San Marino GP this weekend


The fourth race in the 2006 F1 world championship is this weekend in Italy, and it is also the first Grand Prix back in Europe. The circuit, which is located 20 miles south-east of Bolgna, is laid out in the Castellacio Park and was first used in 1950. Originally 3.118 miles long, it was used for the occasional non-Championship race, but was very much a second-string circuit until 1973 when it was refurbished with the addition of Varianta Bassa and renamed Autodromo Enzo E Dino Ferrari. Variante Alta was added in 1974, when the length increased to 3.144 miles and a chicane was added at Aqua Minerale in time for the first Championship race in 1981, when the length of a lap became 3.132 miles. It is a quick, undulating, circuit with a series of demanding corners broken by chicanes. Popular with almost everyone, it was Imola’s misfortune to be the scene of the fatal accidents to Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna in 1994 and these tragedies have made Imola remembered by everyone.

I ‘think’ the race will start at 7 p.m., but please check. I don’t want you to miss the action packed start that is usual at Imola.

The Renault of Fernando Alonso must start as favorite for this event, but several other teams have been working hard in the three weeks since the Australian GP, and could provide the upset.

Local kart champions move up and train on pizzas

Pizza team before painting in team colors

The new Pizza Company Racing Team is hoping to make its mark on Thailand’s race circuits this year, in the Toyota Vios One Make series.

The team consists of three drivers, Paul Kenny (Australia), Martin Stuvik (Norway) and Thomas Raldorf (Denmark) and six mechanics.

The drivers in the team have a strong karting background. Paul Kenny has no previous racing experience in cars, only in Karting where he won the Thai national championship in 1995. Martin Stuvik drove a little kart as a young boy back in Norway, but in 2001 he purchased his first go-kart here in Thailand and won the Thai national championship, in 2004 and in 2005 he won every race he entered. Thomas Raldorf has been racing karts for 26 years, but this will be his first year in sedan car racing, and he is hoping to take it to the same level as his father did in 1982, when he won the Danish national championship. Thomas won the Danish national championship in karting back in 1984, and has since won the Thai national championship in 1998, 2002, 2004 and 2005. Unfortunately Thomas broke his foot in a domestic accident and hopes to have the cast off two days before the first race on the 29th of April.

The sponsors of the team include The Pizza Company, Sizzler, Swensen’s, DSL (Deborah Services Ltd.), Jotun (Thailand) and Dacon Inspection Services Ltd. And like most teams are still looking for more!

All three cars will be painted red and will have a broad white strip going up over the hood, roof, and boot.

The first two races will be held at Bira International race circuit on the 29th and 30th of April and 10-11 June this year. The next two races will be street races in Khon Kaen, and Chiang Mai, and the last race will be at the new Thailand International Motor sports Complex (TIMC) in Chonburi, which should be ready for use in Oct-Nov. If the track is not ready, the last race will then be held at Bira instead.

Bira race circuit calendar

Many of you have asked for the calendar for the Bira circuit. This is from their website at

The first name for each denotes the promoting group.

Royal Automobile Association of Thailand (RAAT)

Touring Car, Pickup, Motorcycle, Concept Car, Club Race 5. Super Bike
Rd.1, 8-9 Apr
Rd.2, 3-4 Jun
Rd.3, 5-6 Aug
Rd.4, 7-8 Oct
Rd.5, 2-3 Dec 5

2. Asian Festival of Speed (A.F.O.S.)

Touring Car, Porsche Carrera Cup, Formula BMW

24-27 Aug

3. Thailand Super Car

Touring Car, Pickup, Motorcycle, Club Race, Go-Kart
Rd.1, 29-30 Apr
Rd.2, 10-11 Jun
Rd.3, 29-30 Jul
Rd.4, 9-10 Sep
Rd.5, 4-5 Nov 5

4. Kart Championship Thailand
Rd.1, 5 Feb
Rd.2, 14 May
Rd.3, 20 Aug
Rd.4, 22 Oct 4

That’s the best I can do, so don’t shoot me if they change the dates!

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I mentioned the Segway, and I asked who invented it? This would not have been difficult for the Googlers. It was Dean Kamen, an American multi-millionaire.
So to this week. Following on for the technical piece on electric cars - how many makes of electric cars were there between 1896 and 1939?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]
Good luck!

12,000 batteries and a large chunk of copper brings a world record

Buckeye Bullet

It is said that copper wire was invented by two Scotsmen fighting over a penny they found in the street (the old British penny, being also known as a “copper”). Of course that is just a joke, but the use of copper in today’s automobiles is no joking matter, with most cars now using around 30 kg of copper in their construction. In fact, the Copper Development Association claimed in 2003 that the average vehicle needed more than 1.5 km of copper wiring for its harnesses, starters, generators and small electric motors, amounting to a copper content of 14.85 kg for smaller and 27.66 kg for luxury cars. “Fast glass” and remote locking is paid for in the price of the increased use of copper.

The copper wires and harnesses found in vehicles are safe and preferred by car manufacturers over other conducting metals, for their tear resistance and mechanical strength. In addition, copper’s corrosion resistance guarantees signal and power transmission whenever indicators or headlamps are switched on and when power brakes and ABS (antilock brakes) are applied. Copper applications are used in comfort features including power steering, electric locks and windows and seat adjustments. In fact, in this age of “X-by-wire”, most times that wire is copper.

The electrical side of motor vehicles is increasing in its importance. The future mass market vehicles will have 42V electrical systems, and will probably be hybrid and electric vehicles, and use power train technologies that allow for better fuel economy and fewer emissions, and these are some prospective new technologies in which copper will play a major role.

General Motors have indicated that they expect the copper usage to increase by between 1 and 2 kg per unit, as a result of new communications and navigation systems. SatNav also comes at a price in copper, it seems. With hybrids, the copper use is expected to jump by 30-60 percent.

Angela Vessey, director of the Copper Development Association in the UK said, “Copper is meeting the demands of the 21st century, its advantages in performance are vital for the development of new automotive technologies. Not only will copper be involved in environmentally friendly propulsion systems of the future, but already today copper is increasingly recycled from end-of-life vehicles, limiting negative waste into the environment. Copper has one of the highest recycling rates among engineering metals in the world and nearly 45 percent of all copper used in the European Union today is from recycled resources.” Interesting that your new hybrid could actually be made from bits of an East German Trabant! Heaven forbid! It must fail!

Electricity as a power source is actually gaining a stronger foothold in the mainstream, and not just through hybrids. This is returning to a position that it was in 100 years ago, but many factors arose to lower the spark of electric vehicles.

However, let us look at a little history. The leading manufacturer of electric vehicles in the world at the end of the 19th century was the Baker Motor Vehicle Company, started by Walter C. Baker in 1898. Indeed, the company still stands as the largest producer of electric vehicles in history, despite ceasing business in 1916.

Bakers displayed the first shaft-driven auto at the first US automobile show in Madison Square Garden and Baker sold his first electric car to electrical guru Thomas A. Edison himself. Edison firmly believed that electric cars would eventually win out over their petrol-engine competition, and if he had stuck around long enough, he might have been able to see his prediction proved correct!

Yes, at the turn of the century, 105 years ago, electricity was king. The world land speed record was 66 mph, set in 1899 by an eccentric gentleman by the name of Camille Jenatzy, driving a large bullet-shaped device called “La Jamais Contente”.

Being the world’s major electric car manufacturer, Baker had to go one better, and he designed and built the “Baker Torpedo”, a vehicle that was radically different, so much so that it would be another 20 years before anything even resembling this design would be seen. This vehicle even incorporated aerodynamic design. Remember that in pure engineering terms, “form follows function”.

Powered by 11 Edison lead acid batteries and driven by a 14 hp Elwell-Parker electric motor, the car had a potential top speed of nearly 130 mph, but the potential was never to be realized. Contemporary news reported that the day Baker became the first man to travel at 100 mph, a wheel came off the vehicle and killed two spectators. Though Baker had run the measured mile in 36 seconds, the paperwork for the attempt was never filed, and he never attempted another record.

From the point of view of ‘everyday’ motoring, electric propulsion came to a sputtering end around 1915. Its dimming light was due to many factors, including the invention of the electric “self-starter” by Charles Kettering in 1912, making it easy to start petrol engined cars – before then it was a matter of standing in the rain and cranking the handle at the front of the car.

Another factor was the improvement in the American road system, so the public was driving further, and electric cars had a limited range. By that stage, the petrol engined vehicles were also appreciably faster than the shorter range electric cars, so people could get to their destinations in a shorter time too.

The price of gasoline went down as well when oil was discovered in Texas, so people could also afford to drive further. The final nail in the electric cars’ coffins was the ‘smarter’ use of technology by people such as Henry Ford, who by using mass production techniques could produce a petrol engined Ford for one third of the price of Baker’s hand produced electric cars.

However, as pointed out earlier, electricity is staging a comeback, and not just in the number of copper wires that are needed to keep today’s cars functioning. Electric vehicles are attacking world land speed records again, and in 2004 the Ohio State University’s electric vehicle, the “Buckeye Bullet”, with 12,000 batteries, broke the electric vehicle land speed records, raising the bar to more than 300 miles per hour on the Bonneville Salt flats.

Like Arnie, electric cars are back!