Lex Petros: August 2007

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Autosprint Competition – Batu Kawan Stadium, P. Pinang

August 11th: Last Sunday was an interesting one for me. It was my first time being involved in a motorsports event.

The Autosprint ‘Come-N-Try’ Competition (AC) was held in conjunction with Penang’s “Pesta Sukan Malam” (Night Sports Festival) at the Batu Kawan Stadium. The AC was organized by the Motorsports Association of Malaysia (MAM) and is purposed toward facilitating events in a controlled and safe environment. It’s also part of MAM’s roadshow initiatives for 2007.

Francis Tan (fondly referred to by us as “Uncle”), Mike Tjoa and me woke up to a gradual start of a night of tyre-burning and turbo-charging event. We had all bunked at Francis’ humble abode the night before, preppSave Nowing our equipment and getting a set of rims and tires loaded in my car for the AC. I woke up the earliest; had errands to run - paid some bills, refueled the car, checked the tyre pressure etc.

We headed towards
Penang around 11.00am after breakfast. The weather was fine and the roads were not congested. All in all, the drive was ok, ‘cept the annoying jam between just before Lembah Beringin which lasted for about 40 minutes.

We reached Batu Kawan Stadium at a little over 3pm and stuck around to see the MAM crew set up the track, the initiative of which was spearheaded by Peter Hansen (MAM’s chair person). Peter Hansen who was a professional racing driver took to the track in a Gen-2 R3 to test it out.

Here’s where it gets exciting!

When my turn came about, Mike and me realized that the set of rims (fifteens) and tires we brought all the way from KL had the wrong bolt plan, so I had to run on my seventeens. (Ouch!) 3-4 rounds on the track was all I could bear to stand. Even then, the wear is visible after a few handbrake turns… HE He he.

The track configuration was interesting.

From the starting line, a 20-meter dash into a 90 degree corner to right. Then, 2 cones which you’d have to maneuver around and then on, a clear 150 meter dash straight on (punched the throttle!!! Engine screams! RPM near red-line) right toward a cone where you’d have to do a 360 degree around (handbrake turn! Tires screeching for mercy!). Then, another 2 cones left and right (whooah…whooah) into a 3-cone slalom (zig-zag-zig…AAAaarrrhhhh!). Zip around that, and there were 2 tight zig-zag turns to do (this is where the tires were at their ends witsJ ) and finally, a tight left to the finish line, right to a screeching stop! (Phew!).

We volunteered as scrutinizers for this event. Mike and I started to go car-to-car of various sorts, from a stock Honda City right to a souped-up 2.0 litre Proton Wira turbo. Another highlight for me was a 1.3L Myvi with a Supercharger on the scene!! Bolted it on, this Xarrax Lee fellow!

Our job was to make sure the cars were safe to go into the track…In and out. No loose items or faulty parts. Basically, our motto was “No SAFE, No RACE”. It was an interesting assignment where all you had to do was wear a red ‘official’ MAM t-shirt and the drivers think you’re God! He He…

The cars were divided into 4 classes:

Class A: 2000cc and above (including turbo and supercharged cars)
Class B: 1600cc to 1999cc
Class C: 1300cc to 1599cc
Class D: 1000cc and below

The race was good! I particularly paid attention to Julian Phang (from KL), a seasoned driver with a 1.8L Proton Wira (LSD-equipped) and a female driver in a Starlet Turbo. Of course, there was a Toyota AE-86 “drifter” present who nearly took out the judges’ tent near the finish line (Whoops!). Above all that, Charlene Khoo and co-driver, Clement Yeo, both sharing a Perodua Kelisa took to the track with one of the best lap-time (in Class D, of course).

What amazed me was the age of some of these drivers. One of the teenagers, pointing to his car said to Mike and me, “This is my school-going car. At 27 cents per kilometer, expensive you know! (He He…) When I was 18, I only had my trusty old mountain bike which averaged around zero to hundred (meters) in 15 seconds! Something like that .:)

Later during the race, YAB Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon, the Chief Minister of Penang graced the race for a while, flagging off two or three cars!

We finished the runs by 3am the next day and after manually computing the time for the drivers in the designated classes manually (cuz the time-keepers ran into some problems with the computer..*grin*). At 4am in the morning, even using a calculator is challenging!

After the prize-giving ceremony by Peter Hansen, we vacated the scene to McDees for a really early breakfast and then to our hotel, the Golden Nasmir. Slept like a baby that night…ZZZzzzzzz .

I heard there’s gonna be another one in Kuantan before Ramadhan month… He he. If all goes well, I’ll be there to join in the fun!!!

To read more about autocross, check out also

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

My Condolences

I dedicate this post to the family of dearly departed, Anthony Lau Lee Siong, who went up to the Lord on 28th July 2007.

I had the chance to met Asther's dad for first time, 2-3 years ago, when he briefly made a trip to KL. And then, another time several months later for dinner with Asther's family. He was a amusing man, who dabbled into politics-talk and insurance. I really enjoyed the few times we had chatting. I guess it's also novelty for me to talk to someone from Kuching. I don't know many people from East Malaysia, so I do relish getting a perspective of life over there. As events transpired, I was saddened when he suffered a stroke end of last year. I was more saddened when I learned of Uncle Lau's passing last Saturday.

I now take the remnants of the day to convey my deepest condolences to you, Asther Lau and family.

My thoughts are with you and your loved ones during this time of loss.