“I’ve decided to change,” he shouted at me above the noise of the engines spluttering and gearboxes rattling as the lads (no lassies) at Michael McMichael Motors Pty Ltd worked to bring sick Beemers back to health again.
Naturally, despite his age, I thought the man who I am proud to introduce as my grandfather might be referring to something of major importance to all of us who know and read about him. Somewhat timidly, I asked: “Have you told your partner yet?” “Why should I tell Jen that I’ve decided to change the music on the eight track in our WART Beemer for the Targa Tasmania?”
Friends and readers, you need to know that one of the reasons we do so badly in our rally adventures is that the Swami of Stepney plays such crook music that I have taken to using noise-cancelling ear plugs. While this has the benefit of blocking out Manuel and The Music Of The Mountains, followed by some of Andre Rieu’s very biggest hits, it means it is very hard to follow Mick shouting out the pace notes.
As an aside, can I mention that the next winner of the Doug Moran Nude Portrait Prize has told me — usually after a few Coopers home-brewed California Riptide Pale Ales — that he often to speaks to Andre via the psychic internet?) “Last time he revealed that ‘I want to perform on the moon one day because I love to bring my music to every single place’ and that ‘I travelled the world with a mobile castle, a full-sized replica of the Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna, with horses, carriages, dancers and real fountains’.” (Nothing wrong there.)
Anyway, going back to normal programming, Mick said that for this year’s rally he has changed. Not only has he upgraded the technology by plugging a Discman into our sound system but he has bought a large collection of his new favourite beats: Ukrainian pop music of the 1990s. He promised I would be knocked out by artists like Komu Vnyz, Ne Zhurys, Taras Petrynenko and Hrono. “But you have to hear Yurko Yurchenko. At the end of the 90s many compared the level of fanaticism around him with the English band The Beatles.”
So this year’s Targa Tasmania, on Monday, April 29, will see us return for the ceremonial start at the Lonnie Country Club, where we will then head out to the very scary, super street stage at George Town. Look out for car 739, the subtly decorated Weekend Australian Rally Team BMW 3 series, the oldest car in the race with the oldest drivers.
As the official entry list says: “The Weekend Australian Rally Team (WART) is made up of columnist John Connolly and BMW mechanical master Michael McMichael. While the team has competed extensively internationally and in Australia, their best position in 30 years is last.”
Luckily, on March 10, at Sydney Motorsport Park, racing coach Phil Alexander and I will be in another Weekend Australian Racing Team vehicle that will remain nameless because it’s a Mazda taking on about 1000 other competitors in the Sydney 300, which, as the name implies, is a 300km race. In our car it shouldn’t take more than 10 or 12 hours.
We’re up against old WART member Nathan Step and teen sensation Brianna Wilson in the FullGlass Racing Nissan Pulsar. Another for the diary is the Falcon GT Club of South Australia hosting the 18th Falcon GT Nationals at Easter. Apart from the Concourse Show ’n’ Shine and Old Willunga Hill Climb, I’ll be there to get a selfie with multi-Bathurst winner Fred Gibson.
Talking about Mazda, we did go to NCAT (the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal) after reader Ian McPherson was told that if he wanted to have a lawyer to help him deal with his ongoing Mazda CX-5 issues he had to apply for special permission.
NCAT says it is designed for regular consumers to be able to address an issue with large companies without the cost of involving lawyers. As it turns out, Mazda was represented by a lawyer who said she “was a customer relations specialist”. So we asked NCAT why does it allow Mazda to have a lawyer represent it but consumers have to apply for special permission? NCAT said it does not comment on individual cases but, “if a party has an issue with someone who is representing a party as a company employee, they can raise it with the member at the beginning of the proceedings. It could also form part of an appeal.” Not much help there but we will follow it up with the Office of the Legal Services Commissioner.
Finally, our pic of the week is the 2006 Ford GT, complete with all four available options, one of only 292 produced in Mark II black with silver Le Mans stripes, and showing less than 600 miles from new. Yours for only $500k at the RM Sothebys Fort Liquordale auction at the end of the month. I can’t tell you how cranky I am at myself for not buying one of these when they originally came out, as they now realise Ford priced them too cheap at $100K. Imagine what Fred Gibson could have done with one at Bathurst.