Yes, it’s the bumper marketing edition of the Weekend Australian motoring column in the business section. Today we’ll look at the lengths F1 will go to publicise the season opening this weekend; the lack of publicity about the bigger race of the weekend; the Australian government’s $10m promo of the 1998 Falcon; the best films to watch at the film house and vomit. Seriously you should be paying $8 a copy for the privilege.
Since the Australian F1 was cancelled in March the sport has fallen off the radar and media screen. Not good for a company with a market cap of $10bn, attractive margins and very low capital intensity. So, with the Formula 1 Rolex Grosser Preis Von Österreich 2020 coming up the PR mavens at head office (12300 Liberty Blvd, Englewood, Colorado) decided there was only one man to call. Yup you guessed it, the sound bite king of the last 90 years, the media supremo who said of US racer Danica Patrick: “You know, I’ve got one of these wonderful ideas that women should be all dressed in white like all the other domestic appliances”; who said of Hitler that “he could command a lot of people — able to get things done”; who, in another CNN interview said he completely agreed with Putin’s policy towards homosexuals; and who at 89 has just had his first son, Ace, with wife, Fabiana Flosi, 44, and has around $5bn in the bank — the one the only Bernard Charles Ecclestone.
Bernie got the sport back on the front page by suggesting that in “lots of cases black people were more racist than white people” and he doubted whether there was “any concern” about the issue as a whole in F1. This didn’t go down all that well with Lewis Carl Davidson Hamilton, 35, a resident of Luins, Monte Carlo, Manhattan and Breckinridge, who has just reopened negotiations with the Merc team to lift his pay $100m a year with no overtime or super contributions.
Hamo said Bernie’s comments were “ignorant and uneducated”. Still the controversy lit up FI fan sites with the majority of comments being even more racist that Bernie’s. That would be no surprise to the greatest driver of the modern era and the only black one ever. Hamo has copped abuse all his life including “kids throwing things at me while karting”, spectators wearing black face at F1 meetings and a Spanish website owned by ad agency TBWA carrying comments that Hamo was a “half-breed”. As a result of Hamo, Merc F1 cars will run all black livery and the company has committed to improve diversity. Apart from that I wouldn’t hold your breath.
Now in another scandal while you can watch every practice, qualifying session and F1 race live on KAYO you won’t be able to see the far more important MRA Series Round 5 next to Eastern Creek tip on Sunday on our sister broadcaster. At MRA diversity is the association’s middle name. Keep an eye on the three races of the MX-5 Cup with the Phil Alexander/Weekend Australian Mazda with oldest person in the series behind the wheel car. Just look for the gaudily decorated motor at the back of the field.
Talking of old cars, full credit to the Australian government for investing $10 mill to mark the 20 year anniversary of the Ford Falcon AU. While Dog & Lemon editor Clive Matthew-Wilson calls the AU ‘‘a tired old design tarted up for the new millennium’’ and says “it’s safe to say when the history of motoring in Australia is written 100 years from now the Falcon AU will not get much paragraph space’’, Australia’s National Brand Advertising Council, making up for this country’s treatment of local car manufacturers, has put it at the heart of the nation’s new logo. Described officially as an abstract gold wattle design, Daily Telegraph reader Steven more accurately describes it as looking like a ‘‘vomit spray’’ and that’s probably being unkind to vomit.
Maybe the National Brand Advertising Council should have gone for the 1969 Holden HT. Last weekend the very first Holden to be prepared for touring car racing by Harry Firth, 1969 HT Monaro 57D, sold for $750k. Auctioneers were expecting a mill plus for the Kevin Bartlett and Spencer Martin racer that crashed and burned 45 minutes into its first outing at Sandown with brake and other problems. Spencer Martin had a short but brilliant racing career winning in everything from Holdens to Ferraris. Coming down the Sandown straight Spencer felt the brakes go, put the car sideways and went backwards into the Armco, getting out just before the fuel tank exploded.
Talking of movies, here’s two that make it worth going to the big screen: Brock Over The Top and Romantic Road. Both are good for non-petrol heads and both are new classics. As Peter Brock’s biggest fan, I agree with director Kriv Stenders when he says: “I think he’ll be remembered as being an incredible racing car driver — an extraordinarily talented driver — but I also think he’ll be remembered as a human being. As someone who did have faults and was simply a man. He wasn’t a saint, he wasn’t indestructible, he was flesh and blood.”
Produced by Sharon Stone, the Romantic Road doco traces late 60s couple Rupert and Jan Grey as they drive his father’s well-worn 1936 Roller through India and Bangladesh. Like their lives, there are breakdowns and mayhem and this is a treat.
Talking of France, reader Max Fulton tells us he been watching a series called “A French Village” set in WWII in Vichy France. “The storyline is very good, but why do the old French cars, buses and trucks have doors hinged at the back?” Of course, Max is talking about suicide doors, French doors or in Sweden, kidnapper doors. In France the doors on horse-drawn carriages were modelled on the front doors of the wealthy where two doors would open out. The design carried on through into the twentieth century. The Mazda RX-8 had them. They are called suicide doors because unlike the font hinged ones, where the wind keeps them closed, French doors fly open. American gangsters loved them because you could throw bodies out of the car.