Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Untouchables

The remarkable Lewis Hamilton

There's a lot of photos to load, so be patient. PATIENT I TELL YOU!!

Much has happened which I haven't posted here so there's some making up to do. Immediately post-Christmas 06 was spent with our great friends the Hawkeses. For those unfortunate enough not to know them, Twin brothers Tim and Nick Hawkes are my godfathers. Hence their kids are my godbrothers and sisters.

All of the exquisite piccys on this page are courtesy of the amazing Miss Katie Hawkes. She has a knack for bringing out the best in her human subjects.

The divine Miss Katie and my divine Mum

Tim and Jane and family live in Sydney. Tim holds the rather low-brow position of headmaster of the famous Kings' School in Parramatta. Nick and Mary and family live in Adelaide as pastor of a non-denominatonal church. Tim's eldest son Peter wasn't present for our Chrissy bash as he was in India helping the impoverished set up businesses, while his new bride Amber was busting major slavery rackets. Peter is my Sammy's godfather. Nick's daughter Katie is my Naomi's godmother.

Pippa and Becky Boo

Right, that's all the intros out of the way, you're all acquainted now. Sadly my dear godsister Katie has jetsetted off to Manchester indefinitely to do PR. I'm not sure exactly how her career is going but we can be sure she has completely outclassed me in the blogging department. If you're reading this Katie, please be advised that only German motorways are speed unlimited, not English ones.

Omi with proud godmummy

The godfathers. Do ya think I like talkin' wid a dry, sore troat??

Now, in my family, we take the role of godparent very seriously. This time honoured role is maintained by many families. Some keep this tradition out of genuine desire for a role model for their child other than themselves, who can be a positive Christian influence. Some do it out of genuine need for legal guardians in case of an unforseen tragedy. Others do it to passify some token family members who just want to be included for the sake of it and who couldn't care less if the little tacker grows up to be a crack whore.

That's why it's a fact of life that when such "god"parents are selected, a few will disappear either through lack of interest or, in my case, sheer frustration at the near irretrievably poor behaivour of the little tacker whose well being was thrust upon them. It's understandable. But me- I was blessed enough to have at least two who really stuck. And they are Tim and Nick Hawkes.

Doctors Timothy and Nick Hawkes discovering light reflection and refraction for the first time.

This dedication seems to run in the family. Sam's godfather, Tim's son Peter, never fails to keep in touch and takes a real interest in my boy. Nick's girl, the lovely Katie H dotes over her goddaughter Naomi. We are very lucky.

Besides, it also means if my kids turn out to be horrors I have someone else to blame.

2007 Grand Prix Edition!!

Now, onto more important stuff. Between Christmas and that other major religious festival, the Grand Prix, the only other sacred weekend, for me at least, was my first race of the season. But you can read about that here.

The most remarkable bit was getting the new Hyper Racer Kart completed in time. Team boss Jon Crooke, a former Aussie Formula 2 National Champion and Touring car driver, bit off way more than he could chew attempting to build five new karts for the new season. This meant I was in Mount Evelyn (the complete opposite far far away side of Melbourne to Lara) to 10pm Thursday night before the race weekend.

What followed was a) driving back to Lara by midnight b) early start to open the office Friday morning with kart in tow to have the beast check weighed at a freight forwarder down the road from work but not before c) getting stuck in the 2 hour long Geelong freeway jam after a double fatality d) doing an illegal u-turn to escape said traffic jam and getting sprung by Geelong's finest e) giving Geelong's finest a non-abusive but extremely long winded lecture about how ludicrous it was for them to prey on stressed motorists doing perfectly safe u-turns and why don't they just ride in the bluddy car with me and do all my bluddy thinking for me, and subsequently f) worrying that my first race weekend of the year would be spent clinging bars in Geelong.

Fortunately Constable Sheedy of the Geelong Road Mismanagement unit resorted to merely fine me, I think mainly just to shut me up. I gotta say, paying $113 for the privalege of explaining to a police officer that they do not need to protect me from myself is actually good value.

Anyhoo, on to the actual subject of this post- Grand Prix 07. As you may know from previous GP posts such as 2006 or 2005 (scroll to the bottom) I am a track lackie. Some years you get posted on boring corners and nothing happens. Some years you have the entire F1 field crash in front of you and you must chaperone Michael Schumacher to the medical staff. Sometimes you get fed crepes and strawberries by caring corporate caterers, sometimes you get yelled at by post pubescent spectators getting publically drunk for the first time.

This year I hit paydirt. I got posted on start finish line. This mean little perks like standing in pit lane during Qualifying, taking part in photographing the official FIA driver's class photo, walking the grid before the F1 race, then getting sprayed by Kimi Raikkonen's champagne.

Really, there's no need for me to do this again next year. The only way is down. Enough prattle. Here's some pics.

Kat the spectator marshal going for a career cange

Whiz kid Hamilton's McLaren post-race

Class of '07

My watershed photo- Kimi returns to parc ferme victorious. None of the F1 mags had one this good!!

2007 Motor Show Edition!
March 7th 2007

We got a new camera! The old one was kaput. Not many technological things we own last as long as they are meant to. The great thing about waiting for insurance companies to cough up was that, in the meantime, the model of camera was upgraded so..we got a better one! It does some groovy b&w and colour feature things.

Like this.

Sam's birthday was three days ago. So if anyone reading this forgot, hopefully this post will help you to become racked with guilt. More on that later.

In other news I've been getting into stacks of trouble with my karting website. Every time I run into more examples of sheer bureaucratic bloody mindedness-ness within this measly little sport, I satirise it. I only do that where I attempted to communicate the issues directly with the individuals in question, and had an unsatisfactory response. It's my way of dealing with it. It's much easier than dressing in army fatigues and going on a gun-toting, murderous, disgruntled-postal-worker rampage.

Actually, I've been doing it for yonks but some of the karting folks have only just started to notice, making it somewhat like a Homer Simpson moment when they contact me.

Yo man, just chillin' with my peeps listenin' to some Snoop Dog. Doof doof

But God works in mysterious ways. Just when I'd endured what seemed like a plethora of people emailing with clayton's complaints about the site's content (i.e. they say I've written something wrong but can't seem to explain what exactly is wrong with it) there was actually an unexpected piece of healing and reconcilliation.

It was borne out of an incident in an unspecified race in June last year when I spun during practice and got collected by someone in a prang which looked nastier than it was. In the pits afterwards I approached him to apologise (in the way you do to a bereaved person- it's not my fault they died, but I'm saying sorry anwyay) and he bellowed some very unseemly language and called me some names. Apparently somewhere in there was some advice about how to spin properly, but I couldn't pick it out from the expletives.

So 9 months after the fact, the chap (we will call him "M") rings me. The conversation went like this:

M: I don't like what you said in your website
Me: Why, was I unflattering in some way?
M: Well, it said I "went on like an idiot".
Me: Yes, it said that didn't it.
M: What's ya problem? It's not like I called ya a ******* ****head or anything
Me: Well, um, that's exactly what you called me. Actually your words were ******** ***** ****** ****head
M: Oh. Did I?
Me: Yep
M: Sorry about that.

Isn't that nice? Our conversation went on for a while. I sympathised with him on the two other nasty crashes he's had since that race and assured him they were nothing to do with me. He even volunteered to educate me on which of the other people hassling me about my site are ******* ****** ****heads.

Sam in flight

Fun. We almost purchased a horse for poor Naomi last week. I was just about to blow 300 bucks on a vet inspection when the noble steed saved me the trouble by assaulting the same electric fence several times in a row. Again, quite a blessing that the expensive animal didn't do it after we bought it, and a gazillion dollars worth of tackles, saddlings and other horsery. Or whatever that stuff is called. Hoisery?

But I was determined to educate myself on how to avoid buying an animal that would try to jump off a bridge or throw itself at a train or something. So I asked our very own horse owner and expert, Claudia from Germany. She explained the situation to me using rather high-brow equestrian terms. The conversation went like this:

Me: Why did it go through an electric fence?
Claudia: Because horses are bloody stupid dumb animals.

I'm learning more about horses all the time.

Meanwhile Sharon's sister Pamela had herself a little baby boy, name of Zane. Check out the bushy head of hair. He has more hair on his head than his Dad has on his back!

As I mentioned earlier, it Sam's birthday. That can only mean one thing- it's Grand Prix time!

But with a busy month ahead, what with baby births, Grands Prix and Jordy and Irma's wedding in Adelaide, Sharon can't manage to chaperone Sammy to the Grand Prix this year. As a consolation, I took him to the motor show. You might say I went to town on that black and white/colour feature. That was a pun, of course. The motor show is in "Jeff's shed" opposite the crown casino, or as Sharon calls it, "Biff's casino". You can literally hold the camera up in the air, tell it to pick out all the red cars, and viola, there's half a dozen Ferraris and Golf Gti's. Tell it to pick out all the pastel, garish, pukey, loud weird coloured cars and voila, all the Commodores and Falcons stick out.

It's Grand Prix time in Melbourne Town next weekend but I haven't time for my usual tomfoolery with pre-season details. We know Schumacher has retired (thank the good Lord), Mark Webber will be trying to steer a dead bull, and some guys who were driving really good cars have moved into less good cars. My marshalling duties this year have plonked me at "Turn 0".

Every year, despite keeping you in the same team, they try to rotate you. First time (in '01) I got turn 2 and helped scrape 5 F1 cars off the road so that Mark Webber could finish a memorable fifth in the Minardi. The following year was turn 3, in the precise same spot where the poor track marshall was killed by the flying wheel from a car with the unfortunately ironic sponsor of "Lucky Strike". I've always said they should put bigger warning labels on cigarette packets.

Like this one

Anyway, the point is, sometimes you get a good spot, like turn 1 / 2 where you see everything and get some action. Sometimes you get a cruddy one like turn 9 when there are nothing but drunk spectators. Sometimes you get posted in front of corporates who feed you crepes, coffee and strawberries, sometimes you get posted in front of drunk corporates who yell out "so how much d'ya get paid for that job?!" Although, since the V8 supercars are not on the program this year, I suspect there will be less drunk people.

As a rule, it's better to be on a braking area or on corners, instead of halfway down a straight. Except this year. You see, "Turn 0" is the start-finish line. I reckon it will worth it just to see 22 F1 cars blast off the line, in the flesh (and kevlar).

What will also be worth seeing- if the Victorian Government pump a gazillion megalitres of water into the Albert Park swamp to make it look pretty for the TV cameras. All this while the rest of us have to take 1 minute showers and water our lawns with sink flotsam and belly-button lint. If they do you'll be sure to hear it here first.