But When You’re Bad, You’re Better

August 16th, 2012 by Tim Grimley

Thanks to the day job requiring a mercy dash to the ‘Tron today, I managed to get a close proximity look at the venues involved with the ongoing saga of the NZ leg of the V8s. If truth be told, my interest in motorsport tends to lean towards the grass-roots end of the spectrum, where you can get up close and personal with the sights, sounds and smells of the experience. And occasionally, if you happen to know someone in the right pair of overalls, then you might even be able to sneak in a couple of crafty laps when the volunteer marshals are looking the other way.

So despite the political ructions surrounding the financial catastrophe of the Hamilton street race and the proposed multi-million dollar payout to Pukekohe, the whole affair has barely registered on my personal radar. But having taken a drive past both the past and proposed future race venues – as well as the alternative track option that Hampton Downs presents – I’m starting to understand why there may be turbulent currents in the rarified air in which the V8s operate.

Let’s be honest, Hamilton is not the jewel in the crown of urban New Zealand, while both Pukekohe and Hampton Downs need a bit of work before they can be mentioned in the same breath as Spa Francorchamps and yet as motorsport venues they all suffer from the same Achilles heel. They’re just too nice.

Motorsport fans are not normal. If anyone doubts this they should make a special effort to watch the next Rally of Great Britain where pitch black rally stages in cold, damp Welsh forests will be chock full of Parka-wearing, thermos-wielding enthusiasts, all cheerfully waiting for their heroes to come rocketing by and spray a tonne of gravel into their faces. There is something about creature comforts that acts as a repellent to the genuine motorsport fan and all of our options are simply way too luxurious.

Hamilton has all the entertainment, nightlife and comfortable hotels of a big-ish city, Pukekohe has a direct rail link to the sins and conveniences of Auckland, while Hampton Downs has been purposefully constructed to be a modern, hassle-free race facility.

Keep the glamour on the track

When you look at great motorsport venues – by which I mean for the average fan and not the millionaires who frequent the floating gin palaces at Monaco – such as Silverstone, Le Mans and Bathurst, you will notice a recurring theme of them all being completely bereft of anything approaching civilization. A long weekend in a tent at the British Grand Prix would give a fairly accurate representation of what it is like to live in a Red Cross refugee camp. It would be easier to catch some shuteye at a bar room brawl than amongst most of the crowd at Bathurst and the lavatory facilities following the famous 24hr race have been outlawed by the Geneva convention.

It is almost as though the crowd is rebelling against the technological tsunami that is rolling over motorsport by subjecting themselves to the kind of backwards living conditions that would make a sewer rat gag. And in these environments of filth, petulance and excessive alcohol the spirit of great events are born. Atmosphere and passion is created that no amount of genteel clapping from the grandstands can ever hope to replicate.

So with this in mind, I propose that we shun Hamilton, Pukekohe and Hampton Downs and focus our efforts on finding the worst place in New Zealand with functioning roads in which to host our most prestigious motorsport events. We can mark out a track old-school style with some piles of tyres; take the millions of dollars on offer to subsidise the booze, dig a few long drops and the resulting mass of fans will take care of the rest.

Which just leaves us with the tricky decision of exactly where in clean, green NZ we can rely on to provide the ultimate in horror. Personally I think that the Moerewa 500 has a lovely ring to it, but if anyone has any better ideas, I’d love to hear them.

Ex Tractor Fan

June 21st, 2011 by Tim Grimley

As a small boy, my weekends frequently had large swathes of play time cut out of them by the need to visit relatives in Coventry. For the uninitiated, Coventry is an industrial town in the Midlands of England which, thanks to a rapid and highly effective urban clearing programme implemented by the Luftwaffe in the early 1940s, isn’t very pretty. For a six year old, it’s right up there with visiting the dentist.

But despite eating into my precious school-free weekends, the journey did have two highlights; first, the Brown’s Lane  Jaguar plant – locally known as simply “The Jag” – where I would gawp at the magnificent cars on display and daydream of the wonderment that went on inside the huge factories. Secondly – usually on the way home due to the strange, apparently genetic condition that prevents both me and my dad from deciding what is the quickest route for any particular journey – the Massey Ferguson factory at Banner Lane.

In its day, Banner Lane was the largest tractor factory in the world and the row upon row of bright red Masseys outside used to hypnotise me. Once home, I’d dig out the large cardboard box of model cars from under my bed and drive around the floor ploughing imaginary furrows in the carpet with the closest thing I had to a tractor. If memory serves me right it was a Volvo 240 station wagon with the boot lid missing.

Since then things have moved on – both Brown’s Lane and Banner Lane have ceased production and I have got bigger, uglier and fallen out of love with agricultural vehicles.

Moving farming - but not moving me

With their big tyres and chunky looks, tractors naturally appealed to me as a boy, but as a man whose interaction with them is now limited to the time I’m stuck behind one on a country road, cursing its sloth like top speed and the fact that it’s throwing semi–decomposed cow faeces onto my bonnet, the magic has gone.

Well, maybe not quite. Thanks to the current Mrs Grimley’s insistence that North Shore City presents limited opportunities for patting cows, we spent last weekend at Fieldays in Hamilton. And the only way I was able to get a break from leaning into various pens of flatulent livestock was to feign a strong desire to poke around the mechanical stuff.

And in many ways my interest was genuine – the engineering is absolutely fascinating and the respect I have for the work tractors do is unparalleled. Farming accounts for around 7% of employment in the country, 4.5% of the GDP – over 3 times that with associated industry taken into consideration – and without the humble tractor, this would not be possible. It was even a Massey that took Sir Edmund Hillary to the Pole. Continue reading “Ex Tractor Fan” »

Used Car Buying Is Hit and Myth

June 12th, 2011 by Tim Grimley

As a Pom who had not experienced the joys of living in Godzone during the construction of the Waikato Expressway, I was bemused to hear my Kiwi colleagues spend much of this week ranting about a ‘Taniwha’. Although I’ve made a point of learning some basic Maori phraseology so that I don’t become completed befuddled by the bilingual nature of some conversations – I now know that when I come home in the evening my wahine is expecting kai – this was entirely new ground.

When pressed, the rantee’s couldn’t exactly define what a Taniwha was – common consensus placed it somewhere between a tribal guardian and a monster and firmly in the realm of mythology – but their ire was raised by the fact that it was threatening to bugger up the proposed Auckland CBD rail tunnel.

For sale - One careful Taniwha owner

The Taniwha in question – this one is called Horotiu and even has a Twitter account – apparently dwells in a subterranean stream somewhere in the region of Queen Street and should someone thoughtlessly build a train line through its home will cause all kinds of mischief with public transport. At least that is what Glenn Wilcox, a member of the Auckland Maori Advisory Board, tells us.

I suspect Mr Wilcox is not to be believed.

Let’s be honest, once the rail tunnel is built Horotiu will have no chance of competing against ARTA who, by that stage, will have a full two decades of hands-on experience in buggering up public transport. And I also suspect he’ll still be having far too much fun messing with the heads of used car purchasers. Continue reading “Used Car Buying Is Hit and Myth” »

Ultima GTR hits the streets of Hamilton, New Zealand

December 19th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

The world record holder for 0-100-0mph, and the Top Gear test track unofficial record holder (excluding F1 cars), this Ultima GTR resides in Hamilton, New Zealand.


Alice McVay of Hamilton: this month’s winner of the Nikon Coolpix L15 camera

August 7th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

The winner of our Nikon Coolpix L15 camera for this month is Alice McVay of Hamilton. Alice subscribed to D-photo as a birthday present for her mum. Alice’s Mum is becoming more and more keen on photography and will soon upgrade her old PC to an iMac so she can really do even more clever stuff with photoshop and store all her photos.

Alice didn’t have a camera as she is at Uni and can’t afford one, so this is a great prize for her. Well done Alice!

Alice registered to the D-photo site to get info for her Mum and then saw the D-photo subscription and bought that. Alice has never won anything before and would like to thank all at D-photo for drawing her name out.

If you’d like to be in to win a Nikon Coolpix L15 to capture your family moments (or pictures of your mates being stupid), all you have to do is be registered to any one of our sites or forums. Good luck.