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For Whom The Bales Toll


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#1 Anorak Man

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Posted 01 April 2003 - 03:51

Sorry 'bout that Hemingway fans.

Anybody else miss Straw Bales?

They used to be such an integral part of the GP scene that Scalextric even included plastic bales in every box-set. Though they had disappeared from full-size GPs by the 70s, being replaced by stacks of bald tyres and Armco barriers. JYS's 'fault'?

Was it only on English airfield circuits that they were common, and what was their primary purpose? Comfortable seating for spectators and Motor Racing Correspondents perhaps, handy flammable material to warm shivering Anoraks on those Arctic concrete expanses, or to keep your horse's hunger-pangs at bay until baggin'time?

Let's have your rustic reminicences, ... oh and please keep them clean :)

We don't want to hear about Mr. Hawthorn and the Francorchamps Dairy Maid yet again, do we?


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#2 Paul Newby

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Posted 01 April 2003 - 07:27

I'm sure poor Lorenzo Bandini wished there weren't straw bales at Monaco in 1967. I think that may have been the beginning of the end for the old straw bale.

#3 Anorak Man

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Posted 01 April 2003 - 08:31

Originally posted by Paul Newby
I'm sure poor Lorenzo Bandini wished there weren't straw bales at Monaco in 1967. I think that may have been the beginning of the end for the old straw bale.

Ahh Yes, the bales certainly tolled for poor Lorenzo.

Incidentally, I've seen a picture of the accident which includes 'John Surtees' driving his way through the debris and smoke, but he retired from the race before the crash. Did he grab a spare care to see if he could help? Perhaps I'm doing a Muzza, and it wasn't BJ, but I can't for the life of me find the picture I saw. Anybody know what I'm on about? I saw it on the net at somewhere like Cahier or Klemantaski's sites, but I've been back since and can't see it.

Anybody got BJ's phone number to ask him if he did drive past Bandini's accident?

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#4 Doug Nye

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Posted 01 April 2003 - 09:24

Standard-sized small bales also contributed to St John Horsfall's death at Silverstone in the ERA, and to John Bolster's grievous injuries there, while Geoffrey Ansell was very lucky to escape when his ERA similarly tripped over them. A 500ccc driver whose name I can't just recall died similarly at Boreham, and so many more. This is why when we decided to adopt straw bales for Goodwood hill-climb - largely due to the cosmetic set-dressing properties of their colour and texture - we went for immense one-tonne bales made on the estate, and progressively packed too, with a relatively soft face increasing in density further into the structure of the bale itself....the hi-tech straw bale in fact.

DCN

#5 Eric McLoughlin

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Posted 01 April 2003 - 09:54

Still "de-rigeur" at The Phoenix Park", mainly placed around the normal park furniture (trees, park benches, Victorian gas lamp standards etc). I doubt they're as sophisticated as the Goodwood bales either.

#6 Vitesse2

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Posted 01 April 2003 - 14:38

Russell Brockbank was always rather in favour of strawbales ..... spectators could get involved too!

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But of course, if you hit one, it could be dangerous

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Even so, as Anorak Man has pointed out, you could always provide Dobbin with his afternoon snack

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#7 Frank S

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Posted 01 April 2003 - 21:29

Straw Bale Fields, Forever:

Nearly every race track I saw had straw bales as a major feature. At the Tijuana Beach races they were such a presence I used a strip of them on the left edge of the Web page showing the course diagram:
Playas de Tijuana

During the run-up to this event the delivery truck, coming over the Rumorosa mountains from Mexicali, got started late, and there was some question whether it would arrive on time to place the bales, or break down by the side of the road, a frequent occurrence. He arrived with hours to spare, but was loaded with bales of alfalfa, dense and twice as heavy as straw bales. One of the organizers managed to find an unoccupied load of straw bales a few miles away, and had them on scene so that the last few were laid just as the course marshal was finishing his safety check before first practice.

Among the expectations at these Tijuana races were undisciplined spectators using bales as seats when they were set out in places where it was expected they would be struck by out-of-control racing cars, and inebriated sailors from San Diego-ported ships doing Veronicas at racecars in the braking area at the end of the half-mile-long straightaway. No spectator injuries that I know of.

Each lamp-post along the straight had a single bale stood up against it. During a rain-soaked practice session, Rudy Macias aquaplaned his Mini Cooper over the curb (kerb, if you like) and struck one such combination straight on. It knocked him unconscious, pulled his shoulder belts out of their anchors, and left the lamp-post unscathed.

Some reference to many of those experiences can be accessed from this page:
Sports Car Graphic article

I guess the most rustic view of The Racing Straw Bale is in this 1972 view, where transportation and placement were less than technologically advanced (second image) :
TJ airport

The photographer who made the cover picture of this 1960 program was standing in the precise location of a row of bales designed to protect a stand of palm trees, as I remember it. One time when I was flagging in the spot depicted, a couple of the bigger, faster cars plowed through the bales, one of them ending its trajectory astride a bale, which was immediately set afire by the hot exhaust. The flag marshals were quick to arrive with their CO2-charged extinguishers, and saved the racer some grief. Eight years later at the San Diego stadium races I saw the same kind of thing happen to an Alfa, with the same result. Seems to me I already directed attention to the San Diego Statdium straw story from another thread.

I was told in the mid-late 50s, apparently as an argument against the necessity or worthwhileness of rollover bars (not yet mandatory at that time) that one of the first rollover bar installations was in a two-seat sports car, and that in its maiden outing it flipped over and landed so that a straw bale fit perfectly into the cockpit, crushing the driver.

Straw bales. Primitive 'dragon's teeth', that's what they were. Course markers disguised as safety equipment. Remarkable.

Ah. I almost forgot this report of the Chino, California, Airport races,
"The Nation's Fastest Hayride".


Frank S

#8 Wolf

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Posted 01 April 2003 - 22:20

Is this one of Doug's photos (I can't remember where I nicked it)? Anyways, appropriate for this thread:

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#9 Ray Bell

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Posted 02 April 2003 - 20:57

It was indeed the Bandini inferno that led to straw bales being held in low regard... ultimately to their demise.

The replacement? Armco, double row Armco, triple row Armco...

Advances were always made!

#10 Anorak Man

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Posted 03 April 2003 - 03:10

Eric McL sed:

Still "de-rigeur" at The Phoenix Park", mainly placed around the normal park furniture (trees, park benches, Victorian gas lamp standards etc). I doubt they're as sophisticated as the Goodwood bales either

Glad to hear the Irish are keeping up the tradition Eric. Eire's my second favourite country, lovely people. Spent almost a year zooming around the narrow lanes of Kerry, Kilkenny, Cork, and Dingle, TB & Brucella testing cattle for The Department, and locking farms up, a while back. And I noticed that the roadsides were wisely lined by PEAT Bales (lovely stuff) ready to stop errant motorists piling into the ditches. Very shrewd move on the part of the Authorities!

AM

#11 Anorak Man

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Posted 03 April 2003 - 03:10

Thanx Frank for your excellent comprehensive reply! :)
So, not just on English airfield circuits, but also Tijuana street races too.

I was told in the mid-late 50s, apparently as an argument against the necessity or worthwhileness of rollover bars (not yet mandatory at that time) that one of the first rollover bar installations was in a two-seat sports car, and that in its maiden outing it flipped over and landed so that a straw bale fit perfectly into the cockpit, crushing the driver.

Ouch!

Yes, you mention Alfalfa bales, which certainly would be much more dense than straw, or even English hay bales. Not much 'give' in those when slapped at speed.

I enjoyed visiting your web site, particularly the cover of HONK! magazine, I must try to get a copy for my petrol-head mates in the 'Honkers and Shankers' over here in Asia. (That's Honkong and Shanghai Bank for non-Brits.)

AM

#12 Anorak Man

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Posted 03 April 2003 - 03:11

Vitesse2: Thanx for those smashing Brockbank cartoons. I've actually seen the bale-slalom one occur on the way to Oulton Park. Though sadly I was in a Morris Minor, not an E-Type.



Our Doug responded:

This is why when we decided to adopt straw bales for Goodwood hill-climb - largely due to the cosmetic set-dressing properties of their colour and texture - we went for immense one-tonne bales made on the estate, and progressively packed too, with a relatively soft face increasing in density further into the structure of the bale itself....the hi-tech straw bale in fact.

Aggghh! This sounds suspiciously like Goodwood use 'Big Bales', great humping roly-poly efforts which can't be budged by the human frame. Please say it's not so Doug. What would 'Our Jenks' say?

Big-Bales were all the rage with downland farmers when I last set foot in Blighty, a decade ago. They demand huge capital investment in special tackle for making and shifting the things. And frankly they jus' don't LOOK right in the fields and meadows, how much less so at a trad-style motor race. But no doubt you know what's best to keep the show on the road. Wouldn't do to have somebody top themselves at a Revival meeting. It must be the Organiser's worst fear.


Wolf: Yes! Pefect for this thread. Graham certainly doesn't miss straw bales, in fact he scored a bull's-eye! Looks like he got a dousing with fire extinguisher foam too. Quite a recipe; Ten gallons of high octane petrol sitting on a bed of straw sandwiching hot exhaust pipes. Not to mention the driver's, no doubt, incandescent ears and face.

AM

#13 Eric McLoughlin

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Posted 03 April 2003 - 07:43

Bales are only used at the Goodwood Festival of Speed (the hillclimb), not the Goodwood Revival (the races). The Revival uses tyre walls cleverly disguised under foliage and fronted with rubber conveyor belt material. So far this system has worked wel. There have been a few bent cars but, touch wood, not too many (badly) bent drivers.

#14 Neri Moreira

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Posted 03 April 2003 - 11:14

Nice Picture Wolf

For those who (eventualy) havent identified it is Graham Hill in a Lotus in the 1958 Portuguese Grand Prix, Lap 28

Circuito da Boavista, City of Porto

Yours
Neri

#15 D-Type

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Posted 03 April 2003 - 23:46

Originally posted by Anorak Man
........
We don't want to hear about Mr. Hawthorn and the Francorchamps Dairy Maid yet again, do we?


I've done a BB search but can't find the story. Please repeat it, someone.



.

#16 Anorak Man

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Posted 04 April 2003 - 03:31

'Mon Ami Mate', page 241 the understandably rare first short run printing ONLY.

And the answer to your next question is "NO!" :)

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#17 Ralliart

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Posted 30 April 2003 - 05:22

If the Bandini tragedy made an impact on the Monaco GP organizers, they took their time doing something about their hay bales - I'm looking at a photo taken of Rindt racing at Monaco '70 - and there are the hay bales.

#18 oldtimer

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Posted 30 April 2003 - 17:33

Mention of Mr. Hawthorn (and I am another who does not know the Spa dairy maid story) brings to mind his misadventure at the 1954 Syracuse GP, when he ran into the straw bales, igniting himself and his car. Froilan Gonzales came by and stopped to help MJH put out his burning clothes, leaving his brand new Squalo to roll into Hawthorn's burning Ferrari.

#19 Vitesse2

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Posted 30 April 2003 - 22:57

Originally posted by oldtimer
Mention of Mr. Hawthorn (and I am another who does not know the Spa dairy maid story) brings to mind his misadventure at the 1954 Syracuse GP, when he ran into the straw bales, igniting himself and his car. Froilan Gonzales came by and stopped to help MJH put out his burning clothes, leaving his brand new Squalo to roll into Hawthorn's burning Ferrari.


I'd like to have been a fly on the wall when Froilan had to explain that to the Old Man ..... a whole new meaning to the phrase "Pampas Bull" perhaps!

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#20 Anorak Man

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Posted 01 May 2003 - 02:58

Ralliart sed:

I'm looking at a photo taken of Rindt racing at Monaco '70 - and there are the hay bales

Now that IS interesting, I'd love to see the picture, can you post it, if it's not copyright.

Like many others here no doubt, that race is burned on my psyche, especially those watching in B&W on the Beeb, with Murray's electric commentary. Lemme guess, your picture has him standing on a bale, clutching a face-mike, and gesticulating wildly? Judging by Muzza's remarks about his facilities inthosedayz, a straw or hay bale would count as a BBC chair.

In passing, I wonder, I just really wonder ... how many times dear Jochen had thoughts of Lotus fragility whilst throwing the 49 around Monaco at 12/10ths. It adds an extra dimension to our understanding of his courage eh? Poor sweet Nina must've been having kittens, and no doubt gave the lad quite a rollicking when he put the pot on the mantlepiece.

"Darlink, you sed you were just going to stroke it round for the points!"



AM

#21 Ralliart

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Posted 01 May 2003 - 05:31

The photo of Rindt/Monaco/hay bales appears in the Lotus 49 book by Michael Oliver, page 181. Sorry I can't post it but someone out there can, I'm sure.

#22 Rob29

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Posted 01 May 2003 - 06:36

Saw some video of 69 Monaco,in a Matra doc yesterday, and the bales were still in place around the station hairpin.

#23 Frank S

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Posted 06 May 2003 - 19:42

I've just done a Web page from parts of the October, 1955 issue of Road & Track. Something for everyone there, including a report on the Los Angeles Hansen Dam Sports Car Races, wherein we see scenes of further adventures among the exploding strawbales.
Road & Track, October 1955

Also tendered in this amazing Volume 7, No. 2, are:

· Buffalo Bill Mountain Hill Climb
· Maryhill Loops Hill Climb
· A withering critique of Torrey Pines' organizers (and pictures of Carroll Shelby, Pete Lovely, Phil Hill, Paul O'Shea, Tom Bamford, and Bill Murphy in action);
· Beverly, MA · Hawaiian Sports Car Races
· A one-page report on a Put-In-Bay race, complete with a (blurred) photo of "Cemetary Corner."
and
· Marketplace Classifieds
· Technical Correspondence
· Autobooks Advertisement

If you see anything interesting on the Table of Contents that doesn't appear on the page, I can probably get it to you in a day or two.


Frank S

#24 Milan Fistonic

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Posted 05 June 2004 - 05:20



Tom Clark (Maserati 8CM) at Ardmore in 1956.

#25 Lotus23

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Posted 06 June 2004 - 00:30

I've told this story before, but during night practice at LeMans 61, a buddy and I managed to low-crawl our way from the infield to a point about halfway down the Mulsanne Straight. This was in the pre-chicane days and the Big Boys were making a fair rate of knots as they came by.

We lay stretched out on our bellies with our chins resting on the edge of the pavement. I remember seeing occasional haybales propped up against the nearby trees and thinking they wouldn't be of much use if impacted at 180mph.

Finally, after about 10 minutes, we figured we'd used up enough luck for one night and got outta there.

But I've yet to hear a stereo which replicated the experience!

#26 MCS

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Posted 06 June 2004 - 13:18

Originally posted by Eric McLoughlin
Still "de-rigeur" at The Phoenix Park", mainly placed around the normal park furniture (trees, park benches, Victorian gas lamp standards etc). I doubt they're as sophisticated as the Goodwood bales either.


Best (or worst!) I ever saw at the Phoenix Park were straw bales placed INSIDE an iron skip :eek: :eek: :eek:

MCS

#27 ghinzani

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Posted 06 June 2004 - 14:02

Originally posted by MCS


Best (or worst!) I ever saw at the Phoenix Park were straw bales placed INSIDE an iron skip :eek: :eek: :eek:

MCS


Yep thats correct - I was there in the early 90s with Porsche 934s zooting down the straights at crazy speeds etc and they had skips protecting the lamposts. When I asked why I was told the Lamposts were valuable historically and needed protecting. So instead of a say 8 inch target to hit the drivers had 8ft of skip. Wise indeed.... Then again the race organisers did lay on a tour of the Guinness brewey the night BEFORE the race.... only in Ireland :rotfl:

#28 Ray Bell

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Posted 08 June 2004 - 01:21

Originally posted by Lotus23
I've told this story before, but during night practice at LeMans 61, a buddy and I managed to low-crawl our way from the infield to a point about halfway down the Mulsanne Straight. This was in the pre-chicane days and the Big Boys were making a fair rate of knots as they came by.

We lay stretched out on our bellies with our chins resting on the edge of the pavement. I remember seeing occasional haybales propped up against the nearby trees and thinking they wouldn't be of much use if impacted at 180mph.

Finally, after about 10 minutes, we figured we'd used up enough luck for one night and got outta there.

But I've yet to hear a stereo which replicated the experience!


I've posted photos here that prove that I have done the same, though under different circumstances.

In 1981, Peter Brock, Jim Richards and Colin Bond were entered in a Porsche 924 by Allan Hamilton, but it failed to make the race.

These guys still had drivers' armbands, though, which meant they could go anywhere. John Harvey was with them and I tagged along with my press pass... earned in the great Le Mans press pass 'crush' a few hours earlier.

Sitting on an earth bank to the right hand side of the track at a point just a few hundred yards before the braking area for Mulsanne Corner, Harvey and I were discussing the scenery and the reality that this kind of country once had mortar shells and bullets flying across it as war was waged... and that it had a bit of a foreboding look about it in those trees.

And that if one of these cars that were arriving totally unannounced as we watched the previous cars go through (this was a real sensation... you would follow something like a 935 doing 190mph from the kink where it came into sight until it started to slow going over the crest... and as you swung your head back to see if something else was coming...

Posted Image

...something like this arrives at 220 or 230mph! It's there, right in your face, you didn't know it was coming...) and something went wrong we wouldn't last very long...

But to be honest, I don't think I took any notice of the haybales.

#29 Milan Fistonic

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Posted 01 July 2006 - 05:29



#30 Stephen W

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Posted 01 July 2006 - 09:18

At Harewood hillclimb last year there was a mixed meeting with Cars and Motor Bikes. The latter have an aversion to Armco so before the big batch of bikes the marshals lift straw bales over the Armco to provide a softer landing!

The BIG straw bales are used at Colerne sprint course to protect the perimeter fence from damage! Whilst when I last went to the Isle of Man the Jurby sprint course used the BIG bales to mark out the chicanes.

I do think the smaller bale used in moderation is OK the trouble arises when there are a whole slew of the things which inevitably leads to cars mounting them.

:wave:

#31 hyperbolica

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Posted 01 July 2006 - 12:46

Originally posted by Milan Fistonic


Ah, what an anachronism. Those bales were more flammable than impact absorbing.

#32 RTH

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Posted 01 July 2006 - 12:59

Originally posted by Vitesse2
Russell Brockbank was always rather in favour of strawbales .....

Even so, as Anorak Man has pointed out, you could always provide Dobbin with his afternoon snack

Posted Image


Dobbin would not have been interesed in straw bales.......now if they were hay bales !!!

#33 Vitesse2

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Posted 01 July 2006 - 21:05

Picky, picky, picky .... :rolleyes: :p

#34 cosworth bdg

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Posted 02 July 2006 - 03:49

In this day and age of safety & the requirements there of , 2 plus 4 race meetings are now out of the question to be held , due to the conflicting requirements of both competitors & spectators.............................................

#35 Sharman

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Posted 02 July 2006 - 08:23

Absolutely bloody nothing at all to do with motor racing but a lot to do with bales. At one time I lived on a small island in the Bahamas, a Colombian (I don't know the name of the captain but.....)boat carrying 80 tons of Mary Jane in bales ran aground off the end of the island. As the Bahamian authorities only had two reasonably sized boats it took some time for customs people to arrive. By the time they got there the cargo was down to 30 tons. This remnant was of course confiscated and transported to New Providence. Where it was burned. I have it on excellent authority that there was an appreciative audience of over a thousand standing downwind and uttering cries of "Oh man dat good----etc."