F1 resumes with Spa this weekend. After the mid-year four week holiday, F1 returns to one of the best tracks on the calendar - Spa Francorchamps in Belgium, a circuit that everyone enjoys (are you listening, Bernie).
The Federal Tyres, Flex stores in Japan, and several Thai officials and drivers were at the Bira circuit for one of the special stages of the rally which went from Pattaya to Ubon Ratchathani then into Laos finishing at Pakse (10th-16th August).
I was very fortunate in being given a book on Spa Francorchamps 1948-1960, with a wealth of detail from the early days before Bernie and the F1 phenomenon. The circuit was the venue for the Grand Prix de Belgique, and it was immensely popular with the drivers of the day. See how many of these you can remember - Emile Cornet, Johnny Claes, Andre Pilette, Paul Frere, Jacques Scaters, Charles de Tornaco, Roger Laurent, Freddy Rousselle, Gilberte Thirion, Alain de Changy, Jean Blaton, Andre Milhoux, Olivier Gendebien, Lucien Bianchi and Willy Mairesse are mentioned in the foreword. Paul Frere was a noted journalist as well as a top race driver.
The forthcoming ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) which will abolish auto import taxes in 2018, could see the death of the auto industry in Vietnam, and a significant boost for Thailand.
The mover and shaker of Buriram, Newin Chidchob, has announced that his new track will be on the calendar for next year’s Japan Super GT championship.
The new track, to be finished by October 2014, will have the Japanese Super GT round in that month as well, so it could be tight, but Nevin is confident that all will be right for the Hermann Tilke designed track by then.
Buriram is already notable for its football club and Nevin states that “Buriram Province will become a sports city.”
With the future of our local Bira circuit still up in the air, local competitors may have to get used to the five hour trip to Isaan. Other tracks include Bonanza at Khao Yai (three hours), Kaeng Krachan (four hours) and the Enigma track (one hour).
Despite what you may have heard, I do not believe this track will be brought up to F1 standards, so that Thailand can join the F1 countries. To get a GP, takes more than just having a track. Fees in the realms of billions of baht have to change hands as well!
Which brings me to the future of our local Prince Bira track. It has supposedly been sold, but probably more likely for the sale to be under negotiation. These negotiations can go on for years. The Pro Racing Series has also shifted the rounds scheduled for the Kaeng Krachan circuit to now be held at Bira. This has been done because the motorcycle racing group who felt that KKC was a little too dangerous for them. However, the Bira Circuit has also seen a motorcycle competitor killed last meeting. All motor racing is indeed dangerous.
My reading of the subject is that Bira will continue as a race track into next year (but don’t shoot me if I’ve got it wrong).
If you have ever wondered about the paperwork required to do anything in Thailand, think about the Brits with their new Greenhouse Gases emissions regulations.
These new regulations require UK companies that are listed on the London Stock Exchange to report on their greenhouse gas emissions as part of their annual directors’ report. It includes reporting on greenhouse gases including methane and nitrous oxides, not just CO2 emissions. Affected companies will need to include a greenhouse gas emissions statement in their directors’ report for the first financial year ending after 30th September 2013.
The reporting shows GHG emissions across a whole fleet, by vehicle, by manufacturer and split out by greenhouse gas. GHGs are calculated from the actual fuel used where this is available. The regulations allow for GHGs to otherwise be calculated by miles travelled and vehicle type.
Farmers should not smile at this. Wait till the government starts bringing in legislation for farting cows!
Last week I asked how many body styles did Rolls-Royce make pre-war? Bit of a trick question, but Rolls-Royce made no bodies at all. The factory delivered the vehicles as rolling chassis to the coachbuilders.
So to this week. Which car required you to lift the engine cover to get to the fuel filler? Clue - What do you call a young bull?
How many people have told you that they have a slipped disc? Would you be one? Would you believe me that nobody “slips” a disc?
I was reminded about back problems when I was rung by a Norwegian doctor holidaying in Hua Hin. A friend of his had sudden onset acute lower back pain, could not stand on one leg and just where did they go from there?
These symptoms we meet only too often. The patient is doing something and suddenly everything locks up and they are immobilized, frozen to the spot. I was once called out to a factory toilet where the chap was bent over the urinal, and too afraid to move, the pain was so acute.
Back pain is one of the commonest orthopedic problems, and the often used terms such as lumbago, sciatica and slipped disc get bandied about at the dinner table. However, an acute bad back is not the sort of condition that you want to chat about over desserts. The condition can be crippling and not “cute” in any way.
Let’s begin this week with the “slipped disc” problem. First thing - discs do not “slip”. They do not shoot out of the spaces between the vertebrae (the tower of cotton reels that makes up your spine) and produce pain that way. The disc actually stays exactly where it is, but the center of the disc (called the nucleus) pops out through the edge of the disc and hits the nerve root. When this happens you have a very painful condition, as anyone who has had a disc prolapse (our fancy name for the “popping out” bit) will tell you. Think of the pain when the dentist starts drilling close to the tiny nerve in your tooth. Well, this is a large nerve! When the nucleus of the disc hits the sciatic nerve, this produces the condition known as Sciatica - an acute searing pain which can run from the buttocks, down the legs, even all the way through to the toes.
Unfortunately, just to make diagnosis a little difficult (if it were all so easy why would we go to Medical School for six years!) you can get sciatica from other reasons as well as prolapsing discs. It may just be soft tissue swelling from strain of the ligaments between the discs, or it could even be a form of arthritis. Another complicating fact is that a strain may only produce enough tissue swelling in around 12 hours after the heavy lifting, so you go to bed OK and wake the next morning incapacitated. And then you have to convince the employer that you did it on his time.
To accurately work out just what is happening requires bringing in those specialist doctors who can carry out extremely intricate forms of X-Rays called CT Scans, Spiral CT’s or MRI that will sort out whether it is a disc prolapse, arthritis or another soft tissue problem. The equipment to do these procedures costs millions of baht, and the expertise to use them takes years of practice and experience. This is one reason why some of these investigations can be expensive.
After the definitive diagnosis of your back condition has been made, then appropriate treatment can be instituted. The forms of treatment can be just simply rest and some analgesics (pain killers), physiotherapy, operative intervention or anti-inflammatories and traction.
Now perhaps you can see why it is important to find the real cause for your aching back. The treatment for some causes can be totally the wrong form of therapy for some of the other causes. You can see the danger of “self diagnosis” here. Beware!
So what do you do when you get a painful back? Rest and paracetamol is a safe way to begin. If it settles quickly, then just be a little careful with lifting and twisting for a couple of weeks and get on with your life as normal. If, however, you are still in trouble after a couple of days rest, then it is time to see your doctor and get that definitive diagnosis. You have been warned! There is a branch of the Bangkok Spine Academy in my hospital.
The Pullman Pattaya Hotel G has certainly elevated itself within the collective consciousness of the folk in Pattaya. Their latest promotion was a wine tasting event, held in the Beach Club, with wines supplied by G Four Wines from Bangkok, and finger food from Chef Thierry’s kitchen.
The Super Series cars will be at the Bira circuit this weekend, with a line-up never before seen in Thailand. Lamborghinis, Ferrari, Porsches, V8 Holden, Toyota 86 and more high performance race cars. The grid will be packed, believe me.