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At The Races

At the Races #8: Newbs

Like it or not, we live in a world where cool is king, where honest effort, open sincerity, and unabashed enthusiasm are often the targets of derision and scorn. Shame, insecurity, capitalism, consumerism, everything, all of it, however we got here; we’re here, and let’s admit it here kinda sucks. Perhaps this is the only reasonable outcome, I’m not advocating equalized banality, good god. But could it be the that true cool is both rare and unrecognizable, could it be that true cool is uncut honesty, unvarnished truth? And that what the world sells us is a twisted facsimile of cool, an untrue cool? It’s all a bit discomforting.


Thankfully we have Newbs, freshly introduced to the spectacle with the opportunity to see it for what it is, the opportunity to see everything: history, speed, panache, interaction, stuff. The spectacle, at its base, is truly cool and probably best enjoyed without any baggage. We find the newbs along the course, starry-eyed and wearing smiles that emanate joy and enthusiasm. We find them at the finish area in awe of the riders, asking to take selfies, collecting posters, zealously moving from pit bus to pit bus enthralled with racing glory. If only we could bottle this energy and seed the clouds with it. We could take a bottle filled with this ebullient spirit and spirit it off to the dubious H.A.R.P. research station in Alaska where we can then flood the ionosphere for a moment, the world would be a Beatles dream.


Unfortunately the state of Newbs is short lived, Eden is fleeting. Knowledge is unavoidable and with it comes judgement, opinion, and decisions. The Newbs move on they can’t help it. They become enthusiasts, they’re love for the sport morphs and changes, doesn’t get better, doesn’t get worse, just gets different. But for a brief period of time they’re Newbs and they’re beautiful.

AT THE RACES is a study of the more ubiquitous or “prevalent” types of chillers found spectating PRRs on any given day, at any given race. To help us properly identify and catalog chillers, Manual for Speed commissioned world renowned interpretive illustrator and dog walker Thomas Slater. Thomas holds a Ph.D. in Contemporary Human Taxonomy from Oxford and has been supporting his family as a commercial illustrator since the age of 7. His recent work titled Gran Fondo’ler (Confessions of a Cycling Enthusiast) is currently being considered for a solo show at the Tate.

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