Good news! There’s now a path forward out of our suffering and misery. No, I’m not talking about Scotty’s plan for Australia. Who cares about that? I’m talking about Motorsport Australia’s (the same old CAMS with a new name and logo) strategy for the resumption of motorsport activity in a COVID-19 environment.
Always one with a great turn of phrase, new name and logo says: “It is critical to this industry and the community more broadly that we develop a strategy to manage the resumption of motorsport in the most expeditious, responsible and risk averse manner possible in the COVID-19 environment.”
Who wouldn’t expeditiously agree with that? But, 14 readers and very few friends, these sorts of plans always have unintended consequences.
At least two of you will remember four years ago when we had to drag the Michael McMichael Motors Supercar out of the shed where it had been resting for a year in what, these days, you would call a barn-find state.
Along with our Beemer we found a very large common brown snake. Since it’s classed as the second most venomous land snake in the world, we decided to take heroic, manly action. What we did was yell at Brownie through the shed door, leave the door open, run away and hope he would leave. Calming medicine was needed so we headed to the Cudlee Creek Restaurant, Tavern and Caravan Park (now open for takeaways — try the pack of chicken, beef and pork schnitzels for only $9.90. You can mix or choose only one or two of the types of schnitzels and don’t forget the vegetables or salad, chips and plain gravy options included in the price. Watch out Quay, Attica and Wildflower) for a few Coopers ales, which must be good because the brewer is a doctor.
When we got back, there was no sign of Brownie. Either our approach worked or one of our drivers was up for a mighty surprise during the race. So, this week our plan (as opposed to Scotty’s and new name and logo’s plans) were complicated by the 2020 version of the Black Death, also known as the Pestilence and the Plague, which meant that if I went to Adelaide to help Mick I would be stuck in isolation in the local People’s Palace for a fortnight. Mick still has nightmares about Brownie suddenly sticking his head and tongue out of the dashboard during a particularly tough section of the Leyburn Sprints. So, after a long Zoom call we made the only fair and safe decision. Send Mick’s 18-year-old apprentice up to the shed and don’t tell him about Brownie. “It’ll be great experience for him if he makes it through,” the Sultan wisely said.
You’ve probably had your fill of binge-watching old TV series, so this week what about reading a few books. A book is a written or printed work consisting of pages glued or sewn together along one side and bound in covers. Most of the books I read have a lot of pictures — drawings of people with words coming out of their mouths and not too many words on the other pages.
Can I suggest a few old on the road favourites?
Of course, there’s Aspen’s most famous resident, until the Australian CV-19 crew turned up, Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which one critic fairly described as “a vicious, drug-fuelled screed about the meaning of the gambling mecca, and how the hippie ideal had become corrupted by the Nixon-era version of the American dream”. From the petrolhead point of view the focus should be on the red 1971 Impala convertible (Red Shark) which he drove to sin city and the 1971 Cadillac Eldorado convertible he rented once he got there. Today you can pick up a good ’71 for around $25k.
The 1957 On the Road is an early version of Hunter’s tome. Jack Kerouac’s notes on his travels across the United States is the defining book of the postwar beat and counter-culture generations, with its protagonists living life against a backdrop of jazz, poetry and drug use. You can see there’s a theme here. Anyway, Jack drove a 1949 Hudson ($40k today).
Around the World in Seventy-Two Days (mine from Amazon: $23) tells the story of Nellie Bly’s 1889 real life race to beat the fictional Phileas Fogg’s 80-day trip, using steamship, rickshaw, horse and donkey and train. The first real Gonzo journalist (her Ten Days in a Madhouse explores isolation in a hotel room in Adelaide) circumnavigated the globe, except for the antipodes, in 72 days.
Like this column, John Steinbeck’s Travel With Charley ($20 with a free pack of chicken, beef and pork schnitzels from CC Tavern) is fiction based loosely on fact. John and his large poodle Charley buy a new GMC pickup truck fitted with a Wolverine camper pack on the back, making him, at 60, the first grey nomad and inventor of the RV. He made the 16,000km trip across 33 states knowing that he was dying. His philosophy was simple. “I have always lived violently, drunk hugely, eaten too much or not at all, slept around the clock or missed two nights of sleeping, worked too hard and too long in glory, or slobbed for a time in utter laziness. I’ve lifted, pulled, chopped, climbed, made love with joy and taken my hangovers as a consequence, not as a punishment.” Slow to start, funny and very insightful on Americans even today.
Look, next week, news on F1’s musical chairs, auction results and Coopers doubling its malt exports in the past 12 months, but let’s finish the day with the 1993 Fiat Cinquecento Trofeo Usine. These cars were built to let young drivers cheaply enter rallies. You just bought the car, turned up on the day and the Trofeo was ready to go. Paul Boucher’s Straderial Motorcars in Paris has this, all original, unique factory-owned model with only 9545km on the clock set to start your rally career for $35k.