Tag Archives: Nathan Green

Monday Long Termer: 28/04/14′

I think something bad is happening to me. I think I might be falling out of love with the Corsa. There isn’t anything wrong with the car mechanically, in fact it is boosting very well and still drinks diesel like a gnat through a straw. However, ever since the unfortunate key scoring,the Corsa just looks so sorry for itself. I look at it now and can’t help but think it is beyond economical repair.

The damage caused during the reigns of previous users was bad enough- dented front arches, badly gouged side rail, drivers’ side rear door and rear three-quarter panel, severely scuffed wheel covers and abundant dings and minor dents dotted all over the place but the addition of four long, waving, bare metal scratches is just too much for me to handle.

IMG_1899

As my emotional connection begins to detach from the Long Termer, I feel less respectful of it and less complimentary about its abilities. The negative feelings now outweigh the positive. I almost feel like I’m simply tolerating its presence, counting away the days until it is replaced by something shiny and new.

Sounds like the beginning of the end doesn’t it? Almost exactly how it transpires with most failing human relationships, in my experience. That may sound harsh but think about it for a minute.

Anyway, I think about the features and benefits (which all good sales people should focus on) that are missing (which bad salespeople probably focus on) and how their omission from the spec list mars the experience of owning it.

Isn’t it funny that I didn’t worry about these things before the scratches? I think this shows that, psychologically and possibly subconsciously, we predetermine an approximate limit to how many negative aspects we will tolerate before making a decision to terminate whatever arrangement or connection we have with that object, or person.

It seems that my predetermined limit has now been reached, thanks to the handy work of some probable plastic gangster with a penchant for infantile vandalism and general menace.

IMG_1900

Now, in my mind at least, it is time for the Long Termer to be replaced by a newer model. I would take kindly to choosing its successor myself. I would even throw a few quid a month to my employer if they would just let me pick something I’d enjoy driving for the 4-5 year lease period.

It would need to be of much higher specification than my current car. For example, in this day and age, for a man to have to have no iPod connectivity in his only vehicle is an outrage. I spend many hours each week in my company car and I have an unwavering love for music. My iPod holds the key to solving sadness, tiredness, boredom and a whole list of varying emotional and metaphysical states.

Editor’s note: Holy, moly, holy. I’m gonna have to break in, here. That really is some kind of statement. I feel like grabbing ‘old of ‘ol Nathan Green and shaking him shouting ‘THE KEY IS INSIDE OF YOU, THE KEY IS INSIDE OF YOU!’ Then giving ‘im a great big hug. 

As you were…

I’d also like a 3-door, as I much prefer the styling to that of all 5-door hatchbacks. Even when I have a family, I will not buy a 5-door hatchback with my own hard earned cash. I’d rather jump out of the drivers seat every time someone needs to get in the back than own a 5 door- surely it’s preferable to face infrequent and minor physical inconveniences than a endure constant and major aesthetic malaise?

So, the catch. I do not own this car and I have no real say in when it is to be replaced or, most likely, what it will be replaced with. I think it’s going to take some real presentation skills to get the car changed prematurely but, hell, my employer took me on because I can confidently present the features and benefits of the solutions we provide to satisfy our customers’ needs and wants. I don’t recall any clauses in my contract of employment stating I am not allowed to use those skills to persuade the Company to satisfy my needs and wants by putting me in a new Long Termer.

Watch this space.

Before I end this piece I just want to say a huge thank you to every one of you who read, liked and shared my ‘VTEC: The Power of Dreams’ piece last week. Tim and I had a conversation a month or so ago regarding our goal of reaching 1000 views. I honestly thought it was going to take a while as we were ticking over at around 200 readers per piece. However, the VTEC piece has now been read by over 3000 people. Three thousand.

This massive increase, along with the positive remarks offered by almost every person who has read the piece, has really touched my heart. We write these pieces in our spare time and for no financial gain. Our only ‘revenue’ is your feedback and in that sense, I feel very wealthy right now.

I appreciate all of your help, you’ve all been amazing, however I have to give a special shout out to Hannah Geddes who shared the piece far and wide and to all the right people. At one point, thanks to her genius, Autoeclectic was attracting around 100 views every 20 minutes, over a whole evening. That’s 300 readers per hour. Hannah, Autoeclectic salute you and thank you kindly for your efforts. Thank you.

I hope you all enjoy the forthcoming pieces and continue to share them out for others to enjoy. You are helping us achieve our dreams and I can’t put into words how much that means to us.

 

Weekly Mileage- 460

Fuel Cost: £50

Repair cost: £0        

Repair costs (2014)- £849

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Monday Long Termer

Rolls Royce Want To Be Liked Too.

By Tim Smith

Rolls Royce has attained FaceBook, erm, demi-godness or enlightenment or something, by having people click the ‘like’ button over 2 million times. That’s a lot of clicking, and, according to this yahoo answer would be the equivelant of 882 Joules of energy used. Or 1.19 hp, for all of us.

A picture of a letter. It's almost like a summing up of Facebook itself.

A picture of a letter. It’s almost like a summing up of Facebook itself.

Well, that’s all nice and good for them. The most I get is about ten or so when I do a ‘funny’ status about cats. Did you know that someone unfriended me the other day for doing what was clearly a witty and metafictional status about wit and metafiction? No? Well, you missed out because it was awe… Wait, where are you going?

Anyway, the only possible way to get all this into some kind of focus is to do a count down of the most liked high-end luxury saloon pages, like they do on Buzzfeed, ’cause thats what everybody loves.

5.

I REALLY want one of these.

I REALLY want one of these.

Bristol cars are just about the greatest things to stalk the Earth, but due to the iconoclastic nature of the company and the people that run it, there is no official Facebook page. Doesn’t stop them getting 1,266 likes though. That’s even more than Nathan Green gets when he posts something he’s written. And, no, I’m not even jel. Not even a little bit.

4.

Simon Cowell not pictured

Simon Cowell not pictured.

Maybach never really took off. The cars looked too much like bigger, more expensive S-Classes, and douche-bags like Simon Cowell bought them. In fact, he may have been one of the only people to have bought one. They get 83,879 likes. Which is almost as many women as Nathan Green is friends with.

3.

I think, on balance, my favourite name for a car, The Flying Spur.

I think, this, on balance, is my favourite name for a car, The Flying Spur.

Now we’re getting into the big leagues. Bentley have (at the time of writing) 1,549,032 likes. That’s almost as many crap’s I give about the fact that whenever I write anything I get about three views.

2.

0001

Welly, well, here is that very subject of this piece (not my massive jealousy over Nathan Greens’s popularity). and if you close your eyes you could imagine it rolling around like a teenage boy in its own self help. It’s Rolls Royce, with, at the time of writing, 2,120,254 likes. That’s almost as many comments from women that Nathan Green gets when he posts a status.

1.

Another press picture that Word Press refused to crop.

Another press picture that Word Press refused to crop.

I know, I know, It’s a bit of a stretch including Aston Martin, but they do make that rather lovely DB9 saloon, the Rapide. So I’ve gone and stuck em’ in here. They get a huuuuuge 4.2 million likes. Which, bitterness and ‘joking aside is almost as many pints as I’m going to buy Nathan Green next time I see him because yesterday, his piece about VTEC almost broke a thousand hits. Yes it did.

Nathan Green, and all those who read and share him, we love you.

Leave a comment

Filed under Recycled PR

Wednesday View: The Power Of Dreams

By Nathan Green

Power. We love, it don’t we? For many petrol heads, extracting as much horsepower as possible from the internal combustion engines bolted into our cars can easily become an obsession.

I know from experience that nothing puts a bigger smile on our faces than the stomach churning acceleration provided by a high-output engine in a featherweight chassis.

Those days are unfortunately a distant memory for me. My 240bhp, 2.0 16v, turbocharged Vauxhall Corsa died years ago, and, after some difficulties, my Renault Clio 172 Cup had to go.

Luckily for me, my younger brother, Liam, and many of his closest friends, drive Hondas. VTEC Hondas. The ones you want.

1495159_10153736491175051_1563239697_o

Liam owns a late nineties, Honda Civic EK ‘Illusion’ hatchback. Originally a base spec 1.4 variant, now fitted with a B18C4 engine (1.8 16v VTEC petrol engine) from a Honda Civic Aerodeck (Civic estate) which plays host to a decent list of thoughtfully planned and executed power augmenting modifications.

The little terror has also fitted Recaro bucket seats from a Type R of some sort, a set of rare alloy wheels that Honda people lust after and a tasty set of coilovers to give it the necessary Honda stance. The boy’s done good.

He also has a Mazda RX7 FD and, until recently, owned 300bhp+ Toyota Starlet EP82 GT fitted with the biggest, shiniest turbocharger I ever did see. He also has a lovely, approving girlfriend. Lucky son of a gun.

Manifold is manifoldy.

Manifold is manifoldy.

Anyway, I digress. The aforementioned modifications have increased the brake horsepower of the engine in Liam’s Civic to approximately 200 at the flywheel. Maybe more.

So, with the car only weighing around 850kg, the first time I went in it, and bro hit VTEC in first and second gear, I didn’t know if I was going to shit myself or ejaculate.

Let me try to explain. Being in something VTEC powered, is, unlike any other experience I’ve had in a car, even a modern sports car, in fact most Supercars can’t match it for thrills. There’s just something so guttural and raw about the way a VTEC engined car accelerates, especially a lightweight model with an early B16 or B18 engine.

399384_392119494186398_777514261_n

You can feel the VTEC system switch to the higher lift cam- you can feel it at your fingertips on the steering wheel and through your toes on the pedals. You can feel it in your heart, your soul. It reverberates through you as the engine accelerates rapidly towards the rev limiter, set at some crazy level above 8,000rpm.

You don’t feel insulated from the power like you do in some cars, you feel excited by it, enclosed in it, wrapped inside of it. It becomes you and you become it, combined as one by a common love for thrusting forward motion and darting changes in lateral acceleration and deceleration. It sounds a bit like sex, I know, even stranger, it almost feels it.

Words alone cannot bring justice to the experience of being inside a Honda as the whaling, high-pitch sounds and associated vibrations of a VTEC engine are revealed during and after switching to its more aggressive camshaft profile.

It is an experience you must enjoy for yourself to fully understand. If feel you have no way of making this happen, just ask. I’ll make it happen, somehow, some way.

So, where did it all begin, this ‘Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control’ malarkey?

Allow me, if you will, to take you back to the 1980’s. Turbocharger technology had become the main focus for many mainstream car manufacturers across the globe with regards to increasing engine power output and, in some cases, fuel efficiency.

Honda had a different idea. Their aim was to increase the volumetric efficiency of the internal combustion engine by use of variable valve technology. They embarked on the task of building a reliable engine that could produce 100hp per litre of engine displacement without using forced induction. This was a goal that, at the time, seemed faintly ridiculous and possibly, unachievable.

Regardless, Ikuo Kajitan, the man tasked with making this dream a reality, cracked on and invited a team of engineers to join him. Once the scale of the project became clear, he is said to have invited them to leave if they wished. Testament to just how hugely dedicated a task he was asking them to complete.

Kajitan had been heavily involved in Honda’s New Concept Engine, or NCE, development program in the early 80’s and had recently finished this project, extracting 130bhp from a DOHC 1600cc engine for which he was highly praised.

However, the overwhelming task of mastering the first Honda VTEC engine and achieving 160bhp from an engine with the same cubic displacement, would see him become one of the true unsung heroes of motor vehicle design and engineering. Ever.

Ever ever ever.

Ever.(1)

After a long battle of making lighter materials stronger and trying to effectively protect them against the immense rotational, frictional and thermal forces at work inside of a confined space the size of four small milk bottles while hundreds of pieces of metal work against each other’s surfaces at up to 9,500rpm for years on end over hundreds of thousands miles……..they did it. And they did it in perfect style with absolutely, for the time, unequalled precision.

The first VTEC powered car was the Honda Integra XSi, released to the Japanese Domestic Market (JDM y’aaalll!) in 1989. This car was powered by the now famous 160bhp 1.6 litre B16A engine and instantly became a huge hit.

Amazingly the later B18C engine which powered the 1995-onward JDM Integra DC2 model produced an incredible 197bhp. That’s almost 110bhp per litre. With no turbocharger!

184343_351808678269086_918843502_n

The first VTEC Honda to be sold in the European market was the CRX 1.6i-VT with a slightly detuned 150bhp version of the B16A engine. Don’t let the 10bhp deficit fool you. These are still very capable cars, both in a straight line and through the twisties. I remember ‘racing’ a blue one down a long dual-carriageway in 2.0 16v Redtop engined Vauxhall Corsa. It made me feel very surprised and look really rather silly as it approached from behind, reeled me in, chewed me up, spat me out and disappeared into the horizon.

Nowadays, thanks to the countless hours dedicated by many people to develop Honda’s original VTEC system and the time since spent developing abundant associated performance parts and accessories, my brother can sit in his ’99 Honda Civic, on the driveway, plug my laptop into the engine’s ECU and play with the VTEC’s timing, fuel and ignition graphs, view sensory information and even diagnose faults with relative ease.

He can even send the information to his iPhone via Bluetooth. I bet Ikuo Kajitan didn’t envision Liam Green doing that to his system, 25 years after he created it. I bet he didn’t envision me spending the last 2 hours trying say his name properly either. Damn it.

10276563_10154098372365354_482057559_n

VTEC engines are like your best friends- they are consistently dependable. They can be reserved and efficient when you need them to be and yet be absolutely insane, outlandishly good fun and provide countless smiles when you want them to.

The system is a huge credit to Honda who, despite the immense challenge and, initially, extremely daunting task of building a reliable, high-revving, high-output, mainstream engine, have actually managed to over-engineer their VTEC units to a point whereby they uphold a reputation for being almost indestructible.

This, I think, deserves the highest level of commendation. For me, the invention of VTEC is an absolutely stunning example of how, with appropriately thorough research, painstaking attention to detail and bloody hard work, as a race, human beings can achieve some truly amazing things.

Thank you Honda and, as always, thank you all for reading.

Picture Credit: Hannah Geddes. I shit ye not, she is the VTEC Goddess Of Hotness. Or GOH.

Picture Credit: Hannah Geddes. I shit ye not, she is the VTEC Goddess Of Hotness. Or GOH.


1. I won’t go into the finer details of how the VTEC system works because, if you’re a Honda lover you will already know and, if you’re not, you probably won’t care too much. However, for those of you who don’t understand how the magic behind VTEC works but would like to, I promise I will write a piece explaining it all for you.

In fact, it’s already in the pipeline. For now, search ‘how does VTEC work’ on YouTube, pick a video and stare at the screen in amazement at the feast of fine timing, it should offer you some food for thought.

 

2 Comments

Filed under Wednesday View

Monday Long Termer, Vauxhall Corsa 1.3 Life: 14/04/14′

By Nathan Green

The trusty Corsa continues to serve me perfectly well and has, yet again, couriered me, my belongings (not all of them) and my friends (some of them) around for another seven days without any mechanical or electrical problems.

Unfortunately, sometime in the last few days, an unknown nemesis scored the side of the Long Termer Corsa with, I’d imagine, the key to his or her 1 bed flat above a boarded-up shop on Shit Street in the centre of a local town.

Welcome to Nathan Green's Wonderful World Of Car Parks As Seen Through The Paint Work Of Cars That Have Been Keyed. Better known as NGWWOCPASTTPOCTHBK.

Welcome to Nathan Green’s Wonderful World Of Car Parks As Seen Through The Paint Work Of Cars That Have Been Keyed. Better known as NGWWOCPASTTPOCTHBK. In this edition we have that great Mastodon of the road, the VW Passat.

I’m sorry to stereotype but, seriously, what kind of monumental moron keys a car? It’s a vile act of vandalism, right up there with kicking off wing mirrors, happy slapping and deliberately smashing windows. Am I annoyed? Of course I am. The Corsa may not technically be my car but I drive it every day and do feel some sense of ownership over it.

What will I do about it? Well, part of me wants to dedicate all of my spare time the kind of seek and destroy campaign John Rambo would be proud to plan and undertake, with the desirable outcome involving inflicting severe pain, resulting in some light scarring to the body and heavy psychological trauma to the brain.

Here, you can quite clearly see some foliage.

Here, you can quite clearly see some foliage.

I honestly do not understand why any person would enact revenge in such a cowardly manner. I assume it is an act of revenge because a) I have annoyed many people over the course of my lifetime and b) it is absolutely absurd to think that someone would key a car without any reason whatsoever.

Please tell me I’m not alone in thinking this? What kind of pathetic existence would result in keying cars as a hobby? As if any person on this planet is so lonely and bored that they go out of an evening and run their keys down the side of someone else’s vehicle.

Four times.

photo 3

Note how the foliage contrasts with the blue sky.

So, some recommendations to the reprobate who committed this disgusting crime against me: Go and buy an Etch a Sketch and twist the knobs until you’ve drawn something that resembles anything. Or maybe buy a colouring book. May I suggest you start with a ‘paint by numbers’ format so as not to overwhelm your massively under-developed brain? If neither of these work for you I would suggest, as a last resort, handing yourself in to the police. If you tell them about all of the naughty things you have done, they might provide you with a new “room”, complete with your own friend, a television (with the TV Licence actually paid), three square meals a day and a gymnasium where you can let out your inner anger in a productive way.

Anyway, what will I actually do? Not a lot. Probably just add the cost of fixing the damage to the already long list of problems that have previously been quoted for repair. Yes, I have been known to lose my temper and seek out those who commit such crimes but I don’t have the time to be a vigilante.

A man in a blue jumper not, in fact, taking a selfie. And some windows. That completes this weeks edition of NGWWOCPASTTPOCTHBK. See you next week!

A man in a blue jumper not, in fact, taking a selfie. And some windows. That completes this weeks edition of NGWWOCPASTTPOCTHBK. See you next week!

Lord knows I’d be happy to see justice served to this unknown member of our society but, as Martin Luther King once said, “I have decided to love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” Count your blessings my friend and please, try not to sin again. I am happy to allow your fate to be decided by karma however, the next person you inconvenience with your illegal actions may not be so forgiving.

Weekly Mileage- 289

Fuel Cost: £25

Repair cost: £0         Key scratch damage £TBC

Repair costs (2014)- £849

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Monday Long Termer

Monday Long Termer, Vauxhall Corsa 1.3 Life: 07/04/14′

By Nathan Green

(Editor’s note: I love Nathan Green, you love Nathan Green. We all love Nathan Green. Unfortunately, today he sent me a piece that compares women to cars. Now, Nathan is a kind and thoughtful human being who respects women as equals. I also believe him to be comfortable with his sexuality.

Anyway’s for shits and gigs I decided it would be better if the piece (‘piece’, heh, heh) compared men to cars. In line with this I’ve changed any mention of women  to men. Mainly because it would make me laugh. But also, ’cause it makes me laugh. Oh, and *it is* odd comparing living breathing, creative, highly developed and often sidelined ‘groups’ to inanimate objects that you can buy with money.) 

Men, if I may, I would like to draw some comparisons. I promise these will be mostly positive and reflect only my own opinions. I promise not to be derogatory, sexist or misanderistic. Probably.

Why do I feel apprehensive about this? Everyone knows that cars are almost always named after men so there is already an existing link. Furthermore, I shouldn’t really be scared of offending anyone because, let’s be honest, there are plenty of less desirable objects to be compared to than a handsome modern Ferrari, a vintage classic Mercedes or even a filthy dirty Vauxhall Corsa.

I, myself have been compared to a variety of things that are much less complimentary. I won’t give examples, I’m sure you won’t have to try too hard to fill in the blanks.

Anyway, as many of you know, up until about 6 months ago, I was a car sales executive, which is an over embellished way of saying I sold cars. During this time, I was in a committed, long-term relationship. In fact, weirdly, my career in car sales started and ended at the same time as my relationship.

As a car salesman, I drove lots of different cars, each with their own personality and individual aesthetic qualities. However, I only had one lady in my life. Nowadays, I only have one car, my darling ‘Long Termer’ Corsa Life and I am free to date whomever I choose. As long as they reciprocate my interest, of course.

Whilst spending time with my friend Natalie, last week, we looked back through my iCloud Photo Stream at some of the cars I drove during the two years I spent selling them. It made me think about how each one of them made me feel, what strengths and weaknesses they showed during my time with them and, most importantly, the best experiences I had when driving them – experiences I can now recall as cherished memories. Let me introduce you to some of my past conquests:

My first sales position was at a Ford dealership in Redditch where I was given a silver Focus Zetec TDCi as a demonstrator. It was a great car. The car that really sticks in my mind, however, from that time was a brand new, bright orange Focus ST that I was lucky enough to drive before it was available to the general public.

A bright orange essex person.

A bright orange essex person.

The ST is the hottest of the new generation Focus and, I hate to be so cliché in my comparison, but it’s a stereotypical Essex boy – overdone exterior accentuation, tight bodywork, bulging bumpers and a large mouth. It looks like fun and it really is. It also has many impressive features, both inside and out. It certainly got lots of attention when I drove it around town.

I took this particular car out only a couple of times but it made more of an impression on me than my daily driver Focus did during the four months I used it. I suppose one could compare my experience with the ST to a few short moments of passion and excitement. I could easily lose myself behind the wheel, and quite possibly my drivers licence. Ultimately it was unsustainable. I’d love to drive an ST again, I just wouldn’t buy one.

Another brief fling I can boast about was with a Vauxhall Corsa VXR, again the hottest derivative of its model type. It was short, good looking, well-proportioned and makes all the right noises (Ed: oh you shouldn’t have.. wait we’re talking about me, right?). It was also completely bonkers. (Yep, talking about me.)

A short handful...

A short handful…

It was probably no faster than the Focus ST but, due to a significant weight deficit, it definitely felt faster, maybe even lunatic quick.

Driving the Corsa VXR quickly through wet country lanes lined by trees and peppered with potholes was comparable to jumping on the back of an angry masculinist after cracking a joke about woman being people too- you’d better hold on tight because if you lose control, he’ll kick your arse!

I remember I used to put the back seats down just to hear more from the sporty exhaust, the sound waves bellowed and amplified in the boot space filling the cabin with a beautiful high pitch resonance, particularly when the turbo came on song.

While the VXR was thoroughly enjoyable to drive, it was actually rather exhausting because it was hard to drive sensibly and driving it with spirit required total focus and a fair bit of effort.

Unfortunately for me, it was also too expensive to run on a long term basis. I guess it was comparable to a very exciting but very high-maintenance man who would only make sense as a weekend luxury. You simply wouldn’t have enough energy or money to keep him completely happy seven days a week.

Another favourite is my friend Matt’s 2007 Honda Civic Type-R which I drove back from Redditch and delivered to him in Stroud. Matt is fully aware that drove it hard because, well, I told him.

A two-timing red-head. In a car lot.

A two-timing red-head. In a car lot.

 

VTEC engines are built to be thrashed, it would have been rude not to oblige. I had merely a quick fling with his Japanese hunk before passing it on to him for something more long term. I am happy to report they are still very much in love.

And so, this brings me on to my trusty Long Termer, the 2007 Vauxhall Corsa Life. As an object, it is not beautiful – it was not styled to impress the eye or indeed excite any of our sensory receptors. It was not designed nor engineered to make your palms sweat with its cornering abilities or provoke a tingling sensation in your loins when accelerating from a standstill.

Plain Joe

Plain Joe.

It was created to be consistently dependable, uneventfully reliable, boringly efficient and pound stretchily frugal. And it is. It is also filthy dirty most of the time.

Despite the seemingly negative slant on this summary of the Corsa, I am actually content driving it every day. It does exactly what I need it to do and does so to the best of its limited abilities. As a mode of transport it is absolutely fine, however if I had a boyfriend with the same attributes I would not be so content, apart from the filthy dirty bit. Perhaps.

Cars and men – comparable in some ways, but luckily, completely different in almost all others.

Weekly Mileage- 324

Fuel Cost: £30

Repair cost: £0

Repair costs (2014)- £849

Leave a comment

Filed under Monday Long Termer

Wednesday View: Solving The Formula For Safety

By Nathan Green

Opinion. Noun. Def: A view or judgement formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge:

Example: ‘That, in my opinion, is right.’

Formula 1 is, without any doubt or controversy, the absolute pinnacle of motorsport technology and safety. However, recently, for example, audience numbers have dropped by around 50 million, or 10%. For anybodies money, that is a significant chunk.

Many people have exclaimed that the racing has become uneventful, even boring, and that too much emphasis has been placed on reliability, safety, driver aids and strategy when compared to the apparently full-on, balls-out racing of previous eras, when the cars regularly smashed up, blew up or rolled over and lots of people died.

In the sixties and seventies in particular, Formula 1 captivated a huge worldwide audience thanks to, quite frankly, insane driving skills and an abhorrent safety record. I use the word ‘insane’ because piloting a Formula 1 car during that era exposed drivers to 200mph top speeds with hardly any safety devices. I say ‘piloting’ because the cars would frequently become airborne and collide with obstacles you’d expect the Red Bull Air Racers to be contesting with.

The 'good' ol' days. (Wikimedia Commons)

The ‘good’ ol’ days. (Wikimedia Commons)

In fact, in 1968, Scottish racing icon and all round gentleman, Jim Clark, was killed during a Formula racing event in Hockenheim, Germany, when his car left the track at high speed, throwing him out of the cockpit and into a tree 15 feet above the ground. He died the same day as a result of a broken neck and a fractured skull. May he rest in peace.

After this horrific event, it was Jim Clark’s fellow drivers who decided enough was enough, it was time for change.

Although their ‘jobs’ were extremely well paid and afforded them a life of luxury and fame, the fact that their peers were being killed on an almost weekly basis lead the drivers to question the ethics of their sport. Surely human life should not be considered a disposable commodity while the F1 establishment were busy selling the television rights to a world audience, and the competing teams, mostly mainstream vehicle manufacturers, were chasing the worldwide accolade of a Formula 1 championship win and the associated sales success.

(Wikimedia Commons)

(Wikimedia Commons)

In the late sixties, lots of pressure was applied by the drivers to the powers that be to make changes to improve safety, reduce injuries and eliminate deaths in Formula 1. Initially, the people at the top of the F1 hierarchy seemed somewhat ignorant and reluctant to change, mostly due to the costs involved, apparently. Some might say they were too busy selling massive advertising deals to multinational companies and increasing their personal wealth whilst the very people who provided the skill and entertainment quite literally crashed and burned in front of a live audience. Obviously I would never suggest such a thing, partly because I’m not that outlandish but mostly Bernie Ecclestone is a multi-billionaire supported by a legal team worth more than the Manchester City starting eleven. It may be unwise to suggest such things about such powerful people, me thinks.

Some old bloke. (Wikimedia Commons)

Some old bloke. (Wikimedia Commons)

All I know is millions of people weirdly (or not?) find entertainment value in watching car crash videos on YouTube. Furthermore, I have watched interviews of F1 fans suggesting they mainly go to see a crash, particularly at Monaco where there are usually many crashes. Oh to seek happiness and humour in other peoples’ misfortune, aren’t we an adorable species sometimes?

Anyway, I digress. Eventually, and thankfully, the safety of the highly regaled drivers and race track attending spectators did become a prime focus for the purveyors of Formula 1 and the important thing is this- since those fateful days, much has changed. Yes, advertising revenues still provide a massive income for Bernie and his cronies, however, nobody has died driving an F1 car since the tragic death of Formula 1 legend, Ayrton Senna, at the 1994 Italian Grand Prix.

Senna. That car. That time.

Senna. That car. That time.

The single reason for this? The huge leap forward in safety. A modern F1 car is a marvel of material technology- carbon fibre, Nomex and Zylon all add their own level of protection. All three combined make for a super strong, shatter and splinter-proof monocoque chassis with an unrivalled safety record.

How safe is Formula 1 these days? Here’s an example- in 2008, during a test session, Lewis Hamilton hit a tyre wall, travelling backwards at approximately 180mph. He suffered no serious injuries, only winding himself and ending up a little shaken, as perhaps, you would. Later, during an interview with Jeremy Clarkson, Lewis described this massive car crash as ‘quite a nice shunt’.

Wow. I can only imagine Jim Clark would have said something quite different had he survived his crash in his Lotus 48 back in ’68. That’s the profound effect these advancements in safety have provided, it really has made a life or death difference.

In conjunction with car safety, huge measures have been taken to protect spectators and improve the way accidents are managed. These days, at least 5 fire engines, each manned by 4 fire fighters, are available at any one time during a race weekend. Ambulances and dozens of doctors and health professionals are on hand at all times, backed up by helicopter which are on permanent standby, just in case injuries cannot be effectively treated at the scene.

Safety first.

Safety first. (Wikimedia Commons)

To avoid needing a trip to hospital, or the morgue, every driver and member of the pit crew wears an overall made with a Nomex brand fibre in which they can survive for 11 seconds in temperatures of 840 degrees Celsius. By comparison that is the approximate temperature of lava ejected during a volcanic eruption. Toasty to say the least.

Also impressive is the 12,000 microthreads that now make up a Formula 1 drivers helmet? Each one of these microthreads is 15 times thinner than a single human hair. The total length of all the threads processed in one helmet is approximately 16,000 kilometres. Excellent news considering F1 drivers, like most of us, operate much more effectively without any holes in their heads or swelling in their brains.

My opinion:

Formula 1 cars are technically fantastic and, now, are relatively safe. The drivers are still insane but none of them are dying or being gravely injured on a regular basis. The investments made in promoting a vast improvement in safety are not conducive to a drop in audience numbers. The reason for the drop, I believe, is the huge gap in performance and ability between the top teams and the teams fighting for position on the back half of the grid.

Let’s compare Formula 1 to the Barclay’s Premier League. Car racing versus football. International level sport, broadcast internationally versus national level sport, also broadcast internationally. The television audience for Premier League games over one season is 4.7 billion people and the broadcasting contracts for 2013-16 are worth £5.5 billion. By comparison, the television audience for Formula 1 is 450 million and only brings in around £300 million in revenue each season.

(Wikimedia Commons)

(Wikimedia Commons)

Why, you might ask, would a national sport invoke such a massive global response? Because, dear readers, the Barclay’s Premier League showcases some of the worlds best footballers but has a propensity for being relatively evenly matched, especially when compared to the teams competing in Formula 1.

The outrageous financial difference displayed by F1 team operations, if compared to football, would reflect a Premier League made up of Manchester City, Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, Leeds United, Swindon Town, Forest Green Rovers, Shortwood United and the Stroud Harriers.

The drop is due to F1’s unattractiveness to the average television viewer. The die-hard fans will always watch due to a genuine interest in the sport. However, it is the season packed with close, nail-biting racing that provides an upward trend in viewer numbers. F1 audiences have historically increased when the point differential between the highest and lowest performer is minimal. Unfortunately, the big boys who keep winning everything will make this very difficult to achieve because the more genuine contenders there are in the Formula 1 championship, the less chance they have of winning it. They would rather keep winning the easy money instead of battling it out every season just to please the viewers.

And that, in my opinion, is wrong.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Wednesday View

Monday Long Termer: 31/03/14′ – Parking Lesson.

By Nathan Green

First, an apology. Many of my loyal readers have been asking why the Long Termer pieces have not come to fruition the past few weeks.

I wish I had a definitive answer. Let me just say my thoughts and energy have been spent overcoming some personal issues. I’m sorry. I hope not to have lost the support that many of you have offered through positive feedback.
Now, with out further ado, let’s resume normal practice.

A couple of weeks ago I spent some time in Worcester as part of the ‘Inspired Learning’ training program provided by my employer. On day one I drove to my destination via the M5 northbound motorway. A distance of 30 miles that is easily covered in around 40 minutes as long as the timing is right and the traffic is minimal.

Upon arriving at my destination it became obvious that parking was not going to be as straightforward as the journey.

With no on-site parking, I, a person who does not know Worcester at all, needed to find a space that was a) free of charge and b) within walking distance. Luckily, I found a cul-de-sac with free parking just behind the building. Unluckily, I had to leave the Corsa parked in a position where the front wheels were just over double yellow lines.

With no time to find another space, I left the car thinking it would be fine. Why would a traffic warden operate on a private residential road and, furthermore, if they were to see my car, surely my parking would not be worthy of a ticket?

I walked the short distance to the training room, parked my arse on a seat and soaked up some knowledge. Lovely ta., thanks for coming.

After bidding farewell to our top-class in-house trainer and fellow students, I walked back to the car. You know where this is going, right? I was greeted by a clear plastic envelope which had been stuck to the windscreen and contained notice of financial dismay and general inconvenience.

Meh.

Meh.

What’s the first thing you say when you are fined or reprimanded for doing something wrong? Well, maybe not the first thing as, if you’re anything like me, that will begin with an F, a B or even a C and, if you’re very unhappy, these words will be accompanied by a violent physical outburst in the form of a slam, stamp or whack.

Anyway, once I had finished swearing and stamping and had overcome the temptation to film myself burning the ticket then uploading the video to YouTube, I told myself I was a victim. However, as is often the case these days, I immediately began to question this.

I knew I could get a ticket when I parked the car there, didn’t I? I know that traffic wardens are awarded bonuses relating to the revenue they provide for their respective employers, in this case Worcester City Council. I knew that even one inch over those yellows lines would doubtless leave me with a fine. So why did I immediately begin to feel like a victim? Why is it we automatically feel like it’s not fair to be reprimanded when we do something wrong?

If you punch someone in the face, you will likely be arrested. If you sleep with someone else’s girlfriend, you’ll probably be punched in the face. If you don’t treat your girlfriend with the respect and the decency she deserves, she will leave you and, if you park on double yellow lines, you will get a ticket.
Recently I have learned that playing the victim only delays inevitable guilt and misfortune, whether it be financial or emotional. If you tackle your problems head on, and, in a timely manner, you have a much better chance of gaining a favourable outcome.

So, I accepted I was at fault, took a knock to my ego (and bank balance) and paid the fine. Doing so within a 14 day period entitled me to 50% off, leaving me with just £35 to pay.

What an absolute bargain life lesson, if only all of them could be solved so quickly and cheaply.

Weekly Mileage- 512

Fuel Cost: £50

Repair cost: £0 Parking ticket: £35

Repair costs (2014)- £849

Leave a comment

Filed under Monday Long Termer