A small sticker on the left rear window of the Starlet is my subtle expression of melancholy pride. It is an image of Circuito Estoril and its contours. That combination has been traveling with the Toyota for a while. I was on the track in October 2019. The visit was part of Estoril Classics program.
When I look at the sticker I feel that languid, old aristocratic atmosphere in that lovely area west of Lisbon. I regularly think back to the event, which made a big impression. I often think back to the circuit, where I enjoyed the heroic survival instinct of the old technique, which reached the audience with an armada of decibels. Every fiber in the body was pierced with a phenomenal sound, the shimmer led to a delicate sensation.
Old stadiums with worn tracks
Of course: I was present at many events. And of course I also saw historical race races more often. But there, in Estoril after summer, everything came together. Circuito Estoril's faded glory embraced me, evoking memories. I was thinking of old stadiums that I encouraged in my clubs against my better judgment. Standing stands, they refer to the transience of the former modern, reinforced by wear marks on the concrete. Stewardship is long past. I like that character. The speed of the peoples increasingly prompts me to sentiment. And when that coincides with the fiery love for historic vehicles, everything is right.
Beautiful confluence with dreamy panorama
And I felt that especially in Portugal. The great old main stand of Circuito Estoril made it loose in me, my concrete cast to the past, combined with that old setting in Estoril, strengthened the intensity of my experience. As if everything came together there. Especially when the old racers showed that they still stood their ground. Pure, mechanical technology, packed in a classic Porsche, Alfa Romeo, BMW, Ford or Datsun jacket. Packed in Martin Stretton's Tyrell Benetton. The interplay had something glorious, and the old setting of Circuito Estoril reinforced the atmosphere image against the panorama of the dreamy hinterland.
There was more to me that made the visit to the Circuito Estoril so special. Because there, Ayrton Senna won an F1 race for the first time in his beautiful and far too early career. With the John Player Special Lotus-Renault, he was the first to cross the finish line in April 1985, because there is only one for the main stand that is old in 2020. The stones, the stairs, the canopy, they were silent witnesses to Ayrton's first Formula 1 victory. When I was there they shared their testimony with high seniority. And they will continue to do so for a long time.
The building hugged me and reinforced the existence of that historic victory. The victory of a phenomenon. The applause, after every race on the track, rolled off the stands during the circuit chapter of Estoril Classics 2019 like a steadily developing shower. That is how it must have sounded then, after Senna's first Grand Prix victory. The warm shower, gratefully accepted by the drivers, and inadvertently referring to the weather conditions in which Senna crossed the finish line in the pouring rain in 1985 - with a lap ahead of most drivers. And close to that finish line, there I was, more than 34 years later. Magic, thrills and a touch of emotion.
I held my dreamy melancholy off the track. Because the past lived on in October 2019, in a deeply melancholic form. Circuito Estoril gave the world a big winner, and that history is anchored forever. No one can erase that history, it is fixed in a gold-rimmed foundation.
On the grounds outside the stadium, behind the cult grandstand, a lane is named after Senna. A modest plaque with the inscription Praca Ayrton Senna pays homage to holy ground and to a formidable driver. I realized it when I first saw that. I turned around. A security guard looked at me. He nodded with a smile. I nodded back smiling. Modestly gave a thumbs up. And just said, "Impressive." We understood each other.
It was a privilege to be there, on that old, faded but oh so magical track. The circuit where, incidentally, no official Formula 1 race has been held for years. But that actually strengthens the power of the past. It is not for nothing that a modest sticker on the left rear window of the Toyota subtly conveys my pride. Because I was there. There, where history was written. There, where the imagination grows every day. Because Formula 1 will probably not return to Circuito Estoril. The circuit that smells of the past from all pores. And one of the greatest drivers of all time gave his first F1 victory.
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