27 Feb 2017

Nearly there

Friend Warren's Porsche 911 1977 Targa is back on the road after a two and a half year rebuild. Warren has customised the body and interior. It's his personal "Singer" car. You end up doing this if you read too many Porsche magazines.
The engine and gearbox have been totally rebuit by Autowerks in Charmhaven,NSW. Photos below.
Two weeks ago Warren and I went to Autowerks to see the engine before it went back into the car. The car passed its rego last week and is now being shaken down. We plan to go up and collect it this week. I will put up photos of the finished car hopefully later this week.
I will also be collecting-I hope- my 2.7 which arrived at Autowerks last Friday afternoon on a flat bed truck after failing to start in hot conditions in a car park in Terrigal Friday morning.  This is the first time in 16 years of ownership that the car has let me down like this. I had to use the NRMA for which I have memberships for the four family cars and they were about as useful as a chocolate teapot and it seems that my experience was not unique. No renewals coming up next year. It seems that the NRMA are just not prepared to look at even attempting any sort of rectification on a car nowadays. They basically change tyres, bring fuel when you have run out, rescue children and dogs from locked cars and jumpstart cars or sell you a replacement battery.
I have bought a lithium-ion jumpstart power pack which I will keep in a Porsche and use if I have to attempt a jumpstart again.

24 Feb 2017

Racing food

One thing you used to be able to count on at any motor racing meeting was unhealthy food. Le Mans was bad but so were Australian circuits. Ghastly food was a given. At Le Mans there used to be big tented restaurants where food was served to hundreds sitting at trestle tables. The food was steak with the consistency of racing tyres or pork swimming in fat served with salads and very greasy fries. And as for the prices-sacre bleu! At stalls around the circuit there were sausages cooked on hot plates and the sausages were literally floating on a sea of fat. I have a photo of one of those stalls from 2004 but I cannot find the file which maybe just as well. After a weekend at Le Mans your chances of dying from heart disease must have more than doubled.
When I last went to the Le Mans 24 hour race I was really surprised at how much the food offerings at the circuit had improved. Filled baguettes, salads and even fruit were easy to find.
 I remember in 1989 I went to a round of the Sports Car World Endurance Championship at Spa. I was there with a group of Jaguar dealers so it was a junket and we had a lavish lunch laid on in a suite above the pits. With a colleague, John Crawford, I managed to sneak away from the groaning tables of fine food to find a little stall serving  Belgian frites. They serve them freshly fried and piping hot in a paper cone with mayonnaise and they are delicious. Mission accomplished. I took quite a few photos that day but sadly none of one of the most memorable parts of the race - les frites.
At the Bathurst 12 hours three weeks ago there was a choice of healthy food available in the paddock but for breakfast Warren and I went for a motor racing staple - a bacon and egg roll. Vintage motor racing food-and this time I did have a camera ready.

21 Feb 2017

Tyre changes

Big fat slicks seen at the recent Bathurst 12 hours. As it was a dry race there was no need for wet tyres although all teams had sets ready just in case. The quantity of tyres used in these endurance races is extraordinary. The tyre fitters from the tyre suppliers were flat out in the heat fitting tyres to wheels for the whole race.
 I don't know how much one of these tyres costs but I would hazard a guess at approaching $800 per tyre. Motor racing is an expensive business.
At the Le Mans 24 hours there is a whole huge paddock devoted to the tyre supplier's trucks and for the whole 24 hours teams are shuttling back and forth with tyres.
For 2017 Formula 1 goes back to big fat tyres. Hooray. Real racing cars should make a lot of noise and have big fat tyres. This wonderful shot below from my archive taken at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza in 1981 shows how it used to be.
There are a host of rule changes for F1 in 2017 designed to improve the closeness of the racing and to enhance spectator appeal. The really good news in that Liberty Media have completed the takeover of the F1 rights and the very obnoxious Bernie Ecclestone has been shown the door. The new rights holders are committed to turning the sport around but they have a big job ahead of them. After sacking Bernie - by phone apparently-I would have done it by SMS myself- they need to find a way to sack Lewis Hamilton. Then they need to get stuck into bringing about more fundamental rule changes for 2018 and in particular dumping the stupid DRS rules. But at least their first move was the right one.

19 Feb 2017

Taking the plunge

Taking the plunge at the headland Avoca Beach,Central Coast, NSW- last day of the school holidays-Summer of 17.
Leica XV photo.

17 Feb 2017

The lone surfer

 The lone surfer-first surf of the day at Terrigal just before the sun was over the horizon today.
I have an Instagram account and I am challenging myself to take one good photo a day to post on it. A few years ago there were personal websites where photographers posted their photo taken that day. The websites enjoyed a very fleeting success - the issue being that the viewers had to actually log onto the websites to see the photos. Also perhaps, even more critically, posting a photo a day was too much for most of the photographers and many of the photos were rubbish.
Anyway Instagram avoids one of these shortcomings-you can follow an account/feed and when a photo is posted on it you get to see it automatically. You can avoid most of the rubbish photos by only following feeds with good photography and there is some superb photography on Instagram and it really has made great images widely accessible. There is also a load of rubbish being posted.
Today I managed two photos for my Instagram account-@therollingroad- and the above is one of them but after consideration I decided that the surfer is just too small for Instagram where most people view the photos on their phones.

16 Feb 2017


My early morning walk has been providing a steady stream of  photos over the last few months. The hot weather seems to be giving even better early morning light and many days the clouds have been interesting too. I'm trying to develop a distinct personal style with my photography whatever the subject. It's taken a long time but I think that it is beginning to evolve.
Photo above taken on the Leica Q at Terrigal Beach this morning with the surf training squad hitting the sea running.

13 Feb 2017


 Relief ! After a scorching weekend to a very hot week which was preceeded by a very hot weekend we woke up this morning to a cooler day. It's all relative but today 29ºC felt really cool. A welcome respite from the record breaking heat.
More heatwave conditions are on the way but at sunrise this morning these two guys were enjoying the cool air looking north from the headland at Terrigal Beach.
I waited around for the sun's rays to light the scene. I used my "walkabout" camera of choice - the Leica X1.

That is smoke above the horizon from big bushfires burning further up the coast. The weekend saw the worst bushfire conditions ever experienced in NSW. 

12 Feb 2017

Spectating in comfort

I saw this kit up the top of the mountain at Bathurst at the 12 hour race. For years Bathurst spectators have been making their race watching kit more and more sophisticated and this crew have taken it to new heights.
They had a large canvas gazebo,chairs and this ingenious hand truck fitted with go-kart wheels. The big box is a full size fridge. There is the large LCD TV and sound bar -still with its screen protector film- plus a Weber barbecue and gas cylinders. Is that a small microwave oven on top of the fridge? Power for all this gear was supplied by a sizeable portable generator placed some distance away. 
Most spectator encampments seemed to have bought their own generators which nowadays are almost silent - a far cry from the generators of yesteryear.
The one thing missing from their set up is a portable cooling unit. Maybe they solely relied on the contents of the fridge for cooling.
I saw many spectors watching the race on the Channel 7 free to air TV using their phones or tablets. A good idea if you have a big data allowance.
I remember years ago I was very tempted to buy a small handheld Casio TV to use at the racing. I am surprised to see that Casio still sell an updated digital model.

7 Feb 2017

Bathurst 12 hours 2017

I spent the weekend inland at Bathurst for the 12 hour GT race. Hot conditions were forecast and they were not wrong. Saturday was very hot -mid 30sC.( that's 97ºF) Race day on Sunday looked good as it was overcast initially so the temperature hovered around the low 30s until midday but then the sun broke through and the temperature went off the dial. I moved right around the track including walking over the top and down the Dipper towards Forest Elbow. I went  with two friends - we drank a lot of water and tried to stay in the shade. We did spend the last 2 hours in the very empty Nissan hospitality area on the inside of the first corner by a large electric fan watching the race both on the track and on the TV monitors. We managed to survive -just. I have never been so hot. Thank you Nissan.
It was a great weekend but there were a few times I questionned my own sanity.
It was a good thing that the pub in Orange where we stayed had such fabulous cold craft beer. A cold beer or three was never more welcome than on Sunday evening.

There was a very big entry for the race with a large number of international teams and drivers.
For the first time there was a top ten shoot out for grid positions. This was topped by the eventual winner the Ferrari 488 of Vilander, Lownes and Whincupp. Two Porsches made it into the qualifying shootout as did three of the new and very fast, but fragile,BMW M6s. It was good to see an Aston Martin Vantage in the top ten.
The race followed the pattern of recent years and was very tightly fought with multiple changes of lead and unfortunately quite a few safety car deployments. Cars were bouncing off walls all day and the drama lasted right down to the last 20 mins when last year's winner Shane Van Gisbergen in a Mercedes AMG in pursuit of the leader pushed off a Porsche right at the top of the mountain and then as the red mist, or maybe sweat, descended over his eyes he bounced the Mercedes off a wall coming down the mountain and his race was over. One of his  co-drivers, Marc Engel, did a major dummy spit on TV-eleven hours and 45 minutes racing wasted.
In the previous two years Porsches have been also rans in the race but it was very different this year. The new GT3Rs were on the pace and the Competition Motorsports car driven by Australians David Calvert-Jones and wonderboy Matty Campbell with Porsche works pro-drivers Patrick Long and Marc Lieb came second two minutes behind the winning Ferrari in the ICE Break car. A Walkinshaw GT3R came 4th and Porsches won three of the five classes with Caymans taking out the top three places in the GT4 class. The natural order has been restored.

How did the drivers keep cool? Most of the GT3 cars have airconditioning. The drivers wear cool suits/shirts where ice cold water is pumped around a tube woven into the fabric and some cars, such as the Nissan GTRs, have cooled seats. The pit crews were the ones who were really suffering. Many pits had portable cooling units but many of the overseas technicians looked really stressed late in the afternoon.

I  used Leicas for my photos as hauling a camera with a long lens in that heat was just not on. Surprisingly the best results from the weekend came from the Leica Q - a camera with a 28mm wide angle lens. Not a combination one normally associates with motor racing photography but the layout of the Mount Panorama circuit means that there are a couple of points where you can get really close to the cars if you are prepared for a steep climb. Now I leave the real close-up action shots to fitter and younger men and women who can carry that heavy gear and I just and concentrate on the atmospheric shots
I hope that you enjoy my personal take on the Bathurst 12 hours.