Driver dies

POSTED: October 2, 2020

I have lived long enough to notice for myself the ways that things change. The ecology of the media landscape shifts and eddies just as McLuhan suggested. The place of pop music, for example, has shifted dramatically from the place it had at the end of the nineteen sixties.

First games displaced it. Then social media came along. This process happens across a much wider range of events and activities than one might imagine.

Today I found another example: a Guardian headline that said Driver dies during UK land speed record attempt at Elvington airfield.

To quote from the article:

A driver has died during a British land speed record attempt.

A full investigation is to take place into the circumstances of the incident at Elvington airfield to the east of York on Thursday afternoon.

A Motorsport UK spokesman said: “Further information will be provided once the initial findings of the investigation are available. Our thoughts are with the driver’s family, who have been informed, the organisers of the event, and other members of the motorsport community present.”

The land speed record, then, has gone the way of pop music: shuffled off from the centre of the cultural stage to somewhere on the sidelines.

When I grew up Donald Campbell held both land and water speed records in various vehicles called Bluebird. Every attempt constituted major news and the media touted him as a bone fide British hero. His death, attempting a water speed record, made front page news for several days.

Today the world speed records interest only a small niche market and attempts, by “drivers” go unpublicised and almost unmarked.

I have no opinion about whether this should count as a good or a bad thing. I just notice the shift in the media landscape.