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HindustanTimes Fri,28 Nov 2014
Celestial speedway
Joe Saward
September 10, 2012
First Published: 23:12 IST(10/9/2012)
Last Updated: 23:16 IST(10/9/2012)
The Autodromo Nazionale Monza is not only the fastest in F1, it is also the most historic. Getty Images

When you die and find yourself on the Grim Reaper's bus, heading towards some pleasant After Life resort, reserved for the righteous, be the nameplate Moksha, Ame, Heaven, Paradise or Nirvana, you will be keen to know what the future holds. You will be dropped off outside the gates and will follow the happy crowd and you will meet a smiling welcomer, with a clipboard. She will ask you if you have any questions about your new home.

"Yes," you will say. "I am a Formula 1 fan and I'm really rather keen to know if there is a racing circuit up here."

"Oh," she will say. "I suppose there must be, but I am not a fan myself. I will have to check."

A supervisor will suddenly appear and will explain with a smile that there are lots of racing fans in heaven, but sadly not many motor racing people.

The supervisor will smile and say: "Never mind, if you go over there and catch bus number four it will take you to the Celestial Speedway.

"If you get lost, just ask for Monza."

You will raise an eyebrow and the supervisor will add: "We tried to build something better than you humans managed, but it was a waste of energy. So we copied Monza instead. We felt it was the right thing to do."

When you get to the Celestial Speedway you will find that it is not quite the same as the real thing. People obey traffic rules, which would never happen in Italy.

The girls there don't have quite the same spark of naughtiness that one sees in Italy and no one at the Celestial Speedway will steal your wallet. You will realise that Monza reminds you what it was that first attracted you to motor racing.

'Miserable' memories
My first visit to the Autodromo - a while ago now - was miserable. I arrived from Milan on a train and I caught a bus to get there. It did not go to where I thought it would go and so I ended up carrying my backpack, complete with tent, for a very long way. It was March and it was raining. I pitched my tent in a field behind the paddock, in a place that was long ago paved over and is today the GP2 Paddock.

I was as miserable as miserable can be. And yet as I walked around the woods and watched the cars I caught the magic of the place. It was love at first sight.

I have come to Monza at various time of year - every year - since then. I have seen it in the chilly winter and baking in midsummer, but for me Monza is always linked to early September, the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, when the trees change colour, the leaves begin to fall and there is a slight chill in the evenings.

I want someone who can describe Monza in all of its glory because I have tried many times and I am never really satisfied.

The writer has covered every Grand Prix for the past 25 years


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