15 Apr 2013

Why Motorsport fans are the best fans

The UK newspapers carry stories this morning of rioting before and during a football match in Newcastle.  Many fan had been watching the match in pubs.  The Daily Telegraph reported, "Police dressed in riot gear managed to hold them off during a series of skirmishes and were pelted with glass bottles as a result. The violence led to 29 arrests, while three officers were injured, one of whom needed hospital treatment." Smoke canisters were thrown in the stadium between home and away supporters.

Can you imagine such events happening during the British Grand Prix, BTCC at Brands Hatch or a club race at Pembrey?

You can't because it doesn't happen and it doesn't happen because football fans who cause trouble are a tribal breed who don't love football but their own club whilst motorsport fans are just that - we love motorsport.

And it isn't just the drunkedness of the rioting football fans.  If you've ever been to Le Mans you'll see a 24 hour drinkathon with huge piles of empty beer cans stacked up in teetering columns as some kind of  monument to the fans enjoyment of the race.

There's plenty of drinking at the British Grand Prix too.  But whereas I wouldn't want to take a small child into a chanting, braying football stadium, motorsport events are full of families shoulder to shoulder with groups of slightly squiffy young men with lager filled coolboxes.

Motorsport fans love the sport first, the team or driver second.  Hamilton fans, Alonso fans, the Tifosi, Kimi's vast sprawling fan base, Vettel supporters - all love the sport first.  We might disagree with other opinions.  We might berate a friend who thinks Vettel is the messiah and Mark Webber should man up but that's all it ever comes to - friendly banter.

We appreciate the cars, the sounds, the noise, the atmosphere, the racing.  We have our idols.  We spend a fortune on tickets, team clothing, flags.  We put up with long waits between the support event and the main race.  We put up with the rain because motorsport grandstands tend not to have roofs.  But we motorsport fans love our sport.

Whereas rioting football fans just seem to love their team and hate supporters of others - and the sport of football.

It might be a step too far to suggest motor racing fans are more intelligent than football fans - indeed many people are both - but it is fact that riots don't take place before, during or after motorsport events whereas they sometimes do at football matches.

And the participants seem to be a different breed too.  Motorsport is a dangerous activity that requires intelligence, bravery, determination, respect for one's competitors, and skill.  Footballers just need skill.

After all, when we see a massive crash, like the one below when Robert Kubica totalled his BMW Sauber at the 2007 Canadian Grand Prix and was back in the car two races later, don't all motor racing fans secretly say to ourselves - "Yep, racers are better than footballers".