There is an old saying that goes you should never meet your heroes, they only disappoint you. This is often especially true of sporting heroes. Most of them have to be fairly ruthless to reach the top and even those that aren't begin to believe their own publicity and this can make for a pretty unlikable individual.

 That photo - Goodowood 2004

  There are those that, although successful, never quite make the very top of the pile, men such as Elio de Angelis or Riccardo Patrese, who are heroes to more thinking fans who prefer more rounded personalities than the uber-successful and they rearly disappoint when you meet them but truly likable champions are a bit thin on the ground.


  I have been fortunate to have met a few that are the exceptions to the rule, even, you could say the exceptions that prove the rule. Phil Hill and Emerson Fittipaldi spring to mind. Included in that few was Jack Brabham. His accomplishments and championships will be known to anyone who reads this and do not really need endless repeating. I would rather speak more of the man than the myth.


  I first met Jack at Fred Vogel's motoring bookshop in Sydney back in 2004 when Fred asked me to photograph the launch of Jack's biography (The Jack Brabham Story written by Doug Nye) and what initially struck me was how, well humble is close but not quite the right word, but lacking in an overblown sense of self importance, he was. Although he was not shy about speaking about his own achievements - it would have been a pretty boring book launch if he was, he seemed happier talking about the progress of his sons and the contribution of Ron Tauranac to his own success. I might have been happier at the time if Fred hadn't introduced me as "the official pornographer" but such was Jack's mischevious sense of humour that that is how he refered to me on the few other occassions we met.

 Jack with Ron Tauranac (L) at his book launch

  Another measure of the man came early the following year when I produced a calendar containing photos taken at the 2004 Goodwood Revival. The cover was a shot of Jack in a BT19 which he was quite taken by. As a courtesy I had sent Jack a copy. I wasn't expecting any response but thought at best I might get some acknowledgement from a secretary or someone else on his behalf. What I wasn't expecting was the guy on the other end of the phone to say "Hi Sam, it's Jack Brabham calling to thank you…" And this was before, during about a ten minute chat, he figured out I was "Fred's pornographer". You can't imagine many of the more modern champions taking the time to personally call and thank someone for receiving something so mundane as a photo in a calendar, even if he did like it. The gratitude and respect he showed us lesser mortals, from everyday fans, to writers, photographers and competitors was what made Sir Jack Brabham stand out from the pack.


  Australia and the motor racing world has lost a true sporting hero who was more than worthy of that title.


  Jack, "Fred's pornographer" salutes you.


Sam Snape


May 24 2014

GOING Ooooooooooooo


   Many years ago when sex was safe and motor racing was dangerous, a band called Blue Oyster Cult released a song that was sort of about the horrors of reincarnation. No, no, no not Godzilla but Joan Crawford (Has Risen from the Grave). And now we have the Formula 1 version.  The whining noise that could be heard reverberating off the hotel walls around the beautiful harbour setting that is Monaco, drowning out the quiet new generation engines - sorry - power units, was not the turbos spinning up. Not the ERS systems storing up all that nice green electricity. No folks - gasp - oh the humanity - Nigel Mansell has risen from the grave…………

   Just give Hamilton a bristling mustache and it would be tricky to tell the difference. Ooooo Nico had a posh upbringing…..Oooooo Nico cheated in qualifying…….Ooooo Nico errr -  the team wouldn't let me pit………….Oooooo My eye hurts…………..Ooooo must have been one of those bristling mustache hairs getting in  my eye….Oooooo Nico isn't my friend anymore……….Ooooo my cars made out of plasticine……….Ooooo my team has put me on the wrong strategy…..Oooooo my legs fell off.  Etc etc. Can't wait for him to fall out of the car and collapse in apparent exhaustion after overcoming all those impossible odds that all of the creatures in the universe have strewn in his path.

   Seriously, does the New Nige really expect us to believe that Nico cheated? He's seen the data …. well so did the stewards and they didn't come to the same conclusion. If he has other evidence he should take it to the FIA, if not he should just shut the fuck up and get on with what he is paid to do. Would the New Nige be whining if Nico had made that error while Hamilton was at the top of the time-sheets? No of course not. The New Nige just has to face the fact that Nico was simply faster than him on the day and get over it because the more he whines the more Rosberg will know he is getting under his skin and winning the mind war.

   Just like last year Rosberg was in imperious form at Monaco where he overcame his team-mate's slightly superior natural speed with his own slightly superior racing nous. Much like an aging Lauda versus a faster Prost or an older Prost versus a faster Senna a cerebral approach and superior ability to set up a car can make up for a deficit in outright pace. Whether Nico can convert this into a championship win over the New Nige like Lauda and Prost did remains to be seen but so far he is putting a very good challenge together. And as with Lauda and Prost, Nico and New Nige's team is letting them get on with it to win or lose the title on the track. We may not get too many different winners this year but I don't think we will get too many boring races.    

   Surprisingly just shutting up – at least in public – and getting on with it is mostly what Sebastian Vettel is doing as he attempts to deal with a situation that he really is not used to. He no longer has the fastest car and – for the moment at least – he is no longer the fastest driver in the team. As Mark Webber can attest, it is pretty damned difficult to out-qualify and out-race Vettel on a regular basis, even when he isn’t benefiting from a blown floor, but that is precisely what Smiley Dan is doing. Five – one in both qualifying and races with Vettel only edging him out at Sepang so far. Although Seb has been closer to Smiley Dan in the last couple of races, the young West Australian is riding a wave of confidence and is seemingly able to respond to anything that Vettel can come up with. It can’t last forever of course and one of these days Vettel will best his team-mate and it will be very interesting to see how the team dynamic plays out from that point on. Seb is also discovering just how much of a bitch life can be when Lady Luck is looking in another direction. Or perhaps we are still underestimating just how good Smiley Dan really is.

   Luck? Good management? A liberal dose of both saw minnows Marussia claim their first points with Bianchi finishing in ninth place at Monaco and leap ahead of Sauber in the championship standings. Both Sauber drivers assisted this situation by crashing out of the race, indeed when Gutierrez dropped it at La Rascasse it promoted Bianchi into the points. Sure there were plenty of retirements to boost the Maurssia up the leader-board but their race pace was reasonable and Bianchi finished ahead of Grosjean’s Lotus on merit. The five second penalty for serving a previous stop and go penalty during a safety car period was all that dropped him behind in the final classification. Unless Caterham, who finished with a best result so far of 11th, can snatch a few fortunate points somewhere this season then this result will be worth around thirty to forty million dollars when the prize fund is divvied up come Christmas time. A bloody good little earner indeed. I don’t hear them going Oooooooooooo…………….

Sam Snape







  It’s been a while since I was able to get from my side of the world to the wonders of a Goodwood race meeting although I love the Revival it was almost the huge crowds as much as my finances or the ruined knee that kept me away. So when the good Lord announced a members only meeting I was instantly salivating – Pavlov pooch style. Not only was there the prospect of an uncrowded Revival type meeting but also the chance to see some of the first F1 cars I ever saw in action, those insane Group B rally cars and some of the sexiest Le Mans sports cars ever built. Hook, Line and sinker………..

Glorious Porsche 917 LH












  There was some disquiet over the Northern winter as huge storms lashed the South of England leaving huge swathes of it flooded and I wondered if the meeting, set down for the early part of spring, would be either very, very wet or even take place at all. I know I shouldn’t have worried as Lord March again laid on some stunning early spring weather along with the usual incredible racing spectacular. His concept seems to be, be exceptionally professional but not to take anything too seriously. Goodwood race meetings are about not only providing brilliant racing but having as much fun as possible, sometimes in the silliest way possible. Even having the local hunt anf their hounds open the track on Saturday morning. The dogs enjoyed it as much as the crowd.




  All members were allocated to “houses” so they could join the drivers in some form of competition throughout the weekend so if you were not racing you could earn points by showing your skill on the skid-pan towing boats or caravans (almost serious), Martini mixing (Silly and I pity the judge) or welly whanging (VERY silly – England’s version of thong throwing) or any number of weird and wonderful events.


 The hunt opened the track on Saturday


  After the racing on the Saturday evening a short carnival was put on in the infield with everything from rides and dancing to oompah bands playing AC/DC (again VERY silly but bloody good fun) and ending with a spectacular fireworks display.







  The non-racing motoring highlights were the demonstrations of those brutal 1980s turbocharged F1 monsters and the Low-drag Le Mans Sportscars. Some of the advertised starters were a no-show but that didn’t detract from the display. Niki Lauda’s 1984 championship winning McLaren MP4/2, several of Senna’s Lotus’s and Tolemans, some very rare Arrows A9s and the very pretty Alfa Romeo 183T decked out in the Benetton livery that it ran in during pre-season testing in 1984.


 The ex-Niki Lauda McLaren MP4/2










  And the Le Mans sportscars. Well who could ever go past a Martini liveried Porsche 917 without drooling. Or a martini Liveried Lancia LC2 for that matter. Or hear the wail of a Matra V12 without getting an erection? Oh God…………Let alone a Rothmans Porsche 956 or a Rondeau or an Aston Martin or a Ferrari 512 or………..you get the idea.




  Also we were treated to a Rally sprint for those loonie Group B cars that made heroes of such legends as Ari Vatanen, Marku Alen, Walter Rohrl and Henri Toivonen etc. The Audi Quattro Sports Evo 2, Lancia 037s and Delta S4s, a Renault 5 Maxi Turbo, a Peugeot 205 T16 Evo 2, a pair of Ford RS200s and a brace of MG Metro GR4s. Single lap sprints were just not enough. More please next time.


 Walter Rohrl's Audi Quattro











  And of course there was the racing. Ahhhh the racing. Saturdays delights were rounded out by the first of the Gerry Marshall Trophy races for 1970’s to early 80’s touring cars which featured a stunning drive from the back of the field to second place by ex-F1 star Emanuele Pirro in a Ford Capri and then a Formula Junior race dominated by the squabbling U2s of Will Mitcham and ray Mallock. Finally there was the Stirling Moss Trophy for late 50’s-early 60’s sportscars that ran into the evening darkness which saw Wolfgang Friedrichs/Simon Hadfield’s Aston Martin DB4 GT edge out the unique Lotus 11 GT “Breadvan” of Joe Twyman and Oliver Bryant by just over half a second after an hour of intensely close racing.




  Sundays fare began with the Tony Gaze Trophy for 1950’s production sports and GT cars which was taken out by Andy Shepherd in an AC Ace after a late “off” by Max Girado in his Ferrari 250 GT and contained not only numerous Astons and Jags but the unique Bentley R-Type “Gooda” Special. Next up was the Sears Trophy which saw the continuation of the period battle between the older, larger and more powerful cars such as the Mark 2 Jaguars and the more nimble Ford Cortinas and Minis. No real surprise, with the élan that they were driven, that it was a Mini in the hands of Nick Swift who took the flag from the Cortina of Neil Brown. The Clark-Stewart Cup was an interesting time capsule where the race, as often in period, was a mix of F1,2 and 3 machinery and it was not a pukka F1 car that won, it was the Cooper T71/73 with it’s 4 cylinder Ford engine that claimed victory for Sam Wilson, almost 20 seconds to the good from the Lotus 24 BRM of Paul Drayson.

Andrew Beaumont in a Lotus 24



  For many the highlight was the Grover-Williams Trophy which saw the largest gathering of pre-war Bugattis since God alone knows when with 25 of the beautiful little beasties taking the start. but the race descended into a very easy win for Charles Knill-Jones in a T35B once the much bigger T59/50 of Gunther Krumpl pulled out with low fuel pressure. It was hard to know if it was the thundering sound of the winning Kurtis 500S of Geraint Owen or the lovely Mercedes 300SL Gullwing (lent out by the Mercedes Museum) driven with his usual panache by Jochen Mass was the best bit of the Peter Collins Trophy but I’ll go with the Merc – just.


 The thundering Chevy Camaro almost won


  The second Gerry Marshall Trophy race should have been an easy win to the Chevrolet Camaro Z28 of Stuart Graham and Nigel Garrett however a stuff-up over the timing of the mandatory pitstop which meant a drive through penalty and saw the Rover 3500 SDI of Chris Ward and Andrew Smith again hold out the Ford Capri of Emanuele Pirro and John Young by just over a second.


 Who could resist a Ford GT40 squabble?




My personal favourite was the Surtees Trophy for the “big banger” sports prototypes of the mid sixties with a brace of Ford GT40s battling it out with the Lola T70s and early McLarens. Eventually the McLaren M1B Chevy of Chris Goodwin took the honours from Jon Minshaw’s Lola T70 Spyder in what can only be described as the best aural experience short of a Formula 5000 race. The Brabham Trophy may have been won by Gary Pearson’s BRM P25 after Roger Wills Cooper T51 broke it’s transmission on the final lap but it was the sublime Maserati 250Fs duelling away that was a sight to behold. There were no fewer than six of the type in the race although unfortunately the V12 version did not take the start. And finally the Salvadori Cup saw the usual titanic tussle between the Listers, Lotus’s, D Type Jags, Ferrari Testarossas and Maserati Birdcages before finally Andrew Smith in a Lister Knobbly Chevrolet took the weekends last victory.


 Or that of Maserati 250Fs?


  Another triumph for the organisers from the GRRC which I am sure will build as big a reputation in time as the Revival meeting and the Festival of Speed and give Lord March and his gang the three most prestigious historic race meetings in the world each year. Once the word gets out just how good a weekend this was I can’t see this years slow ticket sales being repeated. It’s possibly a pity as that means the crowds will get bigger and the ease of movement and access created by the smaller crowd was one of the reasons I will be more likely to go all the way back to another Members Meeting than the Revival in the future.




  Goodwood on a sunny day – just bliss.


 Bentley Type-R Gooda Special










The start of the Grover-Williams Trophy












Ferrari 246S Dino












Spectacular dusk racing with the Lotus 11 Breadvan













Jochen Mass in the Mercedes 300SL Gullwing












Sam Snape








  Well here we are three races into the new season and what are the headlines about? The super form of Mercedes Grand Prix? The quality of the racing throughout the field as drivers struggle to tame the excess of power from the new generation of turbo engines? That Daniel Ricciardo has generally been on top at Red Bull over Vettel? The aesthetics of the mandrils ar…err…nose cones or the stupidity of the double points rule for the final race? No, none of the above. But because Bernie wants to back up his mate Ron Walker, who is really about the only one who has complained, all we hear about is the supposed lack of noise from the current F1 engines. Here’s a tip guys. You put a turbo on an engine it IS going to be quieter because the exhaust gasses are now doing something useful instead of just blasting out into the atmosphere. Here’s another tip, as most of the viewers of F1 watch it on TV, they don’t actually care that the sound has dropped by 10-15 decibels. And when a single engine is punching out about 110 decibels and there are 22 of them it is still plenty loud if you are at the track.


 Hamilton and Rosberg battle for the lead in Bahrain


  Personally I enjoy being able to tell one engine from another just from the sound again. You haven’t been able to do that since everyone had to go down the V10 route all those years ago. I recall back in ‘95 at Adelaide turning up on the Friday morning a little late and the morning practice had just begun. There was a chap just standing in the middle of the infield park, with his eyes closed, just listening to the glorious sound of the Ferrari V12. Not just that it sounded so much better than the V10s of Renault and Mercedes et al but we all sadly knew we would never hear its like again. And it sounded different. Then they all became V10s. And then V8s. And they all sounded like over-amplified Japanese buzz-boxes, all the same. Loud – yes, but boring as hell. A few years ago I almost went to sleep during one Australian Grand Prix. The sound was (again) loud but boring. The racing was processional and boring. There was no chance that anyone was going to retire from a mechanical failure (with the revs capped the V8s were just about bullet proof) and as the drivers were just circulating with little hope of passing they weren’t really pushing so there was bugger all chance of any of them making a mistake. From memory all but two finished and pretty much in the order they started. Snooooooooore….




  And now here we are in a brave new world where these power units (it’s not just the engine any more) are pumping out more grunt, especially out of the corners, than the grip available so the cars are stepping out at every opportunity. The drivers are struggling to control the cars once again. Those who have a more sensitive backside, more instinctive car control, are showing their genius. You can tell from the sound one engine from another. Engine power has once again become a performance differentiator (which they bloody well should be – F1 is NOT a spec series) and with the cars no longer running on rails you can actually get passing on the track (Yes - even at Albert Park) without the dangerous situation that Pirelli was put in last year with their “designed to degrade” tyres. OK so far no-one has gotten near the Sliver Slings but even they are putting on a good show, and think about it, just how many cars did Valtteri Bottas pass at Albert Park? He alone probably put on more overtaking moves in one race than in the all the Grand Prixs held at that venue. F1 is alive again. Exciting, unpredictable (except for the Mercs but not even they will finish all the time) Visually spectacular – imagine the fun if it is wet at Monaco - and still pretty loud. Bernie – don’t sweat the small shit…




  I said before the season that Mercedes were quietly ominous, not so quietly anymore is it? Three from three and barring a $1 rubber spark plug cover it would have been three 1-2s from three. But while on the surface of it that may seem dull their two drivers, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton have been at it like alley cats. I will need to watch it again to tell just how many times Rosberg got past Hamilton in Bahrain only to run a touch wide and have the Brit steal the lead back. Despite having the team boss come over the radio to tell both to “bring the car home” they continued to battle it out with some of the most thrilling side by side racing seen in many years. And not just for the spectators, the excitement and adrenalin was clearly still bubbling away in the drivers as they talked it over and joked around before the podium ceremony. It was also good to see the public backing both got from Mercedes manager, Niki Lauda, for racing so hard. Let us hope that it continues but maybe not until the final race. It would be a horrible shame if the title was decided by one or the other picking up more points in that race than would be awarded elsewhere.


 Riccardo was briefly a podium place getter in Australia


  The pick of the rest so far is still Red Bull. When they are finishing or not being disqualified that is. And a pleasant surprise is just how much Vettel is struggling with his new team-mate. Only in Malaysia has the reigning champion gotten the better of Ricciardo and he had no answer to the young Aussie’s pace at either Albert Park or Bahrain. The appeal for Ricciardo’s disqualification in Australia will be heard on Monday and Red Bull are confident that they will have his second place restored. Ricciardo was excluded after the fuel-flow sensor on his car indicated that he had consistently breached the maximum 100kg/h fuel-flow limit. Red Bull argues, however, that the fuel-flow sensor was faulty and that it had no choice but to use its own data instead. Red Bull also claims that a technical directive issued by the FIA in early March outlining when teams would be allowed to base readings on their own data holds no regulatory value and therefore it fully complied with the regulations regarding fuel-flow limits. If they are successful it will put Ricciardo up into third place in the drivers standings with 30 points and Red Bull second in the constructors standings with 53.




  Another pleasant surprise is that Force India are currently second in the constructors championship and on merit. Hulkenberg has been consistently scoring points while Sergio Perez must be glad McLaren sacked him as in Bahrain he picked up the team’s first podium since Giancarlo Fisichella’s second place at Spa in 2009. Just how many times did a Force India pass a Ferrari in Bahrain? There’s the beauty of an engine being a “performance differentiator” again. Using the Mercedes engine has allowed a relatively small team to battle with, and defeat the giants. But just having a Mercedes engine will not guarantee you top billing. McLaren, despite the podium places (one of which they may lose on Monday if Red Bull win their appeal) at Albert Park have been underwhelming since. Williams, despite the occasional flash of real pace have been in the lower half of the top ten finishers so far but are at least scoring regular points, which is a vast improvement over the last few years and hints of promise to come. A return to the top by Frank’s team would be welcomed by just about all, even by some of his opponents. And wouldn’t it be great to see those Martini stripes taking the chequered flag once more?

Those beautiful Martini stripes



  Those with Ferrari engines are struggling for straight line speed, including the red ones. Ferrari haven’t had a sniff of a podium yet while Sauber is not much further up the grid than Marussia. Ferrari’s horses just aren’t prancing at the moment and they have a lot of work to do. It may be early but I’m starting to think they can kiss this year goodbye already. Kimi, King Fernando and the tifosi must be hoping some Maranello magic is just around the corner. Renault seem to be overcoming their pre-season horrors and would appear to have the second best engine at the moment. Or perhaps just another piece of Adrian Newey genius is making it look so. In the hands of the Red Rag boys and to a lesser extent their Toro Rosso cousins they have at least been knocking on the outside gate with both Ricciardo and Vettel standing on a podium while Vergne and Kvyat have been pinching some early points. Lotus are only just getting to the point that their car will get to the finish of a race and with a best grid placing of 15th are yet to better that of perennial back-markers Caterham, who got Kobayashi to 14th on the grid at Albert Park. Team Enstone, like Ferrari, have a hell of a lot of work to do and it’s never nice to see names such as Ferrari and Lotus not near the top of the time sheets.




For full results go to;








Sam Snape












  Ah well, the pre-season testing is drawing to a close in sunny Bahrain where the weather is just a bit warmer than where most of the F1 workers hail from. I noticed it was a barmy 2 in London the other day. Some sort of order is appearing, which will please some but not others. Some that will not be happy are the true fans who have made it quite clear just what they think about this stupid double points issue and those, well unique, nose cones. Sometimes it’s hard to tell a F1 nose from a mandril’s arse.

 A Formula 1 nose cone

  Testing has suggested that if you have German power behind you, you will be at the pointy end, if you have Italian you will be in that sqidgy middle bit while the French are finding it all a bit hard at the moment. Even on the penultimate day of running Red Bull could not put in a single full lap with Herr Vettel spending three hours in the pits before coasting to a halt on his installation lap with electrical ”ishoos” and on his second attempt in the afternoon the Red Rag cried enough before it even got out of the pit lane. Ricciardo showed the car has basic pace with his time on Friday but they have still not managed a race simulation. Even Caterham and Marussia have done vastly more mileage than the reining champions.


  Meanwhile the Mercedes powered squads are jockeying amongst each other to be the pre-season champions. McLaren started quickly but have been not seemingly improving at the pace of its peers while Williams and |Force India have leapt to the front in the last couple of days. If that order is real then Sergio Perez, who set the best time on both Thursday and Friday, will not be able to get the grin off his dial for weeks. Massa and Bottas have both been rapid in the Williams while the Mercedes pair of Rosberg and Hamilton are just looking quietly ominous.


  In the Italian camp it’s hard to tell if the horse is prancing or limping as, although Kimi and King Fernando have been racking up decent mileage they have never been quite at the front. Not far back, but more than you would expect they would like. Marussia has surprised so far as the second best Ferrari powered car, again getting in some good distance and often even their times have been better than Sauber who are struggling with any number of problems, most often the new braking by wire set-up.

A Mandril's Arse?


  And the Renault boys… None of them have done a race run. Only Ricciardo has been able to put in a half way decent time as they are all having problems with the “power-unit”, mostly to do with overheating and power-recovery from the batteries. Caterham, quite possibly the most hideous of this years cars, has been the only one to be able to put some good mileage in, although as Kamui Kobayashi pointed out, they’d be better off bringing a GP2 car to Melbourne. Lotus struggle to get past 30-odd laps per day and are not showing any real pace while Toro Rosso are at best somewhere in the middle of times and laps and Sebastian Vettel has regularly been sitting at the bottom of the time-sheets because he has been regularly sitting on his bottom in the pits while the Red Rag boys try to find ways to cool the car.


  In other news from ‘round the traps Jacques Villeneuve (who will be joining Petter Solberg in the World Rally Cross championship) has been signed by Schmidt Peterson Motorsports to do the Indy 500 which will pit him against his old mate Juan Pablo Montoya who has rejoined the series with Penske and all those young whippersnappers like Dixon, Power and Briscoe. And dual Olympic gold medallist Alessandro Zanardi will be back behind the wheel this year in a modified BMW in the Blancpain GT championship. Best of British to the lot of them.


  And finally – speaking of British – when the Malaysian Grand Prix comes around you will need to wait for a bit for the results etc as I will be joining some other hardy folk at the 72nd Goodwood Members Meeting. Considering their weather at the moment perhaps I can win for the house in swimming, I am Australian after all and there is a lot of water lying about down around those parts. Snow too, according to the MET but it is supposed to get up to a barmy 8 or 9 degrees by the end of March. Just a bit down on the 30 odd here in Sydney. Maybe I won’t go swimming after all…..


Sam Snape