Only one tale deserves the trophy.
The strangest motorsport story of the year?
Like Lewis Hamilton’s Formula One championship, it was really no contest. Yes, there were multiple contenders, but in the end, only one truly bizarre tale emerged as the winner.
Perhaps you’ve already guessed: It was Trophygate – the case of the stolen Red Bull Racing trophies.
You recall the story: Police were called to the factory, located at Bradbourne Drive, Tilbrook, Milton Keynes in the U.K., around 1:30 a.m. on December 6 after “a group of six men used a vehicle to drive through the front entrance of the factory. They then stole more than 60 trophies belonging to the Red Bull Racing team.”
Said Christian Horner, team principal since the organization was formed in 2004: “The break-in caused significant damage and was very upsetting for our night officers who were on duty at the time.”
Really? Six men drive a vehicle through the front entrance of the factory in the middle of the night, grab over 60 trophies, and it was “very upsetting” for the night officers? Who did what to prevent the theft, exactly – anything? Did they address the thieves and at least say, “Cease and desist, old bean! Drop those trophies, or we’ll be every upset!” If they did, it didn’t work.
Lake and load
Then came word 10 days later that about 20 of the trophies had been discovered by a passerby who presumably noticed a glint in the water of Horseshoe Lake that evidently was not mating carp. Upon closer inspection, the civilian noticed the trophies. Authorities summoned the "Specialist Search and Rescue Team," which located the trophies. They were damaged, said police, but to what extent was unclear. Horseshoe Lake is apparently 95 kilometers from the factory – about 60 miles – which, you would think, might aid police in narrowing down the list of possible culprits.
The evidence, as it has been scantily distributed thus far: Apparently we are on the lookout for six men. Who, we think, all own black clothing. Who have access to some sort of reportedly silver truck that is presumably damaged from crashing into a building, and have a friend who reportedly owns some sort of Mercedes that may or may not have been used as a backup vehicle. Who were apparently intimidating enough to keep the Red Bull “night officers” at bay long enough to locate and load over 60 trophies into – what? The back of the truck? Do you know how much room 60 trophies takes up? But we digress.
The men then made a hasty getaway in at least one vehicle, probably more, as six intimidation-sized men and over 60 trophies probably aren’t fitting into a Nissan Navara. And if they did – six men, dressed in black, in a small diesel pickup with a huge pile of trophies in the back, heading towards a lake 60 miles away in the middle of the night, probably with one or both headlights broken – might have caught the attention of someone, thus resulting in a memorable comment such as, “I say, Trevor, had Benny Hill not died 22 years ago, I’d swear he and his friends just drove by in a damaged silver truck loaded with racing trophies!” But apparently that did not happen.
Said a member of the local police: “If anyone sees a trophy or trophy parts near the area of Horseshoe Lake, please contact the Force.” And that's the last we've heard.
Go for the gold. And silver.
Certainly there has been more investigation than that, but having been a police officer for more than eight years, several aspects of this crime remain a puzzle: That six men could agree to engineer and execute a complicated caper that likely would result in zero profit and a long jail term if caught; that they could stay sober that long; that none of their friends and family members might have noticed the sudden appearance of dozens of trophies or a damaged truck and turned them in to Crimestoppers. And – most of all – that none of the six men has bragged about the feat at the local pub. Certainly beer must have been involved in this brazen but pointless exercise.
And as for Red Bull’s nighttime security force, whom you might think may be aided by security video, to be able to do no better than be “very upset?”
Kind of sad. And kind of absurd. And, hands down, the strangest motorsport story of 2014.