Driving around the track – the Sachs Curve, to be specific – poses challenges in an eighteen-wheeler. The main hazard this morning, rather than cornering hard and tipping the truck on its side, seems to be avoiding forklifts.
In the build-up to the concert tomorrow night, the Ring is littered with them today; they slither hither and thither with crates of staging, their manoeuvres unpredictable. Safety when the track is used for racing however, is paramount. After Scottish Grand-Prix champion Jim Clark careered into the trees at 225km/h (killing himself instantly), two chicanes were built to reduce top speeds.
On a brighter note, I think we can finally say that summer is here – which prompts that stout fellow, Namibian, to organise a barbecue. He really is in his element: one minute dicing tomatoes, onions, and adding a secret ingredient; the next minute he flips burgers at the grill, temples moistening.
I think if it weren’t for his steering wheel fetish, I’d encourage a sideways move within the industry – to that of caterer. The expression, ‘Never trust a skinny chef,’ springs to mind.
While the food is being prepared, a tanning competition is in full swing on the track. I’ve mentioned this before but, between 11-3pm on fine days, “Alice” and Cowboy are seen on sun loungers, vying for the mahogany crown.
Cowboy – ‘I don’t do poses’ – has twenty years more experience, and is winning hands-down so far, turning on the hour, every hour, with the patience of a saint.
Alice, with skin closer to that Tangoed look of an airline stewardess than leather, has no chance – but he’s doing his best, which is all one can ask for. As we edge closer to our summer jaunt around the Mediterranean, could the title change hands?
Meanwhile, in the charming little town of Hockenheim, a mere pedal or two away, I find the inimitable trucker, French Fred, enjoying a Gauloise at a street-side cafe. ‘I ‘ave a new girlfriend,’ he says, sipping an espresso daintily. He hasn’t met her yet, though; we are talking of an internet romance.
I shudder to think what goes on behind his truck curtains, with a wireless internet signal and a webcam. But I’m curious to know his secret to crafting a personal opening message, to make each lady feel valued and special.
‘I copy and past ze same message to 300 woman,’ he clarifies. ‘Yes, why not? Maybe fifteen or eighteen reply.’ I’m stunned, yet intrigued.
‘Restaurant, ‘otel, let’s go. Visa card here, visa card there,’ he finishes breathlessly, with a flourish. I reel for a moment at this revelation, struggling to process his unorthodox approach to internet dating. I surreptitiously note the website as he heads off to the nearest cyber cafe. I like Fred.
And no, I’m not going to entertain a gag – considering all the portable toilets here – about pit stops and skid marks..