Yesterday I had the first part of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine against the SARS-Cov-2 virus. I was expecting to feel rough today but so far I do not. It’s been around twenty four hours and all good at the moment, perhaps later today will be rough as fuck. I’ve read and heard on podcasts about people’s reaction to the vaccine and so I’m curious to see how I react. The most important thing is to get vaccinated and help reduce my reaction to getting Covid.

There are some things we don’t yet know about any of the vaccines. What we do know is that they don’t stop you getting Covid-19 but they do minimise your reaction to it. It’s highly likely you won’t be hospitalised if you get the real virus. We don’t know if vaccinated and infected people are still contagious and we don’t know how long the vaccine lasts and we don’t know if it helps you recover from all the Covid variants. But we do know it stops you being hospitalised if you catch Covid. So, while we don’t have the data yet on various aspects of the vaccine we do know it lowers your chances of dying from the virus. Seems a good idea to get vaccinated because your chances of dying of something else while waiting to be vaccinated are higher than the chances of you dying from the adverse reactions to the vaccine.

In the mean time here’s a video taken from inside the Prius as I did a lap of the Brands Hatch GP circuit. It’s a four minute lap time, roughly, which is amusing as it should be closer to one minute forty had we been allowed to race. However, that’s not the point. I’m happy to leave my racing to playing Gran Turismo.

Surprising Compression

Recently I went somewhere for a thing! Given the last year of lockdown and nothing really happening this was a super treat. Motorsport Vision emailed earlier in the year offering the chance to drive the GP circuit at Brands Hatch and as I considered the price to be suitable I booked a place. There were rules to follow once on the circuit but it was nice to experience the route in the sun and in my Prius. There were quite a few “showy” cars in the queue for the sightseeing but I didn’t care. I enjoyed it even though our speed never really exceeded 50 mph.

Driving The GP Circuit
Driving The GP Circuit

I will say that even at the pedestrian pace we were going the compression going down Paddock Hill was surprising, it also started earlier than I had expected but now that I’ve had time to reflect it makes sense that you feel negative g as you go over the top and then the onset of positive g is fast as you approach the inflexion.

This was great fun and something I’d love to do again. I should probably see what lap time I could get by driving on Gran Turismo. Unfortunately the current GT version doesn’t have a Prius so I’ll try and find something else with similar power and torque.

Sensor Troubles

For a few years now I’ve had some dark spots on photographs I’ve taken of aircraft in the sky. These show up when I’m on full zoom on the telephoto lens and a recent trip to Headcorn really showed this up so much so that I had to edit the photographs to get rid of those dark spots. Finally I got around to searching for a solution after I eliminated it being the actual lens. The first thing is to try blowing the dust spots out with some air. This is where my troubles really began. The guide I saw said hold the camera with the sensor facing downwards and blow the air upwards into the camera body. This was attempted but without much thought as I was using a can of compressed air and had to angle the can horizontally to get the flow direction correct. A load of propellant came out of the can and sprayed into the camera body. All of this stuck to the sensor and I effectively ruined the camera.

Another searching of the internet resources led me to find a microfibre sensor wipe that might clean the sensor enough so that I can use the camera again. I was either going to spend GBP20 or so on some special wipes or I was going to have to send the camera off for a new sensor or professional clean. The twenty quid seemed worth it before going for the Amber Level response. One day later and I’ve got the camera body open with microfibre wipes in hand and I’m trying to clean the most sensitive part of the camera full in the knowledge that I might destroy it. The process completed and I now have an OK-ish camera. I still think it needs to be sent off for a proper clean but I might get away with just that rather than having to buy a new sensor. The camera is working a little better than before and the original spots are reduced. They are still there but not as prominent. I need to go somewhere I can take photos of aircraft flying to see what the background looks like.


Part Two Of

“The Weekend Of Noise”

I spent a few delightful hours at Brands Hatch over the weekend to watch the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Races. I do like this type of car. I think I have grown out of F1, it’s not that interesting and full of masses of bullshit. I prefer the “honesty” of GT and Le Mans Prototype type racing. This closed-wheel racing seems more fun and spectacular. I know these cars don’t really bear much more than a passing resemblance to their road-going cousins but I like the look, sound and overall racing of these vehicles.

Audi R8 LMS
Audi R8 LMS

The first part of the WEEKEND OF NOISE was a trip to Norwich for Thrashersaurus. This was the second part of the weekend and my ears were still ringing from seeing Xentrix play the Brickmakers.

The day started with a free pitwalk and a chance to get close to the cars and drivers. Hence the above picture.

Anyway, the first race watched was the GT 4 European Series with many cars on the grid it was pretty good but there was a number of safety car periods and this stifled the racing somewhat, but it did mean there was a good lot of close racing.

I did like the KTM cars which had a lovely rear end.

After that was the first of the sprint races for the GT series and the hour of racing included a pitstop and driver change. It was an impressive sight and good fun to watch. The weather was perfect, lovely and sunny. You know it’s summer when the circuit commentators are reminding spectators to put on plenty of sunscreen.

The beginning of the race was a rolling start and I captured it here:

As I watched the race from the Brabham Straight I got to see the podium celebrations:

Final Podium
Final Podium

It was a good day with plenty of noise and ice cream.

Audio R8 LMS GT4
Audio R8 LMS GT4

It’s very nice being back at Brands Hatch. It’s the place I spend an awful lot of 2004 and 2005, almost every Sunday. Not sure I could have that commitment again but a couple of times a year seems a good start.

Just because I can, I decided to have a go racing a similar race to the GT series on Gran Turismo and, just because I like most of you, I have uploaded that replay on to YouTube. Enjoy (or not).


In this picture from yesterday’s communication I noticed that the author has named Graham Hill. The downhill section from Druids to Graham Hill Bend.

Brands Hatch, Kent, UK
Brands Hatch, Kent, UK

By John ChapmanOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

This naming is incorrect. While that section of track is informally called Graham Hill it is not named anything officially.

The corner is most definitely named Graham Hill Bend but the downhill section is name-less. It is occasionally and informally referred to as Graham Hill, but clearly should be called Graham Hill Hill if it was going to be named correctly.

My Favourite Brands

This afternoon I went to Brands Hatch to see some Club Car Championship races. It was very agreeable and a good way to spend the afternoon. I had forgotten the smell and sounds of the place!

As usual I took the camera to this place and got a few shots. There are a number of communications within this site with pictures of cars, but if that’s what you like then so what!

A Supermarine Spitfire flew over twice, once on the way to a show and once on the way back. It was lovely to see even though I couldn’t hear it!

This is the sound of Lotus cars, mostly Exige, racing down the Brabham Straight.

Brands – A Return

It has been quite a few years since I went to watch something at Brands Hatch. The circuit isn’t far from where I live and I used to go an awful lot before getting children. I decided to take the sons and show them what racing is like. I chose to go take them to a club weekend rather than a large event. My reasoning was that it wouldn’t cost me much, there wouldn’t be that many people around and if they hated it after 30 minutes it wouldn’t bother me too much to leave.

We went to see the MG Car Club race weekend. These cars looked good and there were races from Ferraris too. For the race report from the weekend then look here. This picture is from the MGCC website.


This picture shows my sons running up the hill to the inside of Druids corner so they could see the cars racing around the hairpin.

Druids at Brands Hatch
Druids at Brands Hatch

And here is the view from the hairpin.

MGCC Brands Hatch
MGCC Brands Hatch

Super Licence S-4

Part of the continuing series in trying to develop a parameter as an example to use in teaching a topic I might not teach for a while. It’s an extremely feeble excuse, I know. This is a record of my attempts to pass the S-4 Super Licence in Gran Turismo 6.

This test is a timed lap of the Brands Hatch GP circuit in Kent, UK. The car to be used is the Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4. The only car adjustments that can be made are to the TCS and ABS systems.

GT6 needed to perform an update before I could play. It was a “light” one coming in at 100MB. I had to wait a short while before I could start the game.

The required times were:

  • 1:34:5 Gold
  • 1:36 Silver
  • 1:39 Bronze

Lap 1 – 1:43:258.
Car seems stable in the corners and not too much oversteer on exit when putting the power down. Now time to find where I can increase corner speed, especially exit speed on Surtees and Stirling’s.
Lap 2 – Hit cone on inside of Hawthorn’s trying to cut corner and get power on along the Derek Minter Straight.
Lap 3 – 1:38:825 Bronze.
Lap 4 – Off at Paddock Hill Corner.
Lap 5 – Off at the exit of Druids, too wide.
Lap 6 – 1:37:999
Lap 7 – Off at Hawthorn’s, lost rear of car on inside of corner.
Lap 8 – Off at the exit of Hawthorn’s, too wide, too fast.
Lap 9 – 1:36:428
Lap 10 – Off the exit of Sheene.
Lap 11 – Off at Paddock Hill exit.
Lap 12 – Off the exit of Hawthorn’s, oversteer on the entrance of the corner.
Lap 13 – Off at Hawthorn’s entrance.
Lap 14 – Off at Westfield.
Lap 15 – 1:35:599 Silver.
Lap 16 – Off at Hawthorn’s, oversteer.
Hawthorn’s appears to be my plague corner. It’s a high speed entrance, just after Pilgrim’s Drop and a good exit speed is needed to keep at low time along the Derek Minter Straight. It’s no coincidence that this is the corner I get wrong the most.
Lap 17 – Off at the exit of Graham Hill’s.
Lap 18 – Off on the entrance to Paddock Hill.
Lap 19 – Cut the corner and hit a cone at Hawthorn’s.
Lap 20 – 1:35:241 I was one second ahead until Sheene Curve where it went a little “scrappy”.
Lap 21 – Off along the Cooper Straight [can’t remember what happened there, but it would have been hilarious to watch!].
Lap 22 – Off at Graham Hill exit.
Lap 23 – Hawthorn’s again.
Lap 24 – Sheene Curve caused an exit from the tarmac.
Lap 25 – Hawthorn’s.
Lap 26 – Paddock Hill Corner.
Lap 27 – Sheene Curve exit.
Lap 28 – 1:35:006 a very scrappy lap.
Lap 29 – Druids, the *force* was used to push my car wide.
Lap 30 – 1:33:970 GOLD. Job done.

This was a very satisfying test to complete.

Here’s a shot of the car coming around Graham Hill Corner on my fastest lap.

A Lambo at Brands Hatch, Graham Hill Corner
A Lambo at Brands Hatch, Graham Hill Corner

Keeping A Record

I made up an example for a lesson where we needed to approximate the Poisson distribution using the Gaussian distribution. I told the class that the average number of attempts I need to complete a Gran Turismo 6 Seasonal Event Time Trial was 20 [I needed a number greater than 10 because Poisson tables go up to a parameter of 10].

20 attempts seemed a reasonable value. I find the newer challenges on GT6 pretty hard and I’m not sure if they are meant to be or whether I am getting worse at the game. So, this is a record of my attempts to get a Gold Time on a seasonal event.

I chose to do the latest seasonal event using a Lotus Elise Race Car around the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit. The required times were:

  • Gold 1:30:00
  • Silver 1:33:00
  • Bronze 1:40:00

I bought the Lotus Elise Racing Version tuned by Gran Turismo.


I will state here that I don’t like racing the normal Elise. The car is light and mid-engined which means I have big problems with oversteer braking for corners and accelerating leaving corners. I find the standard Elise very “twitchy”, I can clear some of this behaviour by change the suspension settings but it is a challenging car to drive fast. I was quite careful on my first few laps as I learnt how stable this car is.

Here’s a map of the GP circuit at Brands Hatch so you can see where the corners are, note that Dingle Dell corner was straightened slightly in 1999 and so it’s not quite as severe as it looks here, more a sweeping right turn at the top of a hill.

brands hatch map

Here’s my progress.

Lap 1 – off at Clark Curve coming to the finish line.
Lap 2 – 1:39:6 Bronze Time secured. Car doesn’t oversteer as much as the standard Elise. It’s slightly twitchy under braking but accelerates well. No changes to set up yet. Quite a lot of downforce and it squirms through the corners.
Lap 3 – 1:35:1
Lap 4 – 1:32:28 Silver Award secured. Good increase in speed, but now all the low hanging fruit has been taken. Need to find a 2.5 second decrease of time.
Lap 5 – Off at Dingle Dell Corner, outside on exit.
Lap 6 – Off at Hawthorn’s, cut too tight a lost rear on grass.
Lap 7 – 1:33:3 no increase in speed.
Lap 8 – Off at Druids, cut too tight and tyres on inside grass.

Perform some setting changes. Lower car by 50mm front and rear.

Lap 9 – Off at Hawthorn’s on exit, too wide.
Lap 10 – Off Paddock Hill Bend, outside exit, lost car and went across track to RHS.
Lap 11 – Off Paddock Hill Bend, cut corner too much, spun car.
Lap 12 – Off Druids, late braking, didn’t make corner.
Lap 13 – 1:32:199
Lap 14 – Off at Dingle Dell Corner, too wide on exit of corner and spun [lots].
Lap 15 – Off at Paddock Hill Bend, turning while braking, ended up cutting corner too much.
Lap 16 – Off at Surtees. this corner is key to a fast lap as there is a long straight after it. It is also off camber and nearly a blind entrance. I spun after the steering gripped while braking.
Lap 17 – Off at Stirling’s, too wide on exit and lost rear on grass.
Lap 18 – Off at Druids, on inside.

Perform some setting changes, stiffen the spring settings.

Lap 19 – Off at Hawthorn’s after being 0.5 seconds ahead of ghost lap. Too wide on exit, taking the corner at high revs in 4th.
Lap 20 – Off at Clark Curve, annoyed.
Lap 21 – 1:31:531
Lap 22 – Off at Stirling’s. This corner is key.
Lap 23 – Off at Paddock Hill, too wide on exit.
Lap 24 – 1:30:773
Lap 25 – 1:30:643
Lap 26 – Off at Dingle Dell Corner, lost rear on inside of corner, ended up in RHS barrier.
Lap 27 – Off at Druids.
Lap 28 – 1:30:563
Lap 29 – Off at Graham Hill corner, too wide on exit.

Looked to see if settings for power could be changed. Tuned engine to 200 b.h.p. with stage one tuning. Performance Points still below limit.

Lap 30 – Off at Hawthorn’s while ahead by 0.4 seconds.
Lap 31 – Off at Paddock Hill Bend. New power means faster and I haven’t adjusted braking point into Paddock, just going too fast.
Lap 32 – Off at Paddock (again, same problem).
Lap 33 – Off at Surtees, while ahead by 0.5 seconds.
Lap 34 – 1:29:939 GOLD time.

I have finally beaten the GOLD required time by 0.061 seconds. This is perfectly good. I’ve won.

If I left the track near the start of the lap I would restart the lap unless I had just changed some settings in which case I carried on with the lap to see how the car behaved in the corners, it would effectively be a free tuning lap. I think this challenge took around 80 minutes for me to complete, including time for writing down my progress.

Now, if I knew more about suspension and had the time to gradually play with the settings and see how to improve the handling of the car (power is limited) then I should be able to find another two seconds (I like to think). I just don’t have the time to do this.

The online time record is a good 6 seconds faster than me. I had a look at the replay video of the person in first place and they are using more of the track than me (I am too safe in corners) and they also slide the car a little more than me. I like to think that with more practice I could get there, but I have other things to do. As much as I love the game, I also enjoy spending some of my time doing other things.

Some Extra Thoughts – 6/3/2014

I described the Lotus Elise Race Car as “squirmy” in the corners. By this I mean that the tyres grip too much and I think I’m losing time in the corners through the tyres not wanting to turn the car. I *think* I could resolve this by adding some toe-in to the wheels and maybe a little extra camber. I am not going to test this remedy I am just mentioning it because that would be the next adjustment I would make to the suspension settings if I wanted to improve my time further.

This picture is me taking Paddock Hill Corner in the Lotus Elise Race Car tuned by Gran Turismo. This photo was taken using the photo feature in recorded replays. This was the start of Lap 14.

Gran Turismo 6 - Paddock Hill

This photo is me a little later in Lap 14 where I didn’t get the exit of Dingle Dell Corner correct and lost the rear of the car on the grass. I spun wildly. I haven’t counted how many times I span but it’s around 10.

Gran Turismo 6 Spinning Smoke

It looks as though I am still in control but I am not. There were still a few more complete turns to go after this photograph was taken.


On Saturday the 8th of September the Parish family went with the Whites to watch the Paralympic Road Cycling at Brands Hatch. It was a baking day and the racing was already underway when we got there. We weren’t allowed to take our drinks into the venue and we weren’t allowed to take in some dinner knives I had packed for cutting our bread but they did let us take our pop-up sunshade which was nice as the sun was scorching that day.

We set up camp on the bank overlooking Clearways and Clark Curve and could see the cyclists every 15 minutes or so as they completed another lap. The children didn’t really understand what was going on and the adults couldn’t really watch what was going on because they had to look after the children.

None of this mattered as the atmosphere was excellent and we all had a lovely time. The children did get slightly over-exposed to the sun though and I still feel guilty about that. #2 son has now walked on the gravel trap of Clark Curve and stood on the tarmac of the Brabham Straight which is very pleasing to know.

This is the view to the start line of Brands Hatch with the track set up for road cycling.


This is the view looking back towards Clearways with the track set up for the paralympics road cycling.