Motor Sport: The New Bastion of Bigotry?

Reading Time: 5 minutes

If there’s one industry that’s pale, male and stale, it’s the automotive industry. That’s why I was impressed to see Gareth Thomas at the Ford Motors stand at Goodwood Festival of Speed talking about the prejudices that still exist in the industry and how it can move forward.

Sure, there may be an element of rainbow capitalism going on with Ford and the #verygayraptor, but the fact that Ford is pushing this message into the pick-up market is an indication that we really are making progress.

In motor sport however, we seem to be going backwards. In the past few weeks we’ve had a driver using homophobic and grossly racist terminology on a game stream, a former driver being racially derogative about a current one and spectators at the Austrian and Hungarian Grands Prix being reported for homophobic, misogynistic and racist behaviour.

In the past few years, Formula 1 and motor sport in general has spoken strong words, but it’s now starting to sound like it’s all talk.

Just before Festival of Speed, Formula 2 driver Jüri Vips had his contract with Red Bull suspended (and later terminated) after he used racist and homophobic language in a live game stream.

With someone whose first language isn’t English there are always some who leap to the defence that the person may not have understood the impact of their words. Sure, when the term itself is considered offensive, but there’s more to it than that. It doesn’t matter that much how offensive the terms are, it’s the fact that you are using race and sexual preference in a derogatory context that are the real problem.

It also emerged, over that same weekend, that former F1 driver Nelson Piquet (Snr) had been racially derogatory toward Lewis Hamilton. In response Piquet issued a statement which essentially said that the word he used isn’t considered offensive in Portuguese, so we should all get over it and move on.

Again this misses the point. Let me make 3 statements:

  1. Paul Smith is an overly aggressive racing driver.
  2. Paul Smith is a white racing driver.
  3. Paul Smith is an overly aggressive white racing driver.

Spot the problem?

There are plenty of contexts where it would be valid to talk about his driving style or his race. The contexts where it would be valid to bring both to the fore at the same time are very limited. So why has someone deliberately chosen to mention Smith’s race, in what is clearly a criticism of his driving style?

It might seem pernickety, but this is something people of colour have to deal with all the time. Positive contexts rarely include their race, whereas negative ones do. It’s racist propaganda, but because nothing offensive or incorrect is said the significance of the bias can be easily missed.

It’s even a tactic explicitly used by racist groups, deliberately trying to associate negative images and negative stories with particular races. A few years ago there was a rash of new “news” web sites and social media pages which largely carried celebrity gossip and negative stories about people of colour.

Because nothing directly derogatory is ever said about someone’s race, the operators claim they’re not racist. The reality is that they’re operating at a more subtle level, applying a bias to what they choose to report in order to portray people of colour in a negative light.

This is why Piquet’s defence plain doesn’t work and why Vips is in such deep water. Regardless of the language used, they both demonstrated prejudices.

Hamilton’s response is as it generally is these days; he’s a mature, thoughtful and eloquent man.

For too many years there has been a kind of standard procedure in motor sport; if you’re caught saying something bigoted, you issue an apology, state that your “unfortunate” choice of words doesn’t represent your true values… blah, blah, blah and everyone nods quietly and moves on.

But we’ve been giving the message long enough now and loudly enough that nobody can pretend they haven’t heard it. So when, if not now, are we going to move from “that’s naughty don’t do it again” to “here’s a 5 year ban from attending any F1 event in any capacity”?

In Piquet’s case it’s hardly his first offence. He knew exactly what he was doing, appealing to a certain demographic who might have a racially based preference, in particular, for the driver who is current dating his daughter.

Vips is a little different. Young people do say stupid things, things they know are stupid, things which genuinely don’t represent their principles, for a variety of reasons. I’m open minded on this; his language (sadly) wasn’t atypical of Call of Duty streams in general, so I could believe that he meant nothing other than to vent frustration. However, other drivers also play Call of Duty and they’ve avoided crossing the line.

This means the burden of proof now has to fall to Vips. In his cut-and-paste, obviously written by someone in marketing statement he assures us that the sentiments he expressed do not represent his true values. Fine, if that’s the case then he’ll understand the seriousness of the issue and be prepared to take meaningful steps to demonstrate what his true values are. He has the platform to do that. In fact he has a great opportunity to take ownership of the issue and to demonstrate real leadership on it. However, right now it looks like he’s just trying to keep his head down and is hoping it’ll all blow over. We just can’t continue allowing people to do that. We have to face these issues, not let people keep sweeping them under the carpet.

Just as I was doing what was supposed to be the final edit of this article, ugly events were reported at the Austrian Grand Prix. It was good to hear Naomi Schiff, in this weekend’s pre-race show, call it out directly for what it was, racism, misogyny and homophobia. We need more people prepared to tackle these issues head on and not just talk in general terms about “unfortunate behaviour” and sweep it under the carpet again.

It now transpires that there has been another clutch of incidents reported at the Hungarian Grand Prix and senior figures are reporting a sharp rise in online bigotry – and there does seem to be a pattern forming. It does seem to all be centred around one particular team and coming from the supporters of one particular driver.

Yes, it’s good to see Mercedes and Hamilton take such a positive lead, but when they’re the ultimate target of most of the bigotry we can’t expect that to be effective. Most of the teams and many of the drivers have, in fact, issued strong statements. The response from some has been notably weak, which doesn’t help.

Yes, it’s good to see media organisations like Sky TV being stronger than they previously have.

Yes, it’s good to see the new “Drive it Out” campaign from the FIA and F1 management.

Words do have a lot of power, but they only get you so far.

It looks like we’re facing a new wave of bigotry in motor sport. We need to put it down immediately; we cannot afford for it to take hold. That means more than just words. As Hamilton says “Time has come for action”.

Tanya And Tom Do Racing

Reading Time: 5 minutesI have been known to point a camera at a thing – quite often that thing is a racing car. I do it as my own personal challenge but other people seem to like the results, which is one of the reasons behind the TanyaAndTomDoRacing Instagram account.

I do find however that I get asked two questions quite a lot and as Instagram isn’t really the place for a FAQ…

You Must Have Some Really Good Kit?

The direct answer is no, I don’t. In fact this is a pet peeve of mine, not just in photography but in many hobbies.

If you have a good eye, enough knowledge, skill and technique then any entry level major brand Digital SLR camera and many bridge cameras are perfectly capable of taking very good photos – in many cases professional quality photos.

The key about a Digital SLR camera is that it puts control of the optics and the sensor into the hands of the operator, allowing the photographer to make artistic decisions about how the light is captured.

This is one of my favourite (but not technically best) photos, taken at Goodwood Revival in 2015.

It was taken with a Nikon D3000 and a Nikkor AF-S 55-300 F4.5-5.6 D G VR DX lens: entry level kit. What makes the photo is the framing, the choice of subject, the angle to get the reflected sun, the 1/25 shutter speed and a big chunk of luck with the panning.

You can’t compensate for deficiencies in any of those things by throwing more money at it.

Yes, I would have liked a higher resolution sensor and in an ideal world I would probably have used a lower ISO value and larger aperture but I could easily pay 10 times as much for kit to get a photo that is only marginally better.

Digital SLRs are not supposed to be smart, they’re not about image processing and fancy modes to try to make something out of nothing, they’re all about controlling how the light falls on the sensor. There’s only so much that clever electronics and software can help and the best of that is often found not in SLRs – where it might actually degrade the photographic quality – but in compact cameras.

Here’s a case in point:

I like this photo, but it’s not one of my favourites. Taking the standard sharp foreground, blurred background photo is like shooting fish with a Digital SLR.

This photo wasn’t taken with a Digital SLR though, it was taken with a Sony DSC-HX50, a £200 compact camera.

It’s possibly my favourite ever camera, simply because of the amount of power it puts in a genuinely pocket sized piece of equipment.

It does have modes to put optical control in the hands of the user (as seen above), but what you can do is limited – mostly by the physical size of the device. To compensate for the fact that there simply isn’t room for better optics it’s stuffed full of electronics and software.

This shot, for instance, was taken hand-held at a beach cafe somewhere in Indonesia using all the electronic aides available (and needing them).

In an ideal world I would have had a Digital SLR mounted on a tripod and I could have taken a slightly better picture. In an ideal world the person in the picture would be a model who wouldn’t have moved.

The problem is that the person in the picture isn’t a model, she was one of the tour group and I couldn’t really ask her to hang about whilst I set a tripod up or stay still whilst I took the photo. The moment was there, I was able to capture it specifically because I had a compact camera with a night mode that I could select in a second.

The bottom line is this: you can take really good pictures with a sub-£100 camera. The problem is that the capabilities of that camera will be limited, which will limit where, when and the type of picture you can take.

If you spend a bit more, around the £200-£300 bracket you can get cameras that are far more capable and put a good amount of control in the hands of the photographer.

Above that you hit the wall of diminishing returns pretty hard. Between £100 and £200 there’s a huge jump in capability and quality. Between £200 and £300 less so. When you get above that then you can find yourself paying an awful lot of money for very little improvement and you have to ask yourself whether it’s really worth the money.

If you’re thinking of turning professional or if you spend every waking, non-working moment dreaming about photography then fine, maybe it is. For most of us it’s not.

But You Should Sell Your Photos / Turn Professional!

I’m flattered, sincerely and genuinely that some people think my photos are good enough to make money out of, but the reality is that they aren’t.

OK, some of them are and course if people want to pay me to use / print them then we can talk about that… the point is that it’s not worth me actively pursuing trying to sell them.

As I said above, taking the standard “sharp foreground, blurred background” racing car photo is shooting fish in a barrel with a Digital SLR – anyone with any understanding of the principles of photography can do it.

It used to be difficult because with (wet) film you had no idea how good the photo was until you developed it. You can’t do that at the track-side. That means you needed a lot of experience to know exactly what settings and techniques were required because you were shooting blind.

With a Digital SLR you can press the shutter and have the image on a HD tablet within a couple of seconds. You can closely analyse the picture, work out what needs changing and then go again with an improved set up within a few seconds.

At any Formula 1 Grand Prix there must be at least a thousand people doing pretty much that and a good portion of them will be producing shots as good as mine or better. There are only a handful of places you could sell the pictures to and they’re all looking for something that is not just technically good, but has something extra that makes it stand out.

Perhaps something like the first picture in this article, but with a little more sharpness on the helmet and without the smear in the bottom left caused by the head of some bloke who wandered into shot.

I have thousands of photos in and around race tracks and other motorsport events. I have only a handful of photos that I genuinely believe anyone would pay money for.

If you want some idea of the differences then look at the Instagram streams of the professionals:

James Moy @f1photographer
Lollipop Magazine
(Joshua Paul)
@lollipopmagazine (my favourite)
Peter J Fox @peterjfoxy
Sutton Images @suttonimages
Darren Heath @darrenheathphotographer
McLaren @mclaren
Ferrari @scuderiaferrari
Williams @williamsmartiniracing
Red Bull @redbullracing
Toro Rosso @officialtororosso
Force India @forceindiaf1
Renault @renaultsportf1
Sauber @sauberf1team
Haas @haasf1team
Mercedes @mercedesamgf1
Prema @prema_team
Racing Engineering @racingengineering
Russian Time @teamrussiantime
ART @artgp_official
DAMS @damsracing
Campos @camposracing
Trident @trident_team
Rapax @rapaxteam
Arden @ardenmotorsport



I Was Growled at by a Car Lion

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Samson Car Lion
Samson the Car Lion

Meet Samson, he’s a Car Lion. His job is protect the car he’s in against any unwanted attention. Currently he lives on the dash of our hauling, ferrying and carrying car – a Honda Jazz (aka Fit) called Delilah.

Samson is a very happy Car Lion, Delilah is very spacious inside, so he has a large territory. The Jazz/Fit also has a considerable amount of glass in the cabin and the cab-forward design means that he has a large and very prominent area to prowl and make sure that all is in order.
He also likes window stickers and we keep him well supplied with them.

Samson's Favourite Snack
Samson’s Favourite Snack

Now let me introduce you to another Car Lion with a less fortunate story. You see it came to pass that we needed to buy a second car. We didn’t really know what we needed or how long we’d need it for so we played it safe and bought a Ford Fiesta. We called the car “Rory” because he didn’t need a name, he was only “tempoRory” [sic].

It may surprise you to learn that Ford Fiestas are often supplied without a Car Lion to protect them. So we went to Africa Alive and came back with this gorgeous little fellow. It was clear that this Car Lion was far too big to live on Rory’s dash though, so we came to an arrangement that he would live on the back seat.

Rory's Car Lion
Rory’s Car Lion

He liked to sleep a lot when he wasn’t on duty so he liked it there – it was warm and soft. Being somewhat larger than Samson he wasn’t too worried about being on higher ground because he could easily jump up and growl at any potential miscreant. It’s true that Rory wasn’t as roomy as Delilah is, but it had some additional creature comforts such climate control and more importantly an MP3 player – because Car Lions have got to have their choonz.

I have to admit that we didn’t really think about the Car Lion in Rory. He was there, doing his job and he seemed to be happy enough. It didn’t occur to me that we might be neglecting him – we had after all given Rory a name and we weren’t intending to keep Rory long. The poor Car Lion didn’t even have a name.

It was when we sold Rory that it finally dawned on me. As I took him from the back seat the full horror hit me – the back seat. The car we replaced Rory with is a much more permanent affair, she’s called Mina and, well, the problem is rather obvious.


So there were two things I needed to make up to our sadly anonymous Car Lion. The first was easy for me – although Mina is very snug she’s a convertible which means that she makes an excellent home for a Car Lion. He can stay safe and warm when he needs to or go out and prowl as far as he likes. Being in the front seat however there was a problem – the car only has two seatbelts and he’s too big to have roaming around when we’re both in the car. So I made him a little seatbelt of his own.

Car Lion All Strapped In
Car Lion All Strapped In

The second problem is more difficult – the obvious name for a Car Lion that protects a car called Mina is Jonathan, but Mina wasn’t his first car so I think calling him Jonathan is unfair, we need to respect the very good work he did protecting Rory. So what do we call him?

It was somewhere in the region of 23 minutes before someone suggested Liony McLionface, which was rather longer than I expected. Other suggestions so far include:

  • Cecil (but I’d have to sew a bullet-hole through him somehow)
  • Cedric
  • Clarence (how rude!)
  • Denn (long story)
  • Don / Vito, as in Don Car Lione (badoom-tish!)
  • Kenneth
  • Kieran (another long story)
  • Leo
  • Lionel
  • Liono
  • McGrath
  • Numair  (Arabic – “panther”)
  • Simba
  • Roan Miry
  • Vlad

In the end we decided on a name, so meet Vito Car-Lione… He’d like to be your friend, and that’s an offer you can’t refuse.
Vito Car-Lione

Goodwood Revival!

Reading Time: 9 minutes

Cobras and E-Types
Cobras and E-Types… mmm… racing cars…

Goodwood Revival was enormous fun.

I am, it has to be said, a bit of a car nut. I like cars, I like motorsport. So put a couple of hundred of the most classic racing cars in history on a track and race them – and I really do mean race them – and you’ve got my interest.

Goodwood Revival is a pastiche of course – it nominally attempts to revive motorsport as it was before 1970, the reality is that it does no such thing. I would argue that it doesn’t want to either – motorsport is still dangerous but before 1970 it was practically suicidal. Goodwood itself claimed the life of Bruce McLaren and ended the career of Sir Stirling Moss.

So I’ll hear no nostalgic talk of “The Golden Era of Motorsport” – sure there were things that were better, but there’s a hell of a lot that was worse. I also don’t think we want to look too with too rosy an eye at the realities of life for the average person in the mid twentieth century. We’ve come a long, long way since then.

The beauty of the Goodwood Revival is that we can ignore the crappy standard of living and the appalling attitude to safety and just celebrate the good stuff. Let’s face it, the cars were much, much prettier and had an elegant simplicity that today’s machines – although clearly far superior in just about every other way – lack.

 Decisions, Decisions

The people I was with were dressing 1950s style, so I had to fit in with them. I’m not exactly preppy, I’m not a military person and a not really a biker so (months ago) I started looking at what the early Teddy Boys wore. This was a bit of a non-starter – they wore smart Edwardian clothing. The basic lounge (business) suit hasn’t really changed much in 100 years so whilst looking like an authentic 1950s Ted is pretty easy, it’s not really playing the game.

So I started looking at other 1950s fashion and I ran into this image of James Dean from Rebel Without a Cause. There’s no way my hair was going to do that – far too short, but I should be able to get a jacket, shirt and trousers pretty easily…

Tom And James

Tweed jackets also have the added bonus of being warm, which is a definite advantage at a race track.


Trying to find accommodation is a pain. There is a lot in the local area and Goodwood do put on shuttle bus services, but demand far outstrips supply. The reality is that if you do find somewhere for a reasonable price you’re likely to have to drive into the event each day. That’s inconvenient from a traffic point of view and also because you have to have a designated driver, which is not really in the spirit of Goodwood Revival (see earlier comments about this not actually being the 1950s).

The other option is camping at the site. This however is not like camping a music festival. You get a good size pitch and the facilities are good and well maintained. You’re also with a different set of people: camping – or more precisely motorhomes and caravans – are deeply embedded into motorsport in the UK. These are people who are used to being to be up and compos mentis at a reasonable time in the morning because they’re involved in the racing. Sure there’s some pretty hard partying going on, but it’s at the event- the camp site is actually a bit of a peace haven.

We’re experienced campers and nothing about the arrangements really phased us. Overall Goodwood do a great job in creating a perfectly reasonable temporary camp site in what is otherwise a farming field.

There are a few things that I someone considering this option might want to be aware of:

  • The route to the camp site is adequately signed, but only just and the signs start appearing a little on the late side compared to the main event signs.
  • There are generators and flood lights at each facilities station that run all night. If you’re bothered by these pick a pitch away from them.
  • People actually drive across the site to the facilities. The site isn’t that big however and anyone without mobility problems doesn’t really have an excuse for this.
  • Traffic queues to get in and out of the camp site are pretty horrendous at peak times.
  • Toilets, showers and washing up facilities are provided and I think I saw an Elsan point. There’s also a “boudoir” where you can do your make-up etc. Don’t get too excited, it’s just a portacabin.
  • The site is pretty flat, but make sure if you’ve got a tent or awning that you bring good pegs, the ground is very, very stony.
  • The camping overall is a little disorganised, it somewhat relies on the fact that the majority of people there are seasoned campers and that everyone can work things out for themselves pretty well.



So we arrived mid-Thursday. There was a fish and chip van on the camp site but it wasn’t signposted and we in fact came across it entirely by accident. Other than that there didn’t seem to be much around or much information on what might be elsewhere.
We were aware however of “Over The Road” – shopping and entertainment zone that didn’t require a ticket. We figured that some of the stall-holders would be aware of people arriving on Thursday and would probably be open so we decided to head there.

This is when we ran into the first problem – there was no information about how best to get there. So we followed the signs to the track and found not only the entrance to the venue locked but the exit from the camp site locked and a total lack of any information or signs. We looked at a (OS) map, hopped the gate and made our way via the roads to “Over the Road” – something that I wouldn’t recommend unless you’re accustomed to walking on country roads.

We got there to find that only a handful – out of several hundred – of the stalls were open. It was lucky we had eaten earlier and had some beer back at the camp site otherwise we would have really struggled. As it was we got the lay of the land then made our way back to the camp site.

All of this hassle could have easily been resolved if the information we’d been given at the start – about camping – were a little better.

Now, enough of the complaining. Here’s a picture of a Jaguar D-Type.

Jaguar D-Type
Jaguar D-Type

Into The Weekend

So Friday morning came and we made our way to the track and attempted to buy a programme. Finding a stall was easy, people were leaving with programmes and money seemed to be changing hands. It wasn’t advertised as a programme stall however and this became a common theme of the weekend: all the staff are extremely helpful and well informed, but signs and directions were sometimes a little lacking. Common sense is definitely required.


If you’re not familiar with classic racing events you would be forgiven for thinking that they’d be populate largely by owner-drivers tiptoeing round the track, terrified of scratching their pride and joy.


This is former – and possibly future – Formula 1 driver Guido Van Der Garde a few seconds after he’d demolished the chicane with what was until that point a rather nice example of an AC Cobra.

Guido Van De Garde, AC Cobra, Chicane

The car was recovered to the pits where a combination of crowbars and lump hammers was used to re-shape the offending bodywork so that it didn’t foul the wheels and was something approximating the shape it should be. Several reels of tape were then applied and the car was then sent on its way and spent the rest of the weekend quite happy.

I don’t know what the total car casualty list for the weekend was and I’d hate to think of the bill.

OK, so nobody’s taking the same level of risk that their historic counterparts would, but here’s my point: they’re definitely very serious indeed about racing.

Dab Of Oppo
Dab Of Oppo?

One question for us was grandstand or no grandstand. Grandstand seats certainly don’t guarantee you a better view – many of the best views are to be had stood near the track. The one big advantage that a grandstand gets you is somewhere dry – there are a few other covered areas but none that you could watch the racing from. If you don’t mind getting rained on, I’d say don’t bother with grandstand seating.

I’m not going to go into the racing too much because Goodwood themselves do that a lot better. You can currently watch all the 2015 races on the Revival site. There were some pretty fun races.

Retro! Vintage!

Of course a major part of The Revival is the feel of being somewhere in the mid twentieth century. A lot of people dress in the fashions of the day – enough that it seems normal.

The venue helps too – the last contemporary race at Goodwood was held in 1966 and it was effectively closed in 1970 which gives them a bit of a head start, but a lot of effort has been put in at the venue to make it look like something mid twentieth century.

The track also has a distinctly retro feel, there are no large safety fences as there would be at a F1 Grand Prix track. There are large run-off areas, gravel traps and large banks of earth fronted by ranks of tyres and Armco barrier. This means you can get some great views and really feel like you’re part of the action. On the flip side it’s hard to not be aware of what it says on the back of every ticket, “motor sport is dangerous”.

Shopping! Paddocks!

There are a lot of stalls. A lot. Most of them are related to motoring or motor sport. There are a few others, I particularly remember a barn construction company and a number of niche clothing companies. You could easily lose a day between the main venue and “over the road” just going round the stalls.

There are also the paddocks, somewhere around half of these are open to the public to have a nose around – being able to get up close and personal with some of the cars is a real privilege – a lot of them are of major historic importance and are utterly irreplaceable.


There are also other attractions too – the Earl’s Court Motor Show, Bonhams, etc. If you want to see a decent amount of racing then you need at least two days to get round everything.

Speaking of getting around, there are handy, free and frequent tractor-buses that circle the perimeter. Otherwise it’s a fair old walk.

Food! Water!

There is certainly no shortage of booze, but don’t expect pub prices. If you want to get yourself over-refreshed it’s going to cost you – particularly if you end up in one of the Veuve Clicquot bars. There is however nothing stopping you from bringing in your own favoured tipple, although if that’s beer it could get rather inconvenient.

There’s also plenty of entertainment, a couple of small stages at the event that host bands and a couple of touring groups of singers. “Over the road” also had a roller-disco and another stage. All of the acts we saw were pretty good.

Food however was a bit of a let-down. There were a few catering tents that did average quality mass catering for prices that weren’t too horrendous. There were also a reasonable number of catering vans. The problem is that most places sold pretty much the same things – pies, pasties, burgers, fish and chips. There were a couple of pizza stalls which were really the only vegetarian option. I’m sad to say that compared to the British F1 Grand Prix at Silverstone the catering at Goodwood Revival was poor. We visited FoS in 2007 the catering was pretty decent which only served to add to our frustration.

Celebs! VIPS!

Yes, there were a few knocking about – particularly a few notable owners / drivers. The ones we saw were all very friendly and patient. There were a few other people we spotted around too.

Quite a sizeable chunk of the venue is however dedicated to VIPs of one sort or another. This can be a bit irritating at times, particularly if the car you want to gawp at is in one of the “Members Only” paddocks. One has to keep in mind however that the access one gets as a mere prole is remarkable anyway – there’s no way you can get near any of the cars at most race meets!

You Should Go

OK, I’ve been a bit whingy and it’s true there are problems, but now you’ve read this you know what they are and how to deal with them!
Overall Goodwood Revival is a fantastic event and enormously good fun for any kind of motor-sport fan.

The Corsa SRI

Reading Time: 3 minutesWe use hire (rental) cars at The University a lot which gives me the chance to drive a range of different cars. Today the hire car fairy brought me a Vauxhall (aka Opel) Corsa SRI. In yellow.

Yellow Peril!
Yellow Peril!

I was quite looking forward to driving it because it’s really popular with car modders, so presumably there’s something a bit special about it, right?

Err, yeah. I found that out really rather quickly, but first let me tell you what’s good about it.

It feels like good value for money. I’ve driven a few cars that feel like pieces of agricultural machinery with a few pieces of friendly plastic Blu-Tacked to them. The Corsa is pretty solid, well put together. Obviously there have been compromises but there’s nothing that rings out as glaringly cheap. Nothing agricultural.

The equipment is clearly a bit of a compromise. Boxes have been ticked, but the features are often difficult to use. Cruise control for instance, it’s there but it’s a bit of a battle compared to more upmarket Vauxhalls.

Nevertheless on the road the car is direct and feels very well connected to the road, you can throw it into a corner with confidence and know that you’re not going to be constantly fighting understeer.

It’s clearly relatively cheap and if you’re not expecting top class then it’s relatively well equipped.

But Where’s the Engine?

Thanks I suspect largely to the gearing the car is very nippy around town. I don’t live in a town, I live in the middle of nowhere. Sure it’s pretty nippy on narrow country lanes too but as soon as you get out onto wider roads you realise that only the first two inches of throttle pedal travel actually makes any difference.
I don’t think I’ve ever spent so much of a journey at 4500rpm trying to smash my foot through the bulkhead screaming “MORE POWER! MORE POWER!”
I can accept peaky small engines that have no guts outside the power band – I drive a Japanese car after all – but this engine has nothing in the power band either.

The Stereo is Woeful

Precisely No Features
Precisely No Features

A new car that doesn’t have DAB, USB or Bluetooth. Really? Just a CD player and AM / FM radio. Surely there are laws against this kind of cruelty. I wasn’t in the mood for Radio 4 and I’m not old enough to listen to Radio 2 so I whipped out my hand AUX cable and plugged the phone in. No matter how I tweaked the settings though I couldn’t get it to sound good. So when I stopped for a cuppa I tried tweaking the considerably more extensive graphic equaliser on my phone. Nope, the speakers are clearly made of cheese.

Clearly a Good Candidate for Modification

So to summarise, we have a car that handles well, is comfortable, is of generally good quality and comes with a good basic level of equipment. There’s a lot of potential for improvement however, almost everything could use a step up to the next level but I’ll single out the stereo (woeful) and the engine (was there one?) for particular attention. Coincidentally these happen to be the first two items that modders seem to want start tweaking…

Compare and Contrast: Glastonbury vs. Silverstone

Reading Time: 2 minutesIn 2013 Glastonbury and the British F1 Grand Prix fell on the same weekend. They’re both enormous events, but the there are some very notable differences. This article in The Guardian gives us a few pictures of the aftermath of Glastonbury – I’ve cheekily linked one of the images to give an illustration.

Glasto cleanup

It is true that charities recover usable equipment from the Glastonbury camp sites for less developed countries but there doesn’t appear to be a hell of a lot of usable equipment in the pictures. I suspect that most of the tents etc. might have been usable when the original occupiers left them with that noble intention, but it looks like a herd of drunken elephants have stampeded through since then.

This however is one of my pictures. It was taken a few minutes before we left Whittlebury Park Camp Site having spent the weekend at the British Formula 1 Grand Prix at Silverstone.

Whittlebury Park after F1 GP
Whittlebury Park on Monday

Is that one single abandoned chair I can see?

It seems rather perverse to me that a festival synonymous with charity and environmentalism could leave such a mess whilst one more associated with reverse barely leaves a trace.

British F1 Grand Prix at Silverstone: Village / Arena View

Reading Time: 2 minutesSilverstone‘s new section is fantastic and the view from what’s now called Village grandstand (was called Arena) is excellent.

We dropped in there for one of the GP2 races and since it was new I thought a panorama shot might be useful for anyone considering it. Unfortunately I didn’t quite line the photos up so it doesn’t stitch together properly. So there are two, the left half and the right half.

In the left half you get a bonus in that you can see the cars go through Maggotts / Becketts / Chapel and onto the Hangar Straight as well as Village / The Loop / Aintree.

Left Hand Side of the View from Village (click for bigger)

The Right Hand Side of the view from Village B (click for bigger)

There’s a really good overtaking opportunity if you can get a good run round the outside at Village because you’ll have the inside at The Loop. This is a very bad line for the corner and you’ll run wide on the exit, but it’s seriously difficult for your opponent to duck inside – we saw a couple of people making this stick in the GP2. A lot of people were running too wide out of Village, too, meaning more excitement at The Loop.

A word to the wise, though. The grandstand is quite exposed to wind, so make sure that you have some form of wind-proof clothing option with you because even when it was 25C in the sun it was cold up there.