each arm. And if that's not a pleasing image then picture Formula 1 drivers with proper facial hair again - Jenson Button forced to remove his nebulous bottom lip growth and only allowed to sign on for practice when he's got a whopping great Clay Reggazoni moustache.

Bernie could join in the fun of course, ditching the sober white shirt and navy slacks he's favored of late in favor of the riotous Huggy Bear outfits he wore when at the helm of the Brabham team. And on the podium, instead of having that Wagnerian soundtrack to the champagne spraying, let's see Schuey punch the air in time to a Lalo Schiffrin groove.

Finally there are the cars. If we're to have traction control back for the sake of engineering excellence then, as a trade-off, we've got to see the return of deep-dish chrome wheels of the kind not seen since the earliest days of Copersucar. Ferrari mechanics should wear brown overalls and sing opera whilst every other team should have box quilted nylon jackets with two white stripes down each sleeve and a preponderance of beanie hats.

You see? This retro stuff's a great game - and if Jaguar, Renault, Yahoo, Red Bull and the rest want to get down with the kids through Formula 1 then they'd better start playing it fast. After all, no matter how much glitz, gloss and tele-friendly entertainment gets grafted onto Grands Prix with every passing season, the kids could spend every other Sunday afternoon down at the multiplex watching Cameron Diaz's bottom.