It had been a lovely evening in Mokpo. No, really. A fabulous meal was followed by a few shandies in a club, celebrating a good friend’s birthday.
Bed had arrived possibly a touch later than it should have, and as I put my head down I thought I’d just check twitter to see what was going on in the world. And then it hit home.
We, on the SPEED F1 broadcast team, have known for some time that there was a possibility of us losing the rights or of there being a pretty big shift in the way F1 was going to be broadcast in America. But the news hit hard, and fast.
I guess we never know how we’ll take bad news, even when we know there’s a chance it will arrive. There’s always that range of emotions: the seven stages I believe they call it. The same as when you break up with someone you love.
And that’s what this feels like. Because I truly love working at SPEED. I love the guys I work with and that I work for. They are all terrific people and they have become terrific friends.
Bob Varsha is one of the finest commentators I’ve ever heard. He is such a professional, so knowledgeable and so damn good at his job. And if I have hair half as good as his when I’m his age I’ll be a thankful man.
Hobbo, what can I say? Like your crazy grandfather, he’s always got a story, always got an opinion and always delivers it with such panache. I smile every time he opens his mouth to talk.
Stiffey, what a hero. His enthusiasm is infectious. We may only do a few races together a year, but my word they’re always fun.
And Steve. To be honest, given Steve’s technical background I was always fearful that he would think I was a bit of a soft option after Peter. Steve for me was like the cool kid at school that you always wanted to like you. But I have built such a solid relationship with him, and I can’t tell you how proud I am every time I chip in with something and Steve responds with words such as “Will’s absolutely right…”
There are so many people behind the scenes that you folks don’t get to hear from or see. But each of them make the show what it is. Without the guys behind the scenes, pulling the strings and kicking our asses, there would be no show. Kirch, Goldie, Sean the statman, Cynthia, Dan, D-wayne, Kevin… just so, so many people.
Frank Wilson has been the lifeblood of Formula 1 on SPEED. Pretty much everything you see and hear is as a result of his passion and his soul. If Formula 1 has a future in the United States, Frank will hold a huge chunk of the responsibility for that. He’s a wonderful man and a great guy to work for.
I’ll never forget my job interview at SPEED. It involved dinner with Frank and Dan Shutte, who was instrumental in getting me over to the States. Seriously, without Shutte I would never have got a call from SPEED. The next day we all went in to see Rick Miner who was running the station at the time. Rick took one look at me and said, “Well these guys didn’t call me to say you were an asshole, so I guess you got the job.” At that point, I knew I was going to love my time at SPEED.
The last three years have gone by so quickly. And I am gutted they are coming to an end. But I am so appreciative of having been a part of the most incredible team of people.
SPEED took a chance on me, and I really hope they, and the folks at home, are happy with what they got. I had very little TV experience, and compared to Peter Windsor who I was replacing, very little F1 experience. I’ve been in this game for ten years now, but still, that’s a drop in the ocean compared to some in this paddock.
So SPEED took a huge gamble. And I am thankful everyday for their faith, for their support and for three amazing years. I have genuinely never enjoyed myself nor enjoyed the sport as much as I have since joining SPEED, and moving on at the end of the year will be a real wrench.
But change in life happens, and often it leads on to bigger and better things.
What will I be doing next year? I honestly don’t know. Although I’ve known for a while that this day was coming, part of me never wanted to believe that it would. And that’s why it hurts, and that’s why walking into the paddock this morning absolutely choked me up.
Whatever the future holds, be it in this paddock or elsewhere, I want to thank SPEED for an amazing three years. And I want to thank the fans for tuning in.
We’ve got five races left, and you know we’re going to enjoy every single lap of what is fast becoming a legendary season.
Thank you all for your kind words and support.
Thank you, SPEED, for the memories.
Now here’s to the future…