Yesterday I was where I always am on the last Sunday in May: the Indianapolis 500. What can I say? They call it the greatest spectacle in racing, and friends, it’s no lie. I’ve missed only a handful of years since I was ten years old, and the first roaring lap of the race still gives me goosebumps.
But while the gleaming automobiles and electric atmosphere never fail to thrill, the drivers themselves are always less than inspiring. It’s always the same old humdrum crop of American Indy Car and European Formula One drivers, plus the usual assortment of Brazilian, Australian and Japanese contenders.
Yet this year I was unexpectedly wowed by the appearance of Indy’s first baking and pastry-themed entrant: a Belgian Formula Renault driver by the name of Bertrand Baguette. Simply put, I was stunned, for I’d long since given up hope that a champion would arise from within the ranks of the baking community and give us the visibility in professional motor sports that we’ve so long deserved.
Here he is behind the wheel of his mighty, custom-built Saccharomyces Special:
And what an awesome piece of equipment it is. Powered by nothing more than the waste products of yeast and lactic acid-excreting bacteria, the car is capable of speeds in excess of 223 miles per hour. Of course these sorts of cultures can be extremely tempermental things, so it wasn’t much of a surprise to find Baguette back in the pits after only a few dozen laps.
The crew labored over the machine, kneading and stretching, for what seemed like twenty minutes. Finally they applied a make-shift proof box over the chassis in a last-ditch attempt to kick-start fermentation.
The trick worked, but sadly, not soon enough to keep Baguette in serious contention. In the end he only completed 183 out of 200 laps and came in 22nd out of 33. There’s a lot of room for improvement there, but it’s still a pretty good result for a rookie driver in an experimental car driven by bread. No doubt many did and will continue to scoff at this emerging new technology, yet what no one can deny was that yesterday was a major victory for sponge-powered open wheel racing.
All in all it was a mighty good day. And if that wasn’t enough — look! I found the Twinkie I left under my seat after last year’s race! I have to say that all things being equal, it still tasted pretty good.