Years ago (around August 1998, I think), I remember being taken to Mondello Park by my Dad for what was then my first solo race weekend.
The previous week I came across a leaflet advertising some Formula Ford racing alongside a couple of other categories and thinking it might be good to have a look.
Meanwhile, Dad dropped me at the gate, gave me a little extra pocket money to cover double-priced chips and a burger and left me to it for the day. It was still about 9am as I walked up to the gate, where upon I dug into my pockets for a few quid for the entry.
“Morning lad,” says the chap at the gate with a nod. “You’re 15, aren’t you?”
At this point I was about 16-and-a-half and making sure the world knew about it (maaaaann) – all grown up and that nonsense, y’see.
In fact, I was so grown up, my stubble had about two weeks growth and if you looked hard enough you could almost see it – almost.
(Oh the naivety. Anyhoo, I digress.)
“No, actually I’m 16,” comes the defiant teenage retort, filled with youthful vigour and unabashed snottiness.
Lingering behind, some half-baked wit was no doubt lying in wait… a lesson for teenage folks – if something sounds clever in your head, it probably won’t sound to hot in open air where someone can answer back.
(Anyhoo, I digress – again. This is all rather frightful.)
Rolling his eyes somewhat, the gate man presses again, “Are you sure you’re not 15?”
“I’m definitely 16.” At this point my preferred leg is arched, one arm is on my hip and I may as well be thumping my chest in teenage turbo-powered pseudo-macho-ism and false bravado.
Meanwhile Dad is breaking himself laughing over the steering wheel.
The gate man rubs two of his fingers along his forehead and sighs a little, before to a large sign with big letters that read: ’15yo and under – half price.’
(… pause, wait for it, wait for it, wait for it… the penny drops… round about – nnnow !!)
“Oh yeah, I’m 15.”
“That will be £4 please.”
“Uh – yeah, cheers.”
August in Ireland is either bloody freezing, or stupidly hot. In this instance, it was the former and so memories of getting utterly windswept in the open grandstand across from the pits throughout the day were burned into my head.
Good weekend though. It was still very much a ‘Dads and lads’ shindig then, although it was plain to see money was tight.
Now, I just wrote words about; however, I do hope my light bulb is switched on a bit more often nowadays. With luck and pressing, someone might read them.