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The Raceway (Docklands) London

5 Mins read

Back in the 80s I was hooked on a rather surreal, and by today's standards 'camp', gangster movie called the Warriors (1979). It remains shamelessly one of my all time favourite movies. I had it on VHS and I still have it on DVD. In fact, today being a special day, I might just watch again tonight. I've heard others and myself use lines from the Movie on various occasions. The people who quote The Warriors are harder to find compared to your average gangster flick crowd who regurgitate classic lines like “make you an offer you can't refuse” or “say hello to my little friend” (yawn). While all so many of my peers were trying to emulate Tony Montana in Scarface (1983), I was trying to recreate The Warriors gay looking dress /vest code, and ended up looking ridiculous.

I liked the Warriors film so much; I knew just about every good quote in the movie at one point. Some of the more popular quotes have stuck with me like nostalgic baggage of no value. Lines such as “Can- yooou -dig it?” to a deafening raucous ( by Cyrus before he got shot); or, “I wanna be Warlord!” (Ajax challenging Swan in a cemetery); or, the infamous “War-riors come out to play-yay”, (Luther calling out the Warriors at Coney Island Beach while rattling 3 small bottles).

I know, I know. I get a bit carried away with these things but I'm not done yet. My absolute favourite line is uttered by Cochise when he, Vermin, and Rembrandt run into the all-girl gang called the “Lizzies” at Union Station (NYC) after The Warriors gang gets separated into three groups. He takes one look at the Lizzies and says “now look at what you find here in the big city”.

Today I found myself repeating Cochise as walked down Woolwich Rd, after a fruitless morning in PC World. It's my Birthday, I want a Wii Nintendo racing game and of course PC World hasn't got what I'm looking for; ' typical'. Don't get me wrong now, the PC World Staff are very helpful and attentive, but I never can get what I need in there, if what I need isn't another blooming Netbook. As I walk away from PC World aimlessly, thinking 'what next?' I look up and see a brown sign point to my right side saying 'KART'. I instinctively know what that means.

“Now look at what you find here in the big city”.

My curiosity is piqued, I'm walking faster. I start following an additional brown sign that says 'KART' pointing to my right; I cross over and walk down a long straight road. At first, I'm so excited about my new find I don't bother to check the name of the street, (Westmoor Street) I just keep going. Then I come across a few Eastern European guys washing cars for a living and ask them if they know a Go Kart circuit around there. One of the guys, answers 'yes' in that now familiar Polish/Albanian/Lithuanian accent, (I know it as well, as I used to work in bars). He tells me keep “walking down, just follow road” in his parsed yet sincere accent. And so I follow his advice till the road curves closer and closer to a full view of the Thames barrier, and I see a big imposing sign saying “The Raceway Docklands”.

Despite my visit being impromptu, I was let into The Raceway Docklands, by a cordial young gentleman called Jolyon Brand who, as it happens is a Manager, and can turn on the corporate “hard sell” when he chooses to. Having travelled extensively in my lifetime I'm usually good with accents and placing people yet, I couldn't quite place young Mr Brand's accent even though I feel he's one of those easy going Aussie/Kiwi boys. Then again, he might just be Russell Brand's relative keeping a low profile. Either way, I explained that I just passing through and would like to know more about the facility. Young Mr Brand was very accommodating and led me through to the Kart circuit. This is an immaculately well kept circuit, with an ostentatious display of racing history placed around, as if to assure clients the establishment is serious about this racing. The memorabilia is enthralling to an enthusiast, all my inspiration is on the walls, including mad, bad and dangerous to race against, South African Jody Scheckter.

I suspect Jolyon Brand had more important things to do, and since I wasn't going to be buying any corporate conference time, he duly admonished me to refrain from walking on to the tracks surface and excused himself. What luck! But then, a writer is never truly satisfied. I would sure have loved to ask more about the technical aspects of the track, the engine capacity of the Karts, if they're 4 stroke or otherwise; and how track is maintained as winter approaches. On close inspection the Go Karts looked as immaculate as the track, and if you are interested don't let my quest for the minutiae dissuade you. I'm pedantic in my pursuit of the facts, it's my nature. The facility seems extremely well run and needs to be, as I feel its geared towards a very specific clientele. The majority of that clientele I presume has more money than your average writer.

Though the Raceway claims to be in the Docklands, it's stretching the facts a little bit to suit its business model. No harm in that I suppose, but subjectively, If I were told there was a racing circuit in the Docklands before I'd happened upon it; I'd have instinctively looked towards South Quays, Mudchute, Canary Wharf, or the Isle of Dogs, not a side street off Woolwich Rd. Therefore, I maintain that the decision to emphasize the Raceway's location as being within the more moneyed Docklands' territory can be identified as a business decision; where perception is everything.

I also found 'The Raceway' is presented as a 'Conference Centre' with a well maintained race track, and not vice versa. For all its allusion to the great history of Formula One on display its raison d'être is principally to get clients using the establishment as a conference facility first; and then, utilise the race track as a team building tool. One could fairly assume that this is why The Raceway see's Enduro Racing as its key activity niche. The fun of Kart racing is undercut by a far more serious purpose. Long distance 'Enduro' racing taps into that ethos of team building through the necessary cooperation of its participants. Being a big fan of Australian V8 Supercar Enduros, I'm all for team work, but as a freelancer working on my own, I feel out of sorts in that respect. Besides I like being by myself, and I haven't got a team of twenty or so male and female egomaniacs under me who need to be taught how to simultaneously work together, while stepping on each other's throats to get ahead. That's one definition of multi-tasking in the corporate world, just ask the man “doing God's work” over at Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein.

I like what I found in the big city, but I might need a corporate posse to really and truly enjoy it. If you'd like to know more or book a race with your people email [email protected] or check the company's website:

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