Scouts Rally SA 2014

ROSA_2014_Saturday (46)Scouts Rally SA once again returned to the Mount Crawford Forest and the northern hills over the weekend of August 1-3 for three heats of intense gravel rally action on some of South Australia’s most challenging roads.

ROSA_2014_Sunday (12)Taking the outright event win and victory in round four of the Australian Rally Championship was Scott Pedder and Dale Moscatt in the Walkinshaw Performance prepared Renault Sport Clio R3. The pairing narrowly claimed victory in all three heats which was enough to snatch the lead of the ARC.

ROSA_2014_Saturday (50)Claiming second place was Brendon Reeves and Rhiannon Gelsomino in the quick little G2 Mazda 2. It was a close battle for much of the event however the Mazda 2 was struck with problems, including non functioning windscreen wipers in heavy rain and the loss of a rear wheel on SS20 when the studs broke, forcing Reeves to tripod back to service. Reeves was able to match the pace of Pedder when everything was working correctly, but these niggling problems kept him down at this crucial point in the championship. With two rounds remaining, Pedder managed to snatch the championship lead. Continue reading

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Celebration of the Motorcar at Carrick Hill

CelebrationOfMotorcar (63)Adelaide witnessed something truly special when a completely new type of show, Celebration of the Motorcar, took to the immaculately manicured gardens of Carrick Hill one stunningly perfect late Autumn Sunday a few weeks ago.

CelebrationOfMotorcar (56)The lush grounds were overflowing with some of the finest classic and sports cars this state has to offer, and were merely supplemented by the expansive views of the metropolitan area as backdrop. Thousands of attendees enjoyed the cars to the accompaniment of champagne, oysters and a string quartet from the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.

CelebrationOfMotorcar (9)Celebration of the Motorcar represents somewhat of a departure from most traditional car shows, largely because emphasis is placed on the experience of the attendee. The cars are there to serve the viewer, rather than the viewer attending a show about the cars. It’s a small detail, but one that ensured an interesting, eclectic, and most importantly a high-quality collection of vehicles. Entry to display was by invite only, and the cars were individually selected by a committee of advisers aiming to build the best possible display.  Continue reading

Interesting support vehicles of the cycling world

CyclingCars 880There’s an interesting observation to be made when comparing human versus internal combustion as forms of propulsion. There are obviously exceptions (I’m one of them), but on the whole, ‘car guys’ aren’t typically also into cycling. However, road cyclists usually take at least a passing interest in cool cars. Road bikes are also finely tuned machines, and whilst this is a concept I plan to explore in more detail in a future story, a passion for the bicycle usually overflows into a passion for other mechanical devices.

CyclingCars 881Out an about on my bike during the recent Tour Down Under pro cycling race in Adelaide, I spotted two vehicles that support my theory. The first was this left-hand drive Citroen H van, from Rapha Racing. Rapha produce a range of mighty fine cycling kit, and are suppliers to the Sky Pro Team.

CyclingCars 887The H was produced in France and Belgium from 1947 to 1981 and is known for its distinctive corrugated iron bodywork which adds strength without adding weight, whilst also reducing manufacturing costs. Rapha have fitted their beautifully restored van out with an espresso machine (another cycling institution), and were out all over the hills during race week providing a much needed caffeine shot to the thousands of fans out on their bikes. I spotted it here dispensing much needed relief at the top of Eagle on the Hill, after making a rather sweaty ascent.

CyclingCars 884By far the coolest vehicle I’ve spotted in a long time was this Volvo 240GL Wagon (bet you never thought you’d read those words on Any Given Reason!). The car itself is nothing special, but the fact that it was stickered up as a period European support car for 70’s Belgium cycling champion Eddy Merckx was beyond cool. Continue reading

The WRC Finland Experience

DSC_0049Finland is and always has been the Grand Daddy of rallying. The spiritual home; Mecca for those of us who prefer our motorsport sideways through the forests and gravel roads of the world.

DSC_0814Since the 60’s the 1000 Lakes Rally, now known as Neste Oil Rally Finland, has been the crown jewel in the WRC calendar. So if you’re going to see a WRC event, this is the one to see, right? Well at least that’s the vague theory that caused me to venture as far north on this planet as I’ve ever been before to see some bloke’s with funny names drive small hatchbacks way too quickly through some trees. Put like that it seems like a bit of a daft endeavor, but it was anything but.

DSC_0719For the first time on my little tour, I wasn’t alone. It actually all started on an infamous evening; Saturday 24th of November 2012. After the Southern Districts Car Club go kart night back in Adelaide, Australia, Patrick Chan (left) and myself (right) were discussing our respective upcoming trips to Europe when we realized we’d both be there at the same time. Rather than meet up at some generic bar or tourist hotspot, we checked the WRC calendar and decided that Finland was as good a place as any. Later that night we would of course go on to purchase 2Festi and race it the next day and the rest is history, but the Finland seed was planted. Further conversation a few weeks later revealed that our mutual friend, David Rudzitis (middle), would also be in Europe at the same time. Such serendipity! Eight and a half months later, three Australian rally fans were converging on the Finnish city of Jyväskylä from three very different directions.

DSC_0148The first thing that needs to be said about Rally Finland is that it is, without fail, the most spectator friendly rally I’ve ever been to. As the most famous WRC event with arguably the highest speeds I was expecting the spectator access to be pretty poor. And having to spend 65 euro on day 1 to buy a pass to see any of the stages or service park initially confirmed my expectations.

DSC_0478But once you buy that 65 euro Rally Pass you have full and complete access to the event. In Australia you usually avoid the designated spectator points because they restrict what you can do, but not in Finland. Over here a spectator point means you can still watch from where you like, but you have decent food stalls, a bar, toilets and car parking. Continue reading

The Goodwood Festival of Speed Forest Rally Stage

DSC_0103As the Goodwood Festival of Speed slowly expanded in size, so did the number of rally cars taking part. Until 2004 they had to be content with running up the famous tarmac hillclimb with everyone else, but for the past 9 years the rally cars have had their own special home in the Goodwood forest.

DSC_0504The Forest Rally Stage started as a one off but it proved so popular that it is now a permanent fixture, running every day of the Festival of Speed. The course was designed by none other than Hannu Mikkola, and for 2013 has been expanded with longer sections before and after the forest.

DSC_0532The stage starts in an open field right next to the holding paddock at the end of the tarmac hillclimb…

DSC_0537…where it snakes around the field for a few hundred meters…

DSC_0414… before delving deep into a tight and technical course through the forest. The rally stage is quite close to the hillclimb, and in some places it is almost possible to see both at the same time. It’s quite an odd sensation to be standing in the middle of a forest watching rally cars, and then have a Formula 1 car roar past at full throttle just behind you. Continue reading

Cité de l’Automobile Collection Schlumpf

DSC_0045Mulhouse isn’t the typical city most tourists usually visit. Located so far in the East of France that it’s almost in Germany (in fact it was a German city in semi recent history), it’s a lovely town, but with the famous Champagne producing regions on the Paris side and Switzerland on the other, it’s typically skipped by most travelers for its more scenic neighbors. But for over fifty years Mulhouse has been home to the largest automobile collection in the world, and for me it was one that simply couldn’t be missed.

DSC_0163The Schlumpf Collection is probably most well known for housing two of the world’s six Bugatti Royale’s, however its chequered history is arguably more interesting than those two large cars. The Brother’s Schlumpf, Hans & Fritz, were an odd pair. Their interest in cars was only beaten by their almost obsessive dedication to their mother, and the boys worked hard before the second world war building their textile empire, with Fritz finally acquiring his first Bugatti which he used in local races. All of that was put on hold with the outbreak of war, and once the war finished the brothers put everything they had into further building their textile empire in Mulhouse. By the time of the swinging 60’s, the brother’s had enough spare capital to acquire a couple of cars.

DSC_0034The term ‘a couple of cars’ is of course used very loosely as they built their collection at a fanatical rate from the early 50’s through the mid 60’s. The brother’s contacted the likes of Enzo Ferrari offering to buy cars, and with a particular penchant for the local Bugatti brand (located just down the road in Molsheim), they struck up a friendship and bought direct from Ettore himself. They famously sent a letter to every member of the Bugatti owners club with an open offer to buy their cars, which in 1963 resulted in the acquisition of an entire 30 Bugatti American collection in one hit along with several individual cars.They bought ten racing cars from Gordini, three Lotuses from racing driver Jo Siffert and several cars from the Mercedes Benz factory museum. With new prosperity after the war people were looking to upgrade their 1920’s and 30’s automobiles, and the Schlumpf’s used this wholly to their advantage.

DSC_0173Even as their textile business began to falter in the 70’s as cheaper production emerged in Asia, the boys kept building their collection in total silence. They employed 40 staff to work full time restoring and maintaining the cars, who were each sworn to secrecy and forced to sign non disclosure statements about their work. The collection grew as production at their factory further declined, so the Brother’s converted one of the disused warehouses into a museum to house their now 400 strong private collection. They employed yet more staff to lay red tiled floors and create grey gravel display areas and installed thousands of replica Parisian lamp posts. All of this was just for themselves – the collection was still top secret. Continue reading

The Goodwood Festival of Speed

DSC_0176Sometimes in life we are blessed by experiencing something truly incredible. Be it driving a particularly fast or rare car, making no mistakes on the perfect rally stage, finally hearing a favorite song live or witnessing the sun rise over a remote mountain range, these are the rare moments that are remembered vividly, never forgotten and used as comparison for everything that comes after.

DSC_0422These moments are bittersweet, because whilst experiencing them is something of a privilege, it is tinged with the knowledge that this is probably going to be the pinnacle.

DSC_0727Sitting back now and writing this post about the Goodwood Festival of Speed, I’m coming to terms with the fact that there’s probably not a lot out there that can compare to the magic of Goodwood. The sheer quantity and quality of cars, the peaceful forest surroundings, the relaxed and open atmosphere and the diversity is something impossible to replicate. Continue reading