29 October, 2010

All Right You Sons 'a Bitches, Let's Have a Race

The world of motorsport is a devious and duplicitous place, and that's the way I like it. Unlike any other sport the rule book is not so much a sacred text to be obeyed (in the world of cricket they don't even have rules... they have laws) it's more a text to be studied minutely looking for the tiny pure crack of daylight so the true geniuses can insert the stiletto of a finely honed engineering mind and exert some pressure.

Examples are numerous. In 1995 Toyota's rally cars ran an illegal turbocharger which when removed from the car passed scrutineering but as they were fitted to the car a delicate and beautiful mechanical linkage opened up the inlet tract by 5mm. At the time Max Mosely said "It is the most sophisticated and ingenious device either I or the FIA's technical experts have seen for a long-time. It was so well made that there was no gap apparent to suggest there was any means of opening it." Other examples are more brutish - the TT rider punching in his petrol tank on the final lap to disguise the extra capacity... but a win's a win right?

Even at the most heinous, and the Toyota example is about as stone cold as it gets I find it hard to utterly condemn them, hell I admire the bastards, and in the world of sideways thinking there was a man who stood head and shoulders above the rest, NASCAR mechanic Smokey Yunick.

Yunick said he wouldn't do something illegal but if it wasn't in the rulebook then it wasn't illegal right? When rules banned porting and polishing the cylinder heads, Smokey figured it wasn't illegal to paint them until they were smooth. When bellypans designed to smooth airflow under the car were banned Smokey had the stock floorpans on his '66 Chevelle flattened and smoothed out to act as bellypans; that was until the rules were changed to stipulate not doing precisely that. Ahead of his time with his understanding of aerodynamics the Chevelle had minute attention paid to flushing the glass and removing anything that could upset airflow. Conspiracy theories abound about just how much 'smart' thinking went into the car, some say that Yunick parked a 'street' version of the car in the parking lot, NASCAR scrutineers not having a silhouette template for the new Chevelle looked for the nearest one they could find... that one in the lot'll do... Others reckon that the car was an accurate '66 Chevelle, just 7/8 scale!

Probably the most famous story was of the fuel cell being taken off for thorough testing - Yunick had already circumvented the gas capacity ruling previously by having an inflated basketball inside the gas tank when it was tested, he simply deflated the ball afterwards for a little extra room. So the scrutineers were paying close attention to the capacity. On finishing the inspection although the fuel cell was fine the officials told him 10 other infractions. Smokey, figuring they weren't going to let him race the car reportedly threw the disconnected fuel cell into the back seat and climbed into the car. He then said, "Make it 11" fired the Chevy up and drove back to his shop with the fuel cell disconnected. There may have been strict rules about the fuel cell, but none about the fuel pipe coming from it. Smokey's was 2 inch diameter and 11 feet long - it held an extra 5 gallons.

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18 October, 2010

What a wonderful feeling

It's no secret that I love the Photorealists, not least because of their tendency towards cars and car culture as a subject matter. So it's no surprise that I fell for these paintings by Gregory Thielker. A strong Proustian rush took me back to many hours as a child in the back of a car staring out through a rain drenched triplex window.

click for embiggering

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12 October, 2010


Can't believe I've not heard of this one before...

In the 1975 movie Moonrunners Waylon Jennings narrates the tale of two cousins who run moonshine for their uncle Jesse. They're often chased by a policeman named Rosco Coltrane and fight against an evil county boss named Jake Rainey who Uncle Jesse calls “hog”. Does any of this sound familiar?

If you needed any more clues in the movie the boys race a stock car named Traveler, which was what General Robert E Lee named his horse during the Civil War.

Apparently it's not so great a movie (who knew?) but I have the strangest inkling from this clip that I'd rather like it... B-body Dodges rolling through the corners like Blenheim Palace cornering hard to a Mopar thrum. I also love two things in the clip that link it inextricably with 80's TV; squealing tyres on gravel roads and the most ridiculously obvious 'day for night' shots ever.

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04 October, 2010


click for big-o-rama

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Rockingham trackday 6/7/10

Better late than never

01 October, 2010

total recall

The Norton Project

I seem to have some dust in my eye...

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