Please watch the video and then read on.
For me, motorsport combines the arts of engineering and design with the human element to create the purest expression of human achievement. It's allegorical. It's a clear expression of intellect and physical effort in the pursuit of competition. I watched this video several times and was struck by two things. First, I can only imagine the sheer horror of the situation and wonder what I would have done. I like to think that I too would have parked my car and struggled to free my friend from the inferno. Secondly, I wonder if that conviction to a higher ideal still exists in our sports heroes of today.
Purley clearly places the ideal of selflessness above that of self-glorification. Is that still true today? If you follow the Tour de France, you'll know that Alberto Contador, last year's winner, is being villified all along the course for capitalizing on Andy Schleck's mechanical misfortune in the 2010 Tour. His abandonment of the ideals of good sportsmanship has cost him dearly this year.
Sports is not the only human endeavor in which the recent sacrifice of higher ideals has manifest itself. The worldwide finacial crisis finds its roots in personal greed above fiduciary responsibility. Politicians focus more on the their personal legacies rather than their constituents' needs. Purley's story is one of doing the right thing regardless of personal consequences. Perhaps the world would be a better place if more people follow that example. Part of my attraction to vintage motorsport is in part due to those romantic ideals and fortunately many of my friends in the hobby share that perspective.