Alastair's Blog

Behind the Wheel - Student Radio Documentary

Alastair Caldwell - Thursday, May 29, 2014

Earlier this year I had a visit from two students, Sean Terry and Richard Anderson, who are attending Sunderland University. As part of their final year thesis they were producing a radio documentary on F1 and came over to my house to interview me and get words direct from the horse's mouth - so to speak!

Great production and includes interviews with a host of people in F1 across the years. Interesting approach that they took looking not just at the rigours of F1 but the effect on personal and family life.

You can hear it by clicking below and go to their SoundCloud page by clicking on the link below the image.

 

 Read the background for this project by clicking here


Social media links updated

You can now post on Facebook or Twitter by clicking on the social media icons on the left of the page and follow me on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube by clicking on the social media icons at the top right of the page (these are all at the base of the page on tablets & mobile phones). If you want to share on other social media channels just click the '+' icon on the left and select another social media channel

Thanks to Maureen at Insight Group Marketing for arranging and coordinating the interview and to Sean and Richard for coming along and including me in their radio documentary - good luck with your final year exams! 

 

Olympic Effort on DK Greek Tour

Alastair Caldwell - Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Adonis in Pelopennese, Greece!

And no that title isn't me talking about myself, but the GTO which, while it was alongside a raft of Ferraris, kept getting admiring looks from everyone we passed on the recent DK Engineering Greek Tour which finished at the end of April. 

Greece was so lovely it's hard to post images of cars when there was so much great scenery and wonderful locals.

I chose the Ferrari because it has now been fitted with some heat and sound insulation plus carpeting, so it is a lot more civilised than before - when it was like traveling in a very hot and very noisy tin box!

It went very well and lasted the course so very happy with our progress. There were some really nice cars on the rally and all the owners got on very well with each other which made it a great atmosphere for 'friendly' competition. Sadly one entrant managed to write off his lovely California Spider Ferrari on the first morning by spinning off the road into the trees - thankfully he and his passenger were both unhurt and were given rides in other cars for the rest of the trip.

To get going the cars were trucked down to Greece while we flew by a small turbo prop plane from Farnborough - a very very civilised way to travel!

The rally was managed by the great Ferrari specialists DK Engineering. For the duration of the tour we were based at the same hotel for our base and went out each day to a different destination. So many places to recount but the most impressive, and one that will stay with me, was Olympia. It was fascinating to see and hear about the home of the Olympics and walk on the original stadium surface which pre-dates the birth of Christ.

So this blog is all about the tour cars and Greece and less about the competition - but another rally report on it's way as we're off to the Paris-Madrid rally next, coming soon....

 

            

But in case you thought I was alwys on a jolly - you'll se below that it's tough on these trips!

      

 


Social media links updated

You can now post on facebook or twitter by clicking on the social media icons on the left of the page and follow me on facebook, twitter and youtube by clicking on the social media icons at the top right of the page (these are all at the base of the page on a tablets & mobile phones). If you want to share on other social media channels just click the '+' icon on the left and select another social media channel

 

2CV in Marrakech Express turns out to be a winner!

Alastair Caldwell - Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Winners in a lovely Citroen 2CV!

When Graham Nash was in Morocco writing Marrakesh Express I had recently left New Zealand and I was starting to make a name for myself at McLaren F1. I never crossed paths with Crosby, Stills and Nash but the words of the song could have been written for me as they were as relevant then as they were during this hard fought rally:

"Had to get away to see what we could find
Hope the days that lie ahead
Bring us back to where they've led"

Just how I felt in 1966 when I left New Zealand 'looking for new adventures' and on my arrival in Morocco for the 2014 Marrakech Express Rally, looking forward to the 'days ahead' and hoping to get around and to the finish line in one piece. And we did - finishing in style in first place!

There were 15 runners in the race and to level the playing field all the 2CVs were supplied by the organisers, 2CV Adventures:

I know a lot of you have been following me on facebook and twitter so I'll try not to repeat myself here and there are lots of photos on this page that I didn't get a chance to post - so enjoy them!

We started in Malaga in Spain and the route took us through Malaga city centre to Tarifa and onward to Tangier, Meknes, Beni Mallal, Marrakech. Then it was back to Malaga via a different route of Ouarzazate, Merzouga, Midelt, Chefchaouen, Tangier and across the finish line back in Malaga. During the rally we went through the massive Todra Gorge and the glorious Atlas Mountains covering just over 3,000 km.

I completed the rally with my good friend Hayden Burvill, Porsche fanatic, and owner of WEVO Porsche specialist parts company who came over from California to co-drive. We know each other well as we did the London to Capetown rally together a few years back.

The great thing about the rally is that the organisers ensured that we had plenty of time to take in the sights as we went across Spain and Morocco:

Day 1 – Malaga to Tarifa 184kms - all lined up with the 2CVs we'd spend the next 2 weeks in....

Day 2 – Tarifa to Tangier to Meknes 290kms - on the ferry and into the hills for some 'casual racing'

Day 3 – Meknes to Beni Mallal 348kms - into the Middle Atlas mountains, through the Bab Mansour gates and the ancient town Place el Hedim and on to Ifran known as the Switzerland of Morocco because it is so near to ski resorts

 

Day 4 – Beni Mallal to Marrakech 265kms - the first real mountain challenge and a testing Regularity section – 470m to 1320m climb in 50kms!

Day 5 – Marrakech - a rest day (!) and a chance to visit the world famous Jemaa El-Fna Square.

Day 6 – Marrakech to Ouarzazate 212kms - 100kms of competition climbing out of Marrakech on the famous Tizi n’Test, a demanding 20kms that climb 1,000metres and then back down through the Berber villages and deep river gorges, ending up at Ait Behaddou, the Hollywood of Morocco - so called because it has been the location of many famous films from Sean Connery's 1975 'The Man Who Would Be King' through to the James Bond classic 'The Living Daylights' and more recently the TV series 'Game of Thrones'.

 

            

Day 7 – Ouarzazate to Merzouga 377kms - out into a flat stony desert and views of the Grand Canyon of Morocco and a 10kms regularity section.

Day 8 – Merzouga Camp - Technically a rest day but instead we took to the desert for a bit of fun in the dunes.

Day 9 – Merzouga to Midelt 380kms - Long trek (7.5 hours) but beautiful mountains, gorges and some wonderful competition. 

            
Day 10 – Midelt to Fes 315kms - high passes of the Middle Atlas mountain range then on to the quiet roads of Imouzzer Marmoucha.

Day 11 – Fez to Chefchaouen 330kms - as we came out of Fez we went into the Rif mountains - a full day of twists and turns!

Day 12 – Chefchaouen to Tangier to Malaga 298kms - that's it, the last day and over the winning line in first place!


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Social media links updated

You can now post on facebook or twitter by clicking on the social media icons on the left of the page and follow me on facebook, twitter and youtube by clicking on the social media icons at the top right of the page (these are all at the base of the page on a tablets & mobile phones). If you want to share on other social media channels just click the '+' icon on the left and select another social media channel

 

End of the 'Road to Mandalay' on to 'Marrakech Express Rally' via New Zealand

Alastair Caldwell - Monday, March 03, 2014

Currently enjoying a 3 week break with my mother in New Zealand after we got to the end of the 'Road to Mandalay' rally. It was pretty good all round considering the number of problems we had. End results were:

Result: We came 3rd in class & 7th overall

As always I wanted to finish first in class and overall but it wasn't to be!

I posted an update when we were about halfway through, but because of terrible WiFi I wasn't able to post as regularly as I wanted so I saved it all up for an end of rally review! Here are some of the high points:

24th Jan: Up to the second week the Rally had been pretty good and Burma was just great. Everything in Burma is good, roads, people, scenery, food and the weather. Mother is also fantastic coping with everything, she's so alert and interested, and still continuing with the great navigation!

Other ralliests are suggesting that Mum should be in the Guinness book of records as the oldest rally navigator... now that's an idea! We stayed two nights in a hotel on Inle lake - it is just fantastic! Lovely hotel and lovely long boats that wisk you through wonderful scenes that are straight out of a Travel brochure. The Burmese people are just so nice and sweet it is almost too much. They have great reverence for age so treat Mother with great respect and tender care. It's so nice to be here and just loving everything about Burma. 

Here's Mum ready for the Guinness World Record for oldest rally navigator!

3rd Feb: Rally was still going really well and Mum was being just great and getting on famously with the rally and everyone involved. During this rally we were joined by Peter Hall, a Journalist from the Daily Telegraph, who wrote a weekly review column for the Telegraph website which you can check out by clicking here (see below for links to his full rally review). Peter is also producing a feature article for Saga magazine on Mum, I am told it is Britain's biggest circulation magazine, so looking forward to seeing that!  The place was just lovely and we were in Bagan for three days, did a fantastic hot air balloon trip over the city which has huge Temples and thousands of smaller Stupas everywhere - just outstanding. 

The balloon trip was marvellous, amazing views and great fun


9th Feb: End of the road for the rally and we flew from Yangong to Bangkok and then on to Sydney to stay with my daughter Elizabeth and her family.

The Road to Mandalay rally was one of the best. I'l take memories of Burma and the Burmese the roads, scenery and weather with me as we go. So nice to be with these people, they couldn't be nicer, such as shame to leave but we need to move on.

The good news is that it inspired me to take a whole heap of photos, some appear on this page and the previous blog and you can see a lot more on my facbeook and twitter channels.

A long rally but yet again Mum was fantastic, always alert and interested, never sleeping in the car, doing a superb job of navigation with the road book and generally people watching observing all and everything passing by and enjoying herself!

We were taken by surprise by the fact there was some competition so had not taken any equipment for this but still tried to do it - though not very hard. We got some nice trophies for coming third in class. We stayed two days in Sydney then went off to New Zealand for three weeks. We'll be popping back to Oz for a while then back to UK on the 12th March.

Marrakech Express rally 29th March to 9th April

Need to get back by 29th March and ready as we are off to the Marrakech Express rally which takes place 29th March to 9th April. This is 15 2CV Citroen's starting in Spain then rushing about Morocco then back again. The route includes Meknes, Midelt, Merzouga, the Todra Gorge and the Atlas Mountains. Should be a great hoot as my friend Hayden Burvill, Porsche fanatic, owner of WEVO Porsche specialist parts company is coming from California to co-drive. He knows me well as we did the London to Capetown rally together. Watch this space for updates on the Marakesh rally!

Can't get away from the Space Station elephant logo - as expected in Mandalay elephants are everywhere!

 

Peter Hall's Road to Mandalay Coverage in the Daily Telegraph:

Peter Hall, Daily Telegraph, Classic cars: the road to Mandalay

Peter Hall, Daily Telegraph, Classic cars in the Road to Mandalay rally: week 1

Peter Hall, Daily Telegraph, Classic cars in the Road to Mandalay rally: week 2

Peter Hall, Daily Telegraph, Classic cars in the Road to Mandalay rally: week 3

 

Social media links updated

You can now post on facebook or twitter by clicking on the social media icons on the left of the page and follow me on facebook, twitter and youtube by clicking on the social media icons at the top right of the page (these are all at the base of the page on a tablets & mobile phones). If you want to share on other social media channels just click the '+' icon on the left and select another social media channel

 

The Road to Mandalay

Alastair Caldwell - Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Well, just a week after we started the The Road to Mandalay rally and I got my first mention of the rally in the Daily Telegraph yesterday - I must be slipping! Normally my antics get me much more press coverage. Still it was good to read and see that mum got the headlines!:

"...the ever-determined Alastair Caldwell, navigated by his formidable 96-year-old mother, Dorothy."

 

So a quick recap of the first week:

On 23rd, all started well with mum at the start line and the car being blessed by a Monk - hence garland on the grill

The following evening, saw Mother with 60ft long dugout canoe 400 years old Racing canoe and waiting for a coconut to drop! Not too much pressure at this time.

There were lots of sugar cane trucks on the side of the road, waiting to sell their loads. They tried to get us to buy - they figured that Rolls Royce drivers must be able to buy the odd load of sugar cane, not really essential fodder for a rally.

Scenery is beautiful and the rally has been good so far and Burma is just great, everything is good, roads, people, scenery, food, weather. For me Rudyard Kipling, in his Mandalay poem summed it up:

   But them spicy garlic smells,
   An' the sunshine an' the palm-trees an' the tinkly temple-bells;
   On the road to Mandalay...

Mother is also fantastic and coping with everything, alert, interested and doing great at the navigation. Other rallyists are suggesting that she should be in the Guinness book of records as the oldest rally nav! Will try to keep updates coming but  Internet tends to be very poor so far everywhere.

We are staying two nights in a hotel on Inle lake. It is just fantastic, lovely hotel and lovely long boats that whisk you through wonderful scenes that are from a travel brochure but they are real. The Burmese are just so nice and sweet it is almost too much, they have great reverence for age so treat Mother with great respect and tender care.

Just a marvelous rally so far - bit off the leadership pace, but plenty of time to go yet and as The Telegraph said 'ever-determined'!!

Can't get away from the Space Station elephant logo - as expected in Mandalay elephants are everywhere!

 

 

 

 

Round the horn to finish 2nd

Alastair Caldwell - Wednesday, December 11, 2013

It is so good to be back in Argentina for the Cape Horn Rally in November. Brought back some great memories and we created a few more!  As always I wanted to win and cross the line to see the chequered flag but sadly just pipped into 2nd place by Paul and Sandra Merryweather in their 1974 - Mercedes 450 SL - well done to them after a hard fought drive.

I was joined by Laurel Smith in my 1968 Mercedes 280SL Sports, gleaming red under the beautiful Argentinian sky at the start line. That look didn't last long however as no sooner had we started than the head gasket blew! But I'll come back to that in a minute.

Before the rally started we arrived into Buenos Aires in good time so had a couple of days looking round and doing a few visits to old haunts from my days coming here with McLaren in the 70s. The Grand Prix in '74 win was a memorable one for me as we won after local hero Carlos Reutman led the race and Juan Peron, the President of Argentina at that time, flew his helicopter to the track late in the race to view this triumph. The army used tear gas and gunfire to control the crowd and then Reutman's car failed and Peron left swiftly as Hulme won the race. It wasn't a friendly end to the race and and we had to be guarded from the crowd.

Anyway, after reliving some of those great memories the rally, as I said, got off to a very bad start when the cylinder head gasket failed on the very first test! So we finished the day in a cloud of steam but actually leading the rally. With the help of the rally mechanics I changed the gasket that evening and the car ran very well after that - although it proved very hard to start when hot which is an old problem.

The next two days were very good. The second day test was cancelled and we won both tests on the third day so finished off after three days still leading and still smiling.

17th November saw us crossing the desert - what a scorcher it was! Sadly Laurel's navigation duties were suspended as she went down with a tummy bug from the day before. So combined with car action, stress and heat she had a horrid day. The following day we had a rest day in Mendoza so a chance to recover for all of us.

The following few days saw a lot of activity with Paul & Sandra just 8 seconds behind us, a Chevy, a few dinks here and there and some clouds of steam from cars in our rear view mirror. There's never a dull moment on these rallies!

The last week of the rally went relatively smoothly driving through and visiting some great places with some majestic sites.  Glorious weather and a great drive over the Andes from Mendoza to Santiago - great drive over the Andes up to 11000 feet and down again with such beautiful views.  When we arrived in Santiago, Chile after the day's test, we had a second day as a rest day and ended up sitting by the fantastic pool of the Grand Hyatt Hotel.  At this stage all was still going well on the rally, car running well and still leading - but Paul & Sandra closing the gap.

I spent a lot of time as we travelled trying to locate another head gasket to replace the one I used on the first day - not tempting fate just like to make sure we had one in reserve in case the rally took its toll again.

Sunday 24th was a rest day in Bariloche, Argentina and still all going well and the car still leading the rally - just! We stayed in a fantastic hotel - Resort LLAO LLAO - which they tell us is the leading hotel in the World. I can believe it. Perched on top of a hill surrounded by lakes and snowy mountains. It was probably the best place to discover that we were no longer leading the rally, my good friends Paul & Sandra finally overtook us, which is fine with me.

We finished the rally in Ushuaia, Argentina second to Paul & Sandra, with the 1966 Ford Mustang GT 289 Cabrio of
Christian Dumolin and Regine Dumolin-Petillion third behind us. Felt really happy for Sandra as not only did they win it was also her birthday so a double celebration for them.

Great drive, great rally, some marvellous sites, great racing and good times with some great friends in wonderful hotels en route. Can't wait until the next rally!!

Keep following here and on my social media channels – updates coming when I can get time.

 

 

RUSH in name and reality!

Alastair Caldwell - Monday, September 02, 2013

When I found out that RUSH was being released in September I didn't realise that I'd also be rushing round everywhere as the promotion bandwagon rolled into town. Interviews, previews, premieres, the list is endless and so much fun.

Last Thursday, 29th, I went to London to do the Racers Edge Q&A session with Peter Windsor and saw Rush for the first time. Amazing how it all comes together and it seems so long since I had been 'on-set' with the mocked up McLaren pits and meeting with Ron Howard, Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl at Blackbushe airfield in Surrey.

I'll also be meeting up with Stephen Mangan who plays me in the film - what a job he had as I was on set while they filmed his parts and of course I put him straight as to how to say things and what to do - he had a tough job!

It's always hard to view a Hollywood entertainment film without looking at all the details and I found myself focusing too much on the technicalities, a lot of which they couldn't match to what it was really like - after all it's a film for entertainment not a technical documentary! But tonight I'll be able to relax and watch it for entertainment as I'm at Leicester Square at the Premiere.

You can see me in it if you look carefully as an FIA official complete with moustache but don't blink or you will miss me!

At the Racer's Edge Q&A session I was joined by Tom Hunt, James' son. A very emotional time for him, but also a great time for celebrating his father in F1 and for me to remember the pain and heartache I went through trying to control his father!

I'm not sure if I'll have time to tweet any images from the premiere tonight, so might be tomorrow.

Remember you can book tickets in the UK to see RUSH on the film's Facebook page.

I'll try to post some more information on RUSH here or on my Facebook page over the coming days.

 

Keep following here and on my social media channels – updates coming when I can get time.

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And the results are in.. Pirelli Classic Marathon 2013

Alastair Caldwell - Sunday, June 23, 2013

2nd in Class -- 12th overall

Well here we are all over, we've already moved on and traveling around but taken some time to sum up the rally as:

"Great roads, great views, good competition. So very tired and very hot crew were very happy at the end! Car a bit battered but running well and sounding great."

Not as high in the rankings as we wanted and are used to, but for the first real outing of the GTO it was a good test and we overcame some 'challenges'!

 

At this stage there's not a lot more to add than that it was a great rally and thank you all for following and for your messages of support and of course at time the ribbing! We had some great times, some great weather (and some awful rain), got inventive with the air conditioning and cooling system and met a troublesome concrete post. The crew were marvelous and you can see below just how much the GTO inspired this bloodthirsty Swiss mechanic after cutting away our propshaft problem!

One of the more interesting challenges was the propshaft problems that we had, which ended up in needing to cut away the coupling so that we could get going again and run fast - proudly displayed on the wing:

Propshaft coupling price cut from car, now we could run fast againMy beloved Space Station sticker still hanging in there after all the heat and rain!


That's it for the Pirelli Classic - but watch this space, I don't like coming in down the rankings so I feel another rally stirring and next time.... we'll be right up there!

Keep following here and on my social media channels – updates coming when I can get time.

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Revisiting The Scene of the Crime on the Pirelli Classic

Alastair Caldwell - Friday, June 21, 2013

It’s still hot - but in more ways than one!

The route has been fun these past couple of days and it's been getting hotter and more humid. We wanted to 'develop' our air conditioning so adapted the modification to add some more oomph - not pretty and not to our standard of fit or finish - but it wroked! Judge for yourself:

Ferrri air con mods

Ferrari Air-Con modifications Mark II capitalising on the slip streaming from Ferrari and Space Station logos.

When we arrived in the Dolomites we took a chance to grab some sun, overlooking a glorious vista. The Dolomites are a wonderful range of mountains and when the weather is like this you can literally see for miles from this vantage point:

The Dolomites - glorious views and glorious weather. Ferrari looking cool. 

So at the beginning of this post I mentioned that it was hot in more ways than one. Well there we were minding our own business with the latest regularity when right out of nowhere we were attacked by a.... concrete post! At the time we just couldn't stop because of the regularity so we pushed on and then came back to revisit the 'scene of the crime' and snap a few shots. Not as bad as it looks but bad nonetheless. Not sure if the Ferrari or the post came off worst!

Hateful looks from the Ferrari as it eyes the 'downed' post!

By the time you read this we'll be on our last day - wish us luck!

Keep following here and on my social media channels – updates coming when I can get time.

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Pirelli Classic - Moving Ahead

Alastair Caldwell - Thursday, June 20, 2013

It’s HOT!

I know that the UK weather isn’t a glowing summer at the moment but over here it is just so, so hot and at times humid.

It’s been 3 days now on the Pirelli Marathon, we’ve had lots of dramas with the car but nothing that has stopped us – we wouldn’t let it!
  • On the first day Catriona had a stop watch failure which cost us time
  • The rally trip meter has given us lots of grief - first it wasn’t working at all then once we got it going again it failed to operate.
  • On one occasion it stopped during an extremely difficult navigation test but Catriona still found the correct route! Amazing what you can do under intense pressure
  • We have also had prop shaft problems but we’ve got those under control. But that’s meant for the last day we have had to impose a speed limit of exactly 62 MPH because at any speed over that the propshaft hits the floor hard!

Rally is really good. We have been driving on great roads in France and now Switzerland, steaming hot for everybody but especially for us as the Ferrari is set up as the original 250 specification with very little heat or sound insulation so we are suffering with lots of both inside the car.

Did I mention it was hot without air con?

Did I mention it was hot? Ferrari Air-Con modifications with extra slip streaming from Ferrari and Space Station logos.

Everybody outside the car loves it, telling us how great it looks and sounds. This, after spending so much time, effort and, not to mention money, getting the car to its current state is really satisfying.

We ended the first day at 9th overall and after three days we had moved up to 7th place. Not good by our standards - but a good result bearing in mind all the equipment failures.

Stayed in a lovely setting on Lake Luzern having crossed over the lake by car ferry. Lovely day if just too HOT – did I mention it was too hot?

Keep following here and on my social media channels – updates coming when I can get time.

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