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Home  /  June 2018  /  Comment

F1 is now a joke!

At last Sunday’s procession in Canada (which is itself a joke because the people are too nice and too polite, carry guns but don’t use them, talk back to the Trumpster and host the F1 despite not having a driver racing for 11 years until Lance Stroll, who has had one podium, no fastest laps or pole positions and finished last this week), Ferrari’s Seb Vettel started first and then led the fleet around the track until officials told Hamo’s girlfriend to wave the chequered one lap early. The next six places were taken by the usual suspects and the tailenders were lapped twice even though the race finished a lap early.

As one fan wrote: “I still love F1 but that was a shocker of a race. Not even the most hardened Ferrari/Vettel fan could seriously argue that a procession like that is anything other than a bore. Nothing happened that could seriously alter the fact that seeing one car drive round and round for 70 laps without a single meaningful challenge is contrary to everything that makes sport interesting. The only way I can see of adding excitement is a return to refuelling with the added stipulation that at least one of the crew had to hold a lit cigarette.”

But don’t despair too much. Last weekend at the newly renovated Marulan Circuit and Auto Heaven (just up the highway from the Big Merino and across from the Marulan Truck Stop) was round one of the Cheap Car Challenge with your very own Weekend Australian Racing Team competing in the mighty Nissan Pulsar. Team manager and race team owner Phil Alexander had gone all out to help Tom Connolly, Michael McMichael (who promises to wear clothes this time) and yours truly not do a Lance Stroll and come stone motherless again. Gone out of the 1960s challenger to the Singer Gazelle and Isuzu Bellett are the eight-track cassette machine, the cigarette lighter, the choke and the fluffy dice from China.

The very expensive but very good Marulan makeover (the concrete walls are a special: who wants to run into tyre walls these days?) is just an example of what we all should hope is a new trend. Tallem Bend has opened outside Adelaide, Luddenham Raceway is running near Liverpool in NSW, Jahnn Stati is looking to build a motorsport complex in Keysbrook, south of Perth, and there are about five million in planning for the central coast of NSW. The race car media has been spruiking a council application for a new 3.7km circuit at Pakenham, Victoria. Unfortunately, the local council told me yesterday that it has no applications for racetracks.

And if you didn’t make it down south, then head west for the 2018 Classic Adelaide Rally in November. Naturally, the first entrants were your very own Weekend Australian Rally Team of MM and JC in our 20-year-old Beemer. Our entry prompted last year’s lucky winners, Neal Bates and Coral Taylor, to return to defend their title from us in their Toyota Celica GT4. We are still anticipating Coral’s daughter Molly to get over her fear of the Weekend Australian team (she did a coaching session for us earlier this year and vowed to take public transport in the future) and enter her works Subaru. Molly was the 2016 Australian rally champion, the youngest and first female driver to win and is the FoxSports World Rally Championship analyst so it would be a tragedy if trying to improve our driving ended her career.

Now if you are looking for some serious metal eye candy then get on the subscription list for Nathan Duff’s Retromotive mag. One thing this country needs (apart from more black V8 SS utes like my new one) is a proper glossy classic car mag full of lots of petrol porn pics with not too many words. Nathan is a world-class car snapper who for some reason is based in Brisbane. The first issue has amazing stories like the father-son team bringing terminal Kombis back to life. See it all at www.retromotive.com.au.

At long last two-time Bathurst 1000 and Australian Grand Prix winner John Goss got the Order of Australia Medal for services to motorsport. About time. In the motherland another racer, Michelle Ann Maynard, who heads up the Duke of Edinburgh’s driving team, also got a gong. Phil’s preferred ride is the four horsepower, four-wheel drive that he has had lots of success with in world championship carriage driving. In another global exclusive interview via the Daily Mail, Phil told me he didn’t take up racing till he was 50 (there’s a lot apart from good looks that the Duke and I have in common) and his first ride was “a thing called the Balmoral dog cart, it’s still in the stable, it had to be rebuilt every year because it got smashed up regularly”. Phil has been a regular competitor at the Royal Windsor Horse Trials in the backyard of his house at Windsor Castle. Wife Betty has been every year since the trials started in 1943.

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