Deb and I recently had the opportunity to borrow a right hand drive classic Mini with a 4-speed transmission. Even though I knew that the shift pattern and the pedals were in the same configuration our American market cars, I was a little nervous about driving it, as I had only driven from the right only once before, and that was with an automatic. But once I got into the car, it was a piece of cake. Neither Deb nor I had a problem adjusting.
All of this begs the question, why do the Brits drive on the left side of the road? The common theory is that with most people being right handed, back in the middle ages men would ride or walk on the left side of the lane so that their weapon (right) hand would be towards any oncoming foe, or they could see if the other person was holding a weapon. This is also why we shake hands with the right, showing the other person that there is no harm meant.
Along comes Napoleon and with military uniforms not being standardized, he can’t tell from a distance if an approaching military formation is friend or foe, he decides to march his men on the right side. Or being French, he just has to be obstinate and do everything differently. Either way, most of Europe is on one side of the road, with England on the other. With the French and Germans being early pioneers in the automotive field, we follow their lead, leaving the Brits and the Empire on the other side.
I think that theory is BS. The REAL reason is rain. You can verify this yourself. The next time you are driving in the rain take a good look at the windshield. I bet that the wiper on the driver’s side (left) is streaking while the passenger’s (right) is cleaning nicely. That is true 90% of the time. The British Isles have a lot of rain, so they just moved the steering wheel over from the left to the right side as a safety measure, which proved to be easier than developing decent wipers. MGBs, with their three wipers, should properly be driven from the middle, if you can straddle the transmission tunnel.
Cars at Speed
Classic Stories from Grand Prix’s Golden Age
By Robert Daley
1961, hardbound, 289 pages
This is a new 2007 addition of the book, originally written in 1961, so when the author speaks of the “golden Age” he is referring to the years before and just after WWII, when the sport was markedly different than today. He even goes back before WWI.
Each chapter is a stand-alone story about a famous circuit or driver, touching more on the human equation, rather than focusing on figures and statistics. “Its unflinching narrative considers both the thrill of racing as well as the cost. Ultimately it’s a very human story peopled by some of racing’s top drivers: Stirling Moss, Phil Hill, Juan Manuel Fangio…and others”
The “Even” Natter 'n' Noggin
The Chicagoland MG Club has welcomed quite some new members in the last few couple of Months. And for those of you, unfamiliar with the Natter 'n Noggin concept, a short explanation. Natter 'n Noggin is an English term for an evening in a pub with some informal chat, along side a pint of beer, and maybe a bite to eat. In our club, we have had N&N, as it is abbreviated, always on the second Tuesday of the Month. To serve our geographical spread-out membership we use two locations, one a little bit South on the even Months and a more Northern for the odd Months.
October is an even Month and that means that we are back at the the Roundhead's Pizza Pub, our South location in Downers Grove. The last time we were at Roundhead's we had one of the largest groups ever and we hope to continue the trend. Please come and join us for a drink, a bite, and some MG tire kicking. We have reservations from 7:00 PM under the MG Club name. The restaurant knows that were are not coming all at the same time and that we like separate checks. Which brings me to the last point.
We usually don't make it very easy for the waitresses at Roundhead's or Finn McCool's. Separate checks with well over 20 or 30 people who are all thirsty when they come in and may order food at different times, and who sometimes move around the table a little bit. Most restaurants only do one check and slab at least 18% gratuity on top for groups of more than eight. Luckily we've been able to find locations that still accept our separate check requirement and don't add-in the gratuity. Please keep that in mind and tip the waitresses generously, please!
Even Month Natter 'n' Noggin on Tuesday October 13.
Roundhead's Pizza Pub
2001 63rd Street (on the corner of 63rd and Woodward, about one mile East of I355)
Ph. 630 434 9999
If you have any questions about the menu or need directions, check their website at www.roundheadspizza.com or call Reinout Vogt at 847 342 9804.