Rush - a rush to the brain?
Rush the movie.
I watched the movie Rush last week, and it is superb! The actors who play James
Hunt and Niki Lauda have an uncanny resemblance to the real life characters,
adding to the realism imparted by this film.
It is not a movie with high speed synchronized “racing”, but is a movie that is
able to show the personalities of the two drivers. And even better, it
demonstrates just why we race, and that includes me and all race drivers,
irrespective of the formula or level being competed in.
Sure there were errors of fact and juxtaposition of time and rain at Japan which
could turn into sunshine by the time the cars came down pit lane, but it is not
a documentary. It is a movie set in an F1 background about two very different
people, who just happen to be F1 drivers and cut-throat competitors.
If you enjoy movies with a Formula 1 theme, then don’t miss this one. I enjoyed
it so much I am going to see it again.
ROC on again this December
Champion Romain Grosjean.
Danish Tom Kristensen, the nine time Le Mans 24 Hour race
winner has signed up for the 2013 Race of Champions (ROC) to be held at
Bangkok’s Rajamangala Stadium on the weekend of December 14-15.
The Race of Champions is the end of season contest, and since 1988 brought
together the world’s top drivers from motor sport’s main disciplines including
Formula 1, World Rally (WRC), Le Mans, MotoGP, Nascar, IndyCar, touring cars and
the X-Games - and by giving them identical machinery hopes to produce a level
playing field which then produces the champion of champions in the final.
Denmark’s Kristensen is acknowledged as the finest endurance racer in motor
sport history. His victory for Audi at this year’s Le Mans 24 Hour race in
partnership with Allan McNish and Loic Duval took his record haul of wins to
nine - in addition to his record six wins at the Sebring 12 Hour race and an
American Le Mans Series title.
Kristensen’s has appeared at the Race Of Champions every year since 2001 - yet
another record. He has achieved considerable success during that time, notably
reaching the individual Grand Final in each of the last two years only to fall
to French opposition: first world rally ace Sébastien Ogier then F1 star Romain
Grosjean. To have come so close will doubtless spur the Dane on to even greater
feats as he bids for his first Champion of Champions title in 2013.
According to his website Tom Kristensen said, “The Race Of Champions is a great
way to end the season. Always fun with great camaraderie among all the drivers
from different types of motor sport. That is why I come back every year. Still,
I do give everything to win and I’m getting closer every year! The challenge is
to jump into different cars and Romain deserved to win in 2012. But even though
I’m a bit older, to reach the final and race the youngsters is still a lot of
fun. Last year was the warmest ROC I have competed in so we know what to expect
in Bangkok. I’m still young so maybe one day I’ll get the chance to win it…
preferably in December.”
Al Capone assists the US President
Al Capone’s 1928 Cadillac.
One of the regular readers sent me this item, which I found
Hours after Pearl Harbor was bombed on December 7, 1941, the Secret Service
found themselves in a bind. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was to give his Day
of Infamy speech to Congress on Tuesday, and although the trip from the White
House to Capitol Hill was short, agents weren’t sure how to transport him
safely. At the time, Federal Law prohibited buying any cars that cost more than
$750, so they would have to get clearance from Congress to do that, and nobody
had time for that. One of the Secret Service members, however, discovered that
the US Treasury had seized the bulletproof car that mobster Al Capone owned when
he was sent to jail in 1931. They cleaned it, made sure it was running perfectly
and had it ready for the President the next day.
And run properly it did. Capone’s car was a sight to behold. It had been painted
black and green so as to look identical to Chicago’s police cars at the time. It
also had a specially installed siren and flashing lights hidden behind the
grille, along with a police scanner radio. To top it off, the gangster’s 1928
Cadillac 341A Town Sedan had 3,000 pounds of armor and inch-thick bulletproof
windows. Mechanics are said to have cleaned and checked each feature of the
Caddy well into the night of December 7th, to make sure that it would run
properly the next day for the Commander in Chief.
Footnote: The car was sold at auction in 2012 for $341,000.
Motor Racing is Dangerous
Throughout the world, your pit pass for a race meeting will
have printed on it “Motor Racing is Dangerous.” This is a legal requirement in
many countries, as otherwise the organizers might have to pay compensation if
you get injured by a flying wheel or even a flywheel, which I have seen twice,
with one coming straight up and through the bonnet of the Lotus Cortina while
the car was in the pits! The other was a Cooper Maserati which had a monumental
blow up with piston rings rolling down the main straight at the Lakeside circuit
in Queensland, Australia.
So the potential for injury is always there, both for the driver and for the
spectator. However, my tale this month relates more to the racing cars
When you enter a race there is the potential for damage to the race car,
especially on the first corner of the first lap. Look at F1 with the pile-ups
that happen on the first corner. In fact, if the entire field actually manages
to get through unscathed, this is a rarity. Generally there is a string of cars
going into the pits for fitting of a new nose. Some nose to tail jiggling and
some side to side sliding really is par for the course. After every race, I walk
around the car to see how many new scuffs and scratches the car has got. Between
one and three is about par for the course.
However, there is a far greater hazard with race cars - and that is just getting
them from the garage to the circuit and return all in one piece. Numerous race
cars have fallen off trailers after the pit crew forgot to tie the vehicle down
to the trailer.
But there are others. What about a Formula 2 car that cracked its chassis being
towed to the race meeting on a winter’s night? This was a race car where the
chassis tubes were used to get the water to the front mounted radiator and then
back to the engine. The car was sitting on a flat bed trailer and the cold
winter’s air was whistling through the radiator. It was so cold that the water
froze, splitting the chassis tubes. The damage was so extensive the car could
not be repaired in time for the meeting the next morning.
Motor Racing is indeed dangerous!
What did we learn from Suzuka?
As a spectacle it was one of the better GP’s, assisted by a
great track. We also learned that “The Finger” (Sebastian Vettel) can drive a
very calculated race and can listen to his pit wall (when he feels like it).
However, take nothing away from his skill - he drove a very good race to end on
the top step of the podium. However, he did have his fair share of luck with
some nerfing into the first corner by Hamilton (Mercedes) resulting in a
puncture for the Mercedes, eventually retiring with a damaged floor while Vettel
had no damage.
Webber (Red Bull) fought his way through to second after a third pit stop, but
it took him too many laps to pass Romain Grosjean (“Lotus”) and by then it was
too late and Vettel was too far out of reach. However, there is no doubt that
Eric Boullier and his “Lotus” team will sign Grosjean again for another season.
The “Lotus” seat to be vacated by Raikkonen at the end of the year must surely
go to Hulkenberg (Sauber) who was really more deserving of the Ferrari drive for
2014, than the taciturn Finn. The Hulk came sixth in Japan and is quite fearless
and yet very clean. He will be a top runner if he gets a good car.
Alonso did not have his usual “tiger” and was shown up in qualifying by his
(about to be ‘ex’) team mate Massa. Despite coming fourth there were only
occasional flashes of brilliance plus some of his old petulance, demanding the
pit tell Massa to move over. Massa blotted his copy book (as usual) and finished
Raikkonen has gone into cruise mode, the last few races. Scraping into the top
10 in Qualifying and then circulating in the middle of the pack, picking off the
odd place as they are presented to him and finished fifth, over 30 seconds
behind Grosjean. Apparently he has not been paid his full wages, so maybe that
is the reason? Surely someone can lend him the money for his ice creams!
Sauber’s second driver Esteban Gutierrez finally made the point score table
after 15 races. He did not impress enough for me to expect great things for the
rest of the year. He was just fortunate that Mercedes (Hamilton and Rosberg) had
problems with one DNF, and Rosberg a drive-through after an unsafe release.
The top 10 were rounded out by Button (McLaren) and Massa, but neither of them
caught the eye of the television director.
In the also-rans, Di Resta was the last car not lapped by Vettel, and next
year’s Red Bull signing Ricciardo was beaten by his team mate Jean-Eric Vergne
And finally, stupid statistics - Alonso has now scored more points than any
other F1 driver. He has 1571 compared to Michael Schumacher’s 1566 while
Sebastian Vettel has a total of 1351 points. Considering that in the 1950’s
there were around seven GP’s each year and now there are 20, it is not so
difficult to rack up the big numbers. Always remember there are lies, damned
lies, and statistics!
The next GP is in India (October 27) with the telecast commencing at 4.30 p.m.