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No, there is no American auto extravaganza today despite the final wording of the Declaration of Independence being approved this time 239 years ago and sent to the printer. But we do have a lot to cover so pay attention.

First up, in a blow to The Weekend Australian Motoring team’s chances in the 24 Hours of LeMons (a similar event to that held in the town in France every year except the cars in the Australian race can’t cost more than $999 and we will be competing at the home of the Big Merino, Goulburn, NSW), Le Mans legend Vern Schuppan knocked back a chance to be our fifth driver. Now Vern was only the second Australian to win at Le Mans. He did it in 1983 (same year we won the America’s Cup), 55 years after Leopard Moth and Bentley pilot Bernard Rubin. Of course the Brabhams had a win each in 1993 and 2009. Our team will be driving a BMW 318IS that has cost us $250 and has yellow rims. If we are successful it will be the German marque’s first success at something sounding like Le Mans in 16 years. Strangely enough, despite the historic opportunity, the BMW factory hasn’t offered sponsorship but Vern did say he would kick in 10 bucks.

You need to know we are building a top team even without Vern. The drivers so far are me, BMW guns Michael McMichael and Dean How, Tom Connolly (nepotism is great but I let him be quicker on most tracks than me), my editor Phil King and Wakefield expert Evelyn Martyn, who has insisted on a hair dryer in the car. Afghanistan veteran Grant Croft is running the catering. In an exclusive interview, Grant says optimistically: “Without disrespect to my former colleagues in Defence, thankfully having survived a number of years in service to this great country without any lasting mental anguish, it appears that I may require extensive counselling after this engagement with you lot.” Garth Walden, managing director of Australia’s top motorsport company Walden Motorsport, is yet to find out he will be our pit crew.

In other important news, Stephen Lane is selling his Nautilus Car at Coys’ Blenheim Palace auction on July 11. Steve owns the Prop Store in Britain, selling film stuff to collectors. The car was driven by Captain Nemo (Naseeruddin Shah) in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. It’s a car that will make a statement outside eateries from the Hawthorn Common to Rockpool Bar & Grill. The statement is: “I am driving a 6.7m x 2.7m six-wheeled white car with two representations of Ganesha either side of the radiator.” The Nautilus is good for 130km/h and could cost you only $40,000.

Captain Nemo's Nautilus Car from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen — yours for only $40,000.
Captain Nemo’s Nautilus Car from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen — yours for only $40,000

Audi Australia boss Andrew Doyle could do with a bit of help from Ganesha. Our Audi Q7 saga continues with some well-sourced talk of an owners’ class action against the Ingolstadt-based company. But it’s clear the Q7 is not the only problem.


Read the rest of our coverage of Audi’s customer service issues at the Weekend Australian



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