29 Mar 2016

A changed look

Regular readers will notice a changed look to the blog.
Firstly a new header photo.It shows a very rocky rolling road and was taken by me on Tin Cup Pass in the US Rockies in Colorado in 1993 whilst on a vehicle launch with Land Rover N America.I used my Leica M6 with a 28mm Elmarit lens and Fuji Velvia film.
This was a fantastic trip. The weather was glorious and we drove through some amazing scenery on very difficult terrain. We camped out and on the first night I shared a tent with the LRNA President who snored like a horse. Unable to stand it after an hour or so I moved myself and my sleeping bag outside. It was wonderful  sleeping under the most amazing view of the stars I have ever seen. In the morning I was severely chastised as apparently bears often roam through the camp sites at night looking for food.The next night I found some airline earplugs in my bag and stayed in the tent.
Secondly I have gone back to a white on black look for two reasons. Firstly if the blog is viewed on a mobile device using the blogger app this is how it has looked for some time and so now the look is uniform however it is viewed. Secondly I do feel that the photos look better against the black background.
I will be making some other changes to the style and content of the blog going forward. I have also succumbed to the lure of Instagram and have opened an account -therollingroad.So far this has only featured photos which have appeared on the blog in the last few weeks.It seems to be attracting quite a few views.

27 Mar 2016

Happy Easter

Happy Easter holiday to all TRR readers and a thought for the day seen at the recent Barry Sheene Festival of Speed.

Surely he came in his V8?

24 Mar 2016


A selection of photos of some of the characters at last weekend's Barry Sheene Festival Of Speed.Thanks to all the friendly people who chatted to me and in particular the sidecar racers including Dave,pictured,who demonstrated his sidecar piloting position for me.
Bike racers seem to fall into three groups-those who come to the meeting and do barely nothing to their bikes-a very small group- those who constantly adjust and repair - a big group -and finally those who just love working on their bikes and who start taking them apart as soon as they are off the trailer. Representatives of all three groups are featured in the photos.Enjoy.

21 Mar 2016

Barry Sheene FOS 2016-part2

Photos from last weekend's Barry Sheene Festival of Speed at SMSP. Firstly some of the bikes-racing and on display.
The pits and paddock and the bike parking area were packed with interesting bikes- British bikes including a few Vincents and the wonderfully named Abingdon King Dick. Italian bikes well known and the lesser known Villa.Spanish bikes. American bikes- a good few Harleys,Indians and probably a Buell or two which I did not see. German bikes and of course Japanese bikes of every make and size.
How about the Honda 125 below which must have been a barn/shed find as it is in totally original condition with just a light patina. I would like to know its history but the owner was not around when I was looking at it.


20 Mar 2016

Barry Sheene Festival of Speed

It was the annual Barry Sheene Festival of Speed at Sydney Motor Sport Park yesterday.The weather was superb-bright sun,not too hot and there was a big crowd to see a packed programme of races and the guest appearance of some motorcycle legends including Kevin Schwantz,Freddie Spencer and Kevin Magee.

These events are always good because you can access the pits and paddock. There is a very friendly atmosphere and the participants are so enthusiastic. It is real grass roots motor sport. No big egos,no pretentious set ups in the pits and no transporters and motorhomes the size of apartment blocks.

The organisers really help the laid back atmosphere with friendly announcements for the competitors,explanations for what was going on when there are delays in the programme and not employing security guards who have to justify their employment by looking threatening and picking people up for silly minor transgressions.

Anyway congratulations to all involved- it was great except for the long delay getting into the circuit. OK,the organisers seriously underestimated the crowd but it took me 75 mins to drive 102 kms from Terrigal to Eastern Creek and then 45 mins to get into the track. Not funny.

The long delay in getting in meant that I missed the early light I wanted for photography. Nonetheless I am happy with the images I came back with. As I do not have the right gear there are no on-track action shots - except for the one above. This was taken from the track wall where I was not supposed to be and soon after they asked spectators to leave the wall-but I had my shot. I used the Leica X Vario for the day.
More photos to come in the next few posts.

A farce

 After I got home from a great day at the Barry Sheene Festival of Speed yesterday I turned on the TV to see what was happening in the qualifying session for the grand prix in Melbourne. What a farce. Just when I thought F1 could not get any worse they introduce a new qualifying format for 2016 designed to emasculate qualifying and remove any excitement. If I had paid money to see that I would have been demanding my money back. Media comment this morning is scathing and Christian Horner,Red Bull team boss,is reported as saying that F1 should apologise to the fans. He's right on the money there.
It really is as if the F1 governing body sit down and say well we've made the racing as boring as possible what else can we do and then they agree that qualifying is still worth watching so they agree on a format to screw that up as well.
Anyway by way of light relief I saw this limited edition Lewis Hamilton helmet on sale at Sydney Motor Sport Park yesterday. I believe that there is also a limited edition Sebastien Vettel helmet and it is only slightly smaller.

Footnote-since writing the above this morning I have just read that the F1 teams have decided to ask the governing body to revert to the previous qualifying format for the next GP.A good decision but cold comfort to the punters who paid to watch it in Melbourne.Whilst they were having an attack of common sense they should have ditched a few other of their silly rules at the same time.

18 Mar 2016

Meanwhile back in the real world....

An Middle Eastern airline has a TV commercial currently airing here which shows the serene world which awaits you when you fly with them. Beautiful empty airports. Smiling flight attendants. The elegant passengers in business class or is that first class? Who exactly do they think they are fooling? We all know what the reality is. Photo by me -Ciampino Aeroport, Roma. And yes I was boarding that flight.

17 Mar 2016

More fun than shares

A better investment than shares and much more fun.......
Jerry Seinfeld's cars/Porsches went for millions-US$22m - at auction on Amelia Island USA last weekend. And they were only a small part of his collection although there were some plum cars in the sale lot. The lowest price-if the word low is applicable-was achieved by his very original VW Campervan at a modest US$99,000. Yes that's right 99 clicks for a VW Camper.See CAMPER

My 2.2 Porsche 911 -above- is the best "investment" I ever made and it's a helluva lot more fun than shares. It got a new set of tyres last week as the previous ones had gone hard through age but were far from worn out.It hurts to junk barely worn tyres but I felt that the car was all over the place on the greasy road on the recent club drive and a check of the tyres confirmed that they were "off".  Apparently modern tyres age quicker than before.
It's a bit galling to find that the new set are 7 months old already but I could hardly insist that the retailer only gets fresh ones particularly as he had to order them in from Michelin. I guess it's a slow boat from China.

16 Mar 2016

Grand Prix Fizzer

It's the first round of the 2016 Formula One world championship this Sunday-the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.But here in Australia unless you are paying a lot of attention you would not know. One TV channel -Ten-is broadcasting it. None of the other channels except the public broadcasting ABC are mentioning it.The daily press -print and digital- are hardly mentioning it. Australia has lost interest. Which is hardly surprising when Formula One supremo,Bernie Ecclestone,says that it is terrible see BERNIE"S WHINGE
The reasons for this lack of interest are not hard to find.
  • Going to Melbourne for the Grand Prix is ridiculously expensive.The admission and grandstand seat prices are extortionate. Food is expensive.The hotels are expensive.
  • The racing is boring.Overtaking is rare.Mercedes dominate.Unless they have a technical problem-which is rare-they are almost certain to win.
  • The rules are almost incomprehensible.They are designed to enliven the racing.They fail to do this. They just seem to be what they are -contrived.The tyre rules are particularly silly.
  • The cars are slow-by historical standards.
  • The cars are quiet-again by historical standards.
  • The cars are ugly.
  • Most of the drivers are overpaid prima donnas.People just cannot relate to most of them and some behave like complete prats.
  • The whole Formula One show comes across as an overindulgent greedfest the primary purpose of which is to make some people even richer than they already are. It is a circus with too many clowns and no high wire act.
It is a real shame because Formula One used to be fantastic and the Australian Grand Prix in Adelaide and even in the early years in Melbourne was a fantastic event.But as so often happens money/greed has ruined the show.
I cannot see the Melbourne Aussie Grand Prix lasting.Surely the tax payers in the state of Victoria where Melbourne is located are going to jack up at the cost soon.It will surely go the way of the Indian and Korean Grand Prix unless a miracle happens and the Formula One rights holders come to their senses and gives the punters a real spectacle again.
The Melbourne Grand Prix organisers will of course have none of this.They will again spin the attendance figures and talk about record numbers and produce dubious economic modelling to prove the massive benefit to the local economy but they would say that wouldn't they?

15 Mar 2016

Just awful

On the Australian ABC (Australian equivalent to BBC and US PBS) yesterday evening there was a horrific documentary on the canned hunting industry in South Africa. Quite simply canned hunting is where beautiful animals such as lions,elephants and even rhinos are bred on farms for very rich shooters to come and shoot them in enclosures. It is barbaric. Just vile. Disgusting. The shooters call themselves hunters but there is no hunting involved. The clients for this barbarism come from across the world but the majority of them are Americans. I feel like vomiting just thinking about it.
Why would you want to pay an enormous sum of money to shoot a beautiful lion in an enclosure for a trophy to brag about ? The word depraved immediately springs to mind. Australia has strict laws banning the importation of any such "trophies" fortunately.

As an antidote to this awful tale I went and found a slide I took a few years ago at an elephant orphanage in Sri Lanka. It shows an elephant handler with some of the animals. The orphanage cares for wild elephants hurt or orphaned in road accidents or whose mothers had abandoned them or were unable to care for them.  It was a beautiful place with beautiful animals and people who truly cared for the animals. I was using a Canon SLR with an L series 70-200mm f2.8 lens and Fuji Velvia film.The lens was absolutely superb with a constant f2.8 aperture over the full zoom range.The IQ was just brilliant but that lens was a big,heavy and very expensive piece of kit. I sold it a few years ago before my back gave out.

Le Mans Club Des Pilotes

There is a club specifically for drivers who have competed in the Le Mans 24 hour race.It was founded in 1953 and now has 252 members It has its own club house in the Singher Stand on the pit straight which is a great location to view the race.The club's badge/logo would make a great car decal. I photographed this window on the clubhouse at the 2014 Le Mans Classic.

12 Mar 2016


A single man

The dreamer

                                          Two recent motoring shots.Top Bathurst 12 hours race,bottom Kochi,India.

11 Mar 2016

On high

A rising-price -tide lifts all boats.Including 924s.
This one was purchased in Perth and the new owner very bravely decided to drive home the long way home thousands of kilometres through desolate country right over the top end of Australia. It all went without a hitch as far as Newcastle,NSW where it stumbled - the timeshaft belt broke on startup- just before it made it home. If the belt had broken at a modest speed yet alone at high speed on the highway the results would have been catastrophic for the engine.The valves touch the pistons and at high revs the connecting rods will bend/snap and even break through the side of the block. Not something you want to happen at anytime yet alone on a desolate highway across a desert in Australia at the height of summer where there is very little traffic,the nearest habitation is a few hundred kms away and the mobile phone signal is even further.  A very lucky man and an interesting story.
Seen at Autowerks this morning.

10 Mar 2016


As we fiddle with our smartphones whenever we have to wait are we forgetting how to daydream,sit in quiet contemplation or just wait with our minds in neutral?

Central Park,NYC


9 Mar 2016

Joggers in the mist

We are into 35th day succesive day of record temperatures. It is the longest,hottest,driest spell since records begain in 1859. In Sydney the temperature has not gone below 26º for that period and most days it is well above that. In Terrigal it has been hotter and in the west of the state it has been in the upper 30º's and into the 40º's.
Everyday it is clear blue skies and heat and humidity. Today at dawn the home weather station gadget showed 95% humidity. We are all over it. Give us a break. And some rain.
The very high humidity and the relatively cooler sea generated an unusual bank of fog along the coast this morning. Here is Terrigal Esplanade at 6.10.

7 Mar 2016

Porsche 911 2.7 updated

The Rolling Road blog is now over 5 years old and the most popular post over the five years by far is a post I wrote on my 2.7 911 in May 2013 see- Porsche 2.7 which gets a few hits every day-yesterday there were 9. The reason I suspect is that if you Google Porsche 911 2.7 the 6th result is my story.

The values of all classic Porsches-except the still unloved 928s-have risen spectacularly in the past two years. Even values of the previously unloved 924 and 911 2.7 models have gone up -this rising tide has lifted (nearly) all boats.
So the 2.7 model is no longer a cheaper entry point into 911 ownership.
I am disappointed at the way prices have escalated recently. They are locking out genuine enthusiasts from owning early 911s and resulting in interesting cars going into collections where they are rarely if ever driven. Many are even being bought as investments with the buyers having absolutely no interest in them as cars.

In the nearly three years since I wrote the 2.7 story the car has done another 8000 kms. It has been serviced regularly but nothing mechanical has needed to be done to it although I did have the paintwork restored in July 2013 see PAINT.

Over the past few months it has not been driven due to the very hot weather and the crowded local roads over the summer holiday period.
I did give it a good run last week but when I started it the garage was filled with oil smoke. Old and even not so old 911s are smokey when they start after a long lay- off but this was the worst I had ever seen for my car. After that little episode which had me worried for a few minutes it ran beautifully in very hot conditions but it was a reminder that the engine is getting worn and that I need to start it regularly even when it is not being driven.

I have thought about replacing the headliner which is badly stained as the second owner was a heavy smoker. This would cost nearly a $1000 using original material and this helped me decide that it would stand out in contrast to the worn look of the rest of the interior and would detract from the originality of the car. So it stays as it is.
There are a few small dents in the doors due to contact with other car doors and probably shopping trolleys during its hard early life as a daily driver for an advertising executive in Sydney. It would be nice to have those taken out but that would mean a respray of the doors so I have decided to continue to live with them as well.

The car still has the original spacesaver tyre which inflates normally however I would not ever drive on a 38 year old tyre which has been scrunched up so I carry an aerosol can of tyre repair gunk and hope for the best. New spacesavers of that size are no longer made and as friend Warren has found out it is impossible to get the spacesaver off the wheel on his car without resorting to using a saw. Best to let that sleeping dog lie as well.

The driving lights dangling under the front bumper were factory fitted accessories. Given how bad the headlights are they are very useful.
About ten years ago I took them off when I was running the car in regularity events and hillclimbs but it looked odd without them so I put them back on after 6 months.

Sometimes I am envious of others with their always immaculate concours standard cars but in truth my slightly scruffy but very original car with its old style original number plates,well worn look and oily smell suits me down to the ground. I would find all that cleaning and worrying about stone chips very tiresome if I owned one of those pampered cars however good it looked.

The photos were taken on the Old Pacific Highway north of Brooklyn last week.This stretch of the Old Pacific Highway runs parallel to the M1 motorway for 30 kms between Somersby and Cowan north of Sydney. It is now only used by tourist traffic and on a weekday it is very quiet-just a few motorcyclists,a few cyclists,and the odd old guy in an old Porsche.
It was a great driver's road with almost continuous sweeping bends. It has been recently resurfaced and kms of armco barrier erected.There are glimpses of the Hawkesbury River but otherwise it passes through typical scrub and gumtrees. It is/was a very challenging road and sadly many motorcyclists have died on it in recent years. In response the authorities have applied blanket low speed limits which they strictly enforce with a strong mobile speed camera presence even on quiet days like last Wednesday.
It is all rather sad and I find it very frustrating to drive the road at the posted speed limits but last week a motorcyclist who thought he was Valentino Rossi riding a Ducati and leaning hard right over the centre line on a fast bend and so very nearly hitting his head on my side mirror was a reminder of why the speed limits had been imposed. We live in interesting times. Sometimes too interesting.

4 Mar 2016

Numero uno

Soon after the arrival of the AMG-GTS at PITS last wednesday-see previous post- it was upstaged by the arrival of this superb 1951 Ferrari 212 with a body by Vignale. Apparently the first Ferrari ever to be imported into Australia-numero uno- and now worth a few million dollars the owner won maximum bonus points from me by driving the car to the biker's pie shop and casually parking it in the sun at the entrance to the car park. No mollycoddling there although not wanting to leave it under a gumtree probably dictated his parking strategy.
The car is stunning with so many beautiful details and the sound its "little" 2.6 litre V12 engine makes is superb-even better than a Porsche flat 6. I can't believe that I just wrote that.
Imagine bringing this car into Australia in the 1950s.It would have come in a crate as there were not roll on/roll off car transport ships or containers then.The price would have been inflated by very high import duties.There would have been no local service support-indeed no local mechanics with knowledge of Ferraris or even Webers. Getting parts would have been a very protracted process. Bill Lowe the enthusiast who imported the car was a brave fellow. Australia was a pretty rough and tumble place then with a very small population and poor infrastructure. Most of the roads outside the big cities were still gravel and even the few major highways were single lane in each direction tarred but with unsealed shoulders full of stones. Not really Ferrari country but it obviously survived and it looks magnificent and even better it is being driven on the roads. I'd have it in my garage anyday and I'd drive it as often as I could..