What have we learnt from August?
NASCAR wants to race inside a football stadium; Red Bull has made their cars faster than Merc; you can forget Monza this weekend we already know the top four finishers so if you are allowed out of your house with your parents or guardians, head straight to Australia’s best small town, Leyburn, for the best round the town racing in the world (if you don’t end up in the school swimming pool), the 25th annual Leyburn Sprints; there are wonderfully naive individuals left in the world – Georgie Russell says Mercedes has promised he won’t be No. 2 to Lewis Hamilton; average values of serious classics have stayed flat despite what you read elsewhere: Charlie Watts was a serious petrol head despite not driving; absolute proof the world is stuffed when the biggest sale at a RM Sotheby auction is a 1936 bus; your correspondent has discovered electric karts are better than antidepressants and if lockdown is making you feel bad jump on the blower to one of the services at the bottom of the page or join Mick at the corner bar at the Kensi or me at the Hyperkarting track at what was Fox Studios (part of this company’s multimedia platform but now a farmers market). I’m serious about the blower, the Kensi and the Hyperkarts if you’re feeling crook.
Coming into the Ferrari tribute track 100-year anniversary (and yes classic Feezers have been the only sure bet to buy in time-adjusted dollars for many years), the wonderfully named Autodromo Nazionale di Monza (has a better ring to it than Eastern Creek near the rubbish tip or Bathurst) for the Italian GP (where, sadly, Feezer has as much chance of winning as the old bloke and I have of a podium at Classic Adelaide in November – if Mum and Dad let us out to play), now with added sprint race, think before you bet. While Hamo is favourite here with Mad Max second fav, this is going to depend on whether Merc has upgraded its Mercs and whether Lou can take advantage of Mercedes’ top speed at this track. Red Bull spent money changing the car this season, Merc thought it didn’t need to until Hamo got behind on the driver’s championship, and Red Bull is only 10 points behind in the constructors’ leaderboard.
Of course, like flies at a barbecue (remember them – barbecues, not flies), Alfa readers keep making pests of themselves. “As reader number 16½, I wonder about the weekly Bible’s reference to Kimi’s retirement followed by the comment that George Russell would be Hamo’s wingman. No reference was made to Valtteri, or indeed the Alfa Romeo team. I know you do these things just to make sure readers are paying attention,” says regular reader Mike Knoche. Mike, of course I made no reference to the Italian team but as you know I only mention Alfa twice a year and this year’s quota is done.
Talking of readers, Tony Ludington is not happy (well he drives a Mazda) because I haven’t answered him. Now one excuse is that Covid has brought a flood of emails, faxes, telexes and the occasional telegram. (How can 20 readers, one family member and my dog generate all that correspondence?) Anyway Tony has been having problems with the radio reception in his Mazda. Tony if that’s the only problem you have with your Mazda put on a keg of Coopers sparkling for us all. Tony writes: “Where are you at with my problem? Our local parish priest who has a late model Mazda 6 and has similar radio problems was told by Mazda it was the powerlines causing it!” As you all know we do our best to keep religion (but Shanah Tovah and A gut gebentsht yor for last week), politics and basically anything interesting out of the column, but I don’t want to get on the wrong side of the big man, woman or other upstairs so can I just say most modern car radios suck. And unlike my old Land Cruiser, there’s nowhere to put a coat hanger to improve reception because a lot of the time, for aesthetic reasons, the aerial is embedded in the windscreen. Even my SS ute with a huge V8 donk has the world’s smallest aerial that only lets you listen to AM radio when you are on top of a high hill on a cloudless day when the temperature is 34.5C.
Our form guide for classic car values is Simon Kidston’s K500 (we pay about $150 a year). In the top 10 cars to collect are two Bugattis, three Fezzers, one Merc, one Porker and unfortunately one Alfa, but surprisingly the 1936 white Model 706 Yellowstone National Park tour bus doesn’t get a mention. Sold last week, these iconic buses chauffeured visitors on the adventure of a lifetime (nearly as good as walking outside your house). The last generation of these was the White 706.
The 706 owes its handsome design to legendary industrial stylist Alexis de Sakhnoffsky with assistance from white president R.F. Black and Herman Bender of the Bender Body Company (if I start a crash repair company I’m calling it the Fender Bender Body Company). De Sakhnoffsky was responsible for the streamlined grille and Bender built everything from the cowl back. You could stuff 14 passengers in. The roof has a canvas top offering open-air views. During restoration, the owner specified installation of a 3000-watt power inverter to run Christmas lights for the holidays and a margarita machine as a delicious way to end outings in the summer. A margarita machine! Tony, forget the radio. Here’s something every car should have as standard.
If you are feeling down, lost interest in life or drinking much more than normal, give Beyond Blue a call 1300 22 4636 or Lifeline on 13 11 14. No one will know and they are really helpful – personal experience.