The Worlds End

People of Thailand

IMG_2508There has been so much to experience while attending the WC 2014 champs that it’s hard to know how to compose this journal. There is one thing that has been a constant and that is the hospitality, grace and humility of the Thai people. For those who warned me of untoward going on’s, my experience is quite the contrary. While the stigma and paranoia lingered in the back of my mind, in truth I felt quite safe and graciously accepted. Perhaps the religious culture of Buddhism has a lot to do with their generosity, perhaps it’s their upbringing, perhaps all the above. For me, the people of Thailand welcome us and we are blessed to have experienced such a  glorious mode of humanity. Be it the porters, the concierge, the kitchen staff or taxi drivers, they have all made Thailand a wonder of humanity and I will sorely miss the people when I return home.

It was a family shopping day today and I was early as the shopping malls open from 10.30 to late on weekdays. I took the opportunity to fulfil a promise to Lu and venture outside the confines of the Novotel hotel and immerse myself in the local backstreets if Bangna. It’s not an affluent suburb, but who cares how much money you have when life is blessed with a golden heart. While walking along looking for the entry to an overpass on the highway a mother and small boy were walking to my side, the young boy reached out and wanted to hold my hand, there was no shirk from the mother and my paternal instinct was to hold it and a little more of Thailand rubbed off on me. I reached into my pocket and found a 10 baht coin, I offered it to the mother with a gesture to buy a treat for her lovely son. She looked down to him and asked him to be gracious directly to me and accept my generosity. The young boy clasped his hands and bowed, I was humbled, placed the coin in his small hand and too bowed with clasped hands and felt Thailand getting it’s grip on me.

Lets not forget I’m about to head home, where the rat race has no higher order, religion is a cult and not truly practiced. It’s a hard reality to face, but it’s my culture and I belong there, not here. I continued to walk along the highway in the hot sun, warm breeze and could really enjoy the reality of the latitude and land that I visited, not for tourism, but racing our model cars. Along the way, yet another family with young children crossed my path, again without asking the young girl, no more than 7 or 8 years old, bowed without being told. They were normal children, running over the bridge to see who would be first, but in truth they were much more than that. They were parented along with all the other residents in Thailand with grace and humility. It is infectious, it’s addictive and it’s above everything we call society in Australia.

How much.. Too Much…

You’ve got to be a selfish person  to barter with the folk of Thailand. The more people do it, the more disrespect for foreigners and the harder the haggling and feud gets. I walked miles today looking for something special for Lu and with the greedy nature of westerners, it became more and more difficult for Thai people to sell wares that were representative of Thailand, all there was to buy was kilometres of wholesale market rubbish.

Hours of looking for something representative of the class and beauty of Thailand became so difficult I walked to three shopping malls and all I found was the same wholesale market wares. After finding a couple who sold belts and asked for directions to a jeweler, I felt I should buy one and then returned to buy another, we can never have enough with three boys in the house. I immediately received a discount without even asking and thought the lady had short changed herself. This wasn’t the first time it happened either, Thai people have a sense of honour and for some reason I was a nice customer, wherever I went. She told me of a hand made craft stall on the lower floor.

I found the stall, approached the lady and found something that might fit the bill (can’t say Lu might read it) she started the haggle process. I didn’t want to undercut her, too many others do it and for the few dollars extra I wasn’t going to feel shameful and ruin my experience thus far. When she named her price I agreed, but it was all I had left in cash and I looked at her and said I need to catch a taxi where can I find an ATM. She then sighed and immediately dove back into her register and gave me back 100 baht to catch a cab back to the Novotel. She said…

You are a very nice customer, I want you to have it…

So for all those people that mock the stereotype of Very Good, Very Cheap… Well you might be the cause of the problem, this culture is stylish, handsome and beautiful and I can only imagine how disgusted they might be of the western world invading their country with the inequity of economies.

Sorry, No English

IMG_2510Some have a very good grasp of English, some have a little and some none at all. But who’s problem is that? YES MINE!! Enough said..

Learn the basics before you come to Thailand, their language is very different and I haven’t got much past, hello, thank you and no problems! It has been difficult to get things done at times, and it’s all MY FAULT!!!

It’s worth paying extra to get good porters with multilingual skills to communicate to taxi drivers and alike. I think it’d be quite ignorant to  simply book a cheap guest home and insult them with the blur of English.  The porter in this image has immaculate English and even good IT skills, one has to wonder how much of his potential is wasted, I’m very thankful he’s here but would like to think his world has a glorious horizon to grace him with the fortunes he deserves, he’s priceless!

So why the big deal about the hotel, well if I look around I see helpful smiling faces, they are proud to hold a good position in a reputable establishment and it’s our patronage that enables them to escape the heat and humidity, dress well and serve their guests with pride…

200mm IC WC 2014

IMG_2463While it’s known as Huge RC, there are two humble people that made it all happen, Surikarn and his beautiful wife Pim. With a racing background, their professionalism, their knowledge of our needs and the hospitality surpassed anything I would have expected. The canteen ladies, the track attendants, the pro shop retailers and all the crew at Huge RC were bigger than huge, they were GIANTS of hospitality. I’ve eaten more wonderful food, tropical fruits, ice creams than anyone could image. I vowed not to eat western products while here in Thailand, one exception at a shopping mall where we had to try a Hungry Jacks with Aussie beef, it was better than it was at home.

Anyway, the Pro Shops are awesome, one with Yokomo, another Xray, filled to the brim with goodies that made for awesome souveniers for us and our friends back home. The track had complete perimeter access and there was an awesome staging area behind pit lane, toilets (no paper), fantastic lighting, race control, media rooms, you name it, it’s got it. I thought England park was a great facility, well I realise now  that it’s not quite up to the level of HugeRC.  They used large belt driver industrial fans to vent the exhaust, the arched roof was high and vented, the car washing areas ample, smoking areas with lovely home made furniture, air conditioned VIP suites to die for and ample tables and power outlets. One warning, the 8mm MDF table tops aren’t design for fat assed westerners, so don’t sit  on them with a full butt, you’ll fall through! Steven Jovanovic and Matty found that out the hard way!

Novotel supplied the main meals, while locals provided the sundry yummy treats like tropical fruits, drinks, home made ice creams, chicken kebabs (yes Cooked on CHARCOAL!!)  For the first few days of practice they even put a massage team in the middle of the carpet track to de-stress and relax the visitors, there’s one shot on video of Patrizio Rossi sleeping while having a foot massage, Willy Dario’s mechanic was also near unconscious as was Cristian from Matrix, I think it took the edge off the long journey from Europe.

The greater RC fraternity also appeared, faces from around the world congregrated to catch up, share, care and add to the flare of the great event. It was an eye opening experience to meet the founders, the officials and the mechanics that travel around the world at their own expense for the passion we all share.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the commitment to our hobby from the likes of Juraj Hudy, Michael Salven and all the representatives of brands and models is to be admired. Sure there’s a sell behind the scenes but personal relationships are more than hard cash, it adds a global contribution to the atmosphere, the canteen, the club and lifts the spirits of newcomers like us. It’s motivating, lifts our game and pushes up the volume to bring racing into a spectacular event.

The organisation was exceptional, Pim even gave Luke a body search, I was impressed. Her small stature is not to be confused with the powerful authority she embraced once the event began. Her ability to separate the host from the official business of running the event was exemplary. For a little lady I would not dare cross or show contempt for anything while she is in official capacity. Her ability to clearly define a time and place and adapt to and morph into roles was outstanding and racing needs authorised personnel like her to set the tone and it was appreciated by us.

There was clarity, while all the officials were amicable and approachable there were serious democratic discussions taking place all the time, none of which was our concern but no less important to us all. This representation is often subjective and can become emotional, thanks to the controlled tyres provided by Matrix and fuels by Maxima, Cosmo and others, the event removed a large component of the subjective opinions that have plagued our hobby over the years.

The points system worked a dream, while the EFRA representative found the maths daunting at the time it was tentatively decided that they would invert the points system to make it easier to calculate. Nothing changes really, just the maths. The controlled tyres were not a hit and miss affair either, Cristian from Matrix had been in close liaise with Surikarn and they used an objective testing to decide which tyres would suit the track and my findings were they were SPOT ON!! I didnt even hesitate to check the tyres, they were trued perfectly with nicely rounded edges, the rims were nice and while the offset played a little havoc on our Capricorn’s track width, it was more of a user error than it was a QC problem.

PLEASE NO MORE WHITE SHELLS!!

Now who would have thought a P37 was the key, sure we were told, sure we were stubborn, sure we love the SRS-N, but how can one argue with 100 of the worlds best! The one really problematic issue was WHITE PAINT, every other car was white or orange.

White shells should be BANNED!!!

Of course I am joking, but as a camera operator it became almost impossible to distinguish one car from another. Then for those who opted out of white, seems flouro orange was the next choice. One semi had three identical orange cars and I had no idea who was who. Its not like the car numbers were small either, Surikarn provided lovely HugeRC professional vinyl numbers and maybe I need to upgrade my glasses or the drivers need to slow down…. Not sure but next time we attend, we’ll be running our original SKY BLUE livery and I suggest everyone pick a different colour please! Just a happy rant, so please don’t take it too seriously.

Spectators could watch the race from the two adjacent sides of the track and the opposite side from the stand. So there were many angles to enjoy the racing from. The main spectator area was wire meshed to prevent accidents and the others were bannered. The complex was draped to the max with wonderful professional printed sponsor banners. The lighting was awesome, the roof had natural lighting panels too. Sure it was darker and posed some technical issues when shooting, so Im a little flat with the footage I acquired. I should have been more diligent with my camera setup and dropped the resolution to increase the frame rate. All in all, I wasnt there to make a Hollywood production, just to capture the moment and I’ll get around to finishing if later, for those still reading, you might click [here] for a little surprise, please download the whole thing if you want to watch it more than once, it’s 1 hour long.

Was the racing clean? YES!!
Was it aggressive? YES!!
Was it enjoyable to watch? YES!!
Was our performance perfect? NO!!
Was it disappointing? NO!!

So how is it that we weren’t at our best and still found it to be enjoyable?

Anyone that goes to a WC with expectations is likely to fall short of the mark. There are so many unknown parameters to deal with only the most experienced of team might have a clear cut idea of how they will perform. Add to the challenge of an evolving track and this amplified the pressure on all drivers to adapt quickly and maintain continuity. After Luke felt disheartened with his performance, we headed back to the hotel where he looked up the RC Timing results. He noticed big names like Dario half way down the list and it dawned on him that nothing was certain and rising above adversity was an achievement in itself.

With the lower qualifiers on Saturday as the day went on there was a distinct number of top drivers having to bump up. Our own Peter Jovanovic had also slipped down the order and as the last finals were approaching the level of competition on track lept upward in quality. It’s a credit to the new system and made for exciting finals all the way up the field.

Who’s that girl with the blue car??!!

How many boys would accept getting beaten by a girl in motorsport. If you ask me I’ll tell you that I for one have no such problem, Luke might feel a little worse but in truth having raced with Loren Whiting for most the event there was a sensible mutual respect between them and the final word is…

Yes Luke, she beat you, but she’s the fastest 200mm girl racer in the world!!!!

I’m sure a young mind might have some serious expectations next time, but for this event, she was a pleasure to race with, courteous, fast and from a pedigree racing family and there’s nothing to be ashamed of. My full respect goes out to Jeff and Loren for standing tall in among the giants of our hobby.. BRAVO!!

PLEASE NO MORE McDonalds!!

Yes, there was a disappointment in all of the wonder and enjoyment. On the day of the finals as Peter Jovanovic made the A Final I had run out of memory card space and desperately needed to get back to the hotel and get the notebook and offload the vision. There was no way I would disrupt the LiveRC/RedRC crew so I arranged for the Novotel manager to give me a life back during the intermission of semi’s and A-Final.

Well wouldn’t you know it, McDonalds made a complete disaster of everyone’s orders and the poor girls from Novotel spent over an hour trying to sort out the mess. This then delayed my transfer back to the hotel by an hour and I arrived back at the track 1 minute before the final was to commence. What makes people want to eat that rubbish while there’s fresh fruit, local vendors and genuine Thai cuisine on offer is beyond me. But due to all those who can’t expand their taste buds further than the synthetic take away, I’ll blame you all for missing out on 1/2 of the A Main.

There was guava, mango and so many refreshing tropical fruits on offer, there was Thai cuisine from Novotel, there was home made Thai ice cream an an awesome kebab lady serving yummy local food and Luke and I agreed before we landed to completely boycott all western cuisine. I’m not a breakfast kind of guy but when I saw Thai noodle soup for breakfast and tried it, I was hooked. That chicken brother, light noodles and seafood would energise me for the whole day.  So if we make it to Italy, I expect, PASTA, PIZZA, RED WINE and lots of good bread!

 When it Gubbio, I do as the Gubbians do!

One final note of food…. Before I checked out of our room I had a few notes to hand to the kitchen staff. The food was outstanding and I’ll have to take Lu back for an indulgent culinary experience. While the bar staff are well reimbursed for there services, I have worked catering kitchens and my appreciation had to be shown.

We’d checked out and were sitting to have lunch ala carte. I just wanted one more Thai soup before I left and Luke chose a hamburger. The elder lady who I had earlier treated with a gesture of generosity appeared with a plate of grilled mussels. I’d indulged in all the Thai cuisine, she knew I was open to trying anything. The problem was, I let Luke try one, and wouldn’t you know it, my half dozen delicious open mussels turned into a mere three and the taste of the herbs, the freshness and flavour is still lingering and the yearning to go back and feast on them is going to be hard to let go of….

IMG_2514So we hung around the hotel, where the Novotel/HugeRC marketing person stayed with us, just because he was our host. We finally arranged a 50/50 deal with the Limousine and porters to share the fee and just before we left were graced with the presence of Surikarn and Pim for one last time. They’d come to dinner with FEMCA’s Trevor Reid and while were we honorably invited, it wasn’t our place and we were winding down to enjoy and reminisce over the close to our World championship experience.

It was a perfect venue, beautiful people, exhilarating track and spectacular RC performance.

BIG THANKS TO:

  • HugeRC – Surkarn, Pim and the entire crew!
  • HugeRC – Canteen Girls – Special mention for keeping me cool!
  • TPD MEDIA – For camera Equipment
  • LiveRC – Media Coverage
  • RedRC – Media Coverage
  • IFMAR – All
  • FEMCA – Trevor Reid
  • EFRA – Willy for the great footage.
  • BRCA – Julie, Martin and Alex
  • NOVOTEL Bangna – Kitchen and HugeRC reps. Porters and Bar too!
  • MATRIX – Cristian Boni- Good Cigars, Good Whiskey and great conversations
  • CAPRICORN RC – Patrizzio and Will for parts and support
  • NOVAROSSI – Stephano and Malek – Support
  • MURNAN MODIFIED – Uriah Murnan – Engine prep and supply
  • MAXIMA Fuel – Sasha – Support
  • MUGEN EU – T-shirt for my loyal Mugen friend.
  • KM RACING – Kenny
  • HUDY – Juraj and Martin
  • THAI AIRWAYS
  • LEK the BEST Thai taxi driver
  • Ray, Aaron, Dave, Angelo, Benn and all the crew at CLUB 62