Tuesday morning, early, I was off to another place. Birmingham, England, for the Donington Park GP!
As is normal, I flew to another airport to wait a couple hours before connecting with a flight to England. Who knows what airport this is? Travel days aren't easy, even if you're only going as far as one hour away (GMT time). Looking on a map, BCN and England aren't that far apart, but travelling anywhere takes time and effort, and this can wear people out as much as working. Example? Travelling to England made it more than 13 hours door to door, from leaving my house to arriving at the hotel. Coming home? Same thing. So imagine working 5-6 days, day and night, then having to travel that long as book-ends to your work week.
Anway, I flew on this fat, stumpy little airplane, and recieved the worst tongue lashing ever because I fell asleep with my iPod on. Did you know you have to turn off all your electronics during take-off and landing, because dammit, my iPod is going to make the plane fly upside down and do loops! I just don't get it.
Always a good idea to familiarize yourself with the local constabulary. After all, wouldn't want to get in trouble and then think someone's playing a prank by sending these guys after you!
Do they make you feel safe?
Do they make you feel randy?
Speaking of feeling randy, keep your pants on!
Made me real nervous driving around in England. These people are backwards! Or at least, they drive on the wrong side of the road.
We went from Birmingham to Nottingham (Robin 'Ood anyone?) and then into Derby (Dahrby).
Every little small town in Europe has some ancient building, some special place that has survived the centuries. The special place in Derby? This football stadium across from the Hotel. Do NOT stay at the Sleep Inn in Derby. The staff is atrocious, and we're talking about something particularly bad in order to receive a bad review from me. I've never met such rude people in my life, and heard some of the things they've said. Granted, I'm not staying in some fantastic 4 or 5 star joint, but c'mon! I won't go into too much detail here, other than don't go there.
Ok, ok, one last thing from the disgruntled MotoLiam. The food from "Paradise Island" leaves a little room for improvement. And in general, I really must say that my favorite English are the ex-pats, those who were willing to leave the motherland and strike out on their own. I've got a lot of views about the culture and mentality here, and maybe I'm way off base, so I'll keep them to myself.
Who eats this stuff?!?
Here's a nice V-dub van we used. Actually, we used three of them, and a couple rent a cars. Neat this is, there's a Harley-Davidson edition in England, with a trick interior and rims, you name it. It's like the big, black Ford HD truck, except the Brits get a vanagon, or should I say, a Safari.
Since we all know what the riders and bikes look like, I've stopped taking photos of stuff that's available through the normal channels of motorcycle news. I like taking pictures of interesting things, like this cool '33 I found in the parking lot at Donington. While that's not a big deal in the states, here in Europe this thing is the bomb! They don't even have choppers out here? Do I hear a side business calling?
BTW, What's that in the window?
All the way from Andorra, Spain. Very cool.
John Hopkin's ride?
Jonh - if you get this, email me with some photos of your toys.
This area of England is pretty green, also, and because it was blisteringly hot the first couple days we were there, everyone thought that this might be the first GP of the year to be rain free for all three days of practice, qualifying, and racing. Not! The morning of the race we had a torrential downpour that soaked the track - and everyone running from the parking areas (too far away!) to the garages. It was huge, but finished up fairly quickly. It was not unlike a flash storm in Hawaii, and fortunately (or unfortunately - depending on how you look at it) it dried up before the big race. The most serious industrialized thing I found while going to and from the track was this set of smokestacks.
EDIT! Just to show you the power of the internet, and how accessible it makes connecting with other cool people, how's this for a bitchin email I recieved a few hours after this post!
"these are not smoke stacks but cooling towers for the Ratcliffe nuclear power station. Sort of like the "radiator" of a power plant, not the exhaust system as "smokestack" would imply. Here's a link:
Yes I'm xnxl, but I'm in the power plant business so it caught my eye.
Take care! Maybe I'll run into you at Laguna.
Big props to Kevin for catching that! See you at Laguna!
Darby has some fun nightlife, if not very interesting. The normal college bars/pubs, and some dance clubs, and the girls can really put the drinks away. Seriously. I've never seen women drink so much and so fast. It was like a weird kind of race. They're definitely a different breed out here. As always, I try to support those who support the sport I love.
Ran into Defraine while I was hustling about. He's the Barfer from England who's got the largest and most complete collection of Schwantz helmets in the world - to the point of having them custom painted if there are none in existence anymore! Arai found out about his hobby and will be doing something very special for him in the future. I'm not sure how he did it, but he must have used some special "Goofy" setting on his camera, because I came out allll wrong in these spyshots he got of me here.
I mean, I look like I'm rollerblading in one of them, hahaha.
*EDIT* Just wanted to let everyone know how funny it is when someone looks are you, and then blurts out, "BARF!". Believe me, it's happened more than once, and it's really fun. Woot for Barf! The world is a far smaller place than everyone realizes. Get out there and get some of it!
I also met Jon Goodwin (I think it's Jon). He just might be the biggest race fan in England. For Sure! He's been a corner marshall at Donington Park for more than 30 years, and since 1949 - 2004 has only missed 4 Isle of Man TT's. That's 51 years of trekking to the Isle for that race. 51! Some of his Barry Sheene stories were hilarious! Super nice guy and I wish him well. He's suffering from a serious type of cancer and my very best wishes go out to him.
Then I bumped into this guy ----->
Thursday afternoon saw us enjoying some special Spanish cuisine. And the funny thing is, I'm starting to like it!
Rizla brought out this neat little ride.
Please note the Bridgestone sticker. . . .