Oh! It’s you! Let’s ease ourselves back in gently, shall we?

Though a Vettel by any other name would drive as quickly, it cannot hurt the modern racing driver to make himself stand out as far as possible in the minds of fans, potential employees and prospective sponsors. Some have the advantage of looks – put a call in to Central Casting asking for a racing driver and they’ll probably send you the spitting image of Carlos Reutemann. Others – Hunt, Raikkonen, Depailler – became favourites through devil may care spirit, embracing the idea that you only live once and enjoying that one shot to its fullest.

It has often struck me, though, that it can only be a good thing to be the owner of a memorable name. Take, for instance, 1985 British F3 National Class winner Carlton Tingling, then see if you can forget that handle in a hurry. Hungry? Have a Bertrand Baguette with some Thornton Mustard, another British F3 name from times past.

There are the urologically sound (Dick Passwater), the born-to-do-it (Lake Speed won at the highest level, Scott Speed whined there), the translator’s dream ticket (Libero Pesce, translated literally from Italian, is “free fish”) and the oddly relevant questions (Willy Vroomen? His team boss hopes he will). Famous landmarks (Ricardo Londono-Bridge) vie for attention against modes of transport (Ric Shaw), those with time to fill and a means of filling it (Fred Wacker) and those still more practiced in the same art (Kye Wankum, Dick Creamer, and it goes on – a rich seam would appear to have been struck here).

Some press officers are never more than one false key press from disaster (Buck Fulp, Vanina Ickx) while others dare not let their drivers have control of the barbecue (Bernd Burger), the length of their leash (Kiki Wolfkill) or anything else at all (Ken Klutz). Certain drivers have a career on the dirt tracks mapped out from birth (Dusty Rhoades) while others know broadly what to do but can’t commit to a specialism (Bernard de Dryver) and still others had a change of heart once they’d thought about it (Dick Salesman).

Perhaps some aren’t stand outs by themselves – Will Power may argue that he is, but when teamed with Andrew Ranger in ChampCar, he’s one half of an unbeatable duo. In this sub-category, file those who didn’t drive together but ought to have done, such as the ultimate missed opportunity, a Patrick Watts/Cristiano Da Matta endurance partnership (imagine Murray Walker at full tilt and consider their surnames – you’ll be in agreement soon enough), and those a bored reporter slipped past their editor (the Kamiya Iwanalaya/Onri Wenyapaimi sportscar pairing, as brilliant as it is fictitious).

Before we get back to the relatively serious stuff, let me know if I’ve missed out one of your favourites by leaving a comment. If you happen to be any of the above-named, I am genuinely interested to know if your name brought you any advantages (or disadvantages, come to that) when pitching for sponsors and so on, so please do drop me a line.


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