Sidepodcast - All for F1 and F1 for all

Two hobbies or only one? You decide... - A surprising meeting of minds between models and motorsport

Published by Jordan F1

Hello. As some of you are aware, I have a few other interests beside Formula 1 auto racing, one of them being painting miniature figurines. I would like to introduce to you, a model figure from the Airfix British Waterloo Infantry set. His musket has been removed (cut out by me) and replaced with a piece of piano wire . When finished, this figure will represent U. S. 15th Infantry Regiment from roughly around April 1813, when they where being issued the new leather shako (hat) that was just being issued to the troops.

Pikeman, 15th U. S. Infantry.  But what has this to do with racing?
Pikeman, 15th U. S. Infantry. But what has this to do with racing?Credit: Jordan F1

Now from this one figure, I will bet you that from a very obscure link in U.S. history, I can find a very important racing reference that Sidepodcastlanders might be interested in.

First of all, I would like to point out that I am planning to place a spearhead on the tip of that wire to make it an oversized spear which is technically called a pike. There was a theory back then that men in the firing line could withstand a cavalry charge if the last rank had pikes. I do not know if pikes were issued to the 15th Infantry to test this theory but they actually used them in the Battle of York, Upper Canada, during the War of 1812 (to 1815) in North America.

Of course, the pikes could have been issued to the 15th as a simple "play on words" as their regimental commander at the date of issue was one Zebulon M. Pike!

Now, the super hard-core North American racing fan might see where this is going. Back in the late 1700's and early 1800's the U. S. Army used to send out officers in charge of expeditions to its western territories to go exploring. The most famous of these being that of Lewis and Clark, both officers in the Corps of Engineers. But for our interest, on July 15th, 1806, then Lt. Zebulon M. Pike lead an expedition to the southwestern area of the Louisiana Purchase, and in November Lt. Pike found a 14,000 foot Mountain in the Rockies. Today we call that slab of rock "Pike's Peak", in his honour.

Even F1 and Indy car legend Mario Andretti has taken on Pike's Peak in the past and won

Pike's Peak today is home of the Pike's Peak International Hill Climb, a 12.42 mile climb up almost a mile in elevation. The course record is 10:01 by Nobuhiro "Monster" Tajima, in a Suzuki SX4, but many other names familiar to Sidepodcastlanders have challenged the Pike's Peak hill climb - especially in the open-wheel division. Names like Bobby Unser, a multiple Indy 500 winner. His four-time Indy 500 winner brother, Al has won the open-cockpit division too. Heck, even F1 and Indy car legend Mario Andretti has taken on Pike's Peak in the past and won in the open-cockpit division...

And what happened to Lt. Pike after finding the perfect mountain to race to the summit on? Well, he eventually reached the rank of Brigadier-General in the US Army, which was the second highest rank you could attain back then, some time in the winter of 1812/1813. He led his former 15th Regiment on the battle of York and died after the battle from an explosion of the main ammo magazine at Fort York. York, Upper Canada, is now Toronto, Ontario, and the western end of the Toronto Indy is roughly a mile from the spot where General Pike lost his life.

University Avenue in Toronto.  Looking Northwards towards Queen's Park.
University Avenue in Toronto. Looking Northwards towards Queen's Park.Credit: Jordan F1

This is the location for the "Night Street Racing" scene in the movie "Drivel", errr, I mean, "Driven". The cars would have been heading towards the viewer in this shot.

So there you go. From one silly plastic soldier, two obscure links to the sport that we all love, and just in time for the Indycar race in the Streets of Toronto (Tundraland), Canada. But I repeat myself by retyping the title... "Do I have..."