Experience the Beirut Grand Prix

For the first time recently a grand prix race lit up the streets of Beruit, Lebanon. The cars, mostly Ferraris and Maseratis were not the Formula One machines normally associated with such a race, but the non-professional drivers nonetheless brought the tradition to the once glamorous and now conflict addled capitol.

I can remember the Toyota Grand Prix in Long Beach, California, back in 1983. The F1 cars roaring though the city streets, which were lined with sponsored barrier walls and maniacal spectators. But that was Long Beach. This is Beruit.

The race happened Set. 24 and 25, bringing back some of the glamour, but also preserving the violence.

One of the strangest marketing lines from the creators of the race was the one about how the race will be “a spectacle unlike anything the city has ever seen.”

That’s a bold statement, considering the rocket volleys, invasions, street battles and bombings the Mediterranean coastal city has seen over the past 40 years.

But we really do think bringing such a leisure activity as a grand prix race to the region is a move in the positive direction.

And the cashes. Oh yes. To enjoy watching a moneyed Middle Eastern driver run his Italian sportscar into a mud wall after he oversteers a turn and then brakes late is a rare treat. And the soldier watching the track on the turn makes it great as well.

Apparently there were drag races, too. Which is interesting because the drivers ran the same cars they did for the grand prix.

I guess after generations of chaos in a destabilized region, you gotta race what you have. And of course, in grand prix, only the rich ones get to play.