Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Monte Carlo Historique Rally 2006: Progress Report 3

MCH Finish 2005
Peter Barker and Willy Cave at the finish of the MCH rally last year. Photo courtesy Christian Malin.

By now all the car that have struggled through the mountains are parked on the quayside in Monte Carlo and the crews are nervously awaiting the start of the dreaded night loop over the Col de Turini where Bill and I came adrift last year. I've been studying the posted results on the ACM website in minute detail of the past few days. There a lot of discrepancies but I have deduced the following:

Geoff O'nion and David Wilkinson clearly had a bad day yesterday after their brilliant start. The were "non-efectuée" for Stages 7 and 8 yesterday and 9 and 10 today. So either they were delayed by the weather and didn't think it was worth risking life and limb today or they suffered damage and/or mechanical problems. Peter Barker and Willy Cave were "non-efectuée" on Stage 3 but have been valiantly fighting their way back through the field and are now lying 195 out of the 287 cars left in the running.

The attrition rate seems unusually high this year and I suspect that the weather is to blame but as yet I have no first hand information. Currently there are three Porsche 914s in the top 10 (two 914/6 and one 914/4) and one 911. After three decades of being treated snottily by other Porsche owners, these cars finally seem to be showing their worth.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Monte Carlo Historique Rally 2006: Progress Report 2

geoff down col
Geoff O'nion "parking" on the 2001 Winter Challenge rally: amazingly he completed the event.

I'm worried. This morning when I checked the ACM site, Geoff O'nion and David Wilkinson were running 40th overall and first in class; a great result for a 997cc Cooper which gives away 300cc to other cars in its group. That was after the first regularity run of the day -the St. Laurent en Royans to La Chapelle en Vercors. On the second stage the crew had fallen back to 153 place overall and incurred more than 4000 penalty points. Something obviously went wrong and looking at the fortunes of other crews I'd guess that the weather was probably to blame. However I'm more concerned that Geoff and David have not even recorded times for the next two regularity stages. Furthermore they are not on the "retired" list. I hope they are ok. Geoff is a very able rally driver and a noted "hard charger". Please keep your fingers crossed...

PS MD would be grateful for any more detailed information anyone has on the event. Please email me if you can help.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Monte Carlo Historique Rally 2006: Progress Report 1

Geoff O'nion
Goeff O'nion on the 2005 Monte Carlo Historique rally

Regular visitors to this site will have noted that I've been whining about not competing on the Monte Carlo Historique rally this year. So ever since the event started on Friday evening I've been living vicariously through the Automobile Club de Monaco's website. Notable results to date are:

The regularity first stage (St. Felicien) was won by Kurt Schimitzek and Michael Kronenberg in a Mini Cooper S (Yay!) who zeroed the stage with no penalty points. A nigh on impossible feat as the timing is measured to 1/100 of a second. A brilliant result.

Mad Dog pal and former Cooper Car Co team member, Geoff O'nion and crew member David Wilkinson in their 997cc Cooper drove consistently throughout all four stages of the Classification Run and finished the day in 46th place and second in class. Geoff's engine was built by Bill Richards so this result is not surprising.

Rally veterans Peter Barker and Willy Cave, also Cooper Car Co compatriots, made a good start but had a misadventure on the third regularity stage and incurred 3000 penalty points and are now in 257th place out of the 318 cars still running.

At the end of the Classification stages, Porsches (three 911s, a 914/6 and a 356c) occupy five of the top 10 places including 1st 2nd. Bugger! The highest placed Mini is running 14th (Treves and Calegari).

A quick survey of the prevailing weather in south east France looks like conditions are treacherous which should favour smaller, more nimble cars. I'll report again tomorrow when I have more information.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Another Mad Dog -No Relation

another mad dog
The Mad Dogs and Englishmen Citroen 2CV rally car.

Well it seems that we are not the only Mad Dog rally team on the planet. I came across this crew of certifiable lunatics while roaming around the web just recently. Actually I'm unbelievably impressed. While my own rally driving effforts are quite superficially macho with lots of revs, opposite lock and power slides, its all done with a car in top condition, driving through civilised countries and (more recently) with a service crew to look after us when things go south. Furthermore the whole event, including return to the UK, is over in 7 days and almost everynight is spent in a comfortable bed (OK, OK, we spent most of one night on the side of a mountain when we crashed last year but you know what I mean).

On the other hand these guys spend 4-5 weeks driving 10,000 miles in (by the definition of the rally organisers) a crap car from London to Mongolia and endure all sorts of hardships including bandits, corrupt officials and marauding yaks, not to mention every kind of road surface possible. One of the aims seems to be to collect bizarre stories to tell in the pub afterwards although apparently the primary purpose is to raise money to buy cows. The whole thing sounds unbelievably difficult, dangerous, hilarious and very worthy: I raise my glass to you all with the utmost respect and admiration. Oh and do check out the Mongol Rally website: it makes a very good read.

Oh, and needless to say a couple of total maniacs did the 2005 event in a Mini...!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Rallying Rumifications

Makinen:Easter 1965 MC rally
Timo Makinnen and Paul Easter on ther way to a famous victory in the 1965 Monte Carlo rally

The 9th Monte Carlo Historique rally is due to start in two days and all I can do is "spectate" through the Automobile Club de Monaco's website. Some great names of motorsport will be competing including Clay Regazzoni, Antonio Sainz (brother of Carlos), Yves Jouanny, Alain Lopes, Erik Comas to name but a few. A total of 352 crews in all. I feel really left out and you can expect a few rally reports and commentary over the next few days.

Oh and before you ask (and I'll say this very quietely) -Seattle is today enjoying brilliant sunshine and the temperature is a very pleasant 52°F.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Super Bowl 2006

Seattle Seahawks fans in clouds of celebratory confetti yesterday.
Picture from the Seattle PI.

While not a particularly avid devotee of spectator sports, I note that the Seattle Seahawks yesterday bludgeoned (apologies to real football fans but I don't know the verb of choice) their way past the Carolina Panthers to reach the Super Bowl finals in Detroit where they will entertain the Pittsburgh Steelers on February 5. This is the first time the Seahawks have been in an SB final and I wish them well.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Still Raining


It's still raining in Seattle although the relentless downfall has eased off a little and now we have intermittent showers. What's more the weather forecast says that sunshine is possible for the Sunday and the early part of next week. Please keep your fingers crossed as I'm fed up with singing...!

Thursday, January 19, 2006



Now this looks like fun (from the perspective of a middle-aged male with questionably arrested development)...!

is shameful, if true. I note the person concerned hawks a perfume; -I wonder what it smells like?

And this is just a sad loss.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Feeling Left Out

1963 MC rally
Classic photo of a Mini Cooper on the 1963 MC rally close to the spot where the MD car crashed last year.

Four times in the past six years I've spent early January marking up maps, fussing about tyres, working on logistics and otherwise preparing for long distance winter rallying to the South of France. This year the Mad Dog team will not be competing because of pre-existing work and personal commitments. The situation can't be helped but I'm feeling distinctly left out. Roll on 2007...!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Mad Dog's Morning... typical!


Today I got off to a bad start and I'm now lurking behind my desk hoping no one will hold an unscheduled meeting that requires me to move in the next hour. So what exactly is the issue?

Well it's still raining in Seattle and on my way in to work I thought I'd cheer myself up with a cup of coffee so I duly headed off to the local Starbucks drive-through. Now it may be that I brought the following incident on myself as I'm fundamentally opposed to the dispensation of comestibles by drive-through means (i) the potential for error is high and you are miles away before you realise that you received someone else's (invariably disgusting) order; (ii) it's usually slower than parking, going into the place and ordering at the counter; (iii) it promotes laziness and unnecessary use of cars and (iv) I generally try to support the independent coffee shops. But hell, it was raining hard so I ignored my rules, zoomed up to the window and ordered my beverage. Unfortunately I should have listened to my inner voices as this visit proved no exception to the rule. As the barista passed me my coffee, the cup (a grande) clonked the window frame, knocking the lid off and half of the hand-crafted, decaffinated, non-fat, cappuccino was deposited in my lap. The discomfort to my nether regions was nothing compared my embarrassment at the prospect of looking like an incontinent old fart. The barista fussed and apologised profusely, possibly thinking I would bring a multi-million dollar law suit aginst her (now there's a thought), gave me a zillion paper napkins and topped up my drink. I then completed my journey and slunk into work, making sure my raincoat was buttoned up. So now I'm sitting at my desk feeling more than a bit damp and hoping I'll dry out in the very near future. Typical!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Rain, Rain, go to Spain


I'm rarely bothered by the weather but it's now rained for 30 consecutive days in Seattle and the forecast is for more of the same for at least the next 5-10 days. I feel like I'm going to get Trench Foot if this goes on much longer. The cats don't like it either and are urging me to build an ark. I'd love to get away to somewhere warm and dry for a couple of weeks. Spain, for instance.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Murphy's Law


Isn't it just typical?! Earlier today Steve Jobs at Apple Computer unveiled the new Mac Book Pro line of laptops built around Intel microprocessors. These machines are considerably faster than their iBook and PowerBook predecessors and look capable of performing all sorts of amazing computational feats. So why my ire? Because last Friday I splashed out on a brand new iBook G4 (Mac Book Amateur?) and it has now become obsolete in four days. This must be a record. Before buying my new machine I specifically asked (yes, it's a split infinitive; -don't interrupt me just now as I'm not in the mood for nit-pickery) if a new range of computers was due out soon. The answer was "We don't know". I bet you didn't. Bastards!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Fruit Cake Recipe

I seem to be in a food and drink phase lately. Hardly surprising considering the season, I suppose. Anyway to maintain the leitmotif here's another. Several readers have commented on or requested the recipe for the fruit cake I described on Boxing Day. So here it is.

This recipe is from my Mother, the late E.E. 'Frida' Morrow. It’s virtually bulletproof. The cake is very rich and sustaining and I’ve never met anyone who hasn’t loved it. It’s great on cold winter afternoons and evenings and it’s fantastic sustenance when hiking or engaging in other such outdoor pursuits. Indeed it was virtually the official foodstuff of the Mad Dog rally team on last year's Monte Carlo Historique rally and even served as survival rations when Bill and I crashed around midnight just below the summit of the Col de Turini (height 1600 meters) and spent several hours freezing our rear ends off before Jim and Juliette Wirtz rescued us.

In more conventional circumsatances, the cake was served up at high days and holidays; typically Christmas and Easter with birthdays thrown in. It’s very good when covered with layers of marzipan and hard sugar icing. Ideally it should be prepared a couple of months before consumption as it becomes very moist and absolutely delicious when stored in a cool dark place for a period of time. In this time it can be “fed” with sherry or rum according to taste.

•350g (12oz) butter
•150g (6oz) plain flour
•150g (6oz) self-raising flour
•150g (6oz) white sugar
•150g (6oz) soft brown sugar
•6 eggs
•150g (6oz) glacé cherries (chopped Maraschino cherries will do)
•150g (6oz) finely chopped almonds
•225g (8oz) raisins
•450g (16oz) sultanas (golden raisins in the US)
•450g (16oz) currants
• half a teaspoon of mixed spices (cinnamon and nutmeg)
• half a tbsp of vanilla flavoring or powder
• half a glass of sherry, port or rum, to taste
• a small pack of toasted almonds for decoration (optional)

Beat sugar and butter to a thick cream, then add eggs one at a time (do this by hand, electric mixers seem to destroy the texture; if the butter is hard microwave it first). Sift flours and mix plain and self-raising. Add mixed spices and vanilla and sherry/rum. Slowly mix (do not beat) flour to butter then gradually add fruit. I like to decorate the top with whole almonds. Bake slowly, 150°C (300°F) for one hr. and 140°C (275°F) for 2 1/2 hrs. Allow to cool for at least eight hours.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Now it's 2006


Happy New Year!

I'm feeling very optimistic.

Now, if you'll excuse me I'm off to find some ibuprofen...