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Home  /  May 2019  /  Racing

Last Saturday night was the most exciting sporting event ever on telly since the 1959 world curling championship in Scotland.

You probably remember it. Like the ALP, the Scots went into the competition way ahead in the polls with the Canadians trailing badly. Friends and readers, it was a contrast in curling styles, with the Canadian Richardson family favouring a hitting game and the Scots, under skip, Willie Young, favouring the draw game. The Scots were also not used to the rubber hack and the Canadian rules allowing a delivery to the length of the near hogline.

After five matches, held all over the country (well in Falkirk and Edinburgh), Canada took the ­series five-blot.

Michael McMichael and I were there at the time contemplating a change from motor racing to the more daredevil sport of curling. Mick reminded me on Saturday night that Willie Young had come up to him after his team’s devastating loss 60 years ago, asking the old bloke for some words of solace. Naturally, being the sort of person he is (until he has a few drinks), Mick said that, perhaps I should repeat what he told Willie for all of you who voted ALP, UAP, SEA, RPA, SBP, CDP, HEMP or the Reason Party, whose lack of electoral success is clearly due to them changing their name from the Sex Party.

Michael had consulted his spiritual guru whose advice has guided us over 40 years of motorsport in more than five countries (including Tasmania). Over that period, we have consistently come last in every event we have entered. Anyway, Keith Richards had told him to say: “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you find, you get what you need.” Hope that helps.

What many of you need at this time is the 2009 Mercedes-Benz/McLaren SLR Stirling Moss that’s under the hammer today at RM Sothebys’ Villa Erba auction and champagne tasting. Yours for around $3.2 mill, this is one of only 75 that were built and were only offered to Mercedes customers. Paying homage to the 300 SLR in which Stirling Moss won the 1955 Mille Miglia, the Mercedes-Benz/McLaren SLR looked crook and was a disappointing ride. About 2000 were made from the ­McLaren factory in England and you can probably pick one up for about $800k. On the other hand, the Stirling Moss SLR is a stripped down version — all the original car was meant to be. First up, they restyled the car to look less like a German lounge on wheels, ripped off the roof, tossed the windshield and took the 5.4-litre supercharged V-8 engine up to 460kw.

Now I don’t want to scare you but this Merc is good for 350km/h which, given there is no windscreen, doesn’t do wonders for your hair, the wrinkles on your face or the ciggy in your mouth. So, if you are of the female persuasion or just like wearing long scarfs, can I gently remind you of what happened to Isadora Duncan in a similar car, the 1927 Amilcar CGSS. Issie was an American dancer who didn’t like to wear a lot of kit when she was on stage. She had a full career as feminist, a communist and an eccentric until she hopped in the Amilcar with race driver Benoit Falchetto on the Promenade Des Anglais. One story was, Ben was giving her driving lessons but given her comments at the time, it was more likely there was going to be some horizontal dancing that night.

Anyway there was a gust of wind and before you could say “let’s rediscover the beautiful, rhythmical motions of the human body; to call back to life that ideal movement which should be in harmony with the highest physical type; to awaken once more an art which has slept for 2000 years”, her long scarf got tangled in one of the wheels and broke her neck. She died.

This is a genuine two-owner car with 8400km on the clock. Now that negative gearing and franked dividends are back, I recommend you get on the phone and have a go for it. It is breathtakingly beautiful in special-order colour Antimony Grey Crystal over a black leather interior, with Silver Arrow 300 SL red trims and accents. For a lazy $3.2m you not only get the car, you get goggles in their original bags, hats, tonneau covers, and service manuals.

Let me put you in the mood. You and someone special (who hopefully is not wearing a long scarf) are cruising down Hastings Street at Noosa to Shane Harvey’s Boardwalk Bistro (the old Berardo’s on the Beach) in your Merc Stirl. You both have your cloth racing hats on, the racing goggles and you’re trying not to look too pleased with yourselves. You stop outside the Boardwalk ready for the early morning house-made almond & chia granola with a couple of glasses of Coopers Best Extra Stout to wash it down with, when Shane opens the door of the car and says: “A Mercedes-Benz/McLaren SLR Stirling Moss that does 0-100km/h in 3.5 seconds with the creature comforts of the car it is based on sacrificed in the pursuit of performance, aesthetics and extreme driver and passenger enjoyment … come on in, the pork katsu sliders, the chilly Irishmen (frozen espresso, kahlua and Irish whiskey) and Coopers are on me.” Just remember over the past 10 years these cars have tripled in price with no capital gains tax.

Next week a full report on the Monaco GP, all the auction sales and more arty stuff like today.

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