I will never forget the 2008 Race of Champions. Not because it brought together some of the world’s best racers from a variety of racing categories under one roof, but due to the fact I was bordering on hyperthermia thanks to the sub-zero temperatures. It took me a week to thaw out. No word of a lie.
After Wembley, the Race of Champions moved on to the Bird’s Nest in Beijing, and more recently set up camp in Dusseldorf, where someone had the decency to close the roof and keep the spectators all snugly and warm. How very thoughtful of them (Wembley, take note).
Alas, being held outside of the UK and only viewable through an online stream that had as much clarity as a muddy puddle, has seen my Race of Champions interest waiver in recent years. I know the results of course; just that my mind’s a little hazy on what actually happened in the lead up to the trophies being dished out.
Conveniently for the majority of us, Duke Video has released a highlights package of last year’s event on DVD, cunningly titled: “Race of Champions 2010.”
Split into three sections, the first feature covers the Nation’s Cup, where Germany (Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher) clinched its fourth consecutive victory. The group stages are whipped through at a fair old pace and, to be honest, it’s hard to take in what’s actually going on due to the relentless speed at which the teams are whittled down football style to the actual final.
It is only in the last round that any worthwhile footage makes an appearance, and that’s only because the England v Germany finale went down to the last race of the evening, the equivalent of a penalty shootout, between Andy Priaulx and Schumacher.
But to be honest, the Nations’ Cup has always played second fiddle to the main attraction: the Race of Champions itself. So, on to the next feature then.
The individual event had a few surprises up its sleeve. There is of course drama in the form of Heikki Kovalainen’s huge crash in an Audi A8, which knocked him unconscious. But the biggest shock of the night had to be sometime Red Bull F1 tester Filipe Albuquerque emerging from obscurity to beat some of the world’s best racers.
Again, it trundles on through the knock-out stages at a hefty pace, but, with more time dedicated to the on track action and less of what’s going on behind-the-scenes, you get more racing for your buck.
Oddly enough, where Race of Champions 2010 excels is in the additional 20 minute Travis Pastrana feature. Over the course of the weekend, the American stuntman-cum-driver sported a gyro-stablised camera on his head and recorded his every move.
Fight through the motion sickness and what you find is a genuinely interesting documentary, which is a bit like Peep Show, but minus the wackiness and has a cast of famous racers instead of so-so comedians. Press conferences, autograph sessions, going for a tinkle, Pastrana showcases a true behind-the-scenes of the event.
The problem with the Race of Champions (event and DVD) is that it’s not real ‘racing’, whatever anybody says. So, if you’re looking for proper out-and-out racing, probably best you look elsewhere. There’s plenty of action to keep most entertained though and thankfully the majority of that has been committed to DVD this time around.