Archive | August 2015

Rest In Peace Justin Wilson (1978 – 2015)

When I was writing my little tribute to the late Jules Bianchi after he had passed away from his injuries sustained at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix a little over six weeks ago, I told myself that I hope it’s the last time in a long while that I would have this sick feeling in my stomach of realizing that a great racing driver and a great person has left. Unfortunately, motorsports has and will always be a dangerous sport and another great driver and a great person has been taken away from us. And it’s another guy who I think very highly of and that of course is the late Justin Wilson. Just saying that feels weird for me.

I’m still in shock as to what’s happened. For those who don’t know, I’m a huge fan of IndyCar racing and have followed the series since 2005 very closely. I don’t think I’ve missed one race since that day, be it on the TV, a live stream on the internet or delayed on YouTube. I was watching the Pocono race on Monday morning because I couldn’t stay up enough late Sunday night for the race live. It was a pretty good race, one of the better oval races I’ve seen. 6 or 7 cars wide racing? It was brilliant. Then came 21 laps to go when race leader Sage Karam crashed. Parts of his car was flying and his nosecone hit Justin Wilson’s helmet and he went straight into the crash barriers. At this point, I had no idea that he was in a coma but I knew something wasn’t right as he wasn’t moving at all. And then the news came a day later that Justin Wilson had passed away. Life just isn’t fair sometimes. He was just a brilliant driver who finally had a drive with one of the top teams, albeit a part-time deal, in IndyCar and then this happens. I feel horrible for his family and friends, I can’t imagine what they’re going through right now, especially his two young daughters. I can only hope for the best for them at this difficult time.

I first heard of Justin when he won the F3000 championship that year (which is now GP2), beating the likes of Mark Webber and Sebastien Bourdais to the championship. Those two happen to be two of the very best around so it shows the quality JW had. It was always tough for him to fit in those cars being a very tall guy but he finally had his chance in Formula One with Minardi in 2003 and then moving to Jaguar for the second part of the year, scoring one point in Indianapolis. He never really had a proper shot to prove himself in Formula One.

He did do just that in ChampCars and more so in IndyCar. In the first year of the unification, he got a win at Detriot for Newman-Haas Racing. But the team ran into trouble financially so he joined the underdog minnows, Dale Coyne Racing. That’s when he proved how bloody good he was. He gave that little team their first ever win in 25 years at Watkins Glen. After a stint with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, he came back and got them another win in Texas. And on an oval too.

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Justin Wilson in Sonoma 2012. Picture taken by me.

I was really pissed when I heard Justin didn’t have a full-time drive in IndyCar for this season. I remember asking, why isn’t someone as talented as him and Ryan Briscoe not have full-time drivers in a top motorsports series? Sadly it’s all about the money now and guys with the talent can’t just rely on that which is very very wrong. At least both of them got a part-time racing deal and have proven themselves once again why talent > money. And just before that Pocono race, Justin scored a 2nd place finish at the last race in Mid-Ohio! For a part-time driver, that is quite brilliant. He was even leading that Pocono race right off the start and for bits of it. Andretti had been doing better ever since he showed up with two wins for Ryan Hunter-Reay. I was really hoping this would give him a full-time ride with Andretti but sadly that won’t happen.

I’ve had the privilege to watch Justin race twice, both times at Sonoma in 2012 and 2014. And once again he was his impressive self, finishing inside the top 11 for the little team Dale Coyne Racing. In between those races in 2013, he actually finished on the podium in 2nd place in Sonoma. It was just exactly a year ago on this date (24 august US timing) that I last saw Justin Wilson in action at Sonoma. He stopped on track at the end of the race and gave me one of my best pictures I’ve taken of any racing car. He had also walked past me before the start of the race, which was the closest I’ve got to meeting an IndyCar driver at any point. But as he was in the zone, I did not want to disturb him. Even if I had done so, I knew he’d be ok with a quick picture, that’s the kind of guy he was. And to think that exactly one year later, he would succumb to his injuries from Pocono. Life is too short sometimes and very unfair. It always seems as if the best people are taken way too soon. I said that about Dan Wheldon and Jules Bianchi and the same can be said for Justin Wilson.

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Justin Wilson in Sonoma 2014. Picture taken by me.

I will always have the biggest of respects for these racing drivers. They are true heroes, risking their lives to achieve success in motorsports be it to win a race or just to finish it. No-one can match these guys and gals in my view. These guys accept the danger and get on with their racing jobs, I will always have respect for every and any racing driver for that, be it someone who I’m a fan or even if it’s someone I don’t really like, I have nothing but respect for all of them. Especially the guys who drive in IndyCars, which some may say is the most dangerous of the lot because of the speeds they do especially on the ovals. These guys are true heroes to me. So to lose another one is quite hard to accept.

JW is easily one of the best drivers I’ve seen in an IndyCar. It’s a shame that he never got the opportunity in a full-time top team ride he fully deserved. If he had one, I am sure he would have been an IndyCar champion. I’ve heard a lot of stories about how he was a great person and having seen him in the flesh in Sonoma and how friendly he was to his crew and the people around him, I can attest to that. Justin, you were a great driver and an ever better person. Thanks for the memories, especially that win in Watkins Glen in 2009, Texas in 2012 and much more from your time in IndyCar and Formula One. Godspeed JW, you will be missed.

Rest in peace Justin Wilson.

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Singapore Airlines Light Up The Night Carnival – My story

It’s less than a month away but yes, the 2015 F1 Singapore Grand Prix is coming soon and me being a racing fanatic, I cannot wait for that weekend in late September. And thanks to Singapore Airlines, the title sponsors for the Singapore Grand Prix, we got a bit of a taste of the racing fever. Well not me since I always have it but for everyone else to get themselves ready and get into the racing festival mood.

This event was done in a way to promote the upcoming race but also it was a great way to get everyone into the racing spirit. There was a lot of stuff to see and do these past two days (22nd and 23rd August 2015). Of course I had to check it out! Me personally, it looks to me that Singapore Airlines has done a lot to get hte fans involved since taking over the sponsor title from Singtel and I couldn’t be any happier that they’re the ones doing this. They are probably one of, if not the, most well known Singaporean brands around anyways!

Day 1 – Saturday

The first thing I tried to do was get in on the action with the go-karts but then I remembered I was wearing my slippers and not a shoe. To drive these go-karts, your feet had to be fully covered. Shows you how little go-karting I’ve done to forget that bit of information I probably should have known. So what’s the next best thing? Try out the racing simulator then.

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It’s not my first time trying a racing simulator for F1 2015 game this month. Funan mall has two simulators for anyone to try going on, one of which is the same as this one at the F1 Pit Building, the other was even more expensive but obviously that meant it was better. Still, the Logitech G29 Driving Force is pretty good itself and I just found out it’s about $600. I might need to start saving then. We only had one lap around the Marina Bay Street Circuit on the simulator and it had to be done in 3 minutes. I did at least get to finish my lap, 1m51s was the time. Not the best but it was my first and only go with that simulator so it’s not so bad I guess.

There’s also an area to try your hand at being a pit member and changing an F1 tyre. For whatever reason, I didn’t try that one out on both days, just happened to skip my mind. There was also a paper plane challenge but I can never make a good one so that’s not for me. There was also an SIA louge area of sorts next to the racing simulator and on display was a model of the Airbus A380 and also seats from that plane, Economy Class, Business Class and First Class. I never got to sit on the first class seat, I mean everyone wants to try it right? I don’t have the money to fly around in first class seat myself.

There were a number of supercars on show and there was one that caught my eye and it was the first one I saw. I have seen pictures of that particular car before but never live in living colour. And it was right there in front of me making it’s way back to the garage to be on display for all to see. It’s the Koenigsegg Agera 5. It’s not just a supercar, it’s a hypercar! And guess how much it costs?

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$5.3 million smackers! Yes, 5.3 million dollars. I can only dream of what 5.3 million dollars is like. I could do a lot with that kind of money and I wouldn’t even consider buying that car even if I had the money. I would if I had 10 million though. It was also the only one of it’s kind in Singapore. To the lady who owns it….can you let me have a test drive sometime in the future? 😛

There was also a whole host of supercars ranging from Ferraris, McLarens, Lamborghinis, Porsches, Audis and Maseratis. It was probably the most expensive parking lot Singapore had ever seen, and the best looking one for sure as well! And yes, I had more McLaren pictures than I do for Ferrari, I just couldn’t help myself! I did snap one pretty cool picture of a number of cars at the front of the pack. It might be one of my best pictures I’ve ever taken:

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Five different manufactures represented at the front too. McLaren, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche and Maserati from left to right. The cars were in a formation to spell out “SIA”, the front pack making up the “S” formation. The only people who probably had a view of the SIA formation are the one who were on the Singapore Flyer at the time or the tall buildings around the area.

There was also a few stunt cars not just on display but putting a really good stunt show, from close calls of a J parking to synchronized donuts and also the best trick I’ve seen, the car going around while the drivers were out of it! No-one was driving that damn car! I’ve not seen that one done before so kudos to those guys for that. A few TCR cars were on display as well as they’ll be making their debut at the Singapore Grand Prix this year. I’ve already seen two great races from them in Sepand (the first two races ever in this new TCR series) and I hope their races will be great in Singapore too.

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The second floor of the F1 pit building was open with more activies as well. I had never been on the second floor so that was nice to see what the paddock club suites looked like….well not quite as it was empty for now but still, the view from there was pretty good. No wonder people pay good money for those tickets, I’d love to watch the action from there too. Here’s what the view is like:

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The main reason for me going to the 2nd floor was to see the wax figures of Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, which was borrowed from the Madam Tussad museum in Sentosa. I’ve always wanted to go to one of those museums just to see what it’s like. Also on display next to them was the F1 2014 Singapore Grand Prix winner’s trophy. Of course I had to get a picture of that. And a picture with the SIA girls. Combine them both and it’s a better pic. So good, I took another one the next day, this time with two SIA girls. Let’s be honest, they are the prettiest air stewardess of them all. No other airlines can match them…not that I’ve seen one yet.

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Day 2 – Sunday

I had planned to go just on the Saturday but I was back on Sunday for one main reason, have a go at driving the go-karts from the KF1 guys. They’ve got a brilliant new kart circuit in Kranji that was designed by Herman Tilke. Yes, that same guy who designed the Sepang, Shanghai, Istanbul circuits to name a few. I’ll pay them a visit one of these days. Luckily for me I was one of the first to show up so I didn’t have to wait 40 minutes like most people did the day before.

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You had to pay $5 to have a 10 minute session on track and since it was for charity, I’m all good with that. It took me a while to know what I could do and not do with the car and just as I thought I’d figured out the track, the session was finished just like that. Only four laps for me. Only did one overtake too. I ended that session 4th quickest, 2.6 seconds off the pace with my best time of 57.930s. I was just one tenths away from being 3rd quickest. I wasn’t that statisfied with my lap….so I went back in line for another go!

This time I did have to wait for a bit to run on track. Helmets on back to the track for me. This time I didn’t wait to get some action, I was overtaking guys right from the off. I was full throttle all the way apart from the final corner, which I only figured out that you didn’t really need to use the brakes there as well on my final lap. This time I did get held up from a few slower drivers which probably cost me a chance to get a really good lap. I even accidentally spun one guy around. He was holding me up but I didn’t mean to hit him. Honest mistake my friend!

I ended that session 3rd quickest, this time I was only 0.7s away from the top spot. I improved my time by 3 seconds, my fastest time was 54.887s. It was fun racing those go-kart. I mean, it’s always fun racing go-karts. I wish I could do it more often. It was pretty cool to race on an actual F1 circuit, albeit just on the front straight. My silly little dream did come true. The best part of the two sessions was that my two go-karts had my two favourite numbers on it, #2 and #7. I couldn’t have asked for any better. Big thanks to Singapore Airlines, KF1 Karting and Singapore Grand Prix for putting on this event. Hopefully there’ll be another next year. Bring on the F1 2015 Singapore Grand Prix!

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Johnny Marr Live in Singapore 2015 – Setlist

The guitar hero himself, a true living legend of the music industry, Johnny Marr was in town this past week to do his first ever concert in Singapore. It was my first time at a proper concert (meaning not the ones by the Singapore Grand Prix, I’m there for the races mainly) and for the first one being a Johnny Marr concert and me being a huge fan of the guy, I could not have asked for anyone better.

It was a real treat to see him live to play not just his solo stuff from his first two solo albums, both of which are great, but also his songs from his time with The Smiths, one of the best bands to come out of Manchester and one of the best ever. Then again, my three favourite bands are Oasis, The Stone Roses and The Smiths, all from Manchester! No surprises there haha, their music are just brilliant. It was a nice mix of the old classics and the new hits and some great covers as well.

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I’ve seen top names in the music world like Maroon 5, Noel Gallagher (my favourite musician of them all) Katy Perry, The Dhol Foundation, Shakira, Chris Daughtry, Ziggly Marley, The Sam Willows and Pet Shop Boys, all of them great artists/groups themselves but apart from Noel Gallagher, none of them really compare to Johnny Marr’s gig, it was just awesome from start to finish. Then again, I’m a fan of his stuff, especially the things he does on his Fender guitars, so I’m a bit biased there but it sure was a top show the whole way.

I really had a lot of fun listening to some of my favourite songs so I’m here to share the set-list from Johnny’s gig for those who didn’t get to go or are interested to know what it was like. And hopefully some of you might like what you may not have heard yet from the genius that is Johnny Marr. Enjoy!

Playland – Johnny Marr – Playland

Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before – The Smiths – Strangeways, Here We Come

Right Thing Right – Johnny Marr – The Messenger

Easy Money – Johnny Marr – Playland

25 Hours – Johnny Marr – Playland

New Town Velocity – Johnny Marr – The Messenger

Panic – The Smiths – Panic EP

Back in the Box – Johnny Marr – Playland

Spiral Cities – Johnny Marr – ??? (Brand new song, not yet recorded)

Generate! Generate! – Johnny Marr – The Messenger

Bigmouth Strikes Again – The Smiths – The Queen is Dead

The Messenger – Johnny Marr – The Messenger

Getting Away With It – Electronic – Electronic

There Is A Light That Never Goes Out – The Smiths – The Queen is Dead

 

 

Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want – The Smiths – William, It Was Really Nothing EP

 

 

Dynamo – Johnny Marr – Playland

I Feel You (Cover) – Depeche Mode – Songs of Faith & Devotion

I Fought the Law (Cover) – The Crickets – In Style With the Crickets

How Soon Is Now? – The Smiths –  William, It Was Really Nothing EP

 

I thought it was pretty cool that he played all three of my favourite songs from The Messenger and also Easy Money and Back in the Box, two of my favourites from Playland. Real shame that he didn’t play my other favourite from that album, Candidate. I thought his new song Spiral Cities sounded really good, can’t wait for it to be recorded and released, hopefully in his third album, whenever that’s coming out.

And of course, he had to end the night with my favourite Smiths song of them all, and one of my favourite songs of all time, the bloody awesome How Soon Is Now! If I was a wrestler, that would be my theme song, it just sounds fantastic. I hope it’s not long that Johnny Marr and his band will be back in Singapore. I’ll be there no matter the price. I never did get to meet the great man himself but I did get a poster with his signature, I might as well get that.

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And yes I’ve gone and made a playlist with all of those songs if anyone is interested: