Fantasy Garage: Godzilla Edition- Matt’s Picks

April 16, 2013 at 3:02 am

Well, it is now my turn to pick the criteria for the latest Fantasy Garage.  As I drove around in a 2000 Nissan Xterra, I thought very hard as to what I could propose for our latest challenge.  That’s when the idea hit to do a Godzilla edition, aimed towards foreign cars.  The criteria: 1. a Japanese brand vehicle, 2. a “zombie apocalypse”  vehicle, and 3. a “rice rocket”- a sports/racing bike, just to throw a curve ball into the equation.  The price cap: $54,000.   Why such a strange number? Well the original Godzilla movie was debuted in 1954, so I just tacked a few zero’s on to the year.  So enjoy my picks for this latest edition of Fantasy Garage.

– Japanese-brand vehicle: 2002 Nissan Altima 2.5S – $3500

SoT Altima

This vehicle is small enough to be able to cruise around in the city without any issues.  It comes complete with power windows, power door locks, air conditioning, and cruise control.  It’s valued at $4393, according to Kelly Blue Book, but as a price like this, it’s a decent deal.  Not to mention the other Nissan sedan choices were either a tan/gray color that has seen better days, or a green/blue which just looks horrendous!


– Zombie Apocalypse Escape Vehicle: 2013 Nissan Xterra PRO-4X – $31,131 (accessories included)

Sot Xterra Pro4x

I’m a big fan of the Nissan Xterra. I own a 2000 Nissan Xterra which I purchased pre-owned in 2005 and I have had no major complaints since.  However, it is riding at around 154K miles, so the complaint list is beginning to grow- but that’s expected.  Regardless of these issues, I still chose the Xterra as my escape vehicle.  After pricing it out to fit my needs, including side steps, rain guards, and a tow hitch, this vehicle runs for a little more than $31,000.  Not a bad deal.  I’ll probably toss in another $1000 in strobe lights and police scanner installation, which would bring me up to my $54,000 goal.   This vehicle is needed to drive over debris and anything else that may be lying in the road post- apocalypse.  In addition to all of this, motor trend picked the Xterra to be one vehicle which would excel during an apocalypse.


Rice Rocket: 2012 Ducati with 848 EVO – $13,995

SoT Ducati 2012

I’ll be honest and say I’m not a big fan of bikes.  They’re very unsafe and do not leave much room for error.  Whether it’s an inexperienced operator, or the other idiots on the road, I could never see myself on any motorcycle.  However, this is a sharp looking bike, and if I didn’t care about anything, and didn’t live in New England where you can ride a bike for only one third of the year (might be an overestimate), then I would be seen on this.

Well, this puts my total to roughly $48,626.  I’ll probably spend the remainder adding strobes and police scanners, like I said earlier on the Xterra.  With the Altima, I’ll probably have to throw money into maintenance.  And finally, with the Ducati, the remainder will be spent on hospital bills since I don’t even know how to ride a motorcycle.  Well, those are my picks! I hope you enjoyed them!

A Slight Adjustment

April 16, 2013 at 1:06 am

I found this addition on one of the ambulances a few days ago.  I thought that it had a little more “kick” to it after they made a few slight adjustments. Figured we all could use one of these!



Lav’s Fantasy Garage: “Monsters In My Yard” Edition

April 15, 2013 at 11:00 pm

So, today’s news in Boston leaves me full of venom, spit and skunky beer aftertaste. Just when it seemed life has achieved some level of normalcy on a national scale – the stock market is coming back, unemployment is at least stable, spring is returning to New England – some shithead has to go and take a colossal dump in everyone’s breakfast cereal of choice. It’s enough to make me say, “Thanks world, but I’m becoming a hermit. I want my cars, my woman, some ammunition and a house in the woods.”

But we can’t do that. That’s not what Americans do. Instead, let’s inject some levity into an otherwise dark day and look at how another nation dealt with terror: the Japanese. Gigantic monsters, and fire-breathing ones at that. Captured in movies that similarly captured Americans’ attention, it seems ironic now that our own entertainment used to be terror in countries besides our own. However, if we’re taught anything, it’s that you should be well-equipped to bust out of dodge and have several vehicles to do so.

Big, black and bad-ass Japanese sedan ($5,000): Infiniti Q45

The original Japanese Q-ship. I have little doubt this brute could power through anything resembling a zombie apocalypse or Godzilla attack. Little to no protruding edges to get caught on reptilian skin or narrow alley-ways. A 4.5L V8 capable of vaulting the heavy-hitter to 60 in 6.7 seconds was no slouch by 1990’s standards, and the viscous limited-slip differential will certainly come in handy when dodging infidels.


Big Bird – or, winner-takes-all mobile ($45,000): 1978 Toyota Landcruiser FJ40

If I need a rig that can take months of abuse and unpaved roads, I’d want the motoring equivalent to a cockroach: the original FJ40 – fully restored and galvanized,  of course. I’m pretty sure they still drive these in Chernobyl, and until zombies start fighting with rust particles that can be injected into sheetmetal, the FJ40 will go anywhere and with little care or attention to the oily bits. Plus, throw a winch on the front end and it will take you over hill and dale to safety – or onto the next town in search of non-decomposing countrymen.



The Gentleman’s Express ($5,000): 1986 Honda VFR F2 Interceptor 

If all else fails, you’re going to need a bike. Jump over obstacles, squeeze between traffic, and outgun your assailants. The VFR isn’t the quickest bike around, but it’s well-suited for looking the part with its quintessential “We must go now” Japanese graphics. Used as Honda’s homologation racing platform with a raucous V4 engine, I can’t think of a better bike for leaving the end of the world behind and in style. Preferably, one would exit the island of fire-breathing monsters on one of these crotch-rockets while wearing a suit, wingtips, and with the emperor’s daughter clutching his waist.


Now, back to the reality of not being able to distract ourselves from what ails us; instead, we’ll face it – or them – with an unflinching gaze and the confidence of knowing we still possess the freedom to drive with joy and away from fear.

Junkyard Divin’

April 13, 2013 at 2:10 pm

So, today seemed like a lovely day to explore a new-to-me junkyard that purportedly had a few E30s kicking around. It was, as they say, a bit of a goldmine. Not necessarily in the sense of parts found (but I did pick some goodies off of a 1987 325es – wish I had a truck, there were some beautiful sport seats I had to leave behind), but rather in knowing there is yet another boneyard local to me that keeps all sorts of forgotten rarities in the far corners of its marshy real estate.


One of the first things that caught my eye was a mid-70s Bronco. After reading this recent post on the Hemmings blog about a reader finding his grandfather’s long lost 1974 Bronco, I couldn’t help but wonder about the owner of this forlorn off-roader, sitting somewhere and daydreaming about his former pride and joy. It’s not too hard to imagine this rig cresting over some dunes with the hardtop removed and a sun-kissed gal hanging onto the roll bar.


This just made me sad. An absolutely gorgeous Volvo 140-series with seemingly completely original sheetmetal, mint bumpers and chrome, and all lighting intact. All it needed was a set of leather seat covers (and, well, wheels) and this swanky Swede would look perfect parked on the streets of Newport, which its parking sticker indicated it was last a resident of. Hell, the original keys were still with the car – hard to fathom how this example ended up here.


I’ve got to do some more research on this. It was a mid-90s Land Rover Discovery with the factory-applied “Special Vehicles” Sticker on both fenders and the rear gate. I seem to recall that this indicated some level of factory-equipped off-road gear like winches and auxiliary lighting, but I haven’t been able to confirm this – yet.


These two old girls were shoved way, way back in the yard, next to several worthless mid-80s domestics. I have a suspicion these were both part of the same estate or garage at one time, and man – what a sophisticated couple this pair must have belonged to. The Rover 3500 is a rarity in the states in any condition, and it’s a shame to see it languishing in the forgotten corner of one of the sloppiest scrap yards I’ve ever stepped foot in. The Mercedes – I think a 220 coupe – conjured similar feelings of, “I wish I had a big yard and understanding neighbors.” Would have loved the vintage Rhode Island license plate off of the Rover, but the overseers had a policy against taking them. If my kids ever donate my cars to a yard after donating my body to science, I swear my spirit will become the poltergeist from hell.


Do you ever get the feeling that the owner of a car was once the cat’s pajamas? This Fiat X1/9 was in decent shape for mid-80s Italian Job, with a complete interior and mostly-there sheetmetal. What I loved were the stickers in the back window, which shows the owner was a Providence College alum and an Aerosmith fan – I’m sorry, but all I envision is some preppy dude who rolled around campus in a two-seat targa-topped coupe and got all the ladies, helped by the fact he had a buddy with a hook-up for great seats at live shows.


Check out the top of the trailer. At this point, I began wondering when I’d see a carriage and the skeletal remains of six horses.


A hopelessly rusty Triumph TR6 that housed a very clean set of bucket seats. The inspection sticker was from 1990, but its last owner had at least some intent to put it back on the road – you don’t just splurge on new upholstery without having faith it will run again. Unfortunately, I heard what sounded like a rattle snake (do we have those around here?) and saw, as some confirmation, good-sized shedded snake skins sitting on the console. I moved on quickly, which I guess is why those seats have remained with this boat anchor.


I tend to get nostalgic when I spot original dealer stickers, especially with cars like this Saab 900 convertible. How it ended up in Bristol, Rhode Island when it was originally sold at Bill Bryan Subaru in Winter Park, Florida, is maddening. I know, I know – why do I care? Well, it has something to do with knowing this car once cruised top-down 11 months out of 12 in a climate made for convertibles. All I can imagine is some ungrateful co-ed calling mom and dad long-distance complaining that Roger Williams University parking enforcement towed her car again, and, “You know, my boyfriend Todd has a new Civic and I’ll just ride around with him.” 10 years later, Todd is mid-level management at Enterprise Rent-a-Car, Jenny is selling cosmetics for Avon in Nebraska and this once-beautiful Saab sits, with original keys and remote locking fob (how expensive must THAT have been in 1989?), sinking into the mud.

That’s all for now. There’s a new yard in Brockton I’m itching to check out, but right now, I’m just itching from whatever I crawled through to snap these pictures.

Two Words: Air Suspension

April 11, 2013 at 12:00 am

Sometimes project cars are laughable. As in, this is a car that will bankrupt you faster than a jaded ex-wife who didn’t like you that much when things were good. A 1973 Citroen SM is not just something you stumble upon. No, there’s always a good story with anyone who has a mid-level exotic with de-tuned Ferrari internals sitting in their backyard. The spoils of an illicit poker game? A gift bequeathed to its owner from a long-lost eccentric Canadian uncle? All of it is about as believable as Joe Six Pack picking up a vintage Citroen for the price of a Vespa.


Although I’m not normally drawn vehicles of the front-wheel drive variety, the SM is an exception. It’s a big, heavy, exotic cruiser, chock full of innovation only seen in re-runs of the Jetsons when it was first introduced. Self-leveling suspension – well, I’m a sucker for it. At a young age, I watched a British family disembark from their Range Rover Country only after the air suspension had fully settled; from that point on, this sophisticated method of exiting and entering a car has been burned into my brain. Of course, repairing a hydraulic suspension will make your first mortgage look like a tip at Burger King, but let’s not dwell on the negatives.

Low-mileage is normally a plus, but when you’re talking about Italian/French hybrid exotics sitting in a backyard in Connecticut, it’s probably more an indication of when it last turned a wheel then an attempt at preservation. This is clearly an American model, thanks to its ugly US DOT-approved single-round headlights instead of the killer plexi-glass encased six-lens European variety. Our traffic safety officials are unforgiving-ly lame, as these are the same people who sealed the car’s fate on our shores by declaring it in violation of federal safety standards due to the varying height of its adjustable suspension. Bastards.

This is a project car of significant proportions. To do it correctly, you will likely lose your friends, house, job and any semblance of a relationship with your spouse. But they weren’t there when those smarmy Brits stepped mere inches onto the hot blacktop from their once-lofty perch, and they sneered – oh, they sneered – when they saw you extend your legs full-length to exit the rental-car Civic. Someday, you thought, as your flip-flop fell off from trying to exit the perilously-tall crapbox, you would own a car that could bring you down to earth while putting you above the rest.

That day is today. 

The Life of an Ambulance Driver

April 9, 2013 at 2:34 am

As the EMT/ First Responder of the group, I was asked by my colleagues to write about what exactly it is like being the wheel of an ambulance, driving with lights and sirens.  It was also suggested that I mention the dos and don’ts of what to do when you see an ambulance, fire engine, or police car approaching from behind.  I know I can’t cover every situation, but I will hit the ones that I come across most frequently.  Before continuing, I would like to make it clear that they do not let any moron behind the wheel of an emergency vehicle.  All operators must complete and pass an Emergency Vehicle Operations course, comprised of classroom and driving time.

SoT Amb Cart

               So, what’s it like driving an F450 Ambulance around with the lights and sirens on, going to pick up a patient or while you have one in back?  At first, to the inexperienced novice, it is one of the biggest adrenaline rushes you could ever get.  For the ones who have a few years of experience and driving under their belt, it’s like a normal drive, while avoiding the idiots who seem like they are completely oblivious to the lights and sirens.  While you’re driving with the lights and sirens on, you become the biggest target on the road, and similar to hazardous road conditions, people forget how to drive.  Finally, driving in the suburbs/countryside is completely different from responding in the city.  When responding through the suburbs, people on BOTH sides of the road pull over and STOP.  In fact, one time, when I was responding, I had a guy on the opposite side of the road put all 4 tires on someone’s lawn, despite me not having a single vehicle in front of me, blocking my path.  A bit of overkill, perhaps, but I still waved and thanked him.

Now, responding in the city is completely different.  In the city, no one wants to move out of the way of the emergency vehicle, unless it’s a cop who can pull them over.  Not to mention, people do not understand the concept of pulling over to the RIGHT, or if a lane is free at an intersection, to keep it free despite which lane it is.  Now, I’m not sure if if people don’t move out of the way because of pure ignorance, or just plain stupidity, but regardless, we know you can see us in your mirror, and it shouldn’t be a surprise when we’re behind you, blasting our air-horn.

So, with all this being said, here are some quick tips for when you see an emergency vehicle responding behind you:

– Pull over to the RIGHT (not left, and don’t just stop in the middle of the road) and come to a COMPLETE STOP.  It’s not easy having to maneuver and have to consider how much space we have when you’re still moving.

–  If there’s awful traffic, some drivers may “play Moses” and split the lanes.  In this case, the left lane pulls over the left, and the right lane over to the right.

– If you’re an an intersection and you see a lane open, (even if it’s the far right lane where you would normally pull over into), keep that lane OPEN, giving us easy access through the light.  Not mention, everyone stop at the intersection!  It allows us to plan our moves before we come up to the area.

– Don’t follow close to us.  We may have to stop suddenly and you may not.  (And we’ll probably win).  Also, police officers love to follow pull over people who are driving too close to emergency vehicles.  (Keep back 300 feet actually means something).  Also, we have extra weight with water tanks, equipment, and patients, so it takes us longer to stop- so PAY ATTENTION!

– We have our lights and siren on for a reason-  because we are needed, so get out of our way because you never know who we are going for- could be your family or a friend.

– Most importantly, there may be multiple emergency vehicles behind one another.  We are required to keep at least 500 feet of running room between us.  So before cutting back into your lane, check to make sure another emergency vehicle isn’t coming.

– Despite all these rules/bits of advice, we (emergency vehicles) do not own the roads.  We still have to stop at all red lights and stop signs despite how severe of a call we’re on.  Also, not many know but we have to stop for school buses who have their Stop signs displayed-  Not too many civilians know that fact either.


With all this said from the perspective of one who is behind the wheel of an ambulance, saving and improving lives, my coworkers and I would hope that you all pay more attention next time an emergency vehicle is behind you. Enjoy the YouTube clip I found of an fire truck responding to a fire.  Take note on the idiot in the SUV at 0:50.  Don’t be that guy!


The Art and Joy of Tools

April 7, 2013 at 10:09 pm

At the moment, I do not have an extensive collection of cabinets and storage units for the purpose of collecting vast amounts of tools. Therefore, I like to make sure the few automotive utensils I do possess work well.

Imagine, then, my displeasure when I went to swap a set of  snow tires onto the E30 a few months ago and found that my existing lug wrench would not do the job. This was an all-hands-on-deck, standing on the breaker bar fiasco and the lugs still had more resistance than molasses in January. If you want to feel useless in the garage, try calling your friends and asking if they’re sure it’s lefty-loosey righty-tighty. That’s when you’ve reached rock bottom, when what little confidence you have is completely destroyed by a seemingly simple seasonal tire swap.


Of course, the lug nuts aren’t the problem – it’s the pitiful amount of torque my existing lug wrench was capable of emitting. Therefore, I turned to my friends in the reviewer community at Amazon and sought out their pick of the litter, a lug wrench that was a lady in the streets and an all-out vampire in bed. Enter the Gorilla 1721 Power Lug Wrench.

I’m here to tell you this story isn’t finished yet. I had just enough time this weekend to run the E30 up the street and kick off a hubcap to twist a lug nut. Oh. My. GOD. The lug turned with such ease I thought I had just stirred a batter of vanilla pudding rather than attempted to move a salt-encrusted nut air-drilled to hell by the mechanic who swapped the wheels after my failings months earlier.

I’m actually counting down the days until I can set aside some garage time and get those ugly, skinny, crap-handling tires off and swap the summer set back on. But this time, it’s not for the improvements in handling or looks – it’s for the excuse and ensuing joy of using tools that work.

The Losing End of Winning

April 6, 2013 at 5:30 pm

hill 96

If we’re the best in our field, the last thing we expect to hear from our employer is that we’re being replaced by someone else who has accomplished less but might have more potential. That was the curious case of Damon Hill as he was on his way to winning the World Championship in 1996. It’s a scenario that took place over a three year period that ended up with Hill finding out during a race weekend that he would be replaced by Heinz-Harald Frentzen in 1997.

The courting of Frentzen by the Williams team started in 1994 after the death of Ayrton Senna; Frank Williams was looking for someone to fill the now open seat and offered the position to Frentzen, then a Sauber driver and former Group C Mercedes Junior Team teammate to Michael Schumacher, who after his early season performances was looking like the man most likely to be world champion. Frentzen turned down the drive as the Sauber team (who ran the Group C Mercedes team) needed consistency after the near fatal crash of his teammate Karl Weindlinger. Williams appreciated his loyalty to the team and kept him in mind as future driver.

At this time Frentzen was highly rated by all in paddock. Schumacher was beginning the start of his reign and many viewed Frentzen, his former Mercedes teammate as being faster of the two but perhaps not as mentally strong. It’s also interesting to note that a former girlfriend of Frentzen’s is Mrs. Corinna Schumacher, the wife of Michael.

From 1991-1997 it was widely agreed upon that Williams had the best car in the paddock. It was shocking to Williams that they were being beaten by Schumacher and Benetton. The Williams philosophy was that driver was just another part on the car and it angered Hill when Williams brought back Nigel Mansell in the middle of the 1994 season when his IndyCar commitments would allow, leaving Hill who was supposed to be the number one driver and still in a title fight to feel as if the team had viewed him as second rate; a quality number two who could win a few races a year and provide great technical feedback to the team but not a superstar.

The 1994 season ended in controversy with the Hill/Schumacher collision in Adelaide and accusations of title winner Schumacher’s Benneton being illegal. The 1995 season was the first year of the raised nose Williams and Schumacher was even more dominant in the Benetton clinching the title with two races to go and Hill finishing second in the points but having a terrible second half of the year.

It’s believed that during this stretch when Hill was struggling was when Frentzen was signed for 1997.  Hill had a contract for 1996 and Jacques Villeneuve was joining the team for 1996.  1996 came along and Schumacher was now driving for Ferrari and Hill came into the season motivated to win at what many felt was his best chance at the world championship. It was during the summer while leading the championship that Hill found out at the German Grand Prix that Frentzen would be driving for Williams in 1997 and not him.

Hill went on to win the World Championship that year and continued what was a tradition of driver’s winning the world championship in a Williams and leaving. It started with Nelson Piquet in ’87, Mansell in ’92, Prost in ’93 and Hill in ’96. Hill would go onto to drive for the TWR Arrows team and later for Jordan giving the team their first win at Spa in ’98. It’s interesting to note it was the same Jordan team where Frentzen after struggling at Williams would go on to have the best form of his career.

Was it just Williams’ view that Hill was a really good number two and his poor result in 1995 was the reason that he was dropped from Williams? A few other scenarios come to mind. Was Williams aware in 1995 of Renault’s withdrawal from Formula 1 at the end of the 1997 season? Was the hiring of Frentzen a way of enticing BMW to partner up with Williams? By this point, F1 racing in Germany was at its peak; Mercedes was fully involved with McLaren and the men from Munich had been sniffing around F1 since the early 90’s.  Audi was also rumored on joining Formula 1 and where one of the big German manufacturers is, the other two are soon to follow.

It’s also interesting to point out that Renault was upset about Hill being dropped as they would be unable to have the number 1 on a Renault engined car for the third time with Williams in five seasons. Hill was also regarded as the best out of the four Renault engined drivers (himself, Villeneuve, Alesi and Berger) in giving technical feedback. There was also rumors that Renault was trying to have Hill replace Alesi in the Benneton for 1997 (important to note that Alesi was regarded as the worst at giving feedback).

Another alternative reason is money, Williams was notorious in its refusal to throw big money at drivers, Frank Williams was once quoted as saying that they spent more on Nigel Mansell’s salary in one year than they did on R&D. It’s possible that Hill priced himself out of a drive for 1997 like Mansell had done during his 1992 title season and found himself without a ride when his arch enemy Alan Prost was signed for 1993.

One final scenario (and the least likely) is the idea that Williams was betting against the success of Jacques Villeneuve. By the time Frentzen was signed, Villeneuve was confirmed at Williams for 1996. In the mid ’90’s CART was producing the best racing in the world and viewed as a rival to F1. Bernie Ecclestone fearing CART courted one of it’s biggest star’s in Villeneuve to F1 with promise of a frontline drive. The last CART star to venture to F1 was Michael Andretti in 1993 for McLaren which was complete disaster. Did Williams fear they were going to experience Andretti 2.0 and thought Villeneuve would only last a year and go back to CART with his tail between his legs?

While Hill did end up getting sacked he did what all of us aspire to do in our jobs; leave a place better than we found it.


A Gearhead’s Dream Deferred, But Not Forgotten

April 4, 2013 at 10:09 pm

e30 sunset

So, I read an editor’s column last night in a magazine I once interviewed for a position with. This gentleman is the publisher of a popular motorsports outlet that caters to the weekend racer and DIY’ers. Although he speaks my language in many ways, he’s also a bit more hands-on than I’ve ever been in the garage. Credit that, along with a few other lifestyle decisions, that led me to not taking the position I was offered over a year ago.

The column focused on a number of topics related to the success of the publication, as well as his lack of success in recruiting the right talent to fill positions in editorial. I wondered as I read it if he was talking about me, when he referenced how some candidates were “prima donnas” and that certain interviewees had the courage (or audacity) to ask if they could telecommute. You know, I get it – he’s in a much warmer location than I am, surrounded by desirable machinery and in an affordable part of the country where wages aren’t much of a concern. Maybe he wasn’t even talking about me, but it gave me pause as I digested those words.

The bottom line is, I made an important decision when I turned the position down, which was that I was confident I could someday find the opportunity to write professionally about the hobby of cars in a way that fit my lifestyle, which takes many forms – from where and when I’m ready to move to a new city and if I’m confident the position will be more than just a test of my ability to translate the weekend’s project car assignment into riveting copy. Although I felt some pangs of regret for passing on what could have been the only opportunity to write for a successful motorsports magazine, I also experienced a bit of relief I didn’t cash all my chips in on the first opportunity that came my way.

Sometimes that works out. My E30 was one of those situations, but it made sense for the crossroads I had reached. Disappointing relationship, horrible (but good paying) job, and an overall sense of disillusionment with where life was. The E30 reflected this rock-bottom perspective but it represented a tangible mechanism for improvement, for looking at something pitiful and saying, “This will improve. This will be exactly what I want it to be someday.” Could I have waited for a better car to come along? I could have, but that’s not what I needed at that point in time. I needed the quick fix. I needed to see potential in something.

Like I’ve said before, I draw parallels from my vehicles that have served me well in many ways. If I was a prima donna, I would have scoffed at the E30 the second I saw the first photos of its ratty interior, oil-stained engine block and mismatched side mirrors. But instead, I saw the potential, which is far harder to find in most situations, whether it’s a job, a relationship, or a new project car. Potential is what keeps us coming back to the well, and wanting to take the steps necessary to ensure there is always more to uncover.

As I closed the magazine last night, I did so with little internal conflict. Do I still want to write for a car magazine some day? Absolutely. Do I feel there is no better occupation for me? With little doubt and much conviction. Will there be other opportunities? I sure hope so.

If I use the E30 as my yard stick, I’ll only grow doubtful at the potential of this career path the day that car is fully restored, from stem to stern. And even then, if the editorship of a lifetime still hasn’t revealed itself, I’ll at least have one heck of an E30.

Ruthless Champions

April 3, 2013 at 7:03 pm


Search for a definition of the word “ruthless” and you find it to mean “having no compassion for others or showing pity”. Perhaps when we try to define the greats of racing (especially those of the past thirty years) we can put ruthless next to car control, outright speed and the ability to adapt to conditions.

Go through the list of driver’s who have a won multiple world championships over the past thirty years and each can be defined as being ruthless in one way or another: Lauda, Prost, Senna, Piquet, Schumacher, Alonso and now add Sebastian Vettel to the list after the muti-21 incident. It’s possible that being ruthless is the key component that separates the very good from the great.

In a Motorsport Magazine podcast in 2012, Derrek Warwick told stories about the ruthless nature of two of the greats mentioned above. In 1986, Warwick had agreed in principle to drive for Lotus that season only to have Senna block him from being on the team. Senna viewed Warwick as a threat due to talent and being a British driver on a British team and instead approved of Johnny Dumfries (a decent driver in his own right but not on the level of Warwick). In 1991 Warwick nearly came to blows with Michael Schumacher after a week in which Warwick’s younger brother was killed in a British F3000 race and Schumacher chopped Derrek off while he was going for pole during a World Championship sportscar round. Warwick said Schumacher was only allowed to race the next day if he apologized to Warwick. which according to Warwick he did in a half hearted mumble.

The stories go on and on about the ruthlessness of these driver’s: Piquet saying Senna was a homosexual and the verbally abusing Nigel Mansell and his wife, Prost putting the pressure on to get Senna DQ’ed from the 1989 Japanese Grand Prix, etc.

The rise of ruthlessness has much to do with decrease of ethics, standards and romanticism of Grand Prix racing. No longer is it pedestal which all is measured against but just another show.


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