Motor racing is supposed to be an activity that attracts girls, but for The Wheel Deal it didn’t quite work out that way
Hobbies are interesting things. Random activities performed at leisure, they keep the populace sane by giving people something other than the banality of work on which to focus their life’s attention. For most people picking one is usually a simple process but, and I am certainly not ashamed to come clean about this, I’ve always been attracted to those that offer up some form of ulterior motive. You know, a little something extra to sweeten the mix. And being the young and perpetually single 28-year-old that I am, this has always been the potential of perving on – and hopefully getting closer to – women.
Yeah, call me shallow, but the overriding reason why I became a club DJ for two long and ear-shattering years was in the hope of bagging some dance-floor diva after closing time. Perhaps a little presumptuous of me, yes, but going on the infamous escapades of vinyl-spinners such as Carl Cox and his ilk, commandeering the decks of Tokyo Star on a Friday night would surely harbour more chances to score than, say, collecting stamps.
The problem was, it didn’t. No, instead of doing unspeakable things behind the DJ booth, I just ended up getting wasted on a glut of free Jägermeister thrown down my throat by the jaunty bar staff. Great for building up Dutch courage but after washing the sixth one down with yet another beer, I had usually drunk myself out the game by around 11pm.
In fact, the only time I can remember having a meaningful interaction with a member of the opposite sex was when some vixen came up and shouted a request for Lady Gaga. Not a fan, I told her to go away – upon which she threw the bitter remains of her tequila into my face. Perhaps she told her friends (who then promptly broadcast my actions across some secret, girls-only version of Facebook that men are yet to discover), because from that night on I became the most celibate disc jockey Greenside had ever seen.
Clearly it was high time to move on: to pursue new options that offered similar opportunities without the unpredictable effects of alcohol or the long working hours. Quite unexpectedly, the answer soon manifested itself in what is one of the most babe-magnetising pursuits a man can ever hope to be involved in: motor racing.
After all, one of the biggest players our planet has ever seen was Grand Prix driver James Hunt, who drove his McLaren to a World Championship win back in 1976. Well versed in pursuits far too risqué to publish within the confines of this clean family newspaper, it was clear that donning Nomex coveralls and piloting a very fast car around circuits such as Kyalami would transmogrify me into bait most irresistible.
Especially considering the beast I had been entrusted to drive was a 1965 Ford Mustang Fastback complete with a 450hp V8 and blue Le Mans stripes. Come on, which girl could possibly say no to that?
So after practising my Steve McQueen stare and adopting the pit-lane swagger native to Nascar drivers such as Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski, I entered my debut season with hopes set high. Of course attracting the ladies was – and always will be – a distant second to chasing down the checkered flag, but the whole Hunt fantasy thing forever lingered in the back of my mind. Champagne? Grid girls? Raunchy post-race parties? Bring it on!
Needless to say, for the first few races I was far too preoccupied with self-preservation and on-track survival to bother hunting down these hedonistic pleasures but come April, feeling more relaxed and at ease with myself around the paddock, I decided to put my racing pedigree to the test by approaching a group of nubiles assembled on the pit wall.
My coveralls tied nonchalantly around my waste; that manly aroma of sweat and victory still permeating from the fibres of my fireproof T-shirt, I donned my oversized Carrera shades and set off to make an introduction. It never happened.
For just as I exited my pit, there was a tap on my shoulder that stopped me dead in my tracks. Spinning around, I was greeted by what would become my personal nemesis. A cock-blocker of Godzilla proportions, in front of me loomed the fearsome Khaki Anorak Man – or KAM for short.
Usually two metres tall, almost as wide and endowed with an impressively large boep, the KAM is capable of sniffing out a muscle car from at least 500 metres. And once he has found it, he will stop at nothing to interrogate its driver about things such as engine size, gearbox ratios, fuelling and other terminally dull mechanical trivia that – especially with single girls about – any self-respecting Mustang pilot just doesn’t feel like entertaining.
Still, being a nice guy (Hunt, Fittipaldi and Irvine would have told him to “eff off”), I decided to humor the poor man and answer his never-ending questions. Obviously taken with the fact that I was so obliging, he called his friends over to come and join in, and pretty soon I was surrounded. My original lady targets had meanwhile been intercepted by some other young hotshot driving a blue Ford GT40.
Little did I know that this scenario would play out for the remainder of the season. From Zwartkops to the windswept plains of Phakisa in the Free State, word of my approachability quickly spread and, for the rest of 2010, KAM and his buddies became my most loyal groupies.
Yep, at any given time, when not sitting inside the car or refreshing myself at the canteen, most spare race-day moments were spent having awkward Q&A sessions with enthused men clutching large vats of brandy and cola. Infuriatingly, this gave my guy friends, most of whom I had invited to come and watch, free rein to infiltrate the ranks of my sponsor’s pit girls.
Long, tall, baby giraffes in slinky outfits, it wasn’t me who went home with their cell numbers, but rather my ex-flatmate who was, at the time, recovering from a weird fungal infection that had caused his fingernails and toenails to drop off. Clearly I just couldn’t compete, so for the rest of the season I decided to stop chasing the James Hunt dream and adopt the more sober, clean-cut attitude of Robert Kubica.
Some may call this a cop out, a wasted opportunity, but a conversation with a member of my pot-bellied fan club put everything into perspective. Swaying gently on his feet from a day of sun and drinking, he looked deep into my eyes and said: ”You know what, this Mustang must get you a lot of pussy?” I blinked, shifted my gaze to the car in question and retorted: “No. Actually it hasn’t. But that’s probably got something to do with me.” ”Never mind,” he continued to slur, “There’s this old Afrikaans saying that goes …” he paused and moved a few steps closer, “die geluid van a V8 is beter as die beste naai.”
Now I’ve had a long time to ponder these deep words of wisdom and I actually think he might be right. The womanising spirit of Mr Hunt certainly wouldn’t agree, but there really is nothing better than the primal thrill of blasting around a twisting circuit in a wild American muscle car. And unlike the hapless, usually frustrating pursuit of chasing tail, it’s a whole lot easier too. Screw those ulterior motives; with racing you don’t need any.
[Graphic: Keith Tamkei]