30 Dec 2016

Trying to be a cool cat

 Phoebe, this morning, trying hard to stay cool by finding a darkish corner, lying full stretch with her tummy on the wooden floor and opening up the hairs on her coat to let the air circulate.
Being a very furry old Himalayan in this weather is not fun. Being an old human in this weather is only a little better but at least we can jump in the pool and there is always beer o'clock to look forward to.
Photo taken with the Leica XV- much as I dislike the clip on EVF the fact that you can tilt it so that you can get the camera down really low is sometimes a benefit as in this shot.

29 Dec 2016

Surfers in the mist

Surfers in the mist at 6.30 am today on Terrigal Beach. It was a scorching day-as forecast. It "only" reached 35ºC here in Terrigal but it was much hotter a few kilometres inland as I found when I went to Erina to buy beer and pool chemicals.
With the grandchildren gone and the house cleared up after all the excitement of the last few days it was a day for doing as little as possible. I checked the pool chemistry, went shopping and spent the rest of the day in the pool or reading a book. It's going to be hot overnight and another hot one tomorrow.
Whatever your age this heat is debilitating and you certainly notice it more as you get older. With weather like this my photography is going to be confined to my early morning walk by the beach for the next few days. I am definitely not planning to be taking either of the Porsches out until it cools off. It's not good for the cars and it is most definitely not good for the driver.

28 Dec 2016


Terrigal Beach at 11.39am today 28th December. The fourth consecutive day of clear blue sky and the ideal temperature for the beach-28ºC. The surf is a a little rough but there is a pleasant sea breeze. Perfection. Best to make the most of it today as they are forecasting heatwave conditions tomorrow up into the mid-30s on the coast and even higher inland. Let's hope that the sea breeze keeps the lid on it at Terrigal.
This photo taken with my iPhone 4S.

26 Dec 2016

That was the year that was-in smiles

There is no need to dwell on what a truly awful year 2016 was for humanity. My year was great but against a background of terrible events. Lies and nastiness or worse seemed to be the new norm in 2016.
However I met some wonderful, friendly people on my travels and somehow I managed to convince most of them to give me a smile so here are some of those smiling faces to usher out 2016 - an antidote to the hate and nastiness of Trump, Farage, Putin, Erdogan, Assad, ISIS and all the other scowlers and mean spirited people who made 2016 a year to forget.


22 Dec 2016

Seasons Greetings

Seasons Greetings to all Rolling Road followers. Best wishes for the holidays wherever you are.

Photo -Santa on Terrigal Beach,NSW,Australia-December 2016.

21 Dec 2016

A photo for the times

I came upon this photo in my Lightoom archive yesterday and I find myself thinking that it really is a rather special photo. It was taken in a very small remote village accessible only by river. We were travelling down the river on a small riverboat and tied up on the riverbank to visit the village late in the afternoon.
Some children came out of the poor village school to greet us. The novice monk was curious, his friend was shy and did not want to face my camera.
The innocence and serenity of the photo is such a contrast to the horrors of yesterday in Berlin and the daily horrors unfolding in Aleppo. Let's hope that the lives of these two, materially poor though they may be, remain as serene as they were when the photo was taken.

The photo was taken with my Leica X1. Since then I have acquired two more sophisticated Leicas but I keep coming back to inescapable truth that my best photos seem to be taken with the X1.

19 Dec 2016

Can Formula 1 be saved?

The 2018 Malaysian F1 Grand Prix will be the last. The Malaysian Government is no longer prepared to bankroll the annual race to the tune of A$ 92 million per annum(!) and have decided that they have better things to do with their money. This is not surprising. In recent years spectator numbers at the Sepang circuit for the GP have been small although the Moto GP race has drawn a huge crowd. No surprises there. Moto GP(motorcycle racing) is exciting and the ticket prices for the Moto GP are much lower that for the F1 GP. One interesting fact is that the cost of holding the Malaysian F1 GP has increased 10 fold since it was first held in 1999 and almost all of this increase is in the payments made to the F1 rights holders -CVC.
Malaysia is far from the first GP to drop out due to the cost of staging  the race. France has not had a grand prix for a number of years which is a disgrace. France the birthplace of motor racing cannot afford a GP. Korea, India and Turkey all dropped their GPs after a couple of years-finding that the costs were prohibitive. Even Germany could not afford a GP in 2015 and it is only a provisional starter for the 2017 calendar. Britain has retained its GP- just -but outside the committed fan base it does not attact much visibility-a far cry from the days when the British Grand Prix was seen as a national sporting event up there with the Grand National and the FA Cup Final. I am surprised that the taxpayers in Melbourne have not jacked up at the ridiculous cost of staging the Australian GP.

F1 is in a major crisis. Traditional circuits cannot afford to stage the races and TV viewers are turning off - taking it off free to air television in the UK did not help-but even without this viewers were voting with their feet. The consensus is F1 is boring, the rules are way too complicated and the show behaves like a pack of overpaid prima donnas -which they are. The hordes of PR minders and the lack of driver involvement with the fans has also turned the fans off.
The  F1 Rights were owned by CVC Capital Partners until this month-a private equity company-need I say more? They left the geriatric, now 85 year old, Bernie Ecclestone to run it for them.
CVC have owned F1 since 2005 and in that time they have not invested a cent, not a brass razoo, in the sport. They left it to Ecclestone to extract as much cash from it as he could. And he certainly was very succesful.

Now Bernie is a man who loves a good autocrat. He has previously expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler and he has said that Vladimir Putin would be a good man to govern Europe so it is no surprise to hear that he is a big fan of Donald Trump. None of this would matter if Bernie was expressing his views in the day activities room of the Sunshine Years Nursing Home where he should be but sadly he has been applying his skills and autocratic mindset into running F1 into the ground. His latest nonsensical outpourings are that F1 does not need innovations and he has reportedly recently said that "I don't know why people want to get to the younger generation. I'd rather get to the 70 year old who has plenty of cash."
With views like that no wonder the show is so jaded and spectators have left in droves.
Bernie I have news for you -the 70 year olds are bored with it too. Very bored.

However the cavalry may be on the way. The big US company, Liberty Media, have bought the F1 rights from CVC for $8 billion. The man who runs Liberty Media is Chase Carey who wants to turn F1 back into a major world sporting spectacle.  The big question is have Liberty Media and Carey arrived in time to save F1? Only time will tell.
The task they face is immense. Firstly the show itself -the racing-has to be made exciting and thrilling again. That means totally reshaping the rules, changing the circuits and changing the mindset of the participants.
Secondly costs have to be bought down. Feeble attempts have been made to rein in the ridiculous expense of F1 over the past few years but there was no real will or commitment. Everyone has their snouts in the trough-private jets, minders to the left, minders to the right and opulent lifestyles.  No one wants to climb off the gravy train. Cutting costs and running F1 on sensible budgets may prove impossible - the rot may have set in too far.
Thirdly F1 has to engage with the fans openly. In Nascar, WEC and GT racing the top line drivers are fan friendly. In F1 many of them seem to go out of their way to alienate the fans. Daniel Ricciardo is the exception and look at the profile and following he has as a result. A grid full of clones of him would be a good start for Chase Carey.
Fourthly Ecclestone has to go. He is the cause of the current sad state of F1. I am sure Carey knows that so watch out Sunshine Years Nursing Home a very opinionated and nasty little man is about to be retired and he may well be heading your way so lock up the dominoes.

Photo above taken by me at the 1968 British Grand Prix at Brands Hatch and shows the great Mexican Driver Pedro Rodriguez in his BRM. This was the last GP won by a private entrant when the Swiss Driver, Jo Siffert, won in a Lotus-Ford entered by Rob Walker. Nowadays the sum Rob Walker spent in a season on his private entry F1 team would barely cover Lewis Hamilton's mobile phone bill.
I took the photo with a Leica 3A with a 50mm Elmar lens at Kidney Bend and I developed the film at my home in the bathroom. A lot has changed in 48 years.

15 Dec 2016

Technic Lego for grown ups

There are many reasons that early Porsche 911s are so popular and so sought after and one is that it is so easy to build your own interpretation of a classic Porsche by switching components.
Because the basic architecure of the 911 did not fundamentally change over more than twenty years many components are relatively interchangeable. So if you choose you can slot in a 3.2 litre motor into a car which originally had a 2 litre. At the same time you can change the gearbox from the original 901 type to a later 915 box. You could bigger fit brakes and master cylinder-as I have done on my 1971 car- and wider wheels and so on. It's almost like Technic Lego for grown ups and it is the reason why 'hot rod" early 911s in groups such as the RGruppe in the US are so popular.
No other car brand or model has had this model/architecture continuity over such a long period so no other brand has this mix and match capability.
Photo above was taken at Autowerks in Charmhaven, NSW earlier this week . The mechanical fuel injected motor is a being finished prior to being fitted in the recently restored red 911E shown in the photos below. The SWB 911 behind belongs to friend Brett and is being stripped back to the bare bodyshell prior to being media blasted and then totally restored.

12 Dec 2016

Lotus-lost and found.

Back in April 2015 I wrote a story for the blog titled The Lotus Position. Here is an extract;
Over the weekend I came across this photo I took of a Lotus Elan being worked on in the paddock at the Phillip Island historic races a few years ago and it reminded me of a friend who had a Lotus Elan Coupe given to him by his parents as a 21st birthday present in 1968. Yes really.It came in kit form on a trailer and he and his father assembled it. I lost contact with the friend a year or so later and I did not make contact again for 20 years and when we met for dinner I enquired what happened to that beautiful Elan. He said that it was in his parent's garage where it had been for the past 18 years. He then went on to explain that the car was so troublesome that after driving it for two painful years one day it stopped on a roundabout at Aylesbury when the gearbox broke so he had it towed to his parent's house and it was put in the very small garage and the doors were shut and he had not looked at it since ! He assured me that was a true story. I subsequently lost contact with him again and I cannot find him now so I will never know what finally happened to that Elan. A future barn find maybe.

Well about two weeks ago the friend, Arthur, found me and he gave me an update on the Lotus in the garage. I will let him tell his own story.

"I was surfing the ‘net for some information for a monthly column I (still) write for a motoring magazine when, quite by chance, I came across ‘The Rolling Road’. This looked so interesting and was so well written with superb pictures that I lingered awhile (anything rather than the task at hand, especially one involved in generating copy) and, blow me, I soon realised that it was the mouthpiece of my old friend from Reading University days.
As a Lotus aficionado, I looked at the Lotus entries and two in particular triggered the realisation that it was you.
The first was the picture (posted on 17/10/15) of Jo Siffert winning the 1968 British Grand Prix. I remember we were on South Bank Bend for that meeting and I must have been within feet of you when you activated the shutter.
The second was the ‘Lotus Position’ item which you posted on 7/4/15 when you mentioned a friend who owned an Elan Coupe and was so exasperated by its lack of reliability that it was banished to a garage. I’m assuming this friend was me. You got most of the details right, although the car was NOT given to me by my parents as a 21st birthday present. It came into my possession in 1972 after four years’ hard graft at GKN.
I remember well the lunch we had after about 20 years of lost contact. We met at a delightful pub quite near Oxford and we had a bottle of Australian white wine, having rejected a French alternative due to the French having recently detonated an H-bomb in the South Pacific.
Contrary to your speculation, the car will not resurface as a barn find, but is now up and running again with just over 30,000 miles on the clock. Around 2004 I thought it would be good to give it another chance, so I took it to Paul Matty – an independent Lotus specialist based in Bromsgrove. After about a year of on-and-off work it arrived back in pristine condition and has gone well (mostly) ever since. In fact it has become rather famous, if I say so myself. It has featured in the Regent Street Motor Show and Salon Prive at Blenheim Palace, and has made three appearances at the Concours of Elegance at Windsor Castle, Hampton Court and Marlborough House in London. Also it was on display for a week in the RAC’s Pall Mall Clubhouse in October 2012 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Elan’s launch at the 1962 Earls Court Motor Show.

On happier matters, just as you are (sensibly) a Porsche aficionado, I am a Lotus fanatic – despite the earlier angst with the Elan. I bought Lotus shares when it was a public company and used to go to the AGMs which alternated between Hethel and London. On one occasion I has a chat with Chapman – at the Lotus AGM in London, shortly after Emerson had cooked his clutch on the startline of the non-championship F1 race which was held at Silverstone in April. We discussed his chances of winning the world championship for the second successive year in 1973. I well remember going with you to Crystal Palace and Brands Hatch to various meetings, including the 1968 British Grand Prix.

Like you I have tired of F1, but enjoy historic motor racing. I have been a member of the Goodwood Road Racing Club since it started about 15 or so years ago and go to the Members’ Meeting and, of course, the Revival. Also like you I read Motor Sport, along with Evo and the glossy classic car mags.

In addition to the Elan I have an Elise which I bought from Paul Matty about six years ago on the basis that if I didn’t get one soon I wouldn’t be able to get in and out of it. And just over a year ago I bought an Elan +2S/130. This is a car that I have always drooled over and I thought ‘if not now, when?’ My classic collection is completed with a Capri which was my father’s last car and has great sentimental value."

So a very unexpected postscript to the lost Lotus story. Many thanks Arthur for contacting me and my apologies for getting the rather important detail of how you acquired the car so wrong.
To cap it off above and below are photos Arthur sent of the car as it is now. It  looks superb and Arthur's email has reminded me that I must get over to the UK in 2017 to catch up with so many people face to face again. Maybe he will even let me drive the Elan.

9 Dec 2016

Breathe that sea air

Breath that sea air-late afternoon Blueys Beach Mid Coast NSW Australia yesterday. A strong warm wind was blowing from the north and the lack of surf meant that dog walkers were the only people on the beach. You can just make out the headland of Seal Rocks in the furthest distance.
Blueys is 300 kms north of Sydney with a 38 km winding drive from the Pacific Highway so still retains the some of the atmosphere of a remote surfing village despite the designer holiday homes which increasingly make up the beachfront landscape.
It was very quiet yesterday but there was an air of anticipation in the local businesses as they awaited the huge influx of holiday visitors who will invade starting from this weekend as the private schools finished for the long summer break today.
Parking spaces will be at a premium as the Audi SUVs jostle for position. The exuberance of many of the visitors will be tempered when they find out that Telstra is the only mobile phone network which can be received in Blueys. The cafes offering wi-fi will be full of users of other networks eager to get their daily Facebook and caffeine fixes.
The annual visitor invasion started last week here in Terrigal. Parking is impossible in the town. The streets are clogged with SUVs. The cafes are full -some full from sunrise. The beach is getting crowded -well crowded by our standards. The multi-million dollar weekenders at nearby North Avoca are being prepared for their three week's use. One magnificent beachfront property is only used for 10 days over Xmas and the New Year in the whole year. After the holiday the owner takes the family off to the US to ski and the house stays closed up until next year. Summer in Australia 2016

7 Dec 2016


Spotted in the car park at Enzos in the Hunter Valley last week. Very nicely done but what's with the GT350 stripes as it's only a 6 cylinder 3 speed auto with a bench front seat? Great wheels and paint and I am sure it's someone's pride and joy but to me it's an overgilded which is a real pity.
A few American Muscle shots from the files to balance the ledger.

6 Dec 2016


A dragonfly landed on the outside of one of the main windows of our living area this afternoon. I ran upstairs and picked up the Leica Q and set it onto the macro setting. The dragonfly was climbing up the glass so I grabbed the kitchen steps and climbed up and took two quick photos from the inside looking out before it flew off. This is the best of them. Pretty impressive performance from the camera-1/500th second at F2.8 ISO 100 using autofocus. What an amazing lattice structure in the dragonfly's wings.
Makes a real change from photos of Porsches.

3 Dec 2016

The 356 man.

Porsche owners are amongst the most enthusiastic of car enthusiasts. There are a lot of them and you can find them all over the world. But within the Porsche enthusiasts universe there is a subset of even more enthusiastic enthusiasts -the 356 owners.
Sydney resident and friend David Nicholls is as keen and knowledgeable a 356 enthusiast as you are likely to find anywhere on the planet. A short video has been made about David and his stable of cars and it is now on You Tube. It is well worth watching.
You can view it here THE 356 MAN

My first encounter with Porsche was reading the monthly column by Motor Sport magazine's Continental Correspondent,Denis Jenkinson,in 1956. Jenks,as he was known,lived an idyllic life travelling to the European motor sport events in his 356 through the N hemisphere summer each year. He was a very enthusiastic about Porsche because they went racing and he loved his 356 and he certainly convinced this then 10 year old that Porsche was the best car in the world. Despite this early baptism into the Porsche brand I've not felt the urge to own a 356 myself-I am very happy with my 911s although I did own 2 Dinky Model 356s many years ago.

Here are some photos from my archives of 356s I have seen in Australia,the US and in France at the Le Mans Classic plus a shot of David's 550 replica shown in the video.