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So...Next...? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Colin Brassington (aka Brash)   
Monday, 17 November 2014 18:46

So it's been a while since I've written anything here. (Well duh, I hear you retort) That hasn't been by design, but for a while I really did think I was just over cars.

As sad as that sounds, I have just about run out of patience. The Datsun still isn't running properly, and has now been to a succession of mechanics who have either got individual ideas as to what the problem is (but rectifying each of these hasn't solved anything) or have openly come out and said 'I can give you a list of things it's not...but not what the actual problem is...' In fact one such mechanic (who came highly recommended) had the car for over 3 weeks and couldn't come up with a solution.

Satria GTi PortRiver

Other than that I've been spending a lot of time working on my house, getting it ready for rent and spending a lot of time with the girlfriend. I imagine that neither subject is particularly interesting if you're reading this.

Tony Stewart and the Failure of Mainstream Media PDF Print E-mail
Written by Colin Brassington (aka Brash)   
Tuesday, 30 September 2014 11:39

Tony.Stewart14I wasn’t going to write anything about this, but it’s a long time since I have been suitably wound up by something that I simply must put fingers to keyboard and post something about it.

I don’t think there is anybody who has not heard about the incident in early August involving NASCAR racer Tony Stewart and his hitting (and the subsequent death) of Sprint Car racer Kevin Ward Jr. Watching the mainstream media outlets discuss an incident they had no idea about has been bordering on painful. But what made matters worse though, was that the fate of Tony Stewart was left to a Grand Jury. If the Grand Jury felt it necessary, then Stewart would have faced criminal charges over the incident. The ridiculousness of this is that the Grand Jury was not made up of a panel of racing experts, or even people with experience in Sprint Car racing. No, it was a normal Grand Jury consisting of regular people plucked from the local community.

Recapping, in an Empire Super Sprints race on Saturday August 9 at Canadaigua Motorsports Park near Rochester, New York Kevin Ward Jr, 20, was involved in an on-track incident. Heading into Turn 2, he and Tony Stewart, 43, collided, and Ward’s car hit the outside retaining wall and stopped. The yellow flag came out and the field slowed. When Ward got out of his broken race car, he was hit by Stewart, and later died of injuries sustained. There is video on the web, but I won’t link it. In my opinion it should not have been aired publically, and in all seriousness it has done nothing for the case of either driver.

Now, this incident gained media coverage all over the world; but like many motorsport incidents the journalism was poor, ill-informed and in many cases just plain wrong. The media sensationalised this story to a point where both Stewart and Ward Jr’s names were dragged through the dirt in a way that is simply unacceptable. The amount of misinformation being posted to news websites was huge. Some barely stopped short of calling Stewart a murderer, others placed 100% blame on Ward. There was also one story that said the tragedy had taken place on a “NASCAR track” in a “funny car”. But the less said about that the better - with that level of research ability, I’m surprised some of these people can spell their own names right.

Initial reports also stated that both drivers were inexperienced in Sprint Cars. This is also untrue. Stewart, who is known primarily as the driver of the #14 Chevrolet SS NASCAR recently returned to Sprint Cars, even winning a race in the SOD series at Tri-City Motor Speedway in July.

Some reports claim that Stewart “sped up” as he passed the scene of the incident, and many have used this as evidence to say that Stewart intentionally hit Ward. Now anybody who knows anything about Sprint Cars knows that they are not like a normal car. They are set up with staggered suspension and tyres. These cars, with their 600hp engines are steered just as much with the throttle as they are with the steering wheel. In fact anybody who has ever seen a Sprint Car race will have noticed that to turn the car left at race speeds, the steering wheel is turned to the right.

Another piece of information sadly lacking in this whole deal has been the outside vision (or lack thereof) from the driver’s seat. A winged Sprint Car has a large spill plate that comes down the right hand side of the car. The bottom edge of the wing is well below the driver’s eye level in this case, and that is before we take into account the complex roll cage structure or head and neck restraint which also place serious limitations to the amount of peripheral vision a driver has. Not to mention the driver is strapped into a seat that wraps around their whole body and head to keep it in place. It is entirely possibly that Stewart simply didn’t see Ward until the very last moment. Some have referenced Stewart’s past anger management issues. And this I cannot even fathom. Tony Stewart is a professional racing driver, and the idea that he would intentionally hit another driver is preposterous.

Some have said that Ward should not have got out of the car. Again, the stupidity is high with this comment. When a car crashes like that the possibility of fire is always high. And since Sprint Cars tend to run on methanol the risk of fire is bigger because when methanol burns, it does so with a clear flame. Out of the car was the safest place for Ward to be. He may have walked too far down the track, but what he did has been standard practice in dirt track and NASCAR racing for years. Perhaps the track could have been better lit, as the dim conditions and black fire suit certainly didn’t help the matter. But no one of these circumstances is to blame.

Unfortunately, in the fallout of this particular incident the Ontario Country District Attorney Michael Tantillo told of the possibility of charges being laid. The locals had submitted possible charges of second degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide. The fact that these charges even got as far as they did is very disturbing, and had the Grand Jury decided otherwise then a dangerous precedent would have been set. Authorities stated early in the investigation that there was no evidence of criminal behaviour by Stewart, but would not clear him until the Grand Jury said so.

The other piece of disturbing evidence that has come out recently is that Kevin Ward Jr was under the influence of marijuana the night of the incident, according to toxicology reports. This I take with a pinch of salt as marijuana often stays in the system for weeks after it has been consumed. Ward was also a professional racer and I seriously doubt that he would have been under the influence of any prohibited substances prior to getting to the track.

All of this goes to show the lack of procedure for dealing with this sort of thing in the mainstream. While a death at the race track is always a serious thing, there was no need for the local cops to make threats of criminal charges. In the end, the Grand Jury questioned nearly two-dozen witnesses and reviewed all of the evidence before stating that Stewart had no claim to answer. Should it have come to this?

I have maintained all along that this was simply a racing incident. Albeit a tragic one. A criminal investigation performed by people who don’t understand what they’re looking at was never going to end well. The result has (somewhat predictably I might add) angered the family of Kevin Ward Jr, who say they feel the justice system has let them down. This looks more like the American ideal of “somebody must pay” that introduced the world to no win-no fee legal firms and ambulance chasing lawyers than a grieving family; and it unfortunately portrays the family in a low light.

When a fight breaks out on a football field the league deals with it – no criminal charges are laid. A mate of mine who plays semi-professional level footy once told me why he got involved in a large on-field melee – that bloke smacked Jars…one in, all in. I’m not excusing his behaviour, but while if this happened in a pub they would all face criminal charges, on the field it is up to the league to handle it. And when somebody is killed on a football field, a basic investigation is carried out by the Coroner, in conjunction with league officials. So why is a death at a race track treated so differently? Why did this gain media attention all over the world, when far more serious incidents happen regularly and the mainstream media don’t seem tocare?

Unfortunately the answer is that it was Tony Stewart. Tony Stewart, the high profile NASCAR racer. Tony Stewart, the racer who people love to hate. Tony Stewart, the racer who has past anger management issues. Sadly, on any other night news of a tragic on-track incident at this facility would be lucky to make it out of the racing community. It possibly would have made it as far as local network news, but that is it. The unfortunate reality is that Tony Stewart became a victim of his own notoriety.

DragWeek...Uncensored... PDF Print E-mail
Written by Colin Brassington (aka Brash)   
Thursday, 25 September 2014 17:38

I know, I know. Another post where I simply point out something that I think is cool, and that I think you might also find kinda cool. I know that the updates have been a bit lax lately, but with work and travelling I haven't had the time to write anything meaningful. I'll have an epic story for you eventually, but I won't post it until it's finished, and that can't happen until the friggen Datsun is running again properly. At this point, I'm beginning to wonder if that thing will ever use ALL the boost ever again. In saying that though, there will be another From the Stands feature coming in a couple of weeks.

 Larson S10

Anyway, DragWeek. For those who don't know, Hot Rod DragWeek is the quest to find America's fastest street car. And the big news this year was that 5-time winner Larry Larson was returning. He took last year off in protest of the new wave of composite bodied, Pro Modified style cars that were beginning to filter into DragWeek's unlimited class. Larson strictly believes that the definition of a street car centres around a production body shell with a VIN number, so that's what he and partner in crime Chad Reynolds of (BangShift.com fame) built.

The stories on the car and of the event that was DragWeek 2014 are all over the web. What I'm pointing out is the story behind the story, told only as somebody who was there could tell it. Hit the below links for the back story behind what later became the world's fastest street car on a drag strip. If you've ever wondered what it is like to drive a 6-second drag car on the street, now's the time to find out. (oh, and by the way - the stories get better the further into DragWeek they get!)

DragWeek Uncensored Part 1

DragWeek Uncensored Part 2

DragWeek Uncensored Part 3

DragWeek Uncensored Part 4

DragWeek Uncensored Part 5

DragWeek Uncensored Part 6

DragWeek Uncensored Part 7

DragWeek Uncensored Part 8

DragWeek Uncensored - Finale




From the Stands - Jamboree 2014 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Colin Brassington (aka Brash)   
Thursday, 04 September 2014 17:37

Jamboree is one of those events that I've been trying to make it to for well over a decade. I remember reading about it in Hot4s magazine as a teenager: the exploits of the PAC Performance crew and Joe Signorelli in the RotorMaster Mazdas, and the battle between those two workshops against the Mazfix and MazSport crews who battled for rotary supremacy; the Rigoli workshops from Sydney who battled for fastest WRX in the country (and sometimes the world) and even the battles between the Rajabs and Maatouks workshops for the fastest VL turbo in the land. It was shown to the country from the pages of magazines in those days to kids like me who were into what was then called "import drag racing" and the event was touted as part race, part show, part fun. The mix of racing, dyno competition, sound offs and a show and shine was unique enough before you added the bikini babe competitions. I remember being 16 and saying 'one day, I'm gonna go to one.'


Well that day came this year. Continuing my post-divorce theme of racing cars, girls and alcohol I made the commitment early in the year that I was going to make it. And wow.

The day dawned a perfect, sunny, wind-less late August day in Queensland, and I headed to the motel car park and beeped open my ride for the weekend, the black, 6,000km old, Toyota 86 rental car. This trip in itself was cool enough, and the 86 was the perfect car for the job. More on that here.

86 Problems but a Camry Ain't 1 PDF Print E-mail
Test Drive
Written by Colin Brassington (aka Brash)   
Saturday, 30 August 2014 22:43

Long time readers of this blog may well remember reading a story posted in November 2012, about a certain couple of small cars I test drove a few months earlier. The word obsession comes to mind when I think of that story, and my barely relenting desire to get back behind the wheel of a Toyobaru. A 45-minuite test drive in each car simply wasn’t enough. Remember that this was a car that I have been following the progress of since the first prototype appeared at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2009. This is a car that I went and test drove as soon as it was released to the general public.



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