Racing parody runs out of gas
From the Autumn 2003 issue.
The Grand Prix of Gibraltar!
By Peter Ustinov
Riverside / Fantasy Records: 1958 (reissued in CD 2003)
To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.
1958's "The Grand Prix of Gibraltar!", as told by humorist-actor Peter Ustinov in the role of a reporter, is a mildly amusing tale, but hits too many pot holes to reach a satisfying conclusion.
Ustinov is marvelous reporting the scene surrounding the improbable contest and playing straight man to the slightly off-track drivers he interviews as they prepare to race, doing it with a "take everything at face value" style which complements the quirky replies he gets to his questions.
Gentle jibes are taken at familiar stereotypes, including the regimented German team setting up a specific time for its driver to blow his nose, the French team whose pit area is filled with beautiful girls, the British organizers asking drivers to observe the proper protocol should the expected arrival of a duke happen during the race, and the Russian observer who won't say why he's there.
Unfortunately, the interviews and other comments are often long-winded, which dulls some of their comedic effect.
Such an idea for a race begs an animated version which could humorously illustrate the outlandishness of the course as it's described, including S-turns that look like R's.
Fans of auto racing may want to check out this CD for its take on their sport, but if that's not your bag, stay away because the story drags too much to have a satisfactory number of RPMs.
Review by Brian Gushue. Brian is a writer and editor living in San Diego, Calif.