Blue helmet and a Midas touch

10. Feb 2020 
by Nicolas Pascual

Blue helmet and Midas touch

Legends told by ancient people are no longer verifiable, but still, can offer imperceptible images. King Midas, much to his dismay, transformed everything he touched in pure gold. Ronnie Peterson’s legend is as much magical, brutal and sorrowful.

Faster than a bullet from a gun

Ronnie was the literal speed’s personification, the fusion between the man and the machine, and whatever the car was. The Swedish started his Formula 1 career in 1970, and illuminated the motorsports world one year later, but describing him is strenuous : we need to watch. Watch him, and try to apprehend his tremendous natural speed, as well as his innate sense of gas control. On the track, he gave the impression of being the world’s fastest thing, and occasionally, seemed to not even touch the ground. Only the tortured scream of the Double Four Valve V8 Cosworth reminded that he was a Formula 1 driver, subject to the laws of Physics. But still, doubt remains.

His blue helmet was ornamented with a bright yellow touch, to remind his origins. Ronnie was a Swedish, a proud and grateful one. People are different further North. They offer an impression of total control ; but with their heart out at the same time, knowing how to master hundreds of horsepower like if this was in their DNA. From Jarno Saarinen to Henri Toivonen, wizards were and are not uncommon at these latitudes.

Gold mane, gold claw

Super Swede’ gave it all from 1970 to 1978. First in a March, then with Lotus and Tyrrell. His sweet wife Barbro, his mane, his charisma … it was all that. All these years, Ronnie vainly tried to win the crown, and finished runner-up twice. However, he did not betray : he was still the most astonishing on the grid. Sir Jackie Stewart himself confessed that he was stupefied every time he followed Ronnie’s car, but had only respect – like all of the drivers – for his opponent.

Then comes 1978. The return of Colin Chapman’s orders, and the Italian Grand Prix. The confused start, the accident, the smoke, the fire. Everything became dark. With him, a part of the heart of millions children, transcended by magic tricks was gone. But, not too far actually. Like the Pole Star in the clear night, he shines in a ceaseless manner and lights up nostalgic souls looking up for lost memories.

George Harrison, in his ode to Formula 1 – Faster (1979) -, wrote

« Now he moved into the space

that the special people share

right on the edge of do or die

where there is nothing left to spare »

This goes pretty well with you, Ronnie.

Source: DR

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