“I have a lot of fun with many of the Formula One drivers and their crews – and they have enabled me to see things from a very different angle than the music business I am normally involved with”
– George Harrison
We’ve already discussed what a huge auto enthusiast Beatle George Harrison was. Harrison even recorded this song, Faster, dedicated to “the entire Formula One circus” and to the memory of Lotus driver Ronnie Peterson, after spending much of 1977 following that circus around the world, hanging out with Niki Lauda, Jody Scheckter and Emmo Fittipaldi. The title of the song was borrowed from the title of Sir Jackie Stewart’s book and profits from the sale of the single were donated to a cancer charity named for the late racer Gunnar Nilsson.
In addition to Lauda, Peterson, Scheckter and Stewart, making appearances in the video shot for the song are Carlos Reutemann, Colin Chapman and Gilles Villeneuve. Sound effects for the song were taken from the ’78 British Grand Prix and much of the video is footage from the 1978 F1 season, including Stewart’s six-wheeled Elf-Tyrrell. Stewart also plays Harrison’s chauffeur in the video, wearing a cap with a band of the same Scottish tartan plaid that decorated his racing helmets.
Harrison saw motor racing as a way for him to get away for the hassles of the music biz. It’s tempting to say that it allowed him to act like a regular person, not one of the world’s most famous celebrities. However, George enjoyed the level of access to F1 not available to regular folks, access that would let him say something like wanting to write a song “that Niki-Jody-Emerson and the gang could enjoy”. Still, I think Harrison relished being around people he admired and himself not being the center of attention.