Many of you have been asking is Le Mans worth visiting?
Well compared to Baku City in Azerbaijan of course it is. Compared to Logan City in Queensland officially declared as the Shit Town of the Year by judges Rick Furphy and Geoff Rissole, absolutely it is.
“Common hobbies in Logan include getting shitfaced and hitting someone with a bit of wood, committing ram raids in hot-wired Holdens and inter-generational welfare dependency. A popular venue is the Logan Hyperdome, where flannel-clad rednecks fight to the death over Centrelink payments,” Rick and Geoff say.
I don’t want to run down any place that welcomes petrol heads, particularly ones that date back to 47BC (or the year the old bloke was born), but can I mention some of the nine “most fun things to do in Le Mans” (the twin town of Haouza, in the western Sahara … and there’s your first clue) from the official website. High up is Papea Park where “visitors will enjoy the funny tracks, the caterpillar or visit the aviary to discover the beautiful blue peacock.”
And something you can only do on the Viaduct of Saint-Georges le Gaultier? Bungee jumping. There are old buildings. There are 27 gazillion old churches and nine McDonald’s. I always take friends to Escape Yourself down on 66 Rue Chanzy. Talk about a fun night out. So, what goes down is that you and up to 40 of your besties “have to unlock the maximum number of boxes, all different and this within the time limit and thus accumulate the maximum number of tokens to win victory”. Who needs fast cars, fast persons of the opposite or any other sex, illicit substances and a bucket full of Dom Perignon P3 Plenitude Brut when you can Escape Yourself?
Yes, yes, I know there’s a 24-hour race there too.
And it was a 24-hour race, jam or vegemite-packed with Australians from the mainland and the seventh state across the Tasman. When actor Michael Fassbender decided he wanted to have a drive with the Porsche 911 RSR-19 racing team, he looked to our own Queenslander, Matt Campbell. Palmerston North racer Brendon Harley won (with two others in the car at different times) in a Toyota Hypercar with Ryan Briscoe third in a Glickenhaus 007 LMH. Down the field was our favourite supercar star Shane van Gisbergen in a Feezer 488, Nick Cassidy from the Auckland side of the country in another Feezer and James Allen in an Oreca 07. You can see Shane today and tomorrow on Foxtel or Kayo in the Merlin Darwin Triple Crown. Then you can see him start his first World Rally Championship at the Repco Rally New Zealand in late September. Then he will probably take over from Georgie Russell and work alongside Hamo in the 2023 F1 series before he pilots his own rocket ship to the moon.
Talking of Hamo, a few emails asking if I think he is just pulling the old crook back caper to get some compo from Mercedes. While there were reports the Hamster may miss Sunday’s Canadian Grand Prix “after suffering excruciating back pain caused by his bouncing car during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku”, Lou was on the blower this week to say “fake news” and he would be on Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal. “Look Johnny I was praying for the race to end in Azerbaijan … wherever that is … I did struggle to get out of my car after finishing a very excellent fourth and I was seen clutching my lower back but I’ll be back … excuse the pun … and will shoulder on.”
But there’s always trolls. Former F1 driver John Watson had similar problems in his Lotus in the 1975 Spanish GP. Maybe that’s what prompted him to say the Hamster “needs to get a grip and not act like a pantomime dame about Mercedes’ porpoising problems”. But our own Daniel Ricciardo says the Hamster didn’t exaggerate the extent of his back injury, saying F1 drivers do not deserve to endure “unnecessary” pain.
Talking of Feezers, a day or so ago Benedetto Vigna, 53, of Pietrapertosa, Italy, physicist and chief executive of Ferrari, announced that his company would invest $5bn to develop fully electric and plug-in hybrid models that would make up 60 per cent of its range by 2026.
I’ll tell you who: oxygen thieves who know the only cosmetic surgery they’ll ever need is a personality transplant and investment bankers who have been knocked back as organ donors because they only have half a brain and no heart.
Talking of oxygen thieves, what about the private speed camera contractors to government? Reader 18, Greg, from Paterson, NSW, knows all about them. “Our Rotary volunteers were setting up for our once-a-year Cracker community night when along comes the RTA to set up their speed/mobile camera for the weekend right in the middle of our bus pick-up/ drop-off point. Obviously, this was to catch the unexpected and add some grief to their day which was otherwise charitable.”
Sad to report Queensland motorsport and the least boring town in Australia, Leyburn, lost a legend with the death of Mike Collins. Mike was the driving force behind the foundation in 1996 of the Historic Leyburn Sprints, one of Australia’s most successful grassroots motorsport events. The Sultan and I will be competing in the Sprints in August and will certainly mark the passing of a great racer and contributor to our sport.
And congratulations to Betty Klimenko for getting an AM in the Betty Windsor awards for significant service to motorsport and to charitable organisations. Betty (Klimenko) runs the Erebus Motorsport team and in 2017 became the first female team owner to win the Bathurst 1000.
Finally, I’m researching a column on car servicing. Love to hear your experiences.