I was unexpectedly treated to an evening alone last week, when my nearest and dearest was busying herself with something grand and important. So I settled in for an evening in front of Netflix and stumbled across a great little documentary called The Gentleman Driver. For those that don’t know, a gentleman driver is a chap with considerable means, looking for a way to spend it. Helpfully, there are usually a handful of professional drivers, kicking-around, ready and willing to relieve the aforementioned gentleman of those means. You’d be forgiven for imagining a bunch of hucksters in shiny suits, licking their lips at that prospect of a quick buck. But no, these hucksters are some pretty handy drivers. Step forward Bruno Senna, and Filipe’s Albuquerque and Nasr. Paul di Resta is due to get involved next year too, and these are just the names you will have heard of.
And what about the gentlemen? Even I, with my encyclopedic knowledge of motor-racing, had been of the opinion that the gents would be about as useful as a ham sandwich. But again, I was wrong. They might require a few extra belt notches when they dress each morning, but some of these guys are not shabby. One that stood out was Mexican Grand Prix promoter, and education entrepreneur, Ricardo Gonzalez. Gonzalez was a pole-sitter on his Mexican F3 debut and winner of four rounds of the Panamericana Indy Lights series. That’s a CV that compares well against some of the talent getting F1 drives in recent years, and he’s ‘just’ the Gentleman.
Now, I’ll confess, young Ricardo is probably the most talented of the group, so his talent is the exception rather than the rule. The other three gentlemen of focus (Mike Guasch, Ed Brown and Paul Dalla Lana) clearly all work extremely hard at what they do, and have won numerous state championships. While they may lack the final few tenths of their better known crew-mates, they do not humiliate themselves. They deserve to be there!
The documentary follows the quartet around the WEC calendar through Silverstone, Abu Dhabi, and the Circuit of the Americas, trying to get an insiders-eye view of the high and lows of their season. What’s so great about this film as that this life is (almost) accessible to us all, and the recipe is relatively simple. Work hard, make some money, work hard at your driving, take up racing, keep working hard. A season is predictably north of £1m, but so what. They’ve worked for it, they can spend it. It doesn’t matter how much I practice heads-and-volleys, serves-and-volleys, or arm-bars and takedowns, I am simply never going to compete at Wembley, Wimbledon, or The UFC. But, I can line-up on the same grid as Fernando Alonso, and thats quite an attractive opportunity.