AFG goes motor racing

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The Automotive Focus Group (AFG) on the Eastern Seaboard had a very different networking evening at the end of April.  Being a ‘stand-alone’ meeting, and not tied to one of the major chambers of commerce, there was a very relaxed atmosphere, and the 45 members and guests actually voted the evening as one of the best put on by the AFG.

The venue was the Bangkok Hospital Pattaya, in one of their meeting rooms, and the guest speaker was one of the AFG founding members, Dr. Iain Corness, who spoke on his 46 years of motor sport as a competitor, accompanied by some slides of motor racing way back then.

(L to R) Kevin Fisher (CEA), Jim Beeson (AFG President), Patchararacht (Jack) Tanasetpiwat (CEA), PJ Powers, Dr. Iain Corness, Shaun Burk (Cromwell).(L to R) Kevin Fisher (CEA), Jim Beeson (AFG President), Patchararacht (Jack) Tanasetpiwat (CEA), PJ Powers, Dr. Iain Corness, Shaun Burk (Cromwell).

He reminisced on the lack of safety equipment and apparel, with his “race suit” in 1965 being a short sleeved shirt with his name embroidered on the pocket, with shorts and long socks.  He showed the fireproof race suits worn today and the latest style of helmets with the HANS device to stop neck fractures.  The helmet, which belonged to the CEA driver Thomas Raldorf, cost 35,000 baht, and Dr. Iain’s fireproof suit cost 30,000 baht.  Motor racing is not cheap!  As is often said, the way to make a small fortune in motor racing is to start with a large one.

In his 46 years, Dr. Iain has driven everything from small engined touring cars, sports cars, and sports sedans through to the 5 liter V8 Formula 5000’s.  He admitted that he cannot give up motor racing, describing it as a “disease”.  This year he is running a Mk1 Ford Escort in the “Retro” class at the Bira circuit and Bang Saen, describing it as the only ‘Retro’ car with a ‘Retro driver’!  His main backing for this campaign is from Securitas and ESC (Steve Graham), CEA Projects (Kevin Fisher), AA Insurance Brokers (Peter Smith) and Cromwell Tools.

Members visit the Cromwell display at the AFG meeting.Members visit the Cromwell display at the AFG meeting.

The meeting venue was sponsored by the Bangkok Hospital Pattaya and the food and drinks were supplied by Cromwell Tools (through committee man Shaun Burke) and CEA Projects (Kevin Fisher).  At the end of the evening, Cromwell’s Shaun Burke presented Dr. Iain with a wide range of tools which should keep the Retro Escort going for many years.

It was certainly a relaxed evening, which was also graced by the famous South African singer PJ Powers who encouraged the AFG members to go and visit her “beautiful country”.

The success of the ‘stand-alone’ AFG meeting is in many ways a reflection of the fact that the AFG has come of age and is very much representative of the dynamic growth in the auto industry on the Eastern Seaboard.