May 24, 2004

Diamonds Aren't a Racecar's Best Friend

The most exciting thing I did this past weekend was watch the Monaco Grand Prix of Formula One. There really is no other race like it. At times I actually sat there with my jaw hanging open, and that doesn't often happen for me when watching cars go 'round and 'round. But this race was full of surprises right from the start.

They had to start the race twice, and the second time one driver had an amazing start that made the others look like they were standing still. Then a rookie driver crashed, not making it past the first turn. Later one car's engine blew out, smoke spewing out like crazy, with the resulting crash leaving a car upside-down after flying over another car.

The fun continued as a race frontrunner crashed in the tunnel, emerging with a tire almost parallel to the ground and a single-finger salute for the driver behind him. Then the best driver in the world crashed in the same tunnel in almost the same spot, emerging with a tire almost parallel to the ground and a chance at history lost. The winner was a driver who had never taken the checkered flag before, after more than a hundred starts, and fewer than half the cars and drivers in the field even finished the race.

But the story that made the biggest news was one that I missed entirely. Because I taped the race and watched it much later Sunday night, I fast-forwarded through almost the entire half-hour pre-race portion. So if they mentioned that there was a huge, valuable diamond embedded in the nose of each of the two Jaguar cars as part of a publicity stunt, I missed it. Remember the rookie driver mentioned above? Well, he was in one of those cars. And between when he crashed and when the car made it back to the garage, the diamond took a powder and made a "Klien" getaway. (Maybe two of you will actually find that funny.)

I went looking for more details and found many articles including this story, which has the best picture of the diamond in the nose of the car (click on the bottom image) and the most Hollywood angle with a "hunky" picture. As I read more, though, I noticed something interesting: The value of rock in question rose with each article. From the previous article, to this story and then this story, its worth increases by almost fifty percent! I'm sure that the owners of the stone, which was not insured (and that's just nuts because these cars crash all the time and the other cars can zip by at 160+ mph), would rather have it be on the lower end, while the person who walked away with it would rather have it be on the upper end.

I hope they plan to hold on to it as the souvenir to end all souvenirs, though, because where the heck would you pawn that thing?