Will write more later.
Catherine O'Brien in Cambridge, UK.
Tuesday 21 March 2017
"... there [is] really no way to overcome the real dilemma of existence, the one of the mortal animal who at the same time is conscious of his mortality. A person spends years coming into his own, developing his talent, his unique gifts, perfecting his discriminations about the world, broadening and sharpening his appetite, learning to bear the disappointments of life, becoming mature, seasoned – finally a unique creature in nature, standing with some dignity and nobility and transcending the animal condition; no longer driven, no longer a complex reflex, not stamped out of any mold. And then the real tragedy [...]: that it takes sixty years of incredible suffering and effort to make such an individual, and then he is good only for dying."
~ Ernest Becker (1973). The denial of death. New York: The Free Press, p. 268.
From the ‘Sad news’ thread of the Planet F1 forum http://forum.planet-f1.com/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=14138:
Thank you for all the comments here http://grandprixratings.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/patrick-obrien-1944-2017.html and tributes to Patrick on the PlanetF1 forum.
Hello everyone, my name is Brendan O’Brien – I’m Patrick’s son.
Our family’s grief since he died on Friday morning has been almost unbearable. I wanted to take the time to post though because, although my dad had many and varied interests and a wide group of friends across the world, F1 was his passion and this forum – and his many virtual friends on it - was an important part of that.
My dad took me to a number of Grands Prix in our native South Africa when I was a kid, showing me around the pits and once - in the early years, must’ve been around the late-70s - putting his hands over my ears when the noise of the cars going by on the straight startled me and made me cry. Despite thoroughly enjoying the experiences, though, I never really picked up his passion for F1 to the same extent. Rather, we had a shared passion for sports cars – his knowledge about their design and history was almost as vast as his knowledge about F1. Some of my happiest memories are of weekends spent with him in the garage at home in Johannesburg helping him to restore his two beloved Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Speciales.
This is difficult to write. I keep cracking up.
He reminded me just a few weeks ago about how I had dragged him, ‘kicking and screaming’ (his words), onto the Planet F1 Forum back in 2011. Being of an earlier generation, and never a man with much patience for computers, it was an initial challenge to get him comfortable with the technicalities of posting and forum usage. I was determined that he should do this though - living in rural France, he needed an outlet for his F1 passion and you, the members of the PF1 Forum, provided that.
Most of you will be aware of the Rating System that he had developed. He achieved so much in life, but the Rating System was really his life’s major work and the culmination of everything he knew about F1. My sister, Catherine, spent countless hours with him over the past 3 or 4 years to help him formalize the work into book form. He really valued the input and knowledge of so many forum members in discussing his work and testing his conclusions. I also know that he regarded and valued a number of forum members as genuine friends, although he never met any of you.
I am struggling to rationalize his death. He was active and fit, and living life as fully and with as much passion as ever. He was only 72, and had so much more to give. The best I can do is that his family and friends were lucky to have had him in their lives for the period that they did. He was the most thoroughly decent and kind man, and his empathy for all living things – whether human, animal or plant – was on an otherworldly level. Everything that is good in me, I learnt from him.
I moved out of home to go to university when I was 18. This was followed by various moves to countries overseas over the years, which meant that we typically only saw each other annually. In May 2016, however, I was able to fly him over from France to my home in Canada for a dream road trip for both of us. I fulfilled a long-held wish a few years ago of becoming a Porsche 911 owner, and my dad came over for a 4-day road trip with 10 Porsche friends of mine through the forested and winding roads of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia. The driving pace was at times spirited, and my dad said he could still hear the wonderful sound of flat 6s echoing in his mind for months after the trip. He seat-hopped from car-to-car through the trip, getting to know the others and sampling different flavours of Porsche. As was Dad’s way, in the short time he knew the others on the trip, he made an impact with his kindness, his humour, and his genuine interest in others’ lives. On the last day of the trip, which fell on his 72nd birthday, he and I peeled off from the group and made a special journey to Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece, Fallingwater, in southern Pennsylvania. One of his other passions (and, in fact, his profession) was architecture, and Fallingwater had been an icon to him since his student days. The in-depth house tour was a spiritual experience for him, and I am grateful we got to do the trip together.
He travelled over to Canada again in September 2016 with my mother to meet his first grandchild, my son, who was born in August. That was the last time I saw him. I had booked for him to come over for another Porsche road trip in May 2017. He was so excited about this and about meeting all of his Porsche friends from last year again.
I’ve written more than intended, and it’s all been done in the midst of a grief I’ve never before experienced and which feels as though it will never end. However, I do want to thank you, his PF1 forum friends, for your engagement with him and for the knowledgeable outlet that you provided. It was important to him and he really appreciated it.
He probably pushed F1 metrics forward further than anybody else has ever done and his contribution will not be forgotten.
~ mikeyg123, Fri Mar 17, 2017 3:44 pm, http://forum.planet-f1.com/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=14138
His rating system was very interesting, it brought some kind of consistent view of F1 throughout the decades and offered me a lot of insight.
~ mds, Posted: Mon Mar 20, 2017 7:16 am , http://forum.planet-f1.com/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=14138&start=40
The guy was a statistics machine, very interesting posts.
~ kimilandia, Fri Mar 17, 2017 7:26 pm, http://f1fanatics.forumakers.com/t2121-sad-news
...a most knowledgeable and charming man. I always thought he must be quite mad to be attempting to rate so many era's, drivers etc. something my brain could not even contemplate, definitely a touch of genius in him.
~ bauble, Tues Mar 21, 2017, http://f1fanatics.forumakers.com/t2121-sad-news
He [...] had one of the greatest wealths of Motorsport history of anyone on earth.
~ F1 MERCENARY Fri Mar 17, 2017, http://forum.planet-f1.com/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=14138&sid=c78b467f7314bb9885c9e8432e50387e
He was a great guy who provided both great analysis and historical insight to this forum and i recommend all new readers to review his body of posts here* for their high signal to noise content.
~ mas, Mar 27, 2017 12:15 pm, http://forum.planet-f1.com/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=14138&start=80
He was a mine of accurate information and his book is a respected and valued part of my racing library. Over the years, I have referred to it an awful lot.
~ Stirling Moss, OBE, personal communication, 24 April 2017.
~ lalaeuro12 July 2012 at 15:29, http://grandprixratings.blogspot.fr/2012/04/luigi-villoresi.html
Thursday 30 March 2017
"You are likely to be attracted to beautiful philosophies as well as beautiful people, and need to believe in an ultimate order as well as in the potential for improvement. If you are an artist, you will be dissatisfied with everything you produce, always striving for some flawless reflection of your immaculate inner vision; and even if you are not preoccupied with creative pursuits, but deal in numbers or technology or research (which become creative pursuits in your hands), you bring an artist's eye to everything you see, automatically measuring life against the picture held in your heart of what it could and should be if only someone could get rid of that 5%."
"A rich imagination adds life to a clear intellect
Your considerable mental abilities combine with the gift of a rich imagination to produce a symbolic thinker, a philosopher, and a talented speculator. With this fruitful blend of talents, your clear and well-ordered assessments of life are supported by good hunches and a gift of being able to relate diverse concepts and ideas in a coherent and meaningful design. Your thinking is not arid or cold, but full of richness, colour, and a sense of possibilities. You have a good eye for peering into the future, and may use this ability in commercially rewarding ways to assess which trends will be popular in the market-place long before they actually concretise. Or you may link your strong communicative abilities with a sense of the mythic and the magical, and find expression through such work as writing, journalism or media. You have a strong intuitive appreciation of symbols and their meaning, and could develop deep understanding in fields such as psychology or astrology, where ordered thinking and objectivity need to be combined with a "sixth sense" about people and their potential patterns of development."
"You are always a little ahead of society, and the things in which you believe will no doubt become generally socially acceptable in twenty years' time"
From 'Franco Scaglione: Forgotten Genius', by Patrick O’Brien. Automobile Quarterly, Vol. 33, No. 3, 1994, p. 97: