Sunday, December 03, 2006
...sorry about that. For everybody else, which would be all of you...how's things??
I would like to say that nothing's been happening so there's been nothing to report. That wouldn't really be true, but most of it involves little four wheeled machine business and spending money and you can find all that out by clicking here .
The new toy should be ready before Christmas. Whilst dismantling the old one to pilfer the engine and other parts, I discovered my silencer had broken in three places. I wonder how long it was like that? - he says, grinning quietly to himself at the notion that the motor might actually be coaxed to go FASTER...
But other things have happened. We've grown a little older, for a start. And that's non-trivial, because life is a journey.
We also went to the U2 concert. "We" being Sharon AND me. Which is scary. It's the second time the vast chasm which is our respective musical taste has actually met in the middle.
It was fantastic. Sure, Bono did his usual get-into-a-cause thing, and I don't see how paying $140 for a U2 ticket is going to make poverty history. If anything it's going to make poverty worse. But anyone who doesn't complain about Global Warming is alright with me. And I would put up with anything to hear the guitar chime of Beautiful Day...
The downer was we had to park at the Exhibition Centre and walk to the Docklands and Sharon was wearing the wrong shoes. The upside...the docklands are really nice.
Now that we're up to stage 58 water restrictions, our front lawn is brown and the back yard has no lawn at all. So the kids have a sandpit to play in and I didn't even have to build them one. At least the Bracks Government can blame Global Warming for the fact they had absolutely no preparation whatsoever for a drought.
You see, Global Warming only started happening immediately after the lastVictorian election, and nobody saw it coming. It had nothing to do with the screaming, bleeding heart, pagan humanist green-worshipping Left crying "Burn them!!!!" the moment someone mentioned making dams, or enlarging catchments. Nope, who could possibly have foreseen the sudden effect of 100 years of greenhouse gas.
Note carefully that I inscribe "Global Warming" with capitals so as to afford the appropriate respect to the deity of the Green religion. The messiah is Al Gore, who is still on his I'll-save-the-world-from-Global-Warming Tour. It's a worldwide tour, and Apostle Al (PBUH) flies busily about, in planes that belch hordes of greenhouse gases...
Currently there's an Inquisition to root out the heretics who are skeptical of the seriousness of Global Warming (peace be upon It). That includes those pesky scientists who just won't shut up with all their "facts" about largely cooler temperatures.
Then with all the healthy skeptics gone we will be panicked into making laws that planes must run on lentil juice. Planes will fall out of the sky and thousands will be killed, but it will all be worth it.
Religion comes in all sorts of weird shapes and sizes, huh?
Meanwhile Naomi has adpoted yet more Guinea Pigs, which further worsens the grass problem.
While Mum was over in October for 'Omi's birthday, she tripped over some piles of junk and discovered a spare room underneath it. There were no Egyptian Tombs, Hebraic stone etchings or anything else of note, mainly just odd socks, long disused toys and junk mail. I came home from work to find an elegantly decorated formal sitting room with two new suede chairs, a little coffee table replete with a marble chess set we picked up in Brazil ten years ago, and a rug.
I'm not sure where all the junk has gone but I'm sure it may have been shifted into one of those spare dimensions I talked about earlier in the 'blog.
I gotta go. There's a Greens party member at the door, I suspect they are arresting me for blaspheming the God of Global Warming. Tell my kids I lov...................
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Haven't posted for a while because I've been busy driving performance cars, celebrating Naomi's TENTH (!!!) birthday, Mum's visit, and racing karts at Wakefield Park (link on right)
Catch y'all when I've got some time.
Sunday, October 08, 2006
I have never won anything in my life. Not even a chook raffle.
Australia's best motoring mag, MOTOR, runs a series of tests annually to determine the Performance Car Of The Year (PCOTY). The journos like to pretend that the tests are arduous and hard work but really they can't hide that it is pure, unadulterated FUN. They do a competition allowing one lucky reader to join them in their tests. It was one of those "tell us in 25 words or less why..". So I did. And I won.
Scary sports car with fiery Italian temper
So, this weekend (14th 15th and 16th October), I will be touring around from a (secret) airfield in NSW to Winton raceway (I'm sure I've been there before) with a collection of MOTOR journos and the PCOTY finalists, which include: Porsche Cayman S, Aston Martin Vantage, Golf GTI, Subaru STI, Nissan 350Z, a handful of Falcon Turbo sixes, and some "wild card" entries which I've been told includes an Audi RS4, Mercedes CLK63 AMG and something called a Lamborghini Murcielago with a 471 kilowatt V12 Engine and all-wheel drive.
For those who aren't sure why I'm raving, here is a pictorial selection of some of the aforementioned vehicles.
Why is it that every Lotus Exige I see is bright orange? The one that pasted me at the Nurburgring last year was orange. This time, I might actually get to drive it!
Another Nurburgring memory. Emmmmmmmmmm Six
At last! Porsche have made something that doesn't look like a 911 or a Boxster. Instead, it looks like both...
Yes Miss Moneypenny...
A Datsun!! How nostalgic...
Umm....Wheeeeeeeee! (ran out of imaginative captions)
Sure, it would have been nice to win something that was transferable to cold hard cash, or, God forbid, something I could share with the rest of the family. But sometimes you just gotta do something that money can't buy (unless you have over three million dollars, of course).
Since the last competition was won, no doubt the magazine's lawyers swooped on the whole civilian-driving-performance-cars-fast thing and made the prize a little less potent. If you have the September edition of MOTOR you'll see what I mean. But hey, beggars can't be choosers and I will happily tag along and see what I get to drive/ thrash/ drool over.
It could be a real fizzer. We'll know by next Tuesday. But somehow I suspect it will all turn out juuust fine....
Friday, September 29, 2006
Buy a Commodore they said. Can't go wrong they said.
But NOOOOoo, even our new dependable Commodore can stop on the side of the road and give Sharon some enforced exercise with some annoying problem. Thanks to a dodgy ignition pack ($250). Two hundred and fifty bucks!! It's a Commodore! You're supposed to be able to fix them with bananas and fencing wire!
Maybe I should have bought a German car after all. So who's laughing now? Probably Mum and Dad with their one that actually works.
The Skyline you ask? It's having a ball doing what it's always wanted to do. We sold it to a guy with 5 acres who needed a paddock-basher for his annual Bathurst 1000 paddock races. Which reminds me. Nobody ring me on Sunday Oct 8th. I'll be watching Bathurst. I missed it last year on account of being overseas which was far more interesting. But I'm not overseas this year. So I'm watching Bathurst.
Before all this happened we decided to do one-third of a backyard makeover. I hired one of those Dingo-thingys to dig up some soil in order to lay some new grass in one section. Once that was done successfully, stage 2 water restrictions came into effect so now there's no point in laying anything that needs watering. Whacko. But it was all worth it just to play with the Dingo. They are more fun than they look. I even managed to pop a tyre off it's rim.
With Sharon off horseriding last Saturday I had the kids all day so we took the new Common-door (pre-ignition failure) up to the You Yangs. The You Yangs is our local national park. It's main feature- lots of big rocks, and some kangaroos. And more rocks.
In other news Naomi's slutty guinea pig Anna (again please excuse the profanity) has gotten herself pregnant again and again, she does not know who the father is. But being a Christian family we graciously accept her in spite of her mortal sin and were all blessed with three more little newborn vermin sometime Sunday.
and well you might look guilty you promiscuous little rodent
And in far more interesting news I raced at Winton two Saturdays ago (last race on P-Plates! After that no more excuses). The results are now on www.laglerracing.blogspot.com , I can bore you with the details there. But as a small indication I went 14th to 6th in race one.
I can't think of any particular socio-political rant at the minute so you're all off the hook.
Sunday, September 17, 2006
So, anybody wanna buy a car? Sharon's Skyline was about to sue us for vehicle rights abuses but, as callous as this sounds, it will hopefully die before we go to court. The abuse was not so much the lack of servicing, it was allowing children near it. Not satisfied with defacing the nice fire-engine-red paint job, they took to the interior with textas. Now the engine is developing some major internal bleeding in sympathy. Okay, I can't blame that one on the kids. That's my fault.
It's in the trading post now and hopefully we won't have to pay someone to take it away.
I am very grateful for that short-lived hip-hop culture car show "Pimp my Ride". Firstly, it legitimised the word "pimp". I don't have to explain to the kids about people profiting from women selling their bodies. Now I can say it is a colloqial term meaning "to enhance". Secondly, you can use it in trading post advertisements instead of "needs work".
Nissan Skyline 6 cylinder. Rare 5-speed manual. Koni shocks all round. Needs pimping.
Once again, instead of get fussy and spend a fortune to buy a perfect little late-model runabaout, Sharon's uncle Cliff once again seduced me into an alternative. Uncle Cliff is the family "car guy". He buys and sells more cars than we've had lukewarm showers and is a mechnical guru. He's always got a spare car or six lying around.
So, at a price which leaves us enough money to build a new pergola (so Sharon tells me) we've picked up a fire-engine-red (!) VS Commodore with reconditioned everything. Sure, it's bigger than we planned, but the selling point for Sharon was the CD player. The Skyline's radio was stuck on ABC radio. I tried to tell her that listening to horse racing and talkback was entertaining, but for some reason she would rather listen to Darren Hayes.
What an interesting couple of weeks! For those who have asked, thank you, but I am fine since the death of Peter Brock. In fact if anything I have to be careful not to be insensitive about it. As an inspiration to millions, an engineer and race driver, he was a total genius. The few times I bumped into him, he seemed to be a very soft and pleasant man. In that way, his loss is incredibly sad.
But maybe I've learned not to revere TV personalities so much. For all his incredible motorsport and business success, fame, Tibetan Bhuddism and motivational philosophy, he couldn't save his fifth "marriage"/relationship. This might seem perfectly normal, admirable even, in ammoral secular modern life. For me it's extremely disappointing and simply means he's as flawed and human as the rest of us.
He seemed to belong more to the public than to his own family and it's hard to tell to whom he was closest.
For that reason, his death is even sadder. I suppose I am saying this not to be insensitive but in the interests of not over-eulogising someone as we tend to do in the immediate aftermath of a tragic death. I'm glad I'm not famous. If I was, Germaine Greer might say nasty things about me when I die.
Come to think of it, I shouldn't mind at all if Germaine Greer said nasty things about me any time. Bring it on. The rest of you, I expect you to say nice things about me at my funeral. Just leave out the bits about the car abuse.
So we lost Steve Irwin, Peter Brock, and Colin Theile in the same week. "Colin who?" I hope you are not asking. If you don't know, well, he's not a conservationist, or a sporting star, that's why you don't know.
Also this week we found out that the Pope knows more about the Koran than most Muslims. But, according to the moderate Muslims, he shouldn't say bad things about the Profit Mohamed because this can "cause violence".
Funny, I always thought that violence was caused by the people partaking in it. How many Catholic Nuns have bludgeoned people to death claiming "Dan Brown made me do it"? That's right. Nun (sorry).
Speaking of Nuns, a Nun in Somalia was killed by Muslims. A Reuters source stated the attack may have been because of the Pope's words "which angered Muslims who thought it showed their religion to be innately violent".
Okay, it was Reuters, but let's pretend for a minute that it was actually true or not too wildly exaggerated. So let me get this straight. You criticise Islam for possibly being "too violent". The allegation angers Islam so much, that it starts killing people.
We are the religion of peace. Believe it or else we'll kill and maim you. Geddit? See the irony? Funny, huh? Hilarious eh? What? You're not laughing? Why not?
So, Pope Benedict, stop or you will go blind. Blind, as in you will get your eyeballs plucked out by a lunatic.
*sorry, should have read "surprise for every reader"
Sunday, August 27, 2006
Reuters headline: "World outrage as Israel targets small furry animals"
Speaking of Joos, a quick message from our sponsors
This week's post is brought to you by philanthropist, Billy Gates. Did you know that Bill Gates provided more than $10 million to hand over 1,000 acres of highly productive greenhouses in the Gaza Strip to Palestinians after the Joos were evicted? The Palestinians trashed them all, of course, and now they're worth nothing. But it's the thought that counts.
Now back to more important things. The "studio's" roof was mostly finished, complete with razor-sharp ridge capping. Remind me to never climb up onto the roof or touch it ever again. Naturally, it required a test period of rain. Victorian weather duly obliged and provided me with suitable roof testing periods. I should be happy that it only leaked in ONE place.
All visible mistakes have been digitally edited out
Meanwhile, I bought a brand new door jam on Ebay for 20 bucks! Saved around $60! Whilst that will not go far towards healing the loss of $1300 on Ebay earlier in the year, it did mean I could spend the savings on a new door. Which I succeeded in butchering to get into the jam. I presume the name "door jam" signifies that one must forcibly jam it into the available space.
Naturally the kids helped out by mostly staying out of my way and not killing eachother.
It's important that Sam feels I trust him with power tools
In fact there was a lot of trust all round
In my family, traditionally we have never really celebrated Father's Day or Mother's Day. I think this habit came about as a result of two things. Firstly, both days were fabricated by department stores to sell stuff. Here's the proof; when do you ever see an advertisement for Supercheap Auto on Mother's day weekend, huh? Huh?
Secondly, the particular parent in question each has their own birthday. So if you want to buy them pointless gifts, that's the time to do it. Then at Christmas everybody gets gifts anyway, so nobody can complain that once a year is not enough.
I just want you to know my door is always open.
No, seriously, it's always open. It won't shut properly.
How gratifying it is that our odd little family tradition has been validated by the Civil Liberties lobbyists. As if they can enrich our society any more than they already have. We're so blessed now that we have been banned from telling Irish Jokes, opening doors for women and suggesting things like marriage and family are a good idea. We're so enlightened now that we must teach our kids they are all a big cosmic accident, they have no origin, destiny, or purpose, and then sit back and wonder why they kill themselves at such a massive rate.
What were we thinking? To have a special day to honour "Fathers" clearly offends people who aren't fathers?
You all have my permission to screen dump the following and print them as bumper stickers.
Hopefully then nobody gets offended, and you can still go gift shopping at department stores. Providing you buy gifts that are non-offensive, no sexually opressive things like power tools. Perhaps a carpet swatch or a blank piece of paper. Luckily I got my door jam already.
Sunday, August 13, 2006
Okay, those were really from the guy I sacked, or possibly from a religious demographic upset that I called the Profit Mohammed a "pirate". But I like the other explanation better.
Anyhoo, I thought I'd better pen a few words about various stuff. There is big news in the Atherton household. To get you in the mood, we'll start with these two cutting-edge pieces:
- Israel is bombing Lebanon
- Mark Webber is driving for Dead Bull in '07.
I know not everybody share's my obsession with Formula One. Many of you wouldn't know Michael Schumacher if he deliberately parked his shopping trolley in the Pringles aisle to stop you getting the last Sour Cream & Onion. But I'm going to explain it to you anyway. Formula One is the longest running comedy series on earth. It is a rich tapestry of hilarity, with switched-on actors, brilliant script-writers producing ongoing theme-style humour and and funny one-liners.
Take this snippet from the Hungarian episode, where McLaren team boss Ronnie Dennis answered a question about whether they would give their test-driver a race gig, in a hilarious build-up where the journalist actually expected a straight answer:-
''We've taken decisions and acted on the decisions, we have a variety of strategies which are activated by certain circumstances beyond our control. We know exactly where we'll go, and what we'll do according to what unfolds over the next few weeks.''
Sidesplitting!! And this one, from the token-foreign-sounding character Flavio (even the name is funny), manager of Renault, in a scene were people were talking about the popularity of Formual One:-
The people looking Formula One because everything together. Is the driver, is the team, is the performance, is the private jet if you want. Is the helicopter, is the girl, the star. Include the team. And I believe you put a big mistake.
Not since Con the Fruiterer has there been such loveable stereotypes.
Mark Webber went where??
And did you see the episode where Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya left in a huff after being told off for crashing too much? So he said "Fine! I'll go to America and race NASCAR where my crashing will be appreciated"
Then he forgot to tell his wife Connie, who likes buying shoes at Monaco, that now she will have to do all her shopping at 7-11 but said "Look on the bright side, at least we can get steak and chips much cheaper than at Monaco". Then they had a big argument in Spanish, which always makes for good comedy, Connie saying something about him wanting to race cars that look like "Children's breakfast cereal boxes"
Priceless. Then Mark "Dundee" Webber, in true Aussie fashion, refuses to take a pay cut and makes the sideways move from Williams to Dead Bull, whose engines blow up less. Then an Englishman in the Williams team calls Webber a "bit of a whinger"! Hilarious.
And the whole circus is run by a grumpy midget with little-man syndrome called Bernie. It is one of the funniest TV shows since Scrubs.
Now for the Atherton family news. For more details on the karting caper go to my (slightly-formal) superkart blog. In brief the next race is Winton September 23 (moved from Sept 4th) which gives me just enough time to clean out all the Phillip Island mud. Hopefully by then I'll have a sexy new steering wheel and seat, reputed to be 20% more aerodynamic as it lowers my massive head about 100mm. It's supposed to be more comfortable too, which would be nice since I'm grossly unfit and Winton is a very physical circuit. Air Conditioning and CD player may be installed later.
Meanwhile, Sharon's uncle Cliff is just finishing off a V8 Commodore Cup race car in readiness for the Australian Commodore Cup round at Phillip Island. The series is seen on SBS' Speedweek. It's a beautifully built race car, prepared in their new workshop which is as big as most people's blocks of land. Seriously. Don't be surprised if you see the name Domaschenz in amongst D'Agostin and Zukanovich.
Sharon in Sydney for the Darren Hayes concert/ Girls weekend
cars, Sharon's is doing funny things with it's water and oil, which don't mix, apparently. Since the kids have caused more bodily depreciation than the car's actual value, we decided it's time to get Sharon a new car. So Uncle Cliff and I went to the Port Melbourne Auto wholesalers (he has an LMCT licence) to save some bucks and hopefully get something nice.
Sharon said she wasn't fussy, and wanted something "easy to park". At the first wholesaler I was greeted with a sea of Bentleys and Rolls Royces. So it wasn't a great start.
A pointless picture of something you've all seen a bazillion times
I rather like the idea of a Volvo, but when I tell my friends, nobody believes me. Two guys from church have already threatened to disown me if I buy a Volvo. C'mon! Cheap, European quality, and safe.
Naomi became the proud grandparent of some little new guinea pigs recently. The smallest and darkest one was called Midnight, or Blackie, or Mr. Twinkles, or some other such name befitting of a small cute furry rodent. Anyhow, Omi had to bid them a sad farewell as they were farmed out to better homes. Sorry, Freudian slip, I meant "other" homes. Or "new" homes.
Mr. Identity Crisis
Naomi went off to Bacchus Marsh last weekend for a horse show. She won four ribbons, which is remarkable considering she doesn't actually have a horse (I was told she borrowed someone else's). Seriously, both her parents were genuinely upset at not being able to attend. Sharon was sleeping off a nightshift and me, well I was....
RE ROOFING the STUDIO!!
What my so-called studio looks like without a roof
That's right. I finally dragged myself from the chasm of lethargy and put brand spanking new zincalume roofing. All by myself. Just me, some good weather, a cordless drill and lots of unseemly language, and finally it's done. The sense of achievement and relief is overwhelming.
And again, without the roof. See? It's not there, well, up the top, you can't quite make it out, it's really...um...oh just take my word for it.
It's all good, of course, until it actually rains.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Oh, what do you all care really.
Family news: The famous studio hasn't progressed at all. I have, in a typically Paddy-style loss of enthusiasm and instant change, been spending too much time on my other project. You can learn more on that by clicking on the kart racing link I have there on the right. Well, you have to admit, it is more fun than banging roofing nails into myself and risking dismemberment with power tools.
Naomi was halfway through a book but I told her to start again because it was starting to look too much like The Chronicles of Narnia meets Animal farm. Why can't she just enjoy being a kid?
Sam's reading and writing is coming along really well, although he still destroys things.
Becky is cute but never eats her dinner.
There, that's the family stuff over with. Now I can start raving.
I found out something disturbing today. The Greens, that association of secular pagan nature-worshipping humanists disguised as a political party, and their high priest Bob Brown, have finally done it. They have succeeded in lobbying the government to have the DEVIL listed as a "vulnerable species" under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act.
As many of you know from my previous posts, and possibly consider our friendship to be teetering on the brink of disaster, I am a right-wing wacko Jesus nut. Therefore, I am constantly being hyper-sensitive to some of the inconsistencies in the way society treats Christians as compared to the treatment of, er, lets just say, "other religious demographics".
(translation: Muslims. Heh heh. No seriously, I don't just mean them. Or do I?? Note the tactic there of using my creativity to deceptively blur the lines between fact and fiction. Well it worked for Dan Brown)
So who's laughing now? My opinions are finally vindicated. An official political office, if you must refer to the Greens in that manner, have complained loud enough to have their master Satan himself recognised as some kind of unfairly-maligned entity. Nothing says hard-done-by, emotionally battered, poorly treated, like the word "vulnerable". Australians love the underdog, so now they must love Satan.
Confused? So am I. But fear not. This very confusion is spin-doctored into something nice. "Diversity".
Take that so-called "Gospel of Judas" for example. It got 6pm news coverage. It was a TV star as breaking news at Easter time 2006 (even though it was first dug up in 1972). It was championed as yet another "missing gospel" that sheds "new light" on the life of JC. It provided further "proof" that the Biblical gospels are not the only ones.
Yep, it promotes diversity all right. It's so diverse it makes no actual sense at all. You can't get more diverse than that. The less it's got to say, the more diverse it is. That's the whole idea. Don't believe in one thing, believe in everything. If you do, you're diverse. If you don't, you're a bigot. Geddit? Good.
So, I suspect this obsession with diversity has lead to this political protection of the Prince of Darkness himself. He's on the "vulnerable" list now. An official reconciliation, if you will. "Welcome to the boys club, Satan me ol' chum, and sorry about all the exorcisms".
According to our own government, Beezelbub himself is just misunderstood. All those thousands of years of evil, manipulation, mass destruction, murder, deception were just his reaction to being unfairly ostracised. Poor Satan. He has feelings too, you know.
Just like poor old Shane Warne. When he made sexually obscene phone calls and mucked around with prostitutes, setting a superb example for Australia's kiddies and buggering his marriage, he was just being a "larrikin". Good ol' Shaney. Our Warney. One of the lads!
Mick Jagger was really on to something. He was trying to be tongue-in-cheek. Now Sympathy for the Devil is the Greens' anthem. Now it's actually happened. It's been legislated under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act. See what I mean? Bio-DIVERSITY.
And the "Environment" eh? I always knew nature-worshippers were all Satanists.
I can see it coming. Pastors all over Australia will be locked up for calling him "the enemy". Finally, they've found a law with which to shut up Fred Nile.
Oh wait... here's the headline again... "The Federal Government has formally listed the TASMANIAN devil as a vulnerable species..."
Sunday, April 23, 2006
On Anzac Day, after remembering the fallen, I set off to the office with Becky and Sam, to get them out of Mum's hair. Omi was off riding horses with her new horsey friend.
No, I wasn't being a workaholic. I had transferred Max to the warehouse in readiness for a CAMS logbook inspection and needed to finish off a few things on him.
Yes, I call my race kart "Max". Very unoriginal since the engine model name is FR125 Max. So I am sure I am not the first. I have also been known to occasionally talk to him. It. Whatever.
Sam and Becky rode around the warehouse on bikes, building ramps and generally trying to hurt themselves. Business as usual.
I know it doesn't look like it but Max needs to lose weight
Max was all prepped and ready for, I hope, a trip to Winton on Friday for a practice. But I thought, maybe I should make sure the engine will fire up. So I did, and Max made all the right noises.
Then I thought, I can struggle Max down off his stand and just get him moving around the warehouse and maybe out into the carpark. With Phillip Island gearing, it's not going to get off the slipping clutch but at least I can check steering alignment and ensure the clutch is working and make sure the new bodywork isn't bottoming out. So I did.
Then I thought, well, my office's industrial street is all but deserted on public holidays. The road is about as long as Phillip Island's main straight (although the views are not as nice). Maybe if I can get him down the kerbing onto the road I can just stretch his legs. Just once, to make sure everything's working.
With such tall gearing and dry clutch it was like this; Max and I drone down the road, building up speed very, very slowly. Eventually I feel the clutch grab and the engine driving directly, but still the motor is way off it's powerband so he continues to lazily, almost embarrasingly accelerate. He's vibrating so much I almost cannot focus.
I reckon watching these karts in a race from a standing start to turn one will resemble an army of elderlies on their buggys heading to the bank on pension day.
Then, I estimate at around 90 kays (your scale of speed is distorted at that height, or just when you're driving a small race vehicle illegally on a public road) Max jumps out of the phone box with his superman cape on. He lights up his big wick and takes off like a missile. Everything gets smooth, and violently fast. Verrrry bloooooody faaaaaasst.
Max didn't stop accelerating. By the time I went screaming past the warehouse, and a wide-eyed Becky and Sam, it must have been around 140km/h.
So there you are. 0-100km/h will take up most of your lunch break. 100km/h to Lord knows what...in a nanosecond.
I've always wanted to drive something that scares the absolute knackers out of me. I think I've found it.
Thursday, April 06, 2006
Problem was, this poster was of a race driver who I don't like. One who shall remain named as Dick Johnson.
For those who don't know the Dick Johnson story, it goes basically like this; Dick bought a race car. Dick raced at Bathurst in 1980. Dick tripped over a rock and crashed his race car. Dick cried and whinged. "A Holden fan threw a rock at me. It's a conspiracy" (Dick didn't think that the rock could have dislodged by natural causes, did Dick). So everyone got sick of Dick. Everyone threw money at Dick to stop him complaining. Dick bought a new race car. Dick went on to become very succesful, didn't Dick. And Dick hasn't really stopped complaining since.
The moral of the story is, if you whinge loud enough everyone will pay for you to go motor racing. It pays to be a Dick.
So I said to Sam "I'll get you a better poster than that one. Daddy has lots of posters in the shed". But, silly Daddy had a big clean out a few weeks ago and threw out most of his old posters, thinking "what will I ever use these posters for??". Bad father. I forgot I had a 7 year old son who likes racing cars. D'OH!!!
But I salvaged one, and we had a presentation ceremony to officially award Sam with his very first bedroom wall poster:
Although he could have a perfectly good poster of Dick Johnson on his wall, Sam dutifully obeyed his Dad and accepted this 2006 GP promotional poster until we find something with somebody decent on it. Someone who doesn't complain much.
I haven't got the heart to tell Dad this is a crappy poster
Anyhoo, while I was rummaging around in the garage I noticed my old go kart. Well, it isn't really old, it's just neglected. I bought it a couple of years ago, buzzed around the local track and vowed one day to get may licence and race again.
Recently we took some colleagues and customers indoor kart racing. I failed to toe the line and won by way too much, although I did offer to take a dive and let a customer win, my boss told me not to worry and just go knock myself out. He meant it metaphorically, I presume . Whilst basking in my triumphant glory I bored everybody senseless getting all nostalgic about the good old days when I used to race and how I wish I could drum up some funds to get the little 125cc beast back on track.
My boss probably got sick of my whingeing, so he offered to sponsor me. How's that for poetic justice. I have now become a Dick.
Instead of going for the "Sprint" kart formula (otherwise known as "Formula Ego") I have opted for the more subtle class of superkarts- racing these potent little machines on real road circuits instead of the little mini golf course ones.
There are some things I will miss about the short course racing. I will miss having some pubescent little maniac use me as a brake because his Daddy, who bought him a kart when he was 5 (to live his own unfulfilled dreams through his child), will pay for all his damage. I will miss the overworked track officials giving me a black flag for an infringement committed by someone else. But most of all I will miss the go kart retailers.
Before and during photos. This is what a naked go-kart looks like. No, it's not the black thing with the wheels. That's the trolley.
One quirk about superkart formula as opposed to sprint is that it involves using bits which aren't available at the many sprint kart shops. This can be annoying, but there are advantages of not having to go to sprint kart shops; Most are owned and run by people with loads of cash, who only set up the shop to help their spoilt brat go racing. So, they have no intention of being remotely helpful to you since you may become good and beat their kid. Therefore shopping at these places, which should be pleasurable for any red blooded rev-head is actually a highly traumatic and belittling experience.
When you go in and ask for something unusual like, for example, a tyre that is black and round, they stare at you with an expression of dismay which says "what, are you stupid?? As if I'd have something like that. Now go away I'm on the phone with someone REALLY important". And forget asking them to explain something technical. If you don't know how to adjust your own power valve, then you shouldn't be kart racing. Leave it for us real competitors.
(I should mention one exception - Ian Wiliams Tuning in Torrensville, S.A. Great guy, Kingwilly. There's a plug. A go kart shop run by a human being. AND he sells superkart stuff.)
starting to look like something useable, with a steering wheel
But no. The real problem with superkarting is that it is run under the authority of CAMS, the Confederation Against Motor Sport. This means in order to get a licence you must fill out a telephone-book sized application, get a medical check and a reference from ASIO, then sell your children to pay for it. Then you must make some minor modifications to the vehicle itself before having it inspected for a log book. That's like registration for a race vehicle, although I presume, unlike road cars, they actually LET you put go fast bits on it without calling you a darstardly crim. After all this is the whole point of a race vehicle- to go fast.
These "minor modifications" involve everything from tie-wiring little nuts and bolts, putting wet-weather lights on the back so the competitor behind you has something to aim at, the list goes on, and on, and on. Here is a list of some safety-related modifications and the logic behind them:
- we must use massive big dinner plate-like washers on your seat mounting because, apparently, some goon recently crashed and the seat stays jabbed him and broke a rib.
- we must insert a timber dowel into the hollow steering column since somebody's steering column once collapsed in an incident. So now when we crash, the dowel will splinter and skewer us through the heart like a stake. Perhaps CAMS are superstitious and hope that Dracula has recently taken up kart racing.
- we must drill and tie-wire any bolt not secured by a nyloc nut. This is to stop them coming off at high speed and "compromising" the competitor behind. But we only have to tie them to eachother. This means if one comes off it takes the other ones with it, so there's a whole heap of bolts hittng somebody in the face instead of just one.
They must get their safety tips from the same people who give us the "Speed Cameras love you" commercials.
Now with the bit that goes vrooom
You see, motor racing is run not by motorsport enthusiasts, but by insurance companies. You cannot really blame the Confederation of Alarmist Manic Safety. Motorsport has simply fallen prey to the public liability curse like everything else. Every time a track marshal trips over a blade of grass, CAMS must fill out a hideously massive slab or reports or their premiums will become so high Bill Gates could not even afford to race his ride-on lawnmower.
(Don't laugh. There is actually such a thing as ride on lawnmower racing)
So, the world is actually run by insurance companies, contrary to popular conspiracy theories about Freemasons. Unless of course the Freemasons are all managers of insurance companies.
So, as I torture over installing an extra seat to carry an OH & S officer with me as I race, or trying to write a thesis on the CAMS manual, I must remember I'm one step closer to getting back on track. And I'm sure it will all be worth it.
Besides, if I keep complaining I might get me some more cash.
Monday, April 03, 2006
In fact, Melbourne has been so scrambled by an overdose of sport they even resorted to playing a football game on a Monday night. The poor Melbournians are hungover from so much sport. When they boast about being the sports capital of the known universe, you can scarcely disagree. It's only when they start claiming to be the arts and culture capital that you just smile politely and say "Yep. Sure. Righto".
No really, Melbourne loves the arts. That's why the highly professional Melbourne Symphony Orchestra were told they had to play at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony...without being paid. Oh yeah. We love the arts. As long as it's performed at a sporting event.
So, as I was saying, because of the Commgames the Grand Prix got moved to round 3 which kind of spoiled all the intrigue and mystery. We already know that Renault are going to dominate the whole season. So the AGP lost it's round 1 status, which, according to AGP boss and professional snob Ron Walker, is purely temporary- next year we'll have the No 1 round status again. However, some Euro F1 boffins may disagree. You see, they liked having the season opener in Bahrain because it meant they could get their long- awaited F1 fix on telly at a civilised Sunday morning hour, one that gives them an excuse not to go to church. Much better rather than the 3am Melbourne GP timeslot.
Personally, I think that's just their problem for being 8 hours behind us. Surely Bernie Ecclestone has enough sway to bribe the Greenwich Observatory to set the clocks forward 8 hours just for the first week of F1 season.
Besides, even the European Union should know not to mess with Ron Walker. In the first year of F1 in Melbourne, ignorant journalists scrambled to ask the newly arrived F1 superstars stupid questions like "what do you think of the track??". Michael Schumacher said something like "it's nothing special". Which is true. All a driver cares about is the track's challenges. Albert Park is just a road around a lake. All the corners (or chicanes) look the same. It is flat and there are bugger-all overtaking opportunities. It's boring.
Ron Walker was outraged, calling the two times World Champion an "overpaid prima donna" and demanded that he apologise to the people of Melbourne for "the things he said about Melbourne". After all, this circuit is magnificent. It has a nice lake (filled up every year with gazillions of megalitres in a state with severe water restrictions) and palm trees. And the spectacular Melbourne skyline in the background.
Funny. Schumacher never said anything about Melbourne. It's just that he's raced at the 'Ring, Spa Francorchamps, Le Mans, Interlagos. Ergo, Albert Park is nothing special.
So don't mess with Ron Walker. He'll cry.
As ever I take up my coveted role as track marshal, the lowest form of official life on the volunteer list. Get up at 5.30am, get home at 8pm. The lowest form of life, but the best seat in the house. It means I get to take pictures like this:
The popular Turn 9. There were lots of Columbians, playing drums.
Can you hear the drums, Fernando?
I believe the pictures are rightfully mine, however, I must be careful using the term "Formula One" since this combination of letters is owned by Bernie Ecclestone and some large banks and they may sue me if they read this blog.
This year sees Sam's first Formula One experience. Naturally his Dad was more than a little concerned that he would enjoy it, instead of run away frightened the moment a course car drives past and go off to become a ballet dancer.
Well okay, he doesn't look so thrilled here
So, Sharon, Sam, and Adelaide guest Martin parked at Turn 9 to spectate while I stood at Turn 10 waiting to rescue any distressed F1 superstars from flaming crashed vehicles. But some years you get posted on a corner where nothing happens. So all I can do is watch the cars go past, several meters closer than anyone else and pretend to be important.
There are a few other bonuses of this job. For example, you can walk into pitlane after the day's proceedings have concluded, and not get menaced by some powertripping security person. Then you can get in the way of important F1 personnel.
One year, Ron Walker did attempt to prevent volunteer marshals from having a pitlane walk so as to free up more time for corporate pit walks. Fortunately he was given an education on how many volunteers his prized even would get if that happened.
So, since I wasn't getting chased away for being a pleb, I took some time and took some more nice pictures...
If only Australian mechanics worked this fast instead of just saying "come back at 5 and hopefully it'll be ready"
Sometimes I wonder about this volunteer official thing. Is it all worth it or should I just lash out, spoil myself and get a nice grandstand.
The race? Well, Montoya spun on the warmup lap (duh), Klien crashed violently at Turn 9 showering Sharon and Sam with bits of polystyrene foam, Schumacher made a rare mistake and crashed after getting passed by a car that used to be a Minardi, Button's Honda engine detonated metres before the finish line, and somebody won. But that wasn't the real highlight of the weekend.
In recent years there have been second generation drivers coming into Formula One. Some have simply had a name, some have talent, some have both. Certainly the name open doors, and therefore cynics disregard the talent. Damon Hill and Jacques Villenueve were the names of the 1990's. Villenueve showed some class but outstayed his welcome by returning later, wearing grungy baggy overalls and acting differently to everybody else. The most recent addition to F1's nostalgic names is Nico Rosberg, the German son of Finn Keke, World Champ 1982 and last of the chainsmoking F1 drivers. Nelson Piquet junior is currently in the A1 GP World Cup Series and looks good.
But while the masses fussed over F1 and the macho Aussie V8's, in the much overlooked support category of Formula 3 there was a second generation name that caused goosebumps...
no caption needed
Am I just being sentimetal...or does he even look like the great man?
No doubt this name opened some doors. But it's far more than just a name. Bruno is good. Extremely good. How do I know this is not just my tragic F1 nostalgic heart talking?
Because I got to stand near the side of the track and see Bruno Senna demolish the field in 3 races, the first barely hours after getting off a plane from Brazil and having never even sat in the car. I got to stand trackside and see him attack that first lap hard on cold tyres just like his uncle did 23 years ago, then pile drive his pursuers with several consecutive fastest laps...then win like it's all so easy. Close up, I got to see a Senna demolish his opposition. Something I thought I'd never see again. It's so great it's spooky.
I think I'll stick to this volunteer marshall gig for a little while longer. Best seat in the house.