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Home  /  December  /  Racing

There’s nothing better in a rally than to smell smoke and know it’s someone else’s car that’s on fire.

Unfortunately, on day two of the rally that stops a nation (well at least the area around Kanmantoo, Onkaparinga — as in “you better count your Onkaparingas after shaking a car dealer’s hand” — and environs) the fire and smoke were both emanating from the nether regions of the 1998 WART BMW.

Now I don’t want you to think the Sultan of Stepney, the King of the Kensi, Michael McMichael, the person so good his parents named him twice, and I weren’t ready for any emergency of the mechanical kind but we are the oldest team in our division, in the oldest car with the oldest tyres but the best stickers, including the huge The Weekend Australian logo, but our ability to strip off the full racing harnesses and climb out between the roll cages is not what it used to be despite Michael having lost 60kg on his Coopers and sausage roll diet.

Adding to the difficulty in attending the fire was my determination to be the one who used the fire extinguisher, which is carried between the racing seats and secured by a metal device that the Bank of England invented to thwart a robbery of the crown jewels. Naturally we both saw ourselves as Steve McQueen and Paul Newman in the 1974 drama disaster flick, Towering Inferno. Anyway, I won the fight and took control of the extinguisher despite the fact I had never used one in my life and had no idea where the on switch was. As it turns out, the fire was simply hot brakes, which did not require any cloud of carbon ­dioxide to drive oxygen away from the fire, thus putting it out.

Joining the 70-plus competitors were 191 tour cars. Let’s not go into the details but the tour people have super cars, a taste for luxury and style and certainly, unlike normal rally drivers, don’t want to put their cars and lives at risk. Included in the tour line-up were 14 Feezers, sixteen Beemers, 15 Porkers, 10 Aston Martins, 17 Audis and a McLaren in a pear tree, after a nasty crash on the last turn of stage four.

Leading the Prima Tour in a $645,000 Feezer 488 Pista was the recently retired Supercar and Van Diemen RF85 Ford driver Craig Lowndes with Lara Lowndes navigating. Unlike the other tours, at the end of the day Craig took the Prima Tour folks to Brenda and Laura Carter’s Applewood Distillery in Gumeracha (home of the Big Rocking Horse) for a medallion presentation and celebratory drink of the locally produced beverages made in this boutique distillery. Friends and readers, the King of Kensi was so taken with reports of the Espressocello (coffee beans cold-infused into a brandy-base spirit) that he suggested we should have two or three shots for breakfast tomorrow to settle our nerves before some of the more difficult sections of the course. Luckily, Applewood has temporarily sold out of the brekkie beverage.

Look, as much as I am one of Craig Lowndes greatest fans, the car and driver that stole the Prima show was Tony Parkinson in his 2018 Renault A110 Alpine. Tony’s is the only one in South Australia and one of a limited number to be sold in Australia each year. The A110 is the most exciting car to be launched in the past 10 years. It’s a steal at $110,000. One serious reviewer said it was a better car than a $300,000-more expensive Feezer. It’s not perfect. If you want a comfortable two-seater, buy a Porker. But if you want to shed the brown cardigan, the pearls and the twin set, this is the metal that’ll do it for you. It’s attracts hot looks. It’s blue on the outside and the inside is like an F1 car with some cheap touches. I don’t often say this but if you don’t buy one now, your life as you know it will probably be over.

As well as the Alpine, Tony has an Austin Healey 100S and ex-works Sebring Austin Healey 3000 hand-built by the Donald Healey Motor Company in Britain for the Sebring 12-hour race in Florida in 1963. And he owns the Penny’s Hill winery that turns out the Stirling Moss white and reds, Sebring McLaren Vale Shiraz and his 95-pointer Footprint Shiraz.

Anyway, our own current leaders in the modern competition section, ex dirt kids (unsealed road rallies) Tim Ramage and Lisa Phillips in their serious ex-championship Evo took us nowhere near as fun yesterday except for Tailem Bend. I was sceptical about Fred Shahin’s Peregrine Corporation’s plan to create a world-class motorsport facility but they have done it. When it’s finished and they sort out the roads in and out, you’ll come to stay at the hotel for a few days, rent a bike around the track or a serious car and look at the serious cars on display.

So, let’s go to the 48 emails I got this week pointing out that Sophia’s last name is spelt Loren not Lauren. The showroom opening of the year was at the Porker display and client entertainment (free drinks) structure that makes the Paris Ritz look like a B&B. Naturally I wasn’t invited but I know people who were.

Don’t worry friends we’ll be doing our special Santa edition with gifts for Mazda’s Vinesh Bhindi, Honda’s Hiroyuki Shimizu and BMW Australia’s Vikram Pawah soon.

Finally, the quote of the week from the Sage of Stepney as navigator: “(Rude words) I think we are going the wrong way”.

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