Back in the days when the Long Beach Grand Prix was a Formula 1 race, it was our invariable custom, the night before the race, to go to Ascot, where the sprint cars were doing their thing. This was motor racing at its most primitive, its most raw, and Denis Jenkinson was entranced by it.
'Jenks', the sport's most celebrated journalist, was never one to turn up his nose at anything but F1. He adored the immediacy of sprint car racing, its sheer violence, but also appreciated the throttle control of the best drivers, and relished the absence of mirrors on the cars: "That's why you don't get bloody baulking..."
This was 25 years ago, you understand, when 'baulking' was still considered a sin.
Something else about sprint car racing much to Jenks's taste was that, for the feature race of the evening, the grid was invariably reversed, so that the quick guys started at the back. "Now," he'd say, rubbing his hands, "we'll find out who's a racer, and who isn't..."