Saturday, February 25, 2023


So, it’s been 16 years since I last set foot in Los Angeles (and for those who’ve forgotten, it’s known as the ‘City of Angels’). The 'Angelinos' were pretty crazy then – and I don't think much has changed! That is except for the big queues for Lyfts and Ubers at LAX, and the dwindling line for regular taxis.

If you live, or have lived, in the wider USA (as I did for 12 years), maybe you share the view of many Americans – that Los Angeles is an ‘alien nation’. Home of the biggest stronghold for the Democratic Party, a lot of very wacky ideas, politicians and city officials who live in ‘La-La Land’, and the sincere belief that whatever happens in the other 49 states doesn’t really concern them.


I was reminded of Californians’ willing acceptance of ‘alternative lifestyles’, as I checked into the Hilton Hotel at LAX on my final night, before returning to the relative peace and quiet of Australia.


A guy (I think, but who knows?) sprang out of an exhibitor’s booth and thrust a pamphlet in my hand promoting ‘Kundalini’, the existence of strictly female energy which lies coiled at the base of the spine, promising to be 'activated' by a total embrace of ‘Shaktism’, along with complete subjugation to Adi Parashakti, the supreme being in Shaktism.


The entire Hilton Lobby was awash with signs directing to areas devoted to special exhibits, all associated with that weekend’s special expo theme dedicated to ‘Conscious Life’. This included an intriguing space named 'The Rabbit Hole'? What went on down there?


Fortunately, the Hilton Hotel Group has developed a special (no living persons required) check-in app. You fill in your account details on the iPhone App, and it generates a unique digital key. You simply hustle into the elevator - with people wearing highly-coloured garb (or in some cases very little at all), head feathers and carrying incense, or take-out from Uber Eats, then find your suite among the 1,233 well-appointed guest rooms, 


You hover your iPhone over the door lock and then, ‘Click’ and pure bliss prevails. I unpacked, logged on to the very fast wi-fi, and hid in my room until it was time to venture downstairs to the still-chaotic lobby for dinner with a very special friend.

Joining me was one of my oldest Aussie mates, Peter Warren, who is also one of the greatest cinematographers I have ever worked with.

He now resides in LA, which explains why he wears a smile of benign acceptance to the noise of a distorted sitar.

Oh, and also a competing blues singer, whose singing coach had apparently completely omitted to teach him anything akin to singing on-key or breathing whilst wailing.

Angelinos, to me, have always been willing to entertain the mysterious, the magical, the mythical, the mesmerzing and the monstrous - how else could Hollywood have survived for decades? However, given the name of the Expo, that could explain the need to explore 'The Conscious Life'.

I know I’ve treated this experience with unadulterated levity, but you have to experience LA to really understand it – and even then, you can’t. I must say Hilton Hotels have gone up several dozen notches on my appreciation scale. My suite was beautifully-decorated, quiet and comfortable. Hilton will be my go-to-choice next time I’m let loose in hotel-land in the USA.


As for LA’s added extras, whatever! It’s a fun, vibrant city with an outstanding and almost unbelievable range of restaurants and cuisines.

And, if you’re a car buff (more on this later), you’ll barely believe your eyes as you creep along the boulevards in your Uber EV, among some of the most eye-wateringly-special cars I’ve ever seen in one city. Like this 1989 Vector outside my hotel, and the two-tone 2005 Veyron in the CVS drugstore lot across the road.




Sunday, February 5, 2023


Fabulous race! After 12 hours, between 6-8 seconds separated the top three as Jules Gounon joined an elite group, winning the endurance event in three consecutive races!

The strategists worked overtime keeping up with spins, bingles, the safety car and lots of high drama, which included decisions by race officials which cost precious minutes taking highly-placed cars out of the race, and into their garages for repairs, plus a penalty for working on one of the AMG Mercedes in pit lane.


Race fans couldn’t have asked for more. 53,000+ people attended over three days, which the commentators said was a record crowd, and they got their money’s worth.


Just another event in the Mount Panorama circuit’s incredible history for delivering big surprises, great racing, and almost unbelievable results in some of the world’s toughest endurance events.

Never mind the details, it was a big year for two of the biggest German names in motorsport – it was Mercedes AMG and Porsche – right down to the wire. Brilliant!


Bathurst was the big winner! Again!



Saturday, February 4, 2023


This week I’m off to Los Angeles for a series of business meetings, one of which will take place at a very unique location, and best described as Valhalla for petrol heads.


I’ll be visiting The Thermal Club, just outside Palm Springs (194km and 2.5 hours east of Los Angeles), in the town of Thermal, California.

Essentially, the Thermal Club is a privately-owned estate, which features more than 15 km of race tracks, which can be configured for long distance races, or short sprints.

Each of the planned 265 homes are built and decorated on a grand scale, and each has a garage capable of housing between ten to 30 cars, depending on how deep your pocket is, and how many cars you own. One member owns 60 track cars!


Club membership requires the purchase of real estate. In addition, the initial costs of a standard membership and corporate membership are USD$85K and USD$200K respectively, with approximately USD$20K per year in membership fees. Yes, this ‘Club’ costs serious money.


On the track the Club offers driving without the hassle of hiring your own race team to prep or maintain track cars. With the help of accomplished professional race car drivers and cutting-edge technology, driver coaching is always available.

There’s also a fully-equipped Tuning Centre to handle any maintenance or modification of members’ vehicles.


The Club broke ground in 2012, and covers 424 acres. It was no small thing to get the necessary permits to create ‘The Dream’, but it’s a serious motor racing operation. Right now the teams participating in the NTT Indy Car Series are using the track facilities for pre-season testing.

I am very much looking forward to my visit. Although there are many such ‘Clubs’ in Europe which operate on the same basis, I believe this is the first one in the USA.


My host will be Los Angeles’ top high performance prestige car dealer, Tom O’Gara, who runs a multi franchise business called O’Gara Coach, in Beverly Hills (right).

I've always said California is the cathedral of prestige luxury cars, and Los Angeles is the altar where they are bought, sold, exchanged and generally lusted after.