Last week I asked you to take a good close look at this photograph. I asked what
is this car, and why does it look so strange? Look carefully and you will see
that the car has been built sideways across the chassis of a 1940’s Mercedes, so
the wheels are pointing north-south while the body is pointing east-west. It is
reminiscent of the drawings done by M.C. Escher. Many thanks to Jerry Coffey for
sending this to me.
So to this week, and something more normal. I mentioned Lotus above, so let’s
continue in that vein. The Lotus 14 was released at the London Motor Show in
1957 and was called the Lotus Elite. A beautifully smooth design, it was the
world’s first fiberglass monocoque. Colin Chapman’s accountant was very much
involved with this car. What was his name, and what part did he have to play?
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Motorcycles make a comeback
I recently attended a motorcycle racing meeting at the Bira
International Circuit in Thailand, promoted by Grand Prix International (GPI),
and I was immediately taken by the different classes racing that weekend.
Everything from small step-throughs to 1000 cc big bikes. The riders also
covered everyone from ultra-competitive eight year olds to semi-retired
Americans racing 600’s for fun.
Kubo on the grid (Photo by Alan Coates)
This was also a very special meeting, according to Anothai Eamlumnow from Grand
Prix International, as it has been 20 years since they last promoted the
motorcycle racing. To mark the event, and its importance, the president of GPI
Dr. Prachin Eamlumnow and the newly elected mayor of Pattaya Itthipol Khunplome
were in attendance at the grand opening on the Sunday of the two day meeting.
Two riders stood out from the meeting as future champions. Kemin Kubo was eight
years old and Kiettisak Chuaywiset was nine. Both were riding Honda Click Super
Star step-throughs and both were very small. So small in fact that when lined up
on the grid they could not remain seated on the saddle, but had to slip off and
literally stand on one leg beside the motorcycle! But what is more, both of the
boys rode like champions, hanging off the side of the bike like any Valentino
Rossi would do.
at speed (Photo by Alan Coates)
The other item which stood out in my mind was the fact that there were complete
grids made up of small Yamahas and small Hondas. Ideal one-make one-model
categories that look affordable, present ideal training grounds for future
champions, and results will soon show those who have the talent to make it
further up the tree towards Moto-GP.
Another thought to ponder is the fact that in two wheeled racing, you can buy
performance, but you cannot buy results. You could put me on a 125 Moto-GP
Repsol Honda and I would come last. And so would you! However, I am confident
that I could run a Formula BMW race car and still be mid-field, even at my age.
Motorcycles are great levellers.
AFOS at Bira in August
Advance notice: the Asian Festival of Speed will be running at
Bira International circuit on August 16/17. This is our opportunity to see
cars and drivers from other Asian countries and see how our local drivers
compare. The AFOS program will also have the Thailand Supercar events, so it
should be a very full weekend of motorsport. More information closer to the
What did we learn from the German GP?
Well, we learned that Lewis Hamilton has a vacuum cleaner in the
nose of his McLaren Mercedes that sucks up the “dirty air” so well that he
doesn’t notice it when passing other cars. It is time the commentators and
the other drivers stopped using the so-called “dirty air” as an excuse.
Hamilton drove superbly and was head and shoulders above all the other
drivers and won despite the safety car and a rather strange strategy from
the McLaren pit wall experts.
In case you have been similarly sucked in that Hamilton won because his car
was faster than the others, here is the table of fastest laps:
1 N. Heidfeld (BMW) 1:15.987
2 L. Hamilton (McLaren) 1:16.039
3 K. Raikkonen (Ferrari) 1:16.342
4 H. Kovalainen (McLaren) 1:16.495
5 F. Massa (Ferrari) 1:16.502
6 R. Kubica (BMW) 1:16.610
7 T. Glock (Toyota) 1:16.712
8 S. Vettel (Toro Rosso) 1:16.772
9 N. Piquet (Renault) 1:16.910
10 S. Bourdais (Toro Rosso) 1:16.969
Hamilton’s car was not appreciably faster than the others, it was simply the
fact that Hamilton could keep up the lap times for 67 laps that brought him
We also learned that the use of safety cars can certainly produce some
strange results, such as Piquet (Renault) coming second. A clear case of
being in the right place at the right time. “I got quite lucky, but I was on
the perfect strategy and the team called me in at the right time,” he said.
Piquet has been under pressure to perform, but the second place at
Hockenheim has not changed anything. Piquet fell in a sewer and came up
covered in jam. Let us see if he is just as lucky in Hungary. His team mate,
the sulky Spaniard, gets more and more ragged when placed in pressure
situations. He is not worth the money.
Ferrari? Looks like they should be preparing for Alonso to come and take
Raikkonen’s seat in 2009. Kimi had no fire, no interest and no performance.
I think he has mentally retired already (as he has been threatening to do).
Massa was (almost) as lack-luster but scraped in for third.
After Hamilton, the other star of the meeting was Sebastian Vettel in the
Toro Rosso. Driving way above the performance of his car all weekend and
deserved the eighth place. In a Red Bull next year he will be even better.
His team mate Bourdais in his Roaring Tosser was as usual nowhere, which is
where the Frenchman will be next year. Nowhere.
BMW was something of a damp squib all weekend. Kubica was far from being the
driver he was in Montreal for his maiden win, whilst Heidfeld was another of
the ‘lucky’ drivers after the safety car lottery, ending up finishing in
front of his team mate.
Glock had another monumental crash after the right rear suspension failure
as he half lost it driving over the kerb. However, by the time he finally
stopped there was little of his Toyota left. Disappointing for the Japanese
giant as they were starting to show some results this year.
Red Bull’s MD claimed that “Webber picked up some debris which damaged the
oil cooler!” From where I was sitting in Jameson’s Irish Pub, watching the
smoke coming from the right hand bank of the V8, it was a bit more than a
debris-damaged oil cooler. Perhaps the conrod hit it? With Coulthard
retiring at the end of the year we will no longer be able to run bets on
whom he will hit at the next meeting. I think he has lost all lateral
My Earth Dream continues to be My Earth Nightmare and both the Honda drivers
seem to have mentally given up with this year’s car, just as they did with
last year’s car. Perhaps they could buy Glock’s wreck and see if they can
build a better one.
At this stage in the championship it looks as if Lewis Hamilton can win it,
provided McLaren doesn’t lose it for him!