by Dr. Iain Corness
Goodbye gasoline, hello
A few weeks ago I mentioned that we should all use as
much petrol as possible, so that the world at large will get on with
coming up with the replacement for the fossil fuels. It seems as if GeeEmm
must have read my column as they are now pressing ahead with building a
hydrogen refuelling infrastructure striking a 25 year deal with
Vancouver’s General Hydrogen Corp., a private hydrogen infrastructure
development firm. The collaboration is designed to speed up the formation
of the hydrogen fuelling infrastructure in North America, Europe and Asia.
This deal comes very shortly after the General’s
notice that it has struck an alliance with Quantum Technologies, taking a
20% stake in the hydrogen-storage company with the goal of speeding up the
development of fuel cell vehicles.
According to a GM news release, both companies believe
hydrogen is the best choice to power fuel cell vehicles over the long term
because it is clean, can be made renewably and emits only water and heat
when used as an energy source.
Hudson Hornet - a real gas guzzler
However, Ford and DaimlerChrysler believe methanol is
the proper interim step - it is easier and cleaner to convert to hydrogen,
reducing the use of fossil fuels.
The way the fuel cell works is that it generates
electricity from the chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen. But
pure hydrogen is hard to store on board a vehicle in large quantities, nor
are there many hydrogen refuelling stations. This is why some
manufacturers are looking to use gasoline or methanol, which would be
re-formed into hydrogen on board.
Gazing into my crystal ball, with the big push for
hydrogen refuelling technology, the motorist of the future will have
Hydrogen Servo’s which will recharge the fuel cell in the car, allowing
him to electrically glide off to the next refuelling centre.
We currently have plenty of service centre sites, and
as soon as Mr BP and Mrs Shell can see the writing on the wall, they will
adopt the new fuel delivery concept very quickly. You too can become an
exciting part of all this change-over by buying a gas-guzzler today.
Hong Kong drivers back at Bira this
The 80 Hong Kong drivers who are attempting to qualify
for the Macau GP in November are back this weekend at our local Bira
circuit. The Mini’s are the wildest bunch I’ve ever seen with cross-flow
headed 2 litre Mini’s being everywhere. One even has a wing mounted on the
of the “minis” at Bira
The Honda Civics of the Hong Kong Touring Car
Championship are generally of a better standard than the local dodgem derby
efforts, and by and large, they appear to push harder in the corners, with
most of them set up to pick up the inside rear wheel, carrying it all the
way through the corner. There was also a very pretty young lady driver, who
unfortunately came over complete with a very large husband and a very small
Fines - speeding and otherwise
The FIA (the world ruling body on motor sport) sets the
speed limit in the pits at the Grands Prix at 60 kph and woe betide anyone
who exceeds this limit. With police radar checks at the Canadian Grand
Prix both Heidfeld in the Sauber and Pedro de la Rosa in the Jaguar were
nicked. Heidfeld was fined $500 for exceeding the 60 kph speed limit by
1.1 kph, while de la Rosa was fined $1500 for doing 6 kph over the limit
in the pit lane. Later in the day, de la Rosa was fined again for doing
61.3 kph which cost him another $1000. Our Pedro must be a slow learner,
or maybe the Jaguar has an inaccurate speedometer (that’s nothing new)!
If nothing else, even if the pouncing cats are slow on the track,
they’re damn quick in pit lane!
The FIA also ban working on race cars in the “fast
lane” along the pits. All work has to be done in the pit garage or its
forecourt. At Canada, Rubens Barrichello stalled his Ferrari just before
going out and the car was worked on in the fast lane by the Ferrari
mechanics to get him going. End result? A whopping $10,000 fine. I am not
sure whether Ferrari or Rooby Baby himself had to cough up the required
Natter, Nosh and Noggin
the pretty waitresses at Shenanigans where the motor heads are meeting
The second Monday of each month is the Natter, Nosh and
Noggin night for the auto enthusiasts in Pattaya. We meet in Shenanigans
at 7 p.m. and generally tell a few lies of “The older I get, the faster
I was” variety. You’ll find us in the back room, just ask any of the
smiling young ladies from Shenanigans where we are and they’ll point you
in the right direction and give you a push.
No joining fees, you don’t even need to own (or have
owned) an exotic motor car. Just an interest in cars, same as we all have,
is all that is required. If you’ve got some interesting mags bring them
along too, as they make ideal talking points. On Mondays Shenanigans have
their 195 baht “Steak Out” night too, so we generally eat there as
well. I look forward to seeing you.
Last week I wrote that in 1966 Ford Motor Company won
Le Mans with their GT40’s. This was a milestone for America, because it
had been many years since America had done well at the 24 hour classic. In
fact, previous to 1966, the best American race car placing was a second.
The question was - what was the year and what was the car that came in
The answer was 1928 when a Stutz Black Hawk came second
to Woolf Barnato’s 4 1/2 litre Bentley. That’s a long time between
So to this week. The White Triplex was an 81 litre
monster that took the World Land Speed Record in 1928 at 207 mph. The
driver got out and said that no money would induce him to drive it again.
Who was the next driver and what happened to him? For the Automania FREE
beer this week, be the first correct answer to fax 427 596 or email email@example.com
Jomtien businessman Matti Kaikkonen had always
harboured the secret desire to race a car on a circuit, but work and
family commitments slowly made the dream seem impossible - until the AIM
Racing group in Bangkok brought pukka race cars on to the local scene.
These are the Concept vehicles (Series I and II), which I have featured in
this column before. On a “hire for the weekend” basis, you too can go
Of course, a certain driving standard is necessary, as
well as a licence from the Royal Automobile Association of Thailand (RAAT),
the FIA affiliated governing body for motor sport in this country. This is
where the Taki Racing School can help, with an instruction course which is
done in the Concept I race cars and assistance towards the RAAT
certification. If you want to “have a go” this is the cheapest and
best entry level I have seen in the far too many years I have been
involved in motor racing.
Matti took the plunge, and is now definitely
“hooked”. In his first race, into the first corner, he found himself
passing other competitors’ cars under brakes until he found that his
entry speed and the radius of the bend were not compatible and promptly
spun, to rejoin now in last place.
From that embarrassing beginning, he made up for it all
with a storming drive to eventually finish 4th. “I could have passed him
but I didn’t know how,” was Matti’s so truthful account of his first
race. I assured him that the gentle art of passing is something you learn
- and not on the first time out. McLaren Mercedes driver, David Coulthard,
is still trying to do it! Well done, Matti! A fine effort.
My first race
I can still remember my first race too. It was 36 years
ago at the long defunct Lowood Circuit in Queensland Australia. My car was
a ten year old MGA, bought on hire purchase using money borrowed from the
bank, as a loan for text books, as the required deposit.
The car in front of me on the grid after qualifying was
a highly modified Austin Healey Sprite and I was determined to nail him
before the end of the race. After a botched start, through sheer nervous
excitement, I eventually began to catch the Sprite. By mid distance I was
glued to the tail of it, with my eyes drilling holes in the back of the
driver’s helmet. As we came out of the hairpin at the end of the
straight I made my move. Suddenly, just as I mentally said, “Now!” the
Sprite driver shot his hand in the air, moved off the track surface and
the flag marshals went wild with a flurry of flag waving.
Since he was not a novice like me, I too shot my hand
in the air and parked behind him. Jumping out I ran up to him. “Why have
we stopped?” I asked. “I’ve blown up. What’s wrong with yours?”
he replied. “Err, nothing! What about all the flags?” I said
anxiously. He replied testily, “They were blue flags to tell me you were
trying to pass me, you bloody idiot.”
With a very red face I ran back to the MGA and rejoined
the race to finish third in class and win one Pound. A “professional”
on my first outing - but a real goose as well! I have often wondered just
what the flag marshal’s report might have said about the novice
driver’s knowledge of motor racing signals!
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