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COMMENT: Remember The Good Guys…

'These are extraordinary times, and people are stepping up'

Lockdown life isn’t easy. We are all finding ways to cope in similar yet vastly different ways right now. Some days you wake up and feel fine, ready to push on, other times you can’t focus, and go on an inexplicable emotional rollercoaster.

I’ve found that there is one constant though, and that is my newfound appreciation for the simple things in life. It is true that you don’t realise what you had until it’s gone. So when this is all over, and the world returns to some form of normality, we must remember the lengths that people in motorsport (and beyond) went to in an attempt to make a difference.

Motorsport has always seemingly had a habit of helping out people in a time of need. It’s a sport filled with people and organisations flushed with cash, but also a sport full of people with big hearts.

There’s a history of teams lending spare parts to one another during race weekends (and in the case of Weng Sun Mok many a year ago, the entire contents of his car’s engine bay to assist a title contender in need). One glance at RACER.com reporter Marshall Pruett’s track record of fundraising for others too is something truly inspiring. The industry has always felt like one big family, which full of people with vast differences, but who have a shared understanding of just how tough it can be to survive.

Now motorsport is lending a hand to the wider world, and it’s a sight to behold.

A handful of nights ago I spent a considerable amount of time searching through The Spectator’s archives (that is now 10,000 issues strong). They are extensive and go all the way back to when the title was formed back in 1828. It’s somewhat of a gold mine of content for someone like this writer, who is fascinated by the journalism industry, and spends his spare time reading content from a wide selection of publications and writers (many of whom, I profoundly disagree with).

Having open access to such a vast amount of prime sources from over a hundred years ago can be both useful and thought-provoking. You can argue that too much time right now is being spent making historical comparisons between pandemics for instance, to the point where much of the debate is muddied and confused, but there are still lessons that can be learned.

Out of pure interest, I decided to take a look back at the coverage The Spectator gave to Spanish Flu, and see if I could find an exact issue where the end of the pandemic was marked, and read the reaction. To my surprise, it was actually difficult to find much coverage of the influenza crisis at all, despite the fact that a third of the world was thought to have contracted it and that the death toll is believed to be between 20 million and 50 million.

Now, it just so happens that another major event was ongoing at the time – the Great War. For that very reason, the Spanish Flu (which was given its name not because it originated in Spain, but because the Spanish media were the first to report on it and did so extensively whilst much of Western Europe was at war) didn’t get as much coverage as you’d imagine.

With that in mind, the contrast between then and now is fascinating. Every single major media outlet in the country is currently covering COVID-19, wall-to-wall, leaving very little space for any unrelated content. In fact, there’s so much of it, that it’s easy to miss or skim over the barrage of smaller pandemic related stories, particularly heart-warming ones, due to the sheer volume of analysis and comment.

Yet both periods in history may end up creating a situation where much of the hard work, good deeds and thankless tasks are forgotten about or overlooked in the aftermath.

On that basis, as a society, we must make a point in remembering who the good guys were during this crisis. We must appreciate and reflect on the good that this situation has brought out in people. Don’t let the petty crimes, the people who refuse to social distance in a responsible manner or the level of vulgarity spread on social media dominate your lasting memories from this time. Make a point to appreciate those who did incredible things, not because they had too, but because they wanted to.

In motorsport, we’ve seen an outpouring of goodwill and support. Remember the Formula One teams that have shifted their focused to the rapid prototyping of ventilators, the drivers and teams that are fundraising and donating to good causes and companies like Riley Technologies, Aston Martin Racing and Jota Sport who have stepped up to produce Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers.

These are extraordinary times, and people are stepping up and going the extra mile to make a positive impact in greater numbers than you may realise.

So stay positive, stay calm (stay inside too) and remember that better days are ahead. Then once we get through this, let’s make sure we give ample recognition to those who deserve it.