Ever since taking over the MINI marque, BMW has been trying every trick in the book to make the public nostalgic hearkening back to Issigonis’ ground-breaking concept of the original small Mini with a wheel at each corner, front wheel drive and a transverse engine layout.
Well, we didn’t get the fairy tale win for the retiring Mark Webber (Red Bull) nor for the final Ferrari drive for Brazilian Felipe Massa. However, we did get the best Grand Prix of the year. More action in 71 laps than we have seen all year collectively.
A little history if I may. Ever since man managed to make contraptions that were self propelled, man very quickly afterwards found that he needed a reliable way to pull up. The first to experience this was a military steam tractor, which with a top speed of three km/h managed to knock down a wall on its maiden outing. The fact that it weighed several tonnes did not help the retardation process either.
Last week I asked you to please identify this car. The one behind is an MG TC, I wanted the one in front. It was a Jowett Jupiter R4, and I will have to make these questions harder, as too many of you get the correct answer.
Can you beat the aging process? A mixed answer I am afraid, sort of Yes and No! Well, you can’t stop getting older, but you don’t have to mature!
Looking at the local scene, there are many retired British ex-pats, and with the cost of living and the dreadful climate in the UK (summer fell on a Tuesday last year), do you blame them for seeking a warmer retreat for their dotage? But is everyone over the age of 65 really dottled? Simple answer, No! But those of you over 65 will have found that the younger generation tries to push you into that retired person’s home category. Here we go - God’s waiting room and who’s next to die!
A few years ago, my eldest son (then 29 years old and a strapping 6’6") and I went to the UK to visit my dear old Mum and my sister. While there we decided that father and son might like to go and explore the night life in the fairly large city close to my sister’s rural retreat. Upon asking where we should go in town for some drinks and dancing, I was told by my sister, “Oh there’s nothing for you there!” “What do you mean?” I replied. “You’re too old!” was the answer. “But what about him?” I said, pointing to 6’6" of youth and enthusiasm. “Oh he’s too old too,” was the response!
What a sad indictment of today’s world! At 29 years of age, this young fellow was considered to be too old to go out and enjoy himself? Of course, for me at age 60+, it was sinful to even contemplate it!
There is an unfortunate tendency in the western world to write everyone off after the age of 25. It seems you don’t have to wait till you are 65 to be redundant. But why should this be? The only real difference between “old” people and “young” people is that the older group have much greater experience. There is precious little of substance worth doing that older people cannot do. And I am not talking here about people over the magic (and arbitrary) 65 year retiring age. I am talking about anyone still wandering around the planet unaided, no matter how old they are. For example, if you are 80 years old and want to do a parachute jump, can anyone tell me why not?
The reason I say this, is that by the time a person is 80 years old, they have a fair idea of what they can or cannot do. After all, they’ve had that same body for eight decades, they must know it pretty well by now. The problems you come up against when deciding to do something is not usually a “physical” restraint, but a mental one. You get conditioned by the western society that you are ‘over the hill’ and you must sit in the corner and quietly rot away.
Well, that’s exactly what will happen to you if you do sit quietly in the corner! Like any living creature, you need stimulation (and I’m not talking about the ‘stimulation for hire’ bars), and mental stimulation will get you going physically as well. Forget about your chronological age and think about things that you want to do - and then work out how you are going to do these things.
Obviously, if you are 80 years of age and you tell me that you want to run a mile in four minutes, this is not only impossible, but it is silly! However, if you tell me you want to take up running and want to train for the marathon, I will say, “Go ahead!” I might suggest starting off with shorter distances and work on from there, but the concept is the same - if you want to do something - go ahead and do it.
Do not accept “age” as a barrier to anything. Work out how to do it and get on with it. Live life to the fullest, every day, for as many days as you have got left! And there is nobody on this earth can tell you how long that will be, not even Gypsy Petulengro.
The Autodromo Carlos Pace in Sao Paulo Brazil plays host to the F1 circus in this their last race for the season. However, with both the Driver’s championship and the Constructors championship already sealed, there will be no nail biting down to the wire racing.
Another mixed bag at the local Bira Circuit this weekend. Some motorcycles on Saturday, plus Qualifying for the four wheel brigade, and racing on Sunday for cars only. The usual full range of classes, including our Retro cars. However, as this goes to press, they have scheduled the two retro races with the first one on the Sunday morning at 8.30 and last one on the Sunday afternoon at 5 p.m. Quite clearly this is nonsense, and we are trying to get the times changed, but we aren’t holding our breath!
Retro Racers at Bira.
Aston Martin is reportedly looking at building a road/race version of its current V12 Vantage S, with the use of lightweight materials giving the increased performance.
Aston Martin engineering boss Ian Minards suggests that significant weight loss is possible from the existing 1665 kg V12 Vantage S. “It would be relatively easy to lose 100 kg from the current car. That much could be saved by removing the air conditioning, simplifying the interior and fitting lightweight seats.”
Following a similar approach to Porsche with its 911 GT3, such a car would build on Aston’s significant experience with racing the Vantage in production-based categories. Of course, Porsche has been down the lightweight performance gain many times before. Remember the 1973 RS Carrera which was 60 kg lighter than the standard 911.
Aston CEO Ulrich Bez also suggests there’s more to be squeezed out of the 6.0 liter V12 than the current 421 kW/620 Nm outputs. Such an improvement to the V12 Vantage S’ power/weight ratio could exceed the current 911 GT3 and approach that of the Ferrari 458, and could see the Vantage S zero to 100 km/h coming significantly under 3.9 seconds.
However the project is still in conceptual form and yet to be given the go-ahead from Aston management, which would make any production debut in 2015 at the earliest.
As if the Panamera wasn’t ugly enough, Porsche have excelled themselves with the new Macan SUV released at the Los Angeles show.
If you have never heard of or seen the book “Farang, the Sequel”, don’t worry, because you have now. It’s a brilliant book, even if I say so myself (because I wrote it), but amongst the chapters there are ones on driving in Thailand, about which you will all agree with my sentiments.