31 May 2014

Twenty six years on

The sight of the now Australian owned Porsche 962 racing at the recent Retro Speedfest prompted me to find in my archives a photo I took at Le Mans in 1988 which may be of the very same car or one ot its team mates.It is a small world

28 May 2014

Postcards from Hong Kong -part 2

If you live in Hong Kong you work,you shop and you eat.Eating can be at home or in anything from a Michelin starred French restaurant to a hole in the wall noodle take-away to a Chinese restaurant seating hundreds or even thousands.The Chinese eat quickly so there is a very rapid turnover in the big Chinese restaurants particularly at lunchtime.It can be like eating in a big railway station-all movement and noise.
Here are some photos of eating,food and food shopping in Hong Kong from my visit last month.No Michelin restaurants but some hole in the wall eating and some very in your face butchers.Don't you like pig's trotters? Not for me either but I do like warm egg custard tarts.
I really enjoy this sort of photography.Hong Kong has a unique atmosphere and even smell.Not as distinct as it was 40 years ago see Hong Kong -then and now but it is still there and these photos evoke that atmosphere and that smell for me.

27 May 2014

A Japanese Pale Ale in Hong Kong

I never thought that I would ever find myself drinking an Indian Pale Ale craft brewed in a Japanese microbrewery.But I did in a Japanese restaurant in Hong Kong and it was absolutely delicious.

25 May 2014

Not just the 919

The Porsche factory are seriously back into racing and Le Mans in particular.There was long drought spell probably down to having a CEO-Wiedeking- who did not believe in motor racing but since he has gone it's all on again.Mind you it's not surprising that Wiedeking did not like motor racing.His hobby is growing potatoes.Yes potatoes.Apparently he is an expert.I can't imagine a man who appreciates growing potatoes ever enjoying motor racing but each to his own.And with Wiedeking now long gone but still counting his termination payment the enthusiasts are back.

Last year a Porsche Team Manthey -- the works team for the GTE category-with the then new 991 GT3 RSR won the GTE Pro category and they are hoping to repeat that performance again in this year's race.The switch to the 991 which had been designed with input from the competition dept has also been a critical factor in the return to form.

During the works team's long absence it was down privateer teams to keep the Porsche flag flying at Le Mans. Overall they were succesful but for a few years leading upto last year's Le Mans comeback Ferraris and even Corvettes were leading Porsches home in the GT classes which was pretty distressing for Porsche fans.
2009 was one of those bad years.Pictured is the 997 GT3 RSR of IMSA Matmut Performance Racing.They finished way down in their class and 38th overall.They will be hoping to do a lot better in this year's race.A Canon G9 photo .

24 May 2014

Postcards from Hong Kong -part 1-

More photos from my recent China/Hong Kong trip -these from Hong Kong.As always I used my Leica X1.
Presumably younger Chinese go to gyms but first thing in the morning Hong Kong's few empty spaces and sad,worn out parks are full of older Chinese doing exercises and tai chi sometimes singly but usually in orchestrated groups.There is enormous pressure on facilities and as you can see from the photo of the swimming pool the lanes run across the pool so that presumably more swimmers can use the pool at the same session.
One of the main parks on Hong Kong Island ,Victoria Park, used to be a wonderful oasis of green.Now it is a sad space with worn out grass-mainly bare earth- and litter and corners annexed by flyovers and expressway ramps.Very sad to see particularly in a city where there is so much wealth.
To find colour in Hong Kong you have to look.Otherwise it can look uniformly grey.To live in Hong Kong it seems you have to love buildings and expressways because the parks are worn out and even the harbour has lost its lustre and is actually getting smaller as they reclaim land on both sides.

21 May 2014

On the rolling road again

I'm off travelling again.This time to Germany and Austria.Time for some fast driving and to see a few castles,some proper alps,hopefully some interesting museums and cars and to sink a few good beers.And of course take more photos.
I don't plan to blog on the road although I'll keep an open mind on that but in any case I have more than enough posts to pending to keep the blog running for at least the next three weeks without any new input from me.

20 May 2014

Staring out to sea

Although according to a local TV station the whale watching season starts in 11 days no one told the whales which have already started their migration north.Some were spotted in Sydney Harbour yesterday so I climbed up the Skillion at Terrigal this morning with my binoculars and scanned the flat ocean for 50 mins.Not a sign of a whale.I managed to capture on my iPhone the most exciting moment when a yacht sailed past.
Waiting for whales can be like waiting for a bus.Nothing for a long time then a few arrive at once.But as there are apparently very large numbers of whales migrating this year I am sure that in a few weeks I will see plenty of them.
An iPhone panorama photo and that is a join in the panorama not a step in the sea on the horizon.I should not whinge.Twelve years ago I spent $85 on some clunky panorama stitching software for my PC.Now even my phone takes and stitches panoramas.

19 May 2014

Indian summer

The east coast of Australia is having some extraordinary weather at a time when we should be transitioning into winter.It's the warmest May on record.Here in Terrigal we have had daytime temperatures of 23ºC to 28ºC for over a week and the sky has been clear with just some early morning wisps of cloud giving us some beautiful sunrises.
Everyone's watching that beautiful sunrise .
Some had front row seats.I don't know how their fishing went but at least they caught the sunrise.

18 May 2014

A rare Mini?

I went to a local car show at The Entrance today.Pretty standard "meat and two veg" cars on show except for one possible gem-a Broadspeed Mini GT or a very good replica of a Broadspeed Mini GT.
The Mini GT was a cut down coupe version of the Mini Cooper made by Ralph Broad's Broadspeed Engineeering in the UK in 1966-67.Not many were made -it was expensive and really rather pointless.Broadspeed went on to bigger and better things in the world of motorsport leaving the Mini GT as a curiosity.
I can't tell if this car is the real thing.If it is it's nicely restored.And if it is a replica-which I rather suspect it is-it is an excellent piece of work.

17 May 2014

Coming soon -Le Mans 2014

It's now only a few weeks to the 2014 Le Mans 24 hour race and Porsche's hopefully glorious return to the front runners.The new 919 hybrid LMP1 car has had two races so far.It made a strong debut in front of a huge crowd in the Silverstone 6 hours and came third behind two Toyotas-good for the first race although the car has lots of kms of testing under its tyres.It did not do so well at the Spa 6 hours two weeks ago finishing fourth behind two Toyotas and the second placed Audi.But Le Mans is the acid test.Expectations are high.
 I cannot make the 24 hour race however I am going to the Le Mans Classic in July-which is a sort of second prize but in some ways probably more enjoyable and certainly less hectic.The spectator numbers at the 24 hour race are going to be huge and they will put the facilities both on and off the circuit under a lot of pressure.
I have been thinking that it would be great to buy a fancy new all singing and all dancing camera/lens combination to take some great action shots at the Classic and then I dug out a few I took at the 2012 meeting and decided to put such thoughts behind me and stick with what I have.
The two photos below were taken with my now vintage Canon G9 using a Canon 1.5x teleconverter.

14 May 2014

The obsessed phone users of Hong Kong

Most major cities in the world now have their zombie phone users walking the streets tapping and scrolling their smartphones.But surely the most extreme phone zombie city has to be Hong Kong where it seems as if 90% of the residents are obsessed with their mobiles.Everywhere on the streets,on trams,in restaurants and on the subway mobile users are tapping and scrolling.
There are continuous announcements on the MTR subway urging phone users to look up from their phones and hold the handrail whilst using the escalators.It's just as well that car ownership is so limited in Hong Kong otherwise traffic accidents from mobile use would be everywhere.I have never seen anything like it.It is verging on the bizarre.
Many of the phones are big screen Samsungs.From observation and the number of shops selling Samsung about 90% of the phones in Hong Kong and China must be Samsung.Apple is definetely playing second fiddle..
Some photos of Hong Kong phoners taken last month.Leica X1.

13 May 2014

"Teach your children well........"

Groan -photos of children on The Rolling Road? Well they are Porsche photos.Grandson Otto getting a handle on this Porsche business.Just as well he can't reach the pedals yet but he's getting the hang of the controls of a 911 and well on the way to telling a 917 from a 928 and a 911.

10 May 2014

A pie and car talk

Last Wednesday another VSCC lunchtime gathering of interesting cars and their often eccentric owners at the Pie in the Sky cafe at Cowan on the Old Pacific Highway north of Sydney with a group of Porsche classics ( drivers and cars that is) at the same venue for some pies and a few coffees and car talk.
A pretty rare car in Australia,indeed anywhere,is the Fiat Abarth 750 which turned up.It is based in Fiat running gear and is a very simple structure - more like a coachbuilt bathtub-with two tiny bucket seats and no seat belts.Apparently it is surprisingly quick but rather him than me in Sydney traffic.
I followed one of the early 1923 Vauxhalls (pictured) on the Old Pacific Highway on the way down and he really was not hanging about on what is a pretty demanding road.The back end was hopping about on the bumps and I could see the very narrow tyres just hanging on in the fast corners.He really believed in keeping up his momentum but probably that is because the brakes are pretty ineffective.It was great to see an old car being driven so briskly.
David Nicholls was there in his Porsche 550 replica and I followed him on the way back down one of the best sections of the old highway to Brooklyn imagining that I was in hot pursuit of a works 550 on the Targa Florio-see last two photos.I am usually not enthusiastic about replicas but David's is a good one with Porsche running gear.
I have photographed this gathering a few months ago and posted a story and a series of black and white photos but I have come around to  thinking that maybe the black and white fashion is well and truly overdone so this one is back in colour.All Leica X1 jpegs.

9 May 2014

There is no substitute for cubic inches

Forget your wimpy hybrids and your four cylinder turbocharged euro economy boxes and your three cylinder diesels.Forget even your AMG 630 and your muscle cars -this is what serious cubic inches looks like.

A 1923 Delage CO2 fitted with an 18.5 litre (yes eighteen and a half litre) World War 1 Hispano Suiza aircraft engine.Enough torque to compete in a tractor pull.A friend has recently acquired it.I cannot wait to see it in the metal.A car from a different time when big cars were really big .