31 May 2011


Bob Tilton's great blog -Werkcrew -see today has a post on a beautiful pair of mint Heuer Rallymaster watches which have surfaced in the hands of one of his friends . No indication of what he paid for them but you can be certain that it was a serious amount of money  . Well I have my own Heuer stopwatch story -- sadly nowhere nearly as exciting but I bought a mint condition Heuer Trackmaster stopwatch in its original box with the instructions , guarantee card and promotion decals for only $50 on ebay. And an identical item is on ebay with bidding not yet finished and already at $150 .
The bad news is that whilst it is a genuine Heuer it is only just a Heuer and arguably not worth much more than $50 .
Back in the early 1970's Heuer along with the other Swiss watch manufacturers were struggling against the tide of Japanese digital watches .In a desperate effort to boost revenue Heuer started producing promotional items including the Trackmaster which was sold through a variety of channels ,including Sears department stores in the US ,for keen prices
.A variant is the Champion Spark Plug branded Trackmaster which was sold through auto parts stores in the US. Mine as you can see is the Champion branded derivative .And yes it does work but you would not want to be timing your racing team with it .
 The stopwatch looks to have metal case in photos and from a distance but it is plastic and for all I know the internals may also be plastic . So it is a Heuer -- just . The final buyer for the $150+ Trackmaster may well  be very disappointed when it arrives . Even cherished brands have lapses-- best to know what they are --in advance.And in case you are wondering I did know in advance -- that is why I only paid $50.

30 May 2011


No images of yesterday's race--sadly .But I surprised myself by staying up into the early hours of Monday morning to watch it live to the very end . And it was exciting . I never thought that I would ever say that again about a formula one race but the new rules and a new aggressive spirit on the part of the current drivers really have turned F1 around .
Some of the overtaking moves were breathtaking although you do have to question whether the cars have totally outgrown the Monaco circuit . You also have to question what PR value Pirelli are getting out of a situation where their tyres wear out so quickly .
But F1 is exciting again .It's been a long time coming but that's good news.Now a few more grand prix on European tracks in front of enthusiastic crowds instead of racing in front of empty stands in fly blown desert sandpits and things really would be good.


One of the surprising things about The Rolling Road is that readers of the blog are coming forward with interesting feedback . Back in March I posted a 1968 picture of Graham Hill taking delivery of a new Lotus Elan and the current owner of the  car who resides in the UK saw the blog and came forward with information on the car .How he found the blog I do not know .
As a result of my earlier post on the Toyotas at Le Mans a very well informed friend  who wishes to remain anonymous has emailed me to tell me that
"the Toyotas look very familiar to me, because of course they were run by the late Richard Lloyd of Apex Motorsport, on behalf of TOMS. These cars were eventually to be redesigned (very slightly), and become the 1993 Le Mans-winning Bentley Speed 8."
So it could almost be said that the 1999 Toyotas did win Le Mans after all .
These was not the first instance of Le Mans cars being recycled and reappearing in another succesful guise in later years .
I missed the 2003 Le Mans but was at the Goodwood Festival of Speed a year later when I took these photos of the Le Mans winning Bentley .I did not get a long shot which would allow a direct comparison of the bodywork shape with the Toyota It did have different running gear--that's not a Toyota engine with a Bentley decal on it -- but it is an Audi engine with a Bentley decal on it .
So there you have it - an ex-Toyota with an Audi engine called a Bentley won Le Mans in 2003. Confusing,eh?

28 May 2011


Brett's newly restored swb 69 911 has been plagued with carburation tuning issues for the last three months . It has almost been there but never quite and yesterday afternoon was more of the same as yet another visit to the local Porsche whisperer still did not totally resolve the issue.
Last weekend I diagnosed a bad earth connection as the cause of a reluctant starter and based on this succesful outcome and displaying a misplaced faith in my mechanical abilities Brett bought the car round to my raceshop aka as my garage late this morning and using some basic notes as guidance we gave the carbies a light touch up .A quick squirt around the block suggested that it may be fixed --which sounds unlikely given the story so far but stranger things have happened . A few days of regular driving is now needed to see if it really is fixed for all driving conditions and to ensure that it does not foul a plug in heavy traffic. It started to rain just as we finished -but early 911's do look good in the wet .

27 May 2011


You usually either like outlaw Porsche 356s or you loath them . I usually like them but this one just strikes me as more odd than outlaw and I loath those wheels . Let's hope that the decoration is just decals and the wheel trims can be pulled straight off . If so in ten minutes it could look pretty OK .Photographed at Phillip Island , Victoria , Australia .

26 May 2011


I appreciate that it's not Porsches or motor sport but I love it-the Tuileries Gardens in Paris in 1981 on a late autumn afternoon .Another of my fungal affected Ektachrome slides that I have managed to save .To me it is so evocative of  Paris and well, just strolling through the city without apparent purpose but taking in your surroundings -or to use the French term-- being a Flaneur .Taken on my Leica 3A.

25 May 2011


Now what happens if I put my paw here -do I get another nice click like the first time? And when can I do a post ?

24 May 2011


 In contrast to the previous post  thousands of kilometres from Le Mans in a completely different league and a different sport but the participants are just as keen and pushing just as hard on the first corner on the first lap at Appin Motorcross track ,Appin, NSW , Australia. A Canon EOS 5 photo.

23 May 2011


The first corner- the Dunlop Chicane just before the Dunlop Bridge -of the opening lap of the 1999 Le Mans 24 hour race with a pair of works Toyotas leading a Mercedes CLK followed by the eventual winner -the BMW V12 of Martini , Dalmas and Winkelhock .Again one of the Toyotas came home second -- a lap in arrears of the BMW.

Toyota made a big effort to win Le Mans over many years but they were often the bridesmaid and never the bride .They had top driver combinations and some years they had the winning pace but not absolute reliability and other years they had the reliability but were just off the pace .

Toyota have had little success at a works team level  in international motor sport apart from the World Rally Championship .Their formula one effort in this decade cost the equivalent of the GDP of a medium sized African country with nothing to show for it at the end .Their mistake was probably to do it as a freestanding "clean sheet of paper" project based in Germany rather than go to the formula one " golden triangle" in middle England where all the F1 magicians reside.Even the BMW sports car shown above , the race winner, was constructed by Williams F1 in middle England. Now Toyota have vacated all forms of motor sport -not surprisingly after that experience.

This photo was taken from a public spectator enclosure which sadly has now been removed - due to safety concerns .It was always very crowded because it gave an amazing view of the action .

The first lap at Le Mans is always very fraught .The drivers want to go as quickly as possible and get stuck into the race but tyres are still cool particularly at the first corner and there is the overriding concern of keeping the cars on the island .Going off on the first lap of the 24 hour race is about as bad a career move as a professional racing driver can make . So you have this slightly tentative high speed action .Taken  on a Canon EOS 5 SLR with a pretty short lens .

21 May 2011


Toyota came tantalisingly close to winning Le Mans in 1998 and 1999 knocking off Porsche and Mercedes in doing so .Although they came home second both years they had the pace but were let down by reliability but to finish first first you have to finish and then that is true of all races not just Le Mans .
 Back in 1989 when I took this photo in the paddock at Le Mans Toyota Motor Sport (TOMS) was just into its stride .They had a very impressive driver line up for their three car team including some of the drivers from the victorious 1988 TWR Jaguar team but all failed to finish .
This photo is another example of the laid back paddock atmosphere which used to prevail even at the highest level of motor sport . I took this photo with a Leica M6 rangefinder camera  so it was not snatched on the sly .No security guards and minders with clip boards and PR busy bodies .They just did not mind ."Want to have a look? -please ,be our guest.And thank you for your interest."
Happy days .


Copacabana ,or Copa as it is known to the locals ,on the Central Coast of NSW is a quiet beachside settlement with, as you would expect from its name, a beautiful surfing beach . It has a small row of shops on the beachfront esplanade including, until a couple of weeks ago a little wine bar called Fubar which offered a great selection of reasonably priced wines by the glass and which also served wonderful draught Coopers Pale Ale .
Fellow local Porsche enthusiast Brett and myself had developed the practice of giving our Porsches a run and safely parking outside Fubar and enjoying a few drinks on a Friday evening at beer o'clock . Then to our horror and the surprise of the locals , because it was well patronised ,overnight it was no more .The bank had closed it down.Now we don't have an acceptable substitute.We tried the nearby cafe but the beer is rubbish and Brett says the wine is worse .It ain't always the lucky country .
Of course Fubar is a military acronym for "F****d up beyond all repair" . They obviously had great foresight when they chose it !


I bought this Leica 3A in 1967. It cost me £11 and came complete with a Leica neckstrap , the 50mm viewfinder and the collapsible F2.8 Elmar lens . I wanted a Leica as soon as I became interested in photography .By the mid 60's Japanese cameras were making very rapid inroads into the camera market worldwide particularly the Asahi Pentax Spotmatic which was an SLR with through the lens metering .The result was that Leica owners were converting to the Japanese cameras and suddenly Leicas became affordable for me .I believe this Leica was traded on a Spotmatic .I used the Leica for 11 years before I too was seduced by a Japanese SLR -- in my case an Olympus OM2 .

The Leica did sterling service for me taking many photos --predominantly of our  children--- although it also did its share of motor sport photography see which was taken with the Leica and its 50mm lens.
It is a pocket sized camera but it is a solid piece of kit best carried in a bag not in the pocket .
I still have the 3A .It is a beautiful piece of mechanical engineering. It has not seen a film for well over 30 years yet it all seems to work smoothly still. Maybe one day ......

This photo was taken on a spiritual successor to the 3A -- a Leica X1-- which has capabilities the makers of the 3A could never have ever imagined and is a lot lighter although the 3A is a much better built camera .Sadly I cannot see the X1 lasting 5 years yet alone 75 as the 3A has done so far.

19 May 2011


If you are feeling rushed  or stressed today spare a thought for the Belgian Kronos Lola Aston- Martin team . Three weeks out from the 2011 Le Mans 24 hour race they've been plucked off the reserve list and told that due to the withdrawal of another team they have an entry for this year's race! See story on

Now it takes me at least two weekends to get ready for a local hillclimb with my car so I cannot imagine getting a top level team into shape in three weeks to prepare for 24 hours of racing . They have already missed the April testing session and in reality they only have two weeks to get to Le Mans in time for scrutineering and practice. Presumably quite a few of the team members -- if not all- have fulltime jobs  so frantic lodgement of annual leave request forms would be going on and then there would be a thousand and one logistical details to fix--paperwork galore--travel- catering -- team accommodation -tyre supply etc,etc.It does not bear thinking about . Those guys would be flat out .
Friend Patrick , who lives in Brussels, alerted me to this story and suggested that maybe they will be running the car on frites oil. We will certainly be giving them a big cheer and urging them  on . If they make it to the starting grid they will be heroes in our book .

17 May 2011


See previous post .Not all Le Man's history has been rebuilt . One of the worst things about Le Mans until very recently was the almost total lack of toilet and shower facilities in the public spectator areas but in the past 6 years numerous modern toilet blocks and shower facilities have been built .They were sorely needed .Until 2006 I am sure the male spectator to toilet ratio was about 50,000 to 1 and the female ratio was far worse-- which probably explains the paucity of female spectators until recent years

Despite all the new building activity it is pleasing to see the very original, and very French ,open air pissoirs behind the main straight stands have been retained .They can be seen here providing relief to spectators during the 2009 race.

16 May 2011


It could almost be a rural scene in France .Well it almost is . On the inside of the Le Mans circuit alongside the straight leading to Tetra Rouge ,late afternoon with the 2004 race just a couple of hours old .
You will not see this scene today .In the past 6 years the Le Mans circuit has had major improvements  --with bigger runoff areas on the track itself around Tetra Rouge and major earthworks to create spectator viewing embankments and this section has been totally remodelled .The result is much improved spectator facilities but the loss of a unique ambience .
 On the inside of the spectator areas just inside Tetra Rouge a short distance from the scene above there used to be little vegetable gardens full of artichoke plants and lettuces etc and little sheds where local families came and spent their summer weekends even when the race was in progress .I often looked at the locals sitting  enjoying a glass of vin or playing boule with their children as the sun went down with thousands of spectators just a few metres away on the other side of a wire mesh fence and the race rushing on .It looked like a scene from a Henri Cartier Bresson photo -- particularly in the early 80's when there were a few 2CV Citroens parked there and many of the men still sported berets and braces . I wish I had taken some photos but as always it never occurred to me that one day it would not be there . And now it has all gone -it is the edge of an industrial estate .
A Leica Digilux 1 photo

15 May 2011


Deus at Camperdown ,Sydney held a V-Twin Festival on Saturday . It was a pretty laid back affair on a beautiful, crisp day . Great turnout of classic bikes -- restored and unrestored .

Motorcycle enthusiasts seem to have really got into the preservation of patina with quite a few "barn finds" on display- some road registered . I guess motorcycles are more easily concealed in barns and sheds than cars hence why so many discoveries continue to be made .I applaud the restraint of the finders who leave them in the "as found" condition . It must be very tempting to roll up your sleeves and start restoring them .

Two stand out bikes for me -- a Vincent and a Moto Guzzi ( both pictured) . Apparently the Guzzi was ridden up on Saturday morning 400kms from Braidwood -which would have been a cold and taxing ride.Leica X1 photos.

14 May 2011


I've owned this pair of the legendary Australian RM Williams boots for at least five years . I have worn them a maximum of a dozen times and eight of those times have been in the last 2 weeks . When I bought them I just did not find them at all comfortable . Disappointed because I know devotees rave about them I put them into the back of a cupboard .A couple of weeks back I was clearing out and found them and decided to give them to a charity shop putting the experience down to an expensive lesson .At the last minute I granted them a reprieve and decided to give them another try and magically after about 6 wearings they started becoming very comfortable . To think that they nearly made it to the Salvos!
On reflection I remembered that when most shoes had traditional construction with leather uppers and soles etc , like these boots,we had to wear them all in but now with bonded rubber soles and synthetic materials shoes now slip on like carpet slippers on day one .

11 May 2011


It's 13 years since Porsche won Le Mans and despite encouraging noises it will be quite a few years before they win it again .Even if the VW parent company decided tomorrow that Porsche should take over the group's sports car racing responsibility from Audi it would take a number of years for Porsche to bring a competitive car to the grid . Also all the indications are that Porsche would want to compete with a new technology platform -- Hybrid or some form of KERS.

I was fortunate to be at Le Mans in 1998 when the  superb GT1 driven by McNish,Aiello and Ortelli won after a very hard fought race. Porsche made a big investment to win the race .Perhaps they already knew that it was going to be a long time before they graced the grid again as the then CEO , Wiedeking, was not exactly a big motor racing fan .
The GT1 is a 3.2 turbocharged watercooled car with a carbon fibre monocoque and a central body section which silhoutted a Porsche 911coupe.It looks the part from every angle.

The photo above was taken on a Canon EOS 5 SLR on high speed Kodak Ektachrome slide film which I had push processed to gain further film speed ( which explains the poor quality) and shows the car exiting the Porsche curves just as night was falling.

8 May 2011


 I love their decal --and they race a 356. Seen at the Wine Country Classic Historic Races, Infineon Raceway ,Sears Point,California.


I assembled a Revell plastic model kit of the French Talbot- Lago Grand Prix car when I was 10. It was an accurate kit which I painted in the correct French racing blue colour  It even had engine detailing . Because of this the Talbot- Lago has always been one of my favourite 50's era Grand Prix cars . It is so solid and bristles character and mechanical as opposed to aeronautical engineering. Love those Webers ,the matte black camcovers those narrow tyres and the enormous alloy drum brakes.A Canon G9 photo.
Photographed at Phillip Island Historics , Australia .

6 May 2011


I went to the Australian VIP launch of the McLaren MP4-12C supercar at the Museum Of Contemporary Art in Sydney yesterday evening thanks to the importer , Trivett Classic .The car may have a silly name ( is it the world's first car model with a part number as a name ?) but it is a very impressive example of high performance automotive engineering -a supercar for the ipad generation.  I am sure Bruce McLaren would have been proud of it .

It certainly was a long way both in distance and in style from where I first saw Bruce wheeling out his latest sports car at Brands Hatch in 1968 see

The event was super swish proving that McLaren may be the new kid on the block as far as big time car manufacturers are concerned but they have hit the ground running both with the product and also with the marketing .The paint and overall finish on the display car was superb and the presentation by McLaren's regional man ,Ian Gorsuch,was just right .

The French champagne--is there any other sort- flowed freely ( sadly not for this driver) and the finger food was supercar standard. And if you tired of looking at the car or did not find it curvy enough there were other attractions .

Sadly my sports car tastes are financially limited to cars that smell of oil and mouldy carpet not bonded carbonfibre and microchips and my old Porsches already fill my garage so my order and half a million dollar cheque won't be in the post but thanks to Trivett and McLaren for an interesting evening.

4 May 2011


I recently found these two slides of Paris taken by me in 1981 on a Leica 3A on Kodak Ektachrome film .The slides were mounted in glass mounts where the film is sandwiched between very thin sheets of glass .These were once very popular with photographers as they kept the film flat and stopped it "popping"  when projected and also because they protected the film surface from physical damage . Unfortunately they also act as miniature glasshouses and particularly in the hot ,humid conditions here in Australia they encourage fungal growth and moisture attack on the film .
Fortunately I only have a few glass mounted slides but all have started to deteoriate and have spores of fungus growing on them .It is almost impossible to remove the film without damaging it now as it is invairably bonded to the glass.

Apart from cropping  I have not manipulated these two slides at all. I feel that the ageing combined with the soft autumn light has give them a wonderful vintage look  .Sadly the others in the series are too badly deteoriated to be used.

These photos are a marked contrast technically to the Leica X1 digital images  in the posts below yet I cannot help wondering how those images stored on a hard drive will look in 30 years time -will they be in better or worse shape than these slides?I guess the truth is that no one will care as they will be long forgotten . These Paris photos were retained because when they were taken I was only taking a few hundred photos per annum as film and processing were expensive . Nowadays I can easily take that many in one day .

1 May 2011


After 10 days of very "English" weather --except wetter and to be fair warmer-- and more promised this week today,Sunday, dawned a beautiful day with a big surf running . There was a surfing contest at a local beach,Avoca ,and it was spectacular .Leica X1 photos .