I've never been a boy, not so far anyway. And yet for the early years, certainly, I have been the main influence over The Boy's choices: clothes, toys, activities etc. And it has just been a given to me that these choices would involve cars. He's got a really cute applique t-shirt with a mustard coloured racing car on, wellies, dotted with cars all over, a mountain of toy cars (our living room is starting to look like a miniature scrap heap!) And up until recently I've done my sums based on the logic of Boy = Car.
As some of you may know, I have watched the Disney Pixar films Cars and Cars 2 with such repetition that I could recite them verbatim. 'What?... Did I forget to wipe my mudflaps?' That doesn't mean to say that I understand them. I still can't quite get my head round Axlerod's beef. Is he an oil tycoon? Isn't he? It's a complex storyline, that's all I'm saying, with not enough love-interest for my liking - bring Sally back for Cars 3! I get that they are exciting but they're people cars, animate anything and add cool music and it takes on a new dimension. Or so I thought....
Given The Boy's obsession with said films, it was The Daddy's brainwave that we should take him to see some actual bone fide racing cars. So for his 4th birthday, that's what we did, and wow, it was an education.
The first thing I saw, which you don't see in the Pixar films, is a man dressed head-to-toe in fire-retardant getup including balaclava, brandishing a fire extinguisher, the works! It looked like something out of a horror film and appealed to my sense of drama; the real-life cars are really dangerous it seems.
Obviously the actual races were brilliant, the sound of the engines as they approached and flew past. Baby Girl loved it, (perhaps Girl = Cars too?) she got really excited when they approached and put her own sound effects into the mix 'meow': animal noises being her main point of reference.
Next what I liked was the fact that the crowd and the stewards, including Balaclava Man, gave all the racers a clap when the race had finished, while said racers waved from their bucket-seats, very civilised! What is it about a lot of people doing something for the same end? It just gives me a buzz. I feel the same way about watching Glee, it's the co-ordination, the team-work and the dedication to be the best, it just gets me, makes me want to cry a bit if I'm honest.
Next we went to the pit to see all the behind the scenes stuff. We could see the previous racers returning. I think if these cars were really people, they might be a bit high-maintenance for me. Each one needed four men to steer / guide them carefully back to their pit even though they'd just been raggin it round the track. And they each had a selection of tyres they take everywhere for different weather, presumably they were welly tyres and flip flop tyres, or perhaps trainer tyres.
Anyway, on to the next race and the fresh cars were lined up, firing and ready to go. I always thought that the impression of cars as impatient to get going was an affectation on the Cars films. It's not, it was hilarious watching them as they almost jumped out of the pit. It was as if they were not built to drive that slow; that's probably exactly what it is (I know these things now I've been to one race!) They just seemed sort of... hard to control, jumping forward and then stopping and then another lurch and a bunny hop, revving as they go, I could totally imagine them with personalities.
Once these frisky four-wheelers got on the road, another set were duly lined up. This time we were around the front, so we could see the drivers and The Boy gasped in horror 'Mummy! He's asleep!!!'. I was thrilled, the driver wasn't asleep; he was 'Getting in the Zone'. You know in his head he was reciting. 'I... AM... SPEED'. It was an awesome moment. When he opened his eyes, he stared right through us, focused on one thing and one thing only: THE WIN - even though there was huge confusion as Baby Girl tried to scamper up the trouser leg of a man who was not, as she thought, Grandad - the Racing Driver was unperturbed. Good on him, he gave me a bit of a spine tingling moment.
All in all it was a great day, the atmosphere was really chilled, we ate ice creams while we watched helicopters arrive, I learnt what a safety car was and clapped without knowing why, I don't think it'll be the last time we go. I can only imagine if I actually understood the world of racing, it might be even better!
If you liked this, why not also try: Red Bottle Rocket and
Red Bottle Rocket - Part 2
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No Fun Mum
Children's Picture Book Writer (in waiting) and Expert in Pre-School Conflict Resolution!