Monza. Where to start? At the beginning probably - a lovely evening at the Monza Sporting Club commemorating Gonzalo Rodriguez, the former F3000 race winner who died in one of Roger Penske's ChampCars at Laguna Seca 10 years ago.
The event is held annually with money raised from an auction going to Gonzalo's memorial foundation. It is administered by his sister Nani and provides sporting opportunity for underprivileged children in their native Uruguay.
Gonzalo Rodriguez © LAT
It was moving to hear Nani tell of Gonzalo speaking to his mother the night before his accident and revealing to her how much he was loving his life, how his racing was all he dreamed of and how he felt on top of the world. She misses him, of course, as do any number of people who remember a warm, passionate, down-to-earth, feeling human being, but it helped to know his state of mind when he left.
Nothing beats participating, I guess, but you can partially understand Gonzalo's sentiments, even when you are only involved on the fringes, spectating or reporting. I can think of plenty of occasions when motor racing has given me a warm feeling, when I know I've seen something special and feel privileged, such as coming back from Donington in '93.