Motorsport tragics are a rugged lot, enduring every conceivable weather condition for an extended trackside vigil requires incredible dedication. Like soldiers, fans are laden with enough gear to survive the most hostile environment, and like soldiers these same fans proudly wear the uniform and fly the colours.
Merchandising in motorsport these days is a finely honed and researched satellite industry, available online 24 hours a day and generating millions of dollars in revenue. It’s all very slick and corporate.
Veteran fans remember the days when obtaining even the most basic item meant doing time in the trenches. Like a badge of honour, that t-shirt, cap or decal was hard earned reward for frontline service at the track. All of it distributed by girls in tiny shorts or team members out of a van – and quite often it was free.
Like everyone, I’ve treasured many such items over the years. Much of the clothing has simply perished from old age (some of my t-shirts seem to have shrunk since 1982), caps become sun bleached and tattered, posters and programmes are frail and no longer seen in public. One enduring exception is my portable ice chest, cooler box, chilly bin - or in my native Australia - esky.
Adorned with decals dating back to l970’s campaigns, this resilient display of motorsport colour is no museum piece in a glass case – it still sees active duty today. Like a rowdy old mate, it’s appearance isn’t appropriate at every gathering, but it’s the perfect companion at a race meeting. Proud, robust, reliable and unyielding - just like soldier.