The newest F1 race on the 2014 calendar was the inaugural GP on the Sochi Autodrom (hence my impeccable Russian at the start of this article). A 5,853 km lap and the race held over 53 laps, and this is the second time of running of this GP.
After meeting up with the people at Europa Auto Service (www.europa-auto.expert) and looking at the supercars in their workshop, made me reminisce over some of the supercars I have had the good fortune to drive over the years.
I did manage an afternoon with a Cobra 289 at the Surfers Paradise Race Circuit. That was a real 289, just as Carroll Shelby put it together. Sheer brute horsepower and a race track to play in. What an afternoon.
I did manage to get a steer of a 351 Cobra as well, but this was a replica. However the excitement was real! Big Ford V8 up front and more horses than the rear axle could safely handle. Unfortunately the owner tried shortening it against a brick wall.
I have driven a Lambo, and it was the Diablo. My test of this vehicle was held on the old Brisbane Airport runway and we clocked 150 mph (240 kays) while filming the speedometer, just to prove the point. That day we also had a Porsche Carrera as a comparison test and we could let it go half way down the airstrip before we let the Lambo loose, and the Diablo was always first at the other end, at a speed by which stage Boeing 747’s would be airborne. The Diablo was an incredible supercar. It was also quite horrible to drive, other than accelerating at speed, during which the engine note just grew until I described it as “aural orgasm”. I also stated that no woman, Russian shot putters excluded, would have been able to depress the clutch. The reason for the raging bull insignia was, I felt then, that you had to be as strong as an ox to drive one!
I have driven most Porsche models, old and new, and have to say that the most exciting of them all was the 1973 2.7 liter RS Carrera. Those early Porsches were not easy cars to drive. The tail end was always nervous if you were at all tentative as you approached a corner. Full throttle produced understeer. Trailing throttle produced oversteer in prodigious amounts. It was not difficult to go through hedges backwards, as many an early Porsche punter was to find.
I also raced an RS, and it was a very exciting race car as well as being one of the fastest ‘real’ road cars as well.
When Dodge in the USA released their mighty V10 engined Viper, this was another exotic that caught my attention. I was given a Viper to play with at the Lakeside circuit in Australia. This was today’s answer to the 427 Cobra of 30 years previous. Just a big bathtub filled with brute horsepower that you steered with the right hand go pedal. The steering wheel was not needed. It was not a car that required 100 percent concentration, or neatness, like driving the Lamborghini or the Porsche. This was a car that you threw at the corner and caught it as you came out the other side, and just stabbed the accelerator again to propel you with an almighty roar to the next corner. It took about a week to get rid of the smile from my face.
There have been others, such as an Aston Martin DB9, numerous Ferraris and Maseratis and even an F5000 Lola T430, but for the sheer lazy thump in the kidneys and the feeling of endless power, the prize goes to America. I could live with a Dodge Viper. In fact I’d rather have a Dodge Viper in the garage than Scarlett Johansson in the bedroom. The mark of a real enthusiast!
The FIA, Bernie, Uncle Tom Cobblers and all should watch videos taken at the Goodwood Revival. Features you never see in today’s F1 such as drivers working hard in the cockpit, cars sliding on opposite lock, cars able to run beside each other.
Shannons auctions in Australia has just sold a circa-1927 FHA 8-Valve V-Twin racer, complete with sidecar. Early 20th Century Harley Davidson motorcycles are rare enough items in themselves, but the one sold last week was one of only around 50 made by Harley Davidson.
This example had been stored in a barn for 50 years and the racing outfit sold at auction for USD 420,000, an Australian auction record.
The embattled VW group has confirmed that Porsche chairman Matthias Mueller will take command of the group that is under fire from all sides.
Matthias Mueller, 62, has been in VW management group since 1978, including Audi, Seat and Lamborghini.
He succeeds Martin Winterkorn, who fell on his sword last Wednesday in the wake of the worsening scandal that affects approximately 11 million VW-built diesel passenger cars in the world-wide emissions broo-ha-ha.
Mueller has released a statement, “My most urgent task is to win back trust for the Volkswagen Group – by leaving no stone unturned and with maximum transparency, as well as drawing the right conclusions from the current situation.”
“Under my leadership, Volkswagen will do everything it can to develop and implement the most stringent compliance and governance standards in our industry.”
With the cost of recalls being in billions of dollars, and projected fines from the US regulating authorities also in the billions, it is no small wonder than VW shares have plummeted.
Volkswagen Group deputy chairman of the supervisory board Berthold Huber said: “The test manipulations are a moral and political disaster for Volkswagen. The unlawful behavior of engineers and technicians involved in engine development shocked Volkswagen just as much as it shocked the public. We can only apologize and ask our customers, the public, the authorities and our investors to give us a chance to make amends.”
The Pattaya car club meets at Jameson’s Irish Pub on Soi AR next to Nova Park. The next meeting is on Monday October 12 at Jameson’s at 7 p.m. A totally informal meeting of like-minded souls to discuss their pet motoring (and motorcycling) loves and hates (plus lies and outright exaggerations). Come along and meet the guys who have a common interest in cars and bikes, and enjoy the Jameson’s specials, washed down with a few beers. A couple of the members are scrutineers at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, so they may have some scuttlebutt about the F1 scene, and one is just back from driving around Australia towing a caravan! Always a fun night. Be prepared to laugh a lot at some of the antics of the members (when they were younger)! The Car Club nights are only on the second Monday of the month (not every second Monday)!
Last week I asked what was remarkable about the clutch pedal on the Chaparral 2D which won the 1000 km race at Nurburgring in 1966? Another trick question I’m afraid. The Chaparral 2D had an automatic gear box, so no clutch pedal.
So to this week. The Lotus 70 (“real” Lotus) had inboard front brakes. What was the first racing car to have this type of braking before the Lotus?
The British Chamber of Commerce (BCCT) Eastern Seaboard group held a social evening at Jameson’s Irish Pub last week, with its very British Landlord Kim Fletcher pontificating and providing plates of bar snacks.
The subject of this week’s article follows a couple of tragic incidents recently.
Now, I’m not sure, but I think there was once a pop song with the line “Big boys don’t cry” in it somewhere, but that is not important. What is important is that if you came from a western society, you were probably raised with that dictum. You probably even picked up your crying toddler son after a tumble and said, “There, there. Big boys don’t cry. You’re OK.” Correct?
We are all guilty of promoting this stereotype. The big strong man who protects the weak and vulnerable woman. Countless movies all follow this theme from “Gone with the Wind” through to “Mission Impossible III”, so it must be true. Unfortunately for all those big strong super-protective men out there, the stereotype is not necessarily true and rigid following of it can be quite contrary to good mental health.
“Men are far more reluctant to talk about their emotional vulnerabilities than women,” says Dr Nicole Highet, a psychologist. “This stigma may be due to the perception that emotional problems and depression are women’s problems.”
“Men tend to be action-oriented, so they mistrust feelings and tend to regard emotions as a sign of weakness,” says Dr Michael Dudley, a psychiatrist and chairman of Suicide Prevention Australia. “For men, mental illness is seen as a moral failing, so they bury pain and don’t talk to people about it. But depression is an illness, not a weakness.”
Depression is an illness that can strike at any time, even to those normally associated with dogged masculine determination. Famous amongst these was Sir Winston Churchill, who guided the UK through the tribulations of WWII, and who called his depression “the black dog”.
What has to be understood is that just “feeling down” on its own is not a symptom of mental illness. We all feel down from time to time, generally when something has happened to precipitate it, even the death of a family pet. “We all feel sad from time to time, but depression is an ongoing sadness that lasts for two weeks or more, with a complete loss of pleasure in things that were once enjoyed. Some men live with their condition for months, or even years, and become acclimatized to their low mood or negativity,” says Dr Highet. “But depression isn’t merely a passing blue mood or something that someone can ‘snap out of’ without help. Depression dramatically alters an individual’s body, mood and thoughts,” she says.
Since men have been raised not to have public displays of depression, many adopt strategies to cover the problem, with the common ways being to become workaholics, risk taking to produce ‘highs’, alcohol and illegal drugs.
“Men often try to manage their own symptoms,” says Dr Highet. “While this may provide temporary relief, it only compounds the illness as they are not addressing the underlying condition. There is also some debate as to whether the (drug) abuse masks the symptoms or actually causes the depression. Whichever way, getting help is essential.”
The incidence in the community is frightening. In Australia, which has a well developed reporting system, it is believed that clinical depression is Australia’s fastest growing illness. The National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing found that one in four women and one in six men suffered from depression. In 20 years it is predicted that depression will be second only to heart disease as Australia’s biggest health problem.
The enormity of the problem has remained hidden, but consider this: Depressed men are four times as likely as depressed women to commit suicide. Of the over 2,000 suicides in Australia each year, 80 percent are male. There are more men committing suicide each year than dying on the roads, and almost 50 percent of suicides are males aged 25 to 44.
While the causes of depression are multiple, and men try to mask their problem, the sad part is that depression can be treated. Modern pharmaceutical medication is not ‘mind altering’ but restores the chemical balance in the brain to allow ‘normal’ thought processes to return.
However, it needs the men to admit that they might, just might, have a problem!
The popular press has been all agog with the news that VW has been fudging the pollution tests for its diesel variants. The venom that is coming forward is just one level below burning at the stake, or hanging, drawing and quartering.