Tom’s Take: Leave Formula One Alone!

Those who have known me, for any lengthy period of time, would describe me as a rabid Formula One fan. At my wedding, my best man, in his speech, warned my new wife of my obsession to “get up in the middle of the night on weekends to watch Grand Prix…” Funny though, in the last two years, I may have tuned into replays of three races. “Why?” You ask?

It has changed…

And the latest change may have sealed the deal for me.

No more Grid Girls…

Caving to global pressure, or just not budgeting for it…Either way, the pretty girls that stand in front of the cars ahead of the race are gone. Those wonderful distractions we witness, as the grid reporter runs up and down the field, trying to get a comment or quote for TV, are no more. Representing the countries of each contest, the global audience would get a glimpse of provincial sex-appeal, nope…We can’t have that!

Formula One has been a testosterone-fueled spectacle for me since I was very young….Jackie Stewart won his last World Championship around the time I began to follow. It was about Screaming engines, Bright colors, space-age technology…and of course, beautiful women. Cars and women had always gone hand-in-hand in the culture. Go to most hyped car shows, races and meets and there is a very good chance you will be inundated with ornamental, beautiful women. Go to the declining Hot Import Nights and it almost seems for sale.

The reason I have turned off Formula One in the past couple years is the hybrid-based power plants. Gone are the days of 19 Thousand RPM screaming exhaust notes in florescent, flashy colors, whipping around exotic ports of call. Now the damn things sound like a fart. Yes, a fart. They are still fast and colorful, but the audio sensation was really a big part of the game — so much so that promoters of F1 races around the world complained about it too. Now take away another of the most attractive ingredients of a race weekend, and it just becomes another race. The exotic ports of call are no longer the great tracks of legend, but Herman Tilke-designed oversized go-kart tracks — with way too much run off room that forgive frequent mistakes.

A cool car once was a way to meet girls — and get laid. It was very primal. A cool car gave the impression of hunting and gathering skills of the male — to attract the “nesting” instinct of the female. This flows through the entire animal kingdom. At some point, marketing-minded guys caught on to this human-nature based audience and began selling awesome cars and high performance aftermarket parts to these dudes. The legendary tales of race drivers’ derring-do with “pit tootsies” added fuel to the fire in automotive lore. Ah, how I long for the days when sex was safe and racing was dangerous…Of Sterling Moss and James Hunt…How many guys go to a car show, see a car, and think, “Man, I had one just like that.” Then takes the obligatory glance to see if the “original stains” still exist in the back seat…?

Formula One has clearly caved to this feminist pressure. Spandex, perhaps one of the greatest or worst (depending on the figure) materials for women’s clothing, will be taking a major hit in the coming years. The manufacturers may have to shift all of that energy to pro athletes in the form of Under Armor boxer briefs. That is just sad! But at least we still have Yoga Pants…

Having said this, I also have a great deal of respect for a number of gals who turn a wheel in anger.  They do not need to be sex symbols, despite the latest foray into top-level racing for a female became a pin-up–and we all know who I am talking about. For so many others, I have respect for their hard work to be better than the boys. Further, consider the great Linda Vaughn. Despite never being a driver–just purely a sex symbol – Linda has been one of the greatest ambassadors of motorsport…ever. She continues to be a wonderful dignitary, with 50 years of experience!

It is said that the male brain shifts its thoughts to sex every ten seconds. Any male who has ever gone through puberty is nodding right now. Women may never admit their similarities, but do have a longer thought process of “yes-no” choices that happen in the first 10 seconds of interaction. Wisdom of this may be the reason that there are some guys who have it very easy in meeting girls and some guys are forever in the ill-fated “Friend Zone.” To compensate, the car made a very good introductory method for those guys who weren’t as savvy in the ways of the opposite sex — it helped the guy have women approach them.

It is no secret that the design lines of many of the most sought after cars have very feminine lines. Sex on wheels. What is to become of the next generations coming up? What is going to turn them on? Increasingly cars have become ugly. The mating dance seems to have changed in that before you get past kissing, you need to have your attorney fax over an agreement and action plan for “rules of engagement” to avoid being seen as Harvey Weinstein, or any number of creeps who have used their position in life to prey on the vulnerabilities, ruining the dance for all others. All that is left is a cornucopia of free online porn and hook-up apps on a device in your pocket. Sad. Very Sad.

Take away the pillars of a once great racing series and soon you won’t have a great series. Take the sex out of everything and everything is no longer attractive. Have a nice dull day. Liberty Media, owner of Formula One: Please reconsider this great tradition of grid girls, won’t you? Between “farting” cars, dull personalities and elitist behavior, it is the last vestige of leaping testosterone for the sport’s fans.

About the author

Tom Stahler

At eight months of age, Tom Stahler sat in a baby stroller in Thunder Valley and watched Chuck Parsons and Skip Scott win the 1968 Road America 500. He has had the car bug ever since. He has won several awards, including the Motor Press Guild’s Dean Batchelor Award and the International Motor Press Association's Gold Medal for his writing and photography. When not chasing the next story, Tom drives in vintage road racing events and spends time with his wife and three daughters in Orange County, California.
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