Bang Saen street racing
Monaco has its round the houses racing, Macau has
its famous round the houses races, Valencia built one this year and
Singapore spent a zillion on having its own night races around the
houses for the F1 GP this year. Not to be outdone, Thailand has its
own round the houses event, and in fact this is the second year it
has been held at Bang Saen. As opposed to the daylight meetings at
Monaco, Macau and Valencia, and more in line with Singapore, the
local Bang Saen event was also in the dark (or partial darkness!).
circuit is through the streets of Bang Saen, lined by Armco fencing
on both sides. It is extremely twisty and very narrow in places,
even down to single file through the hairpin at the foot of the
mountain. It is also extremely unforgiving as there are no run-off
areas and one mistake wins you a wall.
The Saturday and Sunday races were sprint races covering many
categories, including the Toyota Vios One Make Race, Toyota Yaris
One Make Race, Toyota Vios Lady, Super 1500, Super 1500 Open, Super
1600, Super 2000, Supercar, Super Commonrail Pick-up trucks, Mini’s
and ‘Retro’ cars. However, it was the Friday’s Six Hour endurance
race which attracted most entries, including some cars from Hong
Kong and Japan, plus a smattering of overseas drivers in local cars
Company at Bang Saen
With sponsorship from AA Insurance Brokers, I was able to get
nomination as one of the drivers in the two car Pizza Company team
for the Six Hour, with Tony Percy and Thomas Raldorf in the Toyota
Yaris and Paul Kenny and myself in the Toyota Vios. It should be
pointed out that these were not standard cars, but highly modified
and running slick racing tyres.
The regulations for the Six Hour event stated that neither of the
two drivers could remain behind the wheel for more than 40 minutes,
meaning that there were frequent pit stops to change drivers. You
were also not allowed to refuel before two hours had elapsed, and
then again at the fourth hour.
The Pizza Company team had mixed fortunes, with the Percy/Raldorf
Yaris suffering a drive-shaft problem and then a brake failure,
hitting the wall and putting them out of the race.
The Vios was also in trouble with brakes, going through three sets
of brake pads in the six hours. When the pads wore down, it was very
difficult to stop and I found myself entering the pit turn too
quickly and I also nicked a wall, but was able to continue with just
a broken headlight and minor body damage.
We also had problems with running out of fuel before the stipulated
two hours and had to come in on the end of a tow rope mid race,
having run completely dry.
With the event having started late (can nothing in Thailand ever run
to time?) the finish was also late and after sun-down and it was
then that it began to look like Singapore night race, except there
was no overhead lighting!
Finally, in the dying moments of the race, two cars managed to
invert themselves at the top of the mountain blocking the track and
the race was red-flagged and declared at that point.
Paul Kenny and myself and the slightly battered Vios were classified
as finishers, but at the time of making this report we are unsure of
our final position, but I imagine we would have come around 10th.
My thanks to AA Insurance Brokers and Thomas Raldorf and Paul Kenny
from the Pizza Company racing team for making the drive possible.
(Footnote: For the first time in my life I was car sick, brought
about by the never-ending series of right-left-right-left corners.
Try driving at 160 kph with your jaws clamped shut and your stomach
heaving! I was also totally exhausted by the end. I am starting to
think that endurance racing may be a young man’s sport!)
Last week I mentioned that the winner of the Chinese GP received an
extraordinary trophy which looked like a collection of Citroen grill emblems -
the reversed double chevron. Forgetting about why the Chinese chose such an
outlandish design, I asked why did Andre Citroen choose the double chevron for
his cars? It was to represent the double helix silent gears pioneered by Andre
Citroen before he began building cars in 1919.
So to this week. What was the first Japanese car to be exported? Clue: it was to
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email
1936 Stainless Steel Ford Coupe
This is the 1936 Ford Coupe built for and owned by Allegheny Ludlum
Steel. This is one of only four in existence and is the only one currently in
running and in roadworthy condition. The car is in exceptional condition, with
the interior and even the frame looking great.
All four cars each had over 200,000 miles on them before they removed them from
service. These cars were built for Allegheny as promotional and marketing
projects. The top salesmen each year were given the honor of being able to drive
them for one year. The v-8 engine (max 85 hp) ran like a sewing machine and was
surprisingly smooth and quiet.
FYI, the car was insured (we were told) for the trip to Louisville via covered
trailer for 1.5 million dollars. We were also told that the dies were ruined by
stamping the stainless car parts, making these the last of these cars ever
produced. More information of the history on these automobiles can be found at
Allegheny Ludlum’s website:
Auto electrics - a black art
I have always considered car electrics to be a black art. Take
the battery in your car, for example, and I am sure you have all experienced
the following. You have a perfectly good battery which is just over 12
months old. In your mind that’s almost brand new. In fact, you can even
remember how much you paid for it, so it must be very new. And then one
morning it won’t turn the engine over. It worked perfectly yesterday, you
drove it home and now it won’t, or doesn’t want to turn the engine over.
So you push start the car and run it for half an hour, as you suppose you
must have left the headlights on, or something equally as explicable. Turn
it off, and hey presto! It’s still as dead as a dodo.
If you are really into masochism, you borrow your mate’s battery charger and
leave it on all night. Triumphantly you remove the cables and jump in. It
doesn’t work. Perfectly good one day, completely cactus the next. Explain
that one, Thomas Edison.
I haven’t finished with electrics yet. There’s the fuel pump on the original
Mini’s, made by Lucas, the same people who made headlights, earning them the
title of the Prince of Darkness. In a fit of madness, Sir Alec Issigonis
decided to put the fuel pump under the floor of the boot. I personally think
he forgot about it during the design phase, and the pump and its subsequent
placement was an afterthought after the engine wouldn’t fire. Oops! No
petrol. Oops! No pump.
Now if the pump had been carefully wrapped in its own pump-sized condom,
everything would have been fine. But it wasn’t, was it? Puddles, streams,
overflowing Bangkok klongs, or a decent spit, would cause the pump to stop.
OK, OK, water in the points, so the electrical pulse doesn’t, or something.
Whatever, the end result is that you are stranded.
Actually I have had a life-long hate of fuel pumps. Remember the old MG TCs?
The pump was mounted on the right hand side of the scuttle firewall.
Whenever it stopped ticking you had to get out, and perform black magic to
get it to work. You unscrewed the cap and gently coaxed the points back into
flutter mode, then reassembled everything and away you went.
I had another method, which did not require you to stop at the side of the
road or unscrew anything. I used to keep a short iron bar down beside the
driver’s seat and when the pump stopped pumping, I would lean out with the
bar in my hand and beat buggery out of the pump. It would start again,
either because I had made the points open and close, or because the pump was
so frightened it was trembling. Of course the sides were off the bonnet (‘De
rigeur’ in those days, complete with leather straps across the top bonnet
panels) to make it easy.
Can’t afford to own that Ferrari?
Here’s the answer!
With the world in financial melt down, sales of new high
performance sports cars have taken a nosedive. Top Gear TV show highlighted
the fact that upper level car depreciation is at an all time high, with the
value of the cars dropping to 50 percent in just one year!
However, with luxury still in demand there is a way to drive your dream car
other than shelling out a small fortune. Discerning drivers are currently
defying the credit crunch and hitting the fast lane anyway through the British
high performance sports car club, Marque II.
Offering a selection of the most exclusive high performance sports cars, Marque
II has become the sensible choice for every wise car connoisseur. The current
range of luxury cars available are Audi R8, Maserati Granturismo, Ferrari 360
Spider, Mercedes SL55 AMG, Maserati Gransport, Jaguar XKR, Range Rover Sport
Supercharged, Audi RS4, Noble M12 GTO, Mini Cooper S Works, and I am sure
something out of that lot would suit Sir or Madame this weekend! In the UK, the
average cost of owning a high performance sports car can be a whopping 825,000
baht or more per annum let alone the outlay of buying one outright and the
Joining a high performance sports car club like Marque II removes these costs
and the stress of buying or selling cars, making it easier to enjoy the benefits
of driving a high performance sports car without the headache of maintaining it.
Yes, this club boasts the following advantages:
Average 58 days driving per year
Membership covering two drivers
Inclusive delivery and collection 24 hours a day, seven days a week
Driving within Europe, including delivery and collection anywhere in the EU.
Free airport delivery and collection
A 24 hour “Safely Home” service for members on a night out
Points can be carried over
Congestion Charge Payment
No claims discount
International and Week Day only Membership
Women only membership discount.
It all sounds just that little bit wonderful, but the concept is right. Why buy
a Ferrari when you can rent it at weekends instead? From the customer point of
view, the mathematics are right, and will save you money. So now, who wants to
start one here?
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