We all think we are the best driver in the world when we get behind the wheel, but let’s be honest, we aren’t. In fact, I don’t think anyone can claim to be the perfect driver, but there is a chance that there are worse drivers on our roads than you. I like you will be annoyed by a number of habits from other drivers, so here are the things that really annoy me about fellow motorists.
Fog Lights: Whilst driving at night you will no doubt see a number of cars with their fog lights on. You may well have noticed it is more often than not cars of German origin or Chav’s in their Mums Fiesta that are mostly responsible for this. Why do people believe it is acceptable to drive with fog lights on? They do not make you go faster and you do not look cool. You look like an arse. On the flip side, why, when conditions are bad enough to actually warrant fog lights do people not use them? If visibility is less than 100 meters, then you can and should use your fog lights. Only then is it acceptable. When visibility is more than 100 meters the fog lights are no longer needed.
Full beam headlights: Obviously I don’t discourage full beam headlights, and most people will dip them when faced with oncoming traffic. We all know that is the correct and accepted procedure. So why, for the love of god why, do some people believe it is acceptable to use full beam headlights on a dual carriageway or motorway? They are not needed as there are no sharp bends approaching and they still blind drivers on the opposite carriageway. Also, the drivers in front can still be dazzled from the reflection of your lights in their mirrors. So pack it in, full beam lights are unnecessary on motorways.
Middle Lane Hogs: A huge bug bare for many people. Drivers who think it is ok to hold traffic up by driving in the middle or right hand lane on dual carriageways or motorways. If you are not overtaking anyone then use the left hand lane. You will notice that these days, the left hand lane is often a lot clearer as people seem to be allergic to using it. People who hold others up in this way are the biggest cause of congestion on British roads. Also, if you are one of the many people who don’t use the left hand lane when not overtaking, every single driver stuck behind you whilst you effectively block two lanes will be swearing loudly and calling you every name under the sun. You wouldn’t like this to aggravate people in a social situation so don’t do it on the roads. Move over, let people past, use the left lane when it is clear and be safe in the knowledge you are helping ease congestion on Britain’s busy roads.
Lorry’s Overtaking: Here is a simple test, if two vehicles are restricted to the same maximum speed, which one is fastest? Answer, neither. Some lorry drivers don’t seem to understand this. Yes, some HGV’s do travel at different speeds and overtaking the slower one is acceptable. What is not acceptable is trying to overtake a vehicle that is travelling at the same speed as you are. I don’t want to be stuck behind two lorries side by side for 30 miles whilst one tries to overtake the other and neither do the hundreds of drivers in the cars that have now stacked up behind the impromptu head to head. Please Lorry drivers, if another lorry is attempting an overtake which is likely to last three days, just ease off the accelerator very slightly to let him pass you. A lot of drivers would be very grateful.
Entry and Exit from Slip roads: This should be an easy task. You use the slip road to build up speed to match that of traffic currently on the dual carriageway or motorway. By joining the carriageway at the same speed of existing traffic, you can filter in safely and avoid causing others to brake heavily. Why do some people think that braking and slowing down whilst joining is a good idea? It is putting people’s lives at risk as they quickly become a sitting duck waiting for someone to plough into them or ready to cause a massive pile up as traffic at 70mph try to take avoiding action. If you haven’t got the balls to join a carriageway at a safe speed, please kindly resist from driving. Likewise, the slip road is also there to provide you with a safe area to slow down for the upcoming junction whilst exiting a carriageway. Unless the slip road is blocked with excessive traffic, do not, I repeat do not, brake and slow down before exiting onto a slip road unless you want a vehicle to make a surprise appearance on your back seat.
Incorrect indicating at roundabouts: Again this should be a simple affair, yet a lot of people cannot seem to comprehend it. If you are going to use a roundabout but cannot use your indicators in the correct manner, then just refrain from using them at all. That way, if you aren’t indicating, other road users won’t know where you are going to exit and will just wait for you to get out of the way. If you do indicate incorrectly, don’t be surprised when a vehicle appears lodged in the side of yours as they might have assumed you were going in the direction you were indicating.
Mirror Signal Manoeuvre: This is probably the first thing taught to you by your driving instructor. That is assuming you had a driving instructor. The premise is simple. Before undergoing a manoeuvre such as turning off at a junction, you check your mirrors and windows around the car to make sure the situation is safe, you signal by using your indicator as a way of letting other drivers know what you intend to do, and then start your manoeuvre by applying your brakes to slow down and finally using the steering wheel to turn. Some drivers like to encourage abuse by simply missing out the mirror and signal bit, and then wonder why other road users seem to get upset. This situation can be avoided by remembering the three basic steps above.
Baby On Board: Some drivers like to make others aware they have a baby or small child on board by displaying the fact with a sign in the back window hoping that other road users will be that little bit more cautious around them. This is of course fine, as most parents are rightly concerned about their child’s welfare. However, this theory will only work if the driver of the car displaying said sign stops driving like an idiot. Recently I was cut up on two consecutive roundabouts by a woman who was displaying a baby on board sign. If she wants people to drive sensibly near her, then she needs to understand that she too needs to drive sensibly and understand she is more likely to risk her child’s safety than others are. The yellow sign is not a pass to do what the hell you please and expect other road users to respect that.
Constant Speed Drivers: It really annoys me when I get stuck behind someone driving at 40mph in a national speed limit. It then annoys me further when I slowdown for a 30mph speed limit to see the car in front disappear ahead. It then annoys me to the point of abuse hurling, when I exit the 30mph speed limit and accelerate up to 60mph, only to then find myself stuck behind the same car again trundling along at the constant speed of 40mph.
Driving down the middle of small roads: My route to work takes me down a small road that, for a large section of it, has no road markings. This isn’t a problem as the road is wide enough for two cars to pass easily. However, I pass a number of drivers, mainly women in big unnecessary 4×4’s who seem to think the road was build solely for them and insist on driving down the middle. In the process I am therefore forced into the hedge to avoid having the offside of my car ripped off at the expense of having my nearside scratched by hedges or damaged by other common roadside objects. Much like the left hand lane of a motorway, that spare strip of tarmac on your nearside is available for use. Please do so and avoid forcing other road users into potentially hazardous roadside objects.
Hazard lights: These are there to warn other road users of upcoming hazards such as traffic braking heavily or an accident ahead. They are not available as a tool to enable you to park where the hell you like. Under no circumstances is it acceptable to park on double yellow lines, at junctions, on blind bends, blind crests, four feet from the kerb and other areas that cause danger to others. By putting your hazard lights on doesn’t then make stopping in these areas safe and acceptable. If I can’t find a correct and safe place to park I will continue to look for a place where I can. I will not just stop in the road opposite the place I want to go to, block in other parked cars and feel it is acceptable to do so because I’ve put my hazard lights on. Also, those flashing orange lights are not a deterrent to Traffic Wardens. You have been warned!
Here endeth my rant.
Feel free to comment on things that annoy you about about other drivers.
Last week I was invited to a tweetup. Not just any tweet up though an Auto Tweetup. For those of you unfamiliar with the word Tweetup, it is a gathering of twitter users where you can meet up with the people you follow on Twitter and discuss interests. In this case, cars.
Being held at the superb 7 Hotel & Diner in Kent, Myself and Nick from Tin Tops UK headed down for an evening of Geek chat and discussion with fellow tweeters. It was a good turn out and there were many people from the world of cars, from Bloggers, Writers, Photographers, Representatives from Toyota, Seat and Audi and general car fans. It was also good to catch up with Ian Cook of PopBangColour fame who showed me the great photo of Frank Wrathall’s Toyota Avensis outside the pit garage on Sunday evening he took with his I-Phone. Not content with his amazing painting talent, he shows he’s bloody good with a camera too. Don’t you just hate people like that?!
The Car park outside the Diner was pretty impressive too. There was a selection of cars old and new including a Lotus Evora, TVR Tuscan & Clio Cup. But not only did the guys from Toyota bring along the awesome Castrol Liveried Supra, but a £320,000 Lexus LFA took pride of place out front, the only one in the UK which was great to see. Also, Abbie of Castella Images was working her magic with her long exposure low light photography and a range of glowsticks and fairy lights which looked like some odd voodoo car ritual but produces great results.
The food was great, the company was brilliant and atmosphere superb. It was great to meet new people and discuss a shared passion so many thanks to Tim Hutton for organising such a fantastic evening and all those who contributed to the rather cool goody bag we all received. I’m pretty sure Tim is organising many more of these evenings so if you fancy going along, check out www.autotweetup.co.uk to find out more. The date of the next one is already in the diary.
Those of you familiar with the British Touring Car Championships will be well aware of the new NGTC cars to the grid with rookie driver’s at the wheel. However, there is one in particular that really caught my eye. I am referring to the Rob Austin Racing Audi.
Initially, the car was to be piloted by BTCC regular Dave Pinkney but he decided to walk away early on in the process of getting the car out on to the track after initial teething problems. But for me, I’m glad of this. Why? Because it meant Rob Austin took to the wheel. No disrespect to Dave Pinkney but Rob is the king of cool and without doubt one of my favourite drivers.
With his long sideburns, Aviator sunglasses, cigarette in hand and his proven ability in historic masters Formula One racing, I can’t help but think that Rob was born 30 years too late. He would not look out of place rubbing shoulders and tyres with the likes of James Hunt and Nikki Lauda in Formula One during the Seventies. He will even be starring in the new F1 film depicting this era which in my eyes, makes him the king of cool!
Rob is a great addition to the BTCC grid in the ever improving Audi and despite a number of problems this season, he really shone at Rockingham. A fourth place on the grid at Knockhill gave us all a glimpse of what he and the Audi could do but he went one better at the Rock with a third place. A credible seventh place was great for the 30 year old but better was to come. Having been knocked down the order on lap one of race two, Rob fought back through the field to finish ninth which was subsequently good enough for second place on the grid for the final race of the day. Having took the lead on lap one he was eventually overhauled by James Nash but still took a superb second place on the podium to the delight of many of the on looking fans. But getting out of the car in Parc ferme, Rob remained as cool as ever and even had someone on and to pass him his trusty aviators just after he was handed the obligatory Dunlop yellow cap.
It was great to see the BTCC rookie take to the podium and I hope it won’t be long before he takes to the top step. He’s a nice guy and a great addition to the driver line up. With a lot of the petty stuff going on currently between certain drivers it’s great to see Rob come in, work hard, race fair, and now pick up points in the championships.
So Sebastian Vettel has claimed yet another Formula One victory and looks set to claim the Championship Title as early as the next round in Singapore. We all know what happened in the race so there is little point in boring you with that. But I will talk about one or two other things that I noticed from the weekend at Monza.
Firstly, blink and you’ll miss it, yes it was a Hispania Racing Team car charging through the field from the start to take up its highest ever position in a Formula One race. On the weekend Eddie Jordan criticises the three newest teams to the F1 grid for their poor qualifying results, Antonio Liuzzi hits out at the critics by getting a storming start from the back of the grid to take eighth place into the first corner. Unfortunately for Petrov and Rosberg, he was coming in sideways and wiped the pair of them out. But not only did Liuzzi very briefly take the dizzyingly high spot of eighth, in the process he also gave HRT the most race exposure they’ve had all season. Colin Kolles must be proud and is now sitting waiting for his phone to ring with potential sponsors for their ‘Cool Spot’ on the side of the car. Yes, that’s right, your company could appeal to race marshalls worldwide as they pick up bits of car with your logo on!
This accident led to the most ridiculous punishment imaginable, a five place grid drop for the next race in Singapore. The team who boss the back row of every race grid have got to start five places back on the grid. How is this even possible? Will Liuzzi have to start from Silverstone? Can you even punish a team that are as bad as HRT anyway? There isn’t even any point in going out to qualify. Answers on a postcard for possible punishments please.
On a more serious note though, the battle between Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton drew a lot of attention. Lewis has been in for heavy criticism this season for what some may call overzealous driving style. However, despite being in a car that was struggling to close the gap on Schumacher’s Mercedes, Hamilton kept cool and avoided taking unnecessary risks. The same couldn’t be said for Schumacher. No stranger to controversy himself, the ageing German was determined to keep the young Brit behind him and in doing so pulled off some questionable moves. Not only did he move across Lewis twice on more than one occasion but he also forced him onto the grass at Curva Grande. Moves that no doubt would have landed Lewis in hot water with the stewards but went unpunished for Schumacher.
I have read in the papers this week that the sponging Tamara Ecclestone is to get a new bath for her £47m house. Of course, this hard working young woman who is always on the go needs somewhere nice to relax and unwind at the end of another hard day at work so it’s only right that she deserves something a little bit special. No trip to B&Q for Miss Ecclestone then. Oh no. Five men have been dispatched to the Amazon Jungle to bring back crystal to make the plush bathroom fixture at a cost of One Million Pounds. Not only that, but the floor has to be reinforced to hold the weight of the flipping thing! It’s a pity she’s not the same size as her father then she could save herself the hassle and bathe in the sink. So all of you, who like me are cross about the new Sky TV deal, fear not, you can rest assured the extra money that has been generated is being put to a good cause and helping those unfortunate soles who have to struggle through life. Meanwhile, I have news for you Mr Kolles, that extra £1m Bernie promised you next season thanks to the new TV deal, I hate to say it, but you might be left a little disappointed.
Finally, did anyone else see David Coulthard and Jake Humphrey on the BBC pre race coverage together in the feature about the simulator at Red Bull? Were my eyes deceiving me or was DC actually sitting on Jakes lap with his arm around him bouncing up and down like a kid in Father Christmas’ grotto asking for a pony?! I’ve heard of close working relationships and I know they like to wear matching pink shirts but that’s taking it a bit too far surely.
After my last blog post about Jason Plato and his disgraceful attitude and behaviour after the Knockhill round of the British Touring Car Championships, it seems that he just doesn’t know when to stop.
Despite writing an apology on twitter last week it seems it was totally meaningless as his column for The Sun newspaper shows. If you haven’t seen it, you can read it here. Yet again he takes the opportunity to have a go at Tom Boardman. Although using less offensive language, he still makes Tom look like a dreadful driver. He also makes out he was hit really hard and deliberately shoved into the barrier. As stated last week, contact was only slight and I have no doubt that there was no malice intended. Plato seems to forget the numerous times he has forced competitors off and then told the media that it was only a ‘Racing Incident’.
Plato also contradicts himself, by stating that the Turbo powered cars are 7mph faster than the normally aspirated ones yet complains that Boardman told the media he was faster than Jason. But what really annoys me is that Plato says tongue in cheek that Boardman’s statements to the media were ‘Real Class’. Come on, is Plato being serious here? Can someone please explain to him what a hypocrite is? You only need to read his nonsensical column to see what a total joke that statement is. Jason Plato wouldn’t know what ‘Real Class’ was if it roared up behind him and smashed his car into a barrier. Has Boardman criticised others? Has Boardman resorted to name calling on social media? Has Boardman moaned and complained bitterly about the pace of rival cars all season in the public spotlight? No. I just hope the readers of The Sun who aren’t fans of the BTCC don’t believe this garbage that’s been written.
It’s about time Plato just let it go. It’s also about time his team got him a good PR representative. If he already has one then I suggest they get the boot. I’m getting bored, frustrated and annoyed with all this now and he is making himself out to look like an idiot. However, rather cleverly, he has written off his title chances. We all know that with nine races left this season there are still a lot of points up for grabs. All it takes is for a front runner to have a dreadful weekend, as demonstrated by Matt Jackson last time out, and Plato can haul himself right back into the battle. He knows this too, but by saying he can’t win takes the pressure off him. If he doesn’t take the title at the end of the season he can turn round and say it wasn’t his fault and no doubt blame a certain driver. But if he were to win the championship, then he has given himself the opportunity to blow his own trumpet and tell whoever will listen how great he is by winning when he had no chance.
I’d like to think the Silverline Chevrolet driver will now keep his head down and concentrate on battling fairly for points rather than blurting out the guff he has of late but I doubt it. I know he is capable of getting back into the championship battle and would rather he put all his effort into his racing than taking as many opportunities to have a go at someone or moan about something as possible. I know that the turbo powered cars are faster than the normally aspirated ones, but the teams and drivers that run a turbo car are all abiding by the rules. They are doing nothing wrong so personal attacks are totally unacceptable. I only hope that there are no silly ‘revenge’ manoeuvres in the remaining events and the racing talks for itself.
This weekend I was at Rockingham for the British GT & F3 championships where I witnessed Felipe Nasr win the F3 title and ex BTCC driver Jonny Adam win the first race of the season for the Beechdean Aston Martin team alongside Andrew Howard. Also this weekend another ex BTCC driver Steven Kane won the American Le Mans series race at Baltimore with Humaid Al Masaood.
Meanwhile, it was all kicking off north of the border in Scotland as Knockhill hosted the British Touring Car Championships. Whilst there were many talking points throughout the event, the main one involved Jason Plato and Tom Boardman in race three. With the current champion leading, Boardman was close behind seeking his first race win. It was obvious the Seat Leon was faster in a straight line and as the pair started lap 4 the Chevrolet received a nudge from behind under braking for the first turn. However, a subsequent nudge further into the first complex was enough to send Plato off and into the tyre wall leaving Boardman to claim his first BTCC Victory.
Now whilst there was contact, it was slight and probably avoidable but on another day in another situation would not have led to a retirement. However opinions are divided as to whether there should have been punishment handed to Boardman as a result. Obviously, Plato himself was not happy, but had the roles been reversed, I’m sure he would have written it off as a racing incident. While he is never happy to be on the receiving end, he has given out more than his fair share of contact in the past.
We can all argue and debate this subject for a long while, as all the Plato fans will disagree with the non Plato fans and vice versa. That’s fair enough. We all love rivalries and let’s face it, you get heated debates in all sports from rival fans. However, I would like to think that nearly every fan of Jason Plato would agree that his angry response on Twitter that evening, plenty of time after the ‘heat of the moment’ was totally unacceptable. To call a fellow competitor a ‘Talentless Pikey’ stepped way beyond the boundary of professionalism. Whilst there maybe one or two drivers in the championship who’s talent could be debated, Tom Boardman is not one of them. Jason’s response to a BTCC fan and twitter user who told him it was a stupid thing to say was also unacceptable and showed him for the ungracious and sore loser he can be.
Jason is a well regarded driver, for that there is no doubt and a role model to many. Also, as a representative of the BRDC he should be setting an example and acting in a professional manner. There are many sports stars who have landed themselves in hot water over comments on twitter and I would like to think this situation doesn’t go unnoticed by the powers that be. At the very least, a public and personal apology should be made.
There are many good racing drivers out there that struggle to get sponsors and a budget together to enable them to get a race seat. Good PR and a strong fan base help these guys no end. This isn’t the case for Jason Plato, sponsorship deals and public exposure come along frequently to add to his extensive fan base and many teams would offer him a race seat at the drop of a hat. If a young upcoming driver had his attitude and behaved the way he does at times, then they would no doubt be kicked out of a team quite quickly. Unfortunately, Plato is a big draw for the BTCC and he knows that. He loves being a big fish in a small pond and is happy to voice his opinions when it suits him. He is quick to criticise others but doesn’t consider his own actions and their possible consequences. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, no man is bigger than the British Touring Car Championships and it will continue to survive without him. I have no problem with drivers showing passion, but he went beyond that and I hope someone makes him realise the error of his ways pretty soon.
This weekend my Alter Ego will be off to Rockingham to photograph the British GT and F3 championships after a couple of weekends away from being trackside and it can’t come soon enough.
I say alter ego because as a photographer I am a different person to the one in my day job. Unfortunately my day job is totally different to being a photographer and I like to keep the two very separate. So much so that my boss doesn’t really know what I get up to at weekends and neither does any other people I come into contact with at work. Whereas over time I have become to despise my day job for many different reasons, I love my photography and being trackside so I like to keep them apart. I always look forward to being trackside, photographing great cars and racing and catching up with some good friends I have made during my time as a motorsport photographer. Whereas on the flip side, I dread going to work especially after a great weekend behind my camera. I am currently looking for another job but that is a whole different story!
It has been a little while since I was last taking photos of the Britcar championships at Snetterton and since then my main camera has been sent off to the Nikon repair centre which turned out to be quite a farce. I have developed a slight scratch on the filter in front of my sensor which is sometimes noticeable on photos. Very much like dust spots, it is more noticeable on photos where a slower shutter speed is used. Whilst not totally ruining the camera it is still somewhat annoying and something I was hoping cold be fixed. Having sent the camera off, I had to wait over a week for Nikon to tell me they had received it and that a quote would follow soon. A few more days passed and I had eventually received a repair quote. A whopping £1,700! This was unexpected as I thought the filter could be replaced easily. Needless to say I did not go ahead with the repair and I am still waiting for the camera to be sent back.
In the mean time a new camera has been purchased which I will be putting through its paces at Rockingham. It will be my second visit to the circuit this season having been there for Britcar in April. It’s a unique circuit, run on an oval and infield section, that divides opinions but I don’t mind the circuit. The fact that it is hosting the return of the British GT series, after a long break, means I’m looking forward to it even more as you all know how much I love GT racing.
So whilst I will be heading into work tomorrow with a heavy heart, my thoughts will be on the weekend and one of the few things that helps me through each day. Also, it is just one month to go to the Britcar 24 hour race. I cannot wait!