Hype Idiocy: How I Ruined A Once In A Lifetime Opportunity With The McLaren P1 At E3

There is a reason why the term “once in a lifetime” was coined.  Because there is very little chance that particular thing, experience, circumstance, whatever it is, will ever happen to a person more than once before they venture into the great beyond.  When situations like that go well, it becomes an amazing story that is told into the elder years.  When it goes wrong, its like a swift kick in the balls that will never heal.  Allow me to share how I kicked myself in the balls…

In case you haven’t noticed, for the last few days I immersed myself in the craziness that is E3 (aka the Electronic Entertainment Expo).  For those of you who don’t know E3 is the biggest interactive entertainment conventions in the world.  Think of it as the SEMA of the video game industry.  I make it a point to go because I know that many of you who enjoy cars and racing as I do also love racing games like Forza, Gran Turismo, and Need For Speed.  I also happen to generally love video games almost as much as I love cars.

Anyhow, usually E3 is pretty tough going for me but this year was different.  I had the VIP treatment in most of my experiences this year, especially with Forza Motorsport 5.  I was lucky enough to be invited to a special closed-door presentation of Forza Motorsport 5 at the Microsoft booth after the E3 show floor had closed to everyone else.  There was wine, fine cheeses, those little eggroll things that aren’t really eggrolls; everything!


The evening culminated with a personal tour of the Forza Motorsport 5  booth car: a genuine McLaren P1.  One of two in the entire world.  The other one being locked away in a top secret location.  A small group of journalists including myself were allowed to get up close to the P1 thanks to two high ranking reps from McLaren Automotive. 

This experience was pretty awesome but to be honest it was merely an opportunity to take a few photos without fighting a crowd, which was much welcomed but, thousands of pictures of the P1 had hit the interwebs since it arrived at E3.


Then something amazing happened…

As I was admiring the P1 I was asked by one of the McLaren reps if I “would like to sit in it?”.  Overwhelmed with excitement while also trying to figure out if they were serious allowed me to meekly spit out a “Really?” in response.  “Yes, really.”  BAM! Confirmation! I, Andrew Beckford was about to join an elite club of asses that have been caressed by $1.6 million dollars worth of carbon fiber and cutting edge technology!

The rotating platform was stopped.  The P1’s doors lifted like a bright flaming hawk of  awesome stretching its epic wing span, welcoming me into the womb of alcantara and carbon fiber that is the P1’s cockpit.  I sat on the massive door sill and swiveled myself into the driver’s seat.  I had done it.  I was sitting in a place that millions of people wish they could sit in.

The seat fit perfectly.  There was just the right amount of leg-room.  The steering wheel seemed to be perfectly sized to my hands.  I was King Arthur holding f-ing Excalibur for the first time!  I quickly snapped out of the moment and took as many interior shots as I could then handed the camera over to one of the McLaren reps so they could document the proof.  One shot, then two were clicked off by my SLR.  I then said my goodbyes and gently climbed out of the cubby hole of awesomeness that is the P1 and went on my way.


I slept soundly that night; too soundly, in fact.  I was running late for the next day of E3.  I had to quickly get my things together and prepare myself.  I quickly grabbed my memory cards and began dumping pictures I took from the night before so I could make room for the day.  I looked at all the McLaren P1 pictures I shot with the intention of writing a little blurb about getting up close and personal with the car.  I did not copy over the pictures of me sitting in the car because I did not want to accidently add them into the gallery.  That proved to be a huge mistake.  I got so wrapped up in editing the pictures I did copy over that once I was done I cleared the memory card without thinking.  A fraction of a second after I hit that delete button it hit me…

I had just deleted the only proof of one of the coolest moments of my career!  A dread washed over me that was far worse than any post-burrito regret.  Foolishly, carelessly I had digitally destroyed the only solid proof I had that I in fact sat in a McLaren P1.  Not only that I possibly destroyed history as I am fairly certain I was the first black dude to sit in a P1 period (if you have proof to the contrary please let me know!).

Now, I should say that in a way I sort of have photo proof.  When I sat in the car one of the aforementioned interior shots I took had part of my denim clad knee in the frame.  But that’s just a freakin’ knee!! Not the same as my handsome chocolate face!  I had not one but two shots of my complete person inside a blasted McLaren P1 and I deleted them both!  And its not like I could rely on the hope that one of the other auto journalists there took a picture of me.  Why the hell would they?  If you were waiting for your turn to sit in one of the most awesome hypercars of all time would you be taking pictures of all the random dudes that went before you? I’m going to go with “no”!

The “knee shot” (click to enlarge…wait why would you want to enlarge a knee picture?)

So there it is, my woeful tale of how my own idiocy put a heavy damper on a great experience and possibly automotive history.  The lesson to be learned here: NEVER clear off your memory cards until you are sure your pictures are in a safe place!

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