Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Buckle Up Your Hard Drive

PERHAPS IT’S that members of the Professor’s golf club circle prefer driving with a wood, or it may be that they see the reported $50 million our state government is handing the Grand Prix’s Bernie Ecclestone as being overly generous. Whatever the reason, if chatter at the 19th hole is any guide, the big, loud race could be transferred quite easily to another city without a peep of protest.  It is an entirely subjective reading of the public mood, based on just that tiny sampling of opinion, but as race day draws near it does foster the hope that the annual ordeal may not disturb life beside Port Phillip for very much longer.

Some people quite enjoy Formula One, decent people, too. Tim Blair, for one, gets very excited at this time of year, and you would be hard pressed to find a more solid citizen than he. And even the Professor can see at least one good thing about taxpayer dollars underwriting a private circus. Despite its other faults, the Grand Prix does a superb job of unfuriating the well-heeled luvvies who infest nearby Albert Park, and anything that gets their organic cotton underpants in a twist cannot be all bad.

But for the most part the race is loathed at the Billabong, first for the waste of public monies but most especially because it is boring. Ugly, impractical cars going around and around in pointless circles, seldom crashing or even passing each other – for fun like that, why not place a kilo of mincemeat on the table and watch it rot? It would be a cheaper, just as entertaining and a lot quieter.

For some real driving, motorsport at its best, settle down and watch the clips below? They showcase the extraordinary talents of privateer Geoff Portman, and does he give his Escort a caning! Shot at last year’s Alpine Rally, the first clip is just a teaser – a little taste for the uninitiated of what rallying is all about. But the second is a classic.

Now watch a master at work. Remember, Portman is hitting speeds of up to 150kph on a dirt track just a few metres wide. And please notice those dark, vertical things on either edge of the screen. They are trees, and hitting one at those speeds can be very messy.

Oh, and one other thing.  Don’t miss the chatter (language alert!) toward the end, when Portman informs navigator Ross Runnalls of a minor mechanical problem: He has just completed the section -- at an average speed in excess of 90kph, no less -- in a vehicle with no rear brakes!

Fantastic driving. And almost as good, it did not cost Victoria’s taxpayers a cent.


  1. I always assumed that Victorians were happy to spend whatever is required to be the "events" capital so they can laud it over Sydney.

    That being said last night in a taxi in Kuala Lumpur upon discovering if I was Australian the driver asked if I was from Melbourne.

    Perhaps this is the $50m paying off or perhaps its similar to the way I used to ask people if they were Canadian rather than American as the canucks had a much bigger chip on their shoulder regarding mistaken identities.

    It's not really that hard to imagine a poor malaysian taxi driver being berated by an overzealous victorian.

  2. PhillipGeorge(c)2012March 13, 2012 at 10:26 AM

    it's a curiosity piece for me....
    Prey tell Prof, were Ayrton Senna and Peter Brock
    great drivers or just nearly great?


    where there's less chance of taking someone out with you

  3. Indoctrinated with the pure sex of angry five-litre V8s since father took me to see Norm Beechey’s black, white and orange-striped Chev Camaro at Calder in nineteensixtysomething, I almost bit the hand of the inviter to the first F1 at Albert Park, such was my enthusiasm. It’s a cherished memory, since overtaken by disdain for high ticket prices and the protection of a gangsterish sports property monopoly by a bushranging Nazi fetishist demanding $55 million and fellatio once a year from 5.5 million Victorians, who couldn’t be less interested.

  4. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.March 13, 2012 at 12:48 PM

    Rivals being hurtled, at 90km per hour, the 50 km to the airport from Ephesus in Turkey at 6am on an ambitiously tarmaccadamed goat track by a hungover late arriving cab driver in fear of losing his job (so he told us) if we missed the plane. Live arrival optional. Didn't appear to matter if he killed us both in transit as clearly, given the state of the vehicle and roads, no accident was going to have been sheeted home by his boss as his fault. Whereas being still marginally drunk and very late was.

  5. It's nice to be reminded that Geoff Portman is still competing. In the late 70s and early 80s he was the gun rookie rally driver. He even led portions of the 79 Repco Round Australia trial until a couple of rollovers in his Datsun Stanza. He even for a while in that event humbled great drivers like Peter Brock, Colin Bond and Greg Carr with his skill.

    Thanks for posting a reminder that Geoff is still around and still has it.

    Best Wishes,

    Real Deal

  6. I'm with you on rallying.. but I suspect he has a whopping great handbrake on the back that he may use occasionally.

    If you want to see what mess trees can summon.. witness the end of Group B

  7. ah.. orright.. just watched the vid.

  8. "unfuriating"? Whatever - it's a great word.

  9. "but most especially because it is boring"
    A bit rich coming from a guy who plays golf!