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AUSTRALIA LOSES A TRUE HERO

 The word hero is much over-used these days. It is used to describe people who are just survivors, kids that can call emergency services or sports stars. None of which actually do anything even slightly heroic so the word loses its true meaning.

Tony Gaze War hero Fighter ace DFC and 2 bars

  Tony Gaze, however, was a hero in the literal sense of the word. Not because he reached the premier series in motorsport, Grand Prix racing or raced at Le Mans. Not even because he was instrumental in the birth of the utterly wonderful Goodwood Motor Circuit, although millions are indebted to him for that alone. But because as a young man studying at Cambridge, he volunteered for the RAF as war erupted in Europe and rose through the ranks to the level of Squadron Leader and with fourteen confirmed enemy aircraft to his credit and was awarded the DFC (Distinguished Flying Cross) on three occasions. One of just 48 Allied airmen who achieved that honour.

  During the war Tony mainly flew the iconic Spitfire but eventually became the first Australian pilot to fly a jet powered fighter, the Gloster Meteor. This was just one of many “firsts” he achieved. Amongst them being the first Australian pilot to destroy an enemy jet fighter (Messerschmitt 262) and jet powered bomber (Arado Ar234). He was also the first Allied pilot to land in a liberated part of Europe after the D-Day landings, putting down at St Croix-Sur-Mer, France on June 10, 1944.

  Despite his racing success after the war his most lasting achievement was probably to convince Freddie March, at the time the Duke of Richmond and head of the Royal Automobile Club (R.A.C.) that the perimeter track of his old wartime airfield (RAF-Westhampnett, which was on some of Freddie’s land) would make a good replacement for the destroyed Brooklands circuit. He and his fellow pilots had spent many hours blasting around it while not defending Britain from the Luftwaffe. Although Goodwood never hosted a World Championship Grand Prix it became one of the fastest and most beloved circuits in the UK, if not the world. All the greats raced there from Fangio and Farina in the early days via Moss to Hill and Clark before it closed for racing in 1965. Now that the circuit has been reopened and holds the stunning annual Goodwood Revival historic race meeting, Tony’s involvement in it’s creation has been honoured by the press centre being named the “Tony gaze Building:.

 

  Although his top line racing career was brief, he entered just four World Championship Grand Prixs in his privately run HWM-Alta during 1952, he was yet again the first Australian to start a World Championship race. His four Grand Prixs yielded a solitary finish, 15th in the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa, two retirements at Silverstone and the Nurburgring and a non-qualification at Monza.

Tony Gaze in his Ferrari 500

  In late 1953 Tony returned to Australia and would compete in local open wheel races here and in New Zealand taking third place in the 1954 New Zealand Grand Prix in his HWM and repeating the result the following year in his ex-Ascari Ferrari 500. His final New Zealand campaign before retirement saw him finish second to Stirling Moss in the New Zealand Grand Prix before rounding out the series with second at Wigram, a win at Dunedin and another second at Ryal Bush. He would then turn his attention back to the skies and went on to represent Australia at the World Gliding Championship in 1960.

  I had met Tony on several occasions over the last decade and although I wouldn’t claim to know him well (apart from close family and friends who really “knows” anyone?), I always found him to be a modest and dignified man, generous with his time and able to tell some marvelous tales of post war racing and other adventures with remarkable clarity and wit. I had plans at one point to talk to him about writing his storey but was beaten to the punch by Stewart Wilson with his excellent biography “Almost Unknown”, which is well worth a read.

Tony at the launch of the Lex Davison biography  Squadron Leader Frederick Anthony Owen “Tony Gaze” OAM DFC and 2 Bars, was a true gentleman who was very easy, not just to like, but admire and respect and although he was relatively unknown in his home country, that nation, Australia, is a poorer place with his passing. A hero in every sense of the word.

 

  For a more detailed look at his remarkable life, either pick up his biography – Almost Unknown - or check out http://www.tonygaze.com/

 Sam Snape

THE KILTED LOON RETURNS

The kilted loon returns

  I’m baaaacccckkkk…….Yes folks, the kilted loon returns after a very annoyingly enforced absence.

Gee thanks to the prick who thought it was clever to hack the website of a very small business for no better reason than to show just how smart he is. Wow, we are all so impressed. Twat!

 

  Real thanks to those who were patient enough to hang on until I was back up and running and I see that some of you are already hitting the database to download the results and records in there. Welcome back.

I will be resuming work on 1997 shortly but as you can imagine there is still a bit of fixing up to do.

 

  Absolute mega thanks to Steve Lloyd at Showpage – god alone knows how many hours he has laboured to rebuild the site on a new platform and salvage as much as he has from the wreckage of the old site.

It will be many, many months before the photo galleries are back in total. There are a few that survived and they are now back correctly. Some of the eagle eyed of you will have noticed that on then first attempt they went in sort of back to front with the high res images being where the thumbnails should have been. Was a unique web experience having the photos get smaller every time you clicked on one…….

 

  Just imagine how pissed off I was when the site crashed just before the Australian GP. And how even more pissed I was when I had the tip that Mark Webber was off to Porsche with Red Bull backing back before the Chinese GP and couldn’t let you know. I know, I know, you all think I’m full of it but just once every now and then I do get ahead of the news. Anyhow the year rolls on, as does the Red Rag juggernaut, as does the whinging about tyres – IT IS NOT PIRELLI’S FAULT.

 

  Pirelli wanted to alter the compounds and construction before the Canadian GP but several teams, including the usual red one, wouldn’t OK it, nor would the FIA let them unless it was a safety issue. Well it bloody well was, wasn’t it Jean? But more about that in the weeks ahead as well as any other weird twaddle or hot tips I may get.

 

  For the years results so far go to; http://www.mmmsport.com.au/index.php/database/cat_view/1-formula-1-races/13-2010-2019/90-2013-formula-1

 

 Sam Snape

 13/07/2013

 

APROPOS OF NOTHING

Except a line in the last article about torrents of crap being unleashed upon one’s head. This is an article from the Sydney Morning Herald. Read on with horror and mirth..

 

   A water-bombing helicopter has mistakenly sprayed partially treated sewage onto firefighters battling a blaze on the NSW mid-north coast.The Rural Fire Service has launched an investigation into last Tuesday's incident but says all firefighters involved have undergone medical checks and none have shown any ill effects.

  The mistaken drop took place in the Kew area, near Port Macquarie, where firefighters and four aircraft were battling a blaze.The Australian Workers Union urged an investigation after RFS volunteers and state forest crews were affected.

  An RFS spokesman said on Monday that a helicopter mistakenly drew up secondary treatment water from a sewage treatment plant.It was then dropped near 12 firefighters, while another seven firefighters were in the general area."Following this, all 29 firefighters on the fireground and their equipment were immediately withdrawn and decontaminated by Fire and Rescue NSW," the spokesman said.

  They were also checked by paramedics at the scene and as a precaution each firefighter was given a further medical check the following day, he said."At this time, no firefighters have complained of any ill-effects."The spokesman said the firefighters would continue to be monitored by the RFS.

  The fire was brought under control after burning more than thirty hectares

F1-MOMENTUM AND MISSING THE FULCRUM

  In formula one, as in all competitive sports and much of life, momentum is everything. When you have it, you catch all the breaks and everything seems to going for you. But if you slip or stumble just once, even when it’s not your fault, that can be the tipping point, the fulcrum, which unleashes torrents of crap upon your head. From the rose garden to the dung heap in a split second. Sometimes it might even seem that initially you may have gotten away with your slip, even to others, but as time draws on, it becomes evident what was the precise moment the excrement began to pour and your momentum waned. Sometimes it’s blindingly obvious, say Niki Lauda, the Nurburgring 1976. Sometimes it’s more subtle. Brabham and Williams switching from Michelin to Goodyear rubber between the Spanish and French Grand Prixs in 1981 or Alonso passing Schumacher on the outside of 130R at Suzuka in 2005. Sometimes it should have been obvious, but it just took a while to become so.

 {mosimage}

 

  Lets have a quick study of these first three scenarios. In 1976 Niki Lauda, the reigning champion had all the early momentum. Nine races, five wins, two seconds and a third. Then came that fiery crash at the Nurburgring and despite his miraculous recovery, the momentum was gone. Gone to James Hunt who ended the season with four wins from the final seven races while the gruesomely injured Lauda could only manage a meagre seven points. Don’t get me wrong here, they were seven extraordinarily bravely earned points, especially the fourth on return at Monza, but just seven points never the less. Arguments will probably rage as long as the sport exists whether it was braver to race on in the appalling conditions in Japan that year or it was braver to risk being branded cowardly for pulling out of the race. Me, I think it took more guts to pull out, especially so in Lauda’s case as he was still the championship leader at the time he made the decision. Hunt continued on and finished third, enough to take the title by a single point. Momentum.

   In 1981, despite a brief period of dominance for the Brabhams at Argentina and Imola while everyone else was catching up on their wheeze of having a hydraulically adjustable ride-height system which gave them full ground effects while everyone else was racing at the required height (more on this, and other dubious Brabham methods, some other day), the early season momentum was all with Carlos Reutemann in the Williams. He easily won the season opening South African Grand Prix, although that was later ruled not to count for the championship (again, more on this and other FISA/FOCA brawling on another day), finished second at Long Beach, won in Brazil, came second and third behind the dubious Brabhams in Argentina and Imola and won again in Belgium. When Williams switched back onto the returning Goodyear tyres prior to the French Grand Prix Carlos had 37 points. Piquet in the Brabham in contrast had just 22 points and 18 of them came in those two wins in Argentina and San Marino. From the French Grand Prix onwards Nelson would score 28 points to Carlos’s 12. It wasn’t that the Williams was suddenly a lot slower, Carlos took a superb pole for the final race at Las Vegas after all, he just didn’t enjoy the feel of the Goodyears as much as he had the Michelins and the momentum was gone. So was his championship, again by just one point. Unless South Africa had counted that is.

   OK 2005 was the year that Michelin whipped the floor with Bridgestone and Ferrari one just one race, the farce at Indianapolis. But previously no-one would have even considered passing Herr Schumacher on the outside of a corner, even in a superior car. You just didn’t do it. It was a one way path to instant retirement. Even on a fairly safe corner you didn’t do it. But around the outside of the fearsome 130R at Suzuka? What sort of lunatic would have that much of a death wish? King Fernando, that’s who. After being delayed early in the race due to an unfortunate, and incorrect, stewards decision that forced King Fernando to give a place back to Christian Klien twice the reigning champion and his heir apparent got embroiled in a fierce battle for fifth place. For lap after lap the German used every trick in his armoury to keep the Spaniard behind but on lap twenty the Renault pulled out of the Ferrari’s slipstream on the entrance to 130R. To the right. The outside. And he stayed there, sweeping by to the astonishment of all those that watched. Had they touched the consequences would have been horrific, but they didn’t. In hindsight, that is the moment that Michael Schumacher’s career lost it’s momentum.

   Ironically enough, the momentum swing this year also involves King Fernando. At the time it just seemed like a blip as all his rivals were still struggling with consistency and taking vital points away from each other, but now, Stuka Grosjean’s aerial assault at Spa was where Fernando lost his mojo. Until then, even in the third best car, King Fernando could do no wrong. He maximised every weekend, and in a topsy-turvy season had been the first guy to score two wins, and then three. But since then he has scored just three third places and retired in Japan as well. Things are just not going his way as they were a couple of months ago. Meanwhile over at Red Rags, the momentum is all with the young master Vettel who in those same five races has won three times and finished second once. The first guy this year to score two wins in a row. And then three. And the championship lead…….

   While this was going on on the track, a similar pattern was playing out off it. Early in the season Michael Schumacher had all the momentum needed to continue with Mercedes. His great qualifying lap at Monaco and his podium finish at Valencia had him on the verge of resigning for at least another year. But by Belgium his dithering was beginning to wear on the Mercedes management and their discussions with The Hoon became ever more serious. It quickly became a situation from which Schumacher would not recover and shortly after the Singapore Grand Prix, where Hamilton’s McLaren had broken down while in the lead, and Schumacher contrived to have an amateurish crash with Jean-Eric Vergne, it was announced that the Hoon would become a Mercedes driver at Michael’s expense from 2013. Another fulcrum had arrived and in just a few days it was announced that Sergio Perez was joining McLaren, Felipe Massa was staying at Ferrari and Raikkonen and Grosjean would be staying at Lotus. After months of speculation all the top seats were sorted within a week. And Schumacher was left standing when the music stopped. So he will retire at the end of the season. Again. His comeback dreams unfulfilled as they were probably always destined to be. After all, his momentum departed at 130R in 2005.

   So with four races the momentum has swung away from King Fernando to Sebastian Vettel. Will it swing again? One more fulcrum? In this season, who knows, there just may be a sting in the tail.

Sam Snape 

21/10/2012 

F1 Ð A WEEK IS A LONG TIME INÉÉÉÉ.

  Politics – certainly gets a mention. Hospital – too damned right. The shower – something not quite right there. A bath-tub full of spiders – Ooooeeee. Formula One? – Very much so. After five very long weeks, the two most evocative races of the year are within seven short days of each other. In those seven days we went from the majesty of Spa Francorchamps to the flat out blast through the Royal Park at Monza., King Fernando’s championship lead went from 40 points, to 24 and then to 37. The Hoon went from 4th in the title chase, to 5th and then to 2nd. Romain Grosjean went from being a Grand Prix driver to being a spectator. Jerome D’Ambrosio went from being a discard to a Grand Prix driver and will go back to being a spectator. And of course the silly season rumour mill ran riot with the Hoon quitting McLaren for Mercedes. Not quitting McLaren for Mercedes. Possibly quitting McLaren – err you get the picture. Nico Hulkenberg joining Ferrari. Sergio Perez joining Ferrari, but only after coming second at Monza. Sebastian Vettel joining Ferrari, just not next year. The Hoon joining Ferrari, Raikkonen joining Ferrari, Felipe Massa staying at Ferrari. Anyone who has a good race is joining Ferrari. Seems as if there will an awful lot of Ferraris next year.

 {mosimage}

 

  Mario Andretti coming out of retirement to drive for Ferrari? Has about the same amount of credibility as some of these stories. One thing we do know, Mark Webber will not be joining Ferrari next year. Let’s try to make some sense of all of this shall we? Vettel will not be joining Ferrari next year but may well be in 2014 when his current contract expires. Ferrari has made no secret that they would like to pair Alonso and Vettel and if the wunderkind was to make the move, 2014 would be logical. With the new engine rules coming in then most drivers are probably thinking that the best seat would be for one of the “factory” teams. I.e., teams that are not just constructors but engine manufacturers as well. That makes Ferrari and Mercedes the hottest seats in town as Renault and Cosworth are now only engine suppliers to their customer teams. So of all the other drivers linked to Ferrari, who would want to go there for just one year if Vettel is joining in 2014?

    Probably not many, and certainly not anyone who is already in the top echelon. So almost immediately The Hoon and Kimi can be ruled out. Not the least because The Hoon and King Fernando didn’t exactly hit it off last time they were paired and Kimi probably hasn’t forgotten being unceremoniously sacked by the boys in red in 2009. Perez is in the frame but, a) Ferrari have stated they would like him to have a little more experience before taking him on, b) if it’s only going to be for a year he may be better served by cementing his reputation at Sauber before examining his options at the end of next year and, c) a single season as very much Alonso’s number two could easily ruin his career momentum. Hulkenberg? Even if it was only for one season he would probably see it as a great opportunity to impress and be in line for a really top drive in 2014, but…See Ferrari’s thoughts about Perez’s experience. So probably, despite all the noise, Felipe Massa will stay one more year while the Vettel possibility gets sorted out and Ferrari will decide on their long term driver options at the end of next year. Oh well…

   The Mercedes situation is equally murky. How badly do they want the Hoon? Is Schumacher thinking of quitting again? For good? Or is Ross Brawn going to give him the tap on the shoulder? Would they give Nico the flicko and pair The Hoon and the aging Schumacher? Just how hard is the Hoon really thinking of making the move? If Lewis is going to leave the team he has grown up with, now would be the best time to do it and Mercedes would be the logical team to go to. Even if they don’t come up with a winning car next year he would have had a full season with his crew and be fully integrated into one of the “factory” teams when the new engines arrive. He may see that as a better long term option than staying with what will be a “customer” team at McLaren. Then again, he may decide to stay with McLaren, but what then if Schumacher decides to go? Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg are the obvious choices to move up and join Rosberg, but that would make for a rather unproven line up as Rosberg hasn’t convinced everyone just yet. Perhaps Mercedes would also go for a proven quantity and try to lure Button back? Or Raikkonen? Now I’m speculating - see where this leads you… 

  Meanwhile there were two excellent races for McLaren. Button dominated at Spa as did Lewis at Monza. It is a pity then that Button failed to finish at Monza as did Lewis at Spa. Jenson was imperious at Spa taking pole easily and leading every lap to score his long awaited second win of the year. After hints of team orders to support The Hoon, this moved him to back into championship contention and to within just 16 points of his team-mate but then, just seven days later his fuel pick-up system cried enough and he silently ghosted out of a comfortable second place and back out of championship contention. The Hoon meanwhile, was vigorously assaulted by the errant Grosjean even before the first corner at Spa but then dominated the entire weekend at Monza to leap into second place in the championship with his third win of the year.

 

 

{mosimage}

    King Fernando is currently the living proof that you can’t just be good, you also have to be very lucky in this game. He is probably lucky to still be living after being spammed from above by a re-entering satellite…errr..Lotus at Spa but also fortunate that in this season of super reliability, although he didn’t get around the first corner, none of his competitors scored in both of these races either and despite finishing just third at Monza his 40 point championship lead has decreased by just three points. The Red Rags were underwhelming at these two bastions of top speeds, as were all the Renault powered cars, and were more than 10 kph down through the speed traps at both races. It was possibly fortunate that Webber received a five place grid penalty for a gearbox change at Spa, relegating him to 12th on the grid as had he started where he qualified, in seventh place it would probably have been him that Grosjean first ploughed into, not The Hoon. He needed to do better than sixth place and eight points on a weekend where King Fernando didn’t finish. Vettel had a stronger race and came home both second on the track and in the championship. Then both failed to bother the scorers at Monza. Vettel had another alternator failure while Mark had again made it up to sixth after a disappointing qualifying before looping it at Ascari and then retiring with totally rooted tyres.

   It’s highly possible that Sergio Perez could have collected a couple of podiums had he also not been dive-bombed by Grosjean at Spa. His drive to second place at Monza was sublime and he was the only non-McLaren driver to lead a lap in these seven days. Perhaps if he had pitted a couple of laps earlier at Monza there may have been another different winner for the year as he was just over four seconds behind and was closing rapidly on The Hoon when the flag fell. While most of the spotlight may have been on Romain “Stuka” Grosjean at Spa it was the other Lotus quietly getting the job done. Kimi has always been mega at Spa and this year was no different. As with the Red Rags the Renault powered Lotus was not near the top of the speed trap times but Kimi silenced any doubters with his drive to third which included a Webber-like, giant testicles of the year award winning, pass around the outside of Schumacher’s Mercedes at Eau Rouge. He followed that up with a good as could have been expected fifth place at Monza and has slipped, almost un-noticed into third place in the title race, just one point behind The Hoon.

   Mention too should go to Felipe Massa who is slowly getting back to some sort of form with fifth place at Spa and a season best forth place at Monza after starting from third on the grid. If he keeps this up Ferrari may not need to make a decision after all. Also bagging a fourth place finish, the best of his career so far, was Nico Hulkenberg who benefited most from the carnage at Spa. That benefit aside this was a fine drive staying with the second group throughout and finishing just a couple of seconds behind Raikkonen was no mean feat. At the other end of the pack it was also nice to see Narain Karthikeyan finally get one up on Pedro de la Rosa in their qualifying battle at Monza. When you drive the second HRT and all you are ever fighting for is not to be last on the grid it’s these little things that matter. Enjoy the moment Narain.

 For full results go to;

 http://www.mmmsport.com.au/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=148&dir=ASC&order=name&limit=5&limitstart=15 

 Sam Snape

  12/09/2012