Thanks to all our readers – see our blogging year 2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,100 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 35 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Our Gloucester Antiques Centre space

Well, we are up and running at Gloucester Antiques Centre and have a good range of stock there. We do have a little more work to do on our space to enable us to display pictures, signs and similar items better on the back wall, but we are pleased with the start that we have made. Continue reading

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,200 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Weekend roundup – 25th March 2012 #F1 #NASCAR #Indycar

#F1 – So another pole for Lewis and a front row lock out for McLaren with Schumi showing good form to take 3rd on the grid, but that’s not how the race worked out in Sepang. Given how bad the Ferrari is supposed to be who would have thought that with two races done Alonso would have one win and be leading the championship?

The couple of problems that Lewis had seemed to have a disproportionate impact on his race and it was a shame that JB got himself into trouble early on and spoiled his chances and this could have been win number two for him otherwise.

Good stuff from Perez though and we don’t see any conspiracy in him settling for second after that wild moment with a few laps to go. Maldonado binned a good finish in Australia trying to get by Alonso at the end and it would have been easy for Perez to do the same here.

So not the championship table we might have expected at this stage, but an interesting start to the season.

#NASCAR – Another pole for Denny Hamlin at Fontana, but he lost the lead on lap one to his team mate the younger ugly brother. Smoke judged it right at the end though, having got the lead he held into the rain and picked up the win when the race was called with 71 laps still on the board.

So what is going on with the #48 and that penalty appeal? If the car was right why leave the fine in place? If it was wrong why overturn the suspensions and the docked points? Doesn’t make any sense to us.

#IndyCar – And we’re off for another season with a run around the streets of St Pete with Will Power taking pole as Penske locked out the front row. Horrible looking cars, but I suppose that we’ll get used to them: it isn’t the first time that the look of cars has changed and won’t be the last.

Down in sunny Florida Will couldn’t turn pole into a win though and ended up a disappointing 7th well back from winner and Penske team mate Helio after the wrong call on fuel strategy. F1 refugee Rubens was back in 17th on his debut and didn’t really feature.

weekend round up – 4th September 2011 #NASCAR #Indycar #DTM

#NASCAR Rain stopped play in Atlanta and they run tomorrow.

#IndyCar Will Power dominates at Baltimore, Oriol Servia runs 32 laps on old tyres to finish second and Tony Kanaan pulls all the way through from well down to third, even after a real scare in practice when car failure saw him get airborne over the back of Helio; one major shunt. The title race down to 5 points as Dario comes home third.

#DTM action at Brands Hatch where they do run in the wet, Martin Tomczyk produced a masterful performance to win his third race of the season and slip back into the title race by just a single point.

changes at motorsportmania

I’m having a general tidy up of my various blogs and other social media activity. From today this blog will be tweeting under my @TheDriverJohn id and you will see me here as DriverJohn on my posts. My mate TruckerToggle will still be helping me out with his posts and we will be carrying on with the same subjects and themes.

Thanks to all of our followers and fans.

Marshalling Musings – Part Three, Lydden Hill

Having graduated to the start line it occurred to someone that I might make a useful lap charter to help the poor sod with the chequered flag. This isn’t as daft as it sounds as a field of frantic Formula Fords might easily have a multi car dice for the lead, and if they all take themselves off in some kamikaze move on the last lap who is next up? For most UK circuits the winner will be emerging from a left hand curve onto the finish line and the pit buildings obscure the view of what might be going on out on the track so, if the car that was leading on the penultimate lap doesn’t turn up, is the next car through the winner or a back marker? Watch the YouTube video of the 1970 Monaco GP where Brabham crashes on the last corner and Rindt streaks by both Brabham and, a few seconds later, the bloke with the chequered flag. But the latter ignores Rindt completely. And there were only about half a dozen cars left on the track at that point.

So ace lap charter that I was I got drafted in. Not to do the official race chart, but just so as we knew who to give the chequers to at the end (and, to a degree, on what lap – it was rare, but not unknown for a 10 lapper to do 9 or 11). After my general duties helping to line everyone up I would stand by the relevant official and make sure that the right car, on the right lap, got the flag waved at them.

I first did this at Brands, then at Snetterton, but at Lydden Hill I wasn’t needed as the officials stood on the outside of the track and the natural amphitheatre meant that it was easy to follow the action, regardless of how frantic things became on the track.

However, at the televised Rallycross from Lydden we used to run a three and a half lap race, with the next quartet of cars emerging from the lower paddock gate as the current four crossed the finish line half way round. By the time these had left the track via the upper paddock gate the next race was ready for the commentator (good old Murray if it was on the BBC) to tell viewers who the drivers were and then they’d be off for their three and a half circuits. This made a cracking format for TV and all action for the spectators at the track.

At my first one of these events, the European championship on the Saturday and then a money event for the same teams on the Sunday, there was a problem early on in the qualifiers when a complaint was made about the duration. The problem was that the guy with the chequered flag was stood out on his own half way round and it was solely down to him when to end the race; if he couldn’t count or got distracted….

The Clerk of the Course knew that I was the regular lap chart man on the circuits and asked me to take over. Sponsors Embassy gave me one of their hats to wear and the organisers made sure that I had a new and clean jacket with their logo on, so for a poseur like moi this was all heaven, added to which I got to chat up some of the Embassy girls and scored a lot of free fags.

But all at the price of getting it right which, fortunately, I did, but not without some drama.

There I was in nice race jacket and sponsor’s hat with my prized Polaroid sunglasses firmly in place to help the impression of cool as the first day drew into its closing races. In one of these John Taylor’s Stormont Ford Escort got a puncture in the nearside rear part way round the last lap. Now this was the wheel that took a lot of the load, but JT kept his boot in it. The track layout saw the cars briefly run on the start straight before leaving it onto a long right hander across the chalk at the end of which they rejoined the tarmac just before they passed my post and then would run on the tarmac up round Devil’s Elbow where, after I had given them the chequers, they would turn off into the paddock.

So here came JT, still leading even with the flat tyre. As he careered across the line the flat helped him oversteer right to the outside edge of the track where the tortured wheel rim ripped up a piece of tarmac and flung it straight at my face. I kept twirling the flag (the other three were in hot pursuit) and closed my eyes, turning my head sideways. I felt the impact as the debris caught me a glancing blow.

My precious Polaroid’s were gone, ripped off by the piece of track JT had inadvertently chucked at me. I found them later, but they were beyond help. I was missing some skin and got patched up by the St John’s team after the final (the show had to go on).

My heroics, such as I might have imagined them, proved of bugger all use in my efforts to pull one of the Embassy girls at the prize giving party, but I was cheered by news that the TV producer wanted to talk to me. A part in some action adventure perhaps? Maybe he knew an agent? No, they just wanted a bit more flamboyance with the flag waving at the Sunday events.

Having, like many, slept in my car overnight after the riotous party at the prize giving, Sunday dawned. Some of the early morning sights are best not described here, but suffice it to say that many of the continentals present had a very different attitude to public nudity that us rather reserved Brits.

Practice got under way and I had my own practicing to manage with a new chequered flag routine. Now I was familiar with the antics of Tex Hopkins, he of the lilac suit and flamboyant flag twirling that we Europeans best knew from Watkins Glen. Leaping into the air was maybe a little ambitious given that I was stood on the edge of an earth bank (you may have read of my Snetterton marshalling debut in part one if this series), but I could manage some serious twirling of the flag surely?

I managed to come up with something that was a big improvement and involved a two handed approach with me facing the winner to begin with and then carrying the double handed flourish on as I would turn and then keep the flag waving with my right hand for the other three finishers as they passed me.

It was a big and heavy flag, made heavier by some rain, so I wanted have something left for a real flourish in the later races through to the final. So far, so good, but as we got into the back end of the afternoon I gave it a big effort in one of the quarter finals, partly because there was a very close finish and I wanted to make sure that the drivers saw the flag in all of the excitement.

At the end of this race as my two handed roll began to fade I took my left hand off the flag and my right hand seemed to explode. The flag flew out of my hand, fortunately towards me so I was able to catch it left handed and carry on flagging the end of that race.

My right hand was out of action for the rest if the meeting and for the drive home. Thankfully my old Mk2 Ford Consul could almost pull from a standstill in third, and the column change was on the left anyway, so I made it back safely and consulted the medics the next day. A bad sprain was diagnosed which led to more than a few ribald remarks at work when I turned up with it bandaged and strapped.

I did the same meeting again the following year, handling the chequers on both days, but fortunately this time without incident. They were great days for Rallycross with the likes of Per Eklund in a rally prepped Saab, the De Rooy brothers in their F2 BDA engine DAFs, assorted ex rally Escorts, herds of Minis and a couple of VW Beetles, one campaigned with great flair by a certain John Button. I’d like to claim that I remember him playing with Jensen in the paddock between races, but the 2009 world champion wasn’t even born then.

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