Many thanks to Heart Radio for publicising this blog. See:
Does your husband or partner drive you crazy when you’re behind the wheel? Is it easier just to let him drive? Don’t worry, you’re not alone – and it’s him, not you.
There’s a safety device women need, it’s called a man seat, and it allows you you strap him in safely so he can’t start fiddling with the air conditioning or the radio while you’re trying to change gear, and there’s a handy gag so he can’t start saying: ‘oh the other lane is quicker you should change up here, it’ll be more economical; don’t you think you should have your lights on by now?
Guys: do you remember taking your driving test? How awful it was having someone watch your every move? It makes you nervous. And, if you’re stressed and trying to second-guess what someone else is thinking, then you are not concentrating fully on the road – and that will make you a worse driver.
So many women I know just let the annoying man drive, but by doing that, women can get out of practice and lose confidence.
Driving is a skill. It needs practice and concentration, and when you get it right, it so satisfying. I feel sorry for all the women I know who don’t get that fun. (And some men, my dad regards driving a painful duty.) Once you've lost confidence, it makes you think twice about going out on your own, too.
So why do so many (not all) men nag their wife or girlfriend in the car? I can’t help feeling it’s a control thing. So if they can’t control the car, they’ll change the heater setting, take your CD out and put theirs in, or suggest a route they know and you don’t – or tell you how to drive
The very worst thing you can do is have a row about it in the car. You’re in charge of a large metal object hurtling along at speed. You need to think about the road and the traffic. Just look at the case recently where the woman pulled the handbrake on while her husband was driving and killed him.
It is hard, but you need to have a serious discussion when it’s quiet. Tell him you need to be confident in the car if you are to be a safe driver. If he won’t listen I’m afraid that’s a sign of deeper control issues he may have.
One fun way to help both of you is to both take a driving experience, perhaps for someone’s birthday. Try a track day: it’s not all Top Gear, smoking doughnuts, you learn to drive smoothly, become aware of the movement of the car – and get to experience a bit of speed - in a safe environment without having to worry about traffic. Or there are off-road experiences, that’s great fun.
And driving should be fun – for everyone.
Listen out for my golden tones on Friday morning, ranting about male passengers on Heart Wiltshire 97.2 102.2. If you row in the car, my suggestion is for both parties to go on a fun driver experience at a race track or an off-road weekend, it will build the confidence of both partners and maybe one may learn they're not as great behind the wheel as they thought.
This looks sexy - Toyota will debut this all-new US-designed sedan at the 2012 New York International Auto Show. So what is it? Could it be a replacement for the unlovely Avalon? The massive wheels and rear shape certainly hints at a lower target age group. Now Oldsmobile is dead, the Lincoln Town Car is no more, Buick has sporty pretensions and even the Avalon is working out, what's left for the Early Birders to buy?
Why did Mitsuoka in Japan make this horror? It’s called a Viewt, based on a Nissan Micra, but with a faux Jag Mk2 front. Why did someone import this 1997 model to the UK? Why did they think it was worth taking it to a classic car show in Bristol? It makes you realize how fantastic the Figaro was.
It’s good to hear that the Marussia F1 team (previously Virgin) have taken on a female test driver: 32-year-old Spaniard Maria de Villota, daughter of 1980s’ F1 driver Emilio de Villota.
I wish her luck, and hope not only that she’s given a chance, but also that the car won’t be rubbish, looking at Virgin’s record last year (Nil point).
Of course, Maria’s appointment brings back the thorny question of whether a woman can win in Formula One. I remember David Coulthard coming out with some nonsense about women not having the necessary mental toughness. To that, I’d say: try going through two days of labour then immediately starting to look after a baby, matey.
I’m wondering about weight versus strength. In theory, a woman would have a serious weight advantage in a sport where every ounce counts. On the other hand, the drivers all work out like mad and built up Kryten-style necks to withstand the G-forces in the car. If they didn’t need those extra pounds of muscle, surely they would go for a body shape more like a marathon runner? Or would they all be jockey-height?
If you need muscles, a woman would be at a serious disadvantage.
One lady who has proved it’s possible is Danica Patrick. She’s tiny, with a normal neck, but she became the first woman to win an IndyCar race (an open wheel series similar to F1) in Indy Japan in 2008. She came third in the iconic Indianapolis 500 in 2009 and won pole position for the season-opening Nationwide Series race at Daytona this year.
I thoroughly enjoyed watching her battle to second place at the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix in 2007. She’s not scared of overtaking, and frequently finishes in the top 10.
After the announcement of the return of F1 to the USA this year, Bernie Ecclestone told ESPN Sport "To have someone like Danica Patrick in F1 would be a perfect advert” (Always thinking money is Bernie).
So go Maria!
Three of my woman driver heroines (there are many more):
Shirley Muldowney, drag racer – won the NHRA Top Fuel championship in 1977, 1980 and 1982, becoming the first person to win three Top Fuel titles. She has won has won a total of 18 NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) national events.
Pat Moss-Carlsson, rally driver - scored three outright wins and seven podium finishes in international rallies. European Ladies' Rally Champion five times (1958, 1960, 1962, 1964–65)
Michele Mouton, rally driver - missed winning the 1982 World Rally Championship by a couple of points. In 1985, won the terrifying Pike’s Peak International Hill Climb in 1985, setting a record time in the progress. In 1986, she moved to Peugeot and won the German Rally Championship.
Here’s a teaser pic of the 2013 Viper to be revealed at the New York Auto Show April 4.
You can’t see much: a new more bitey snake on the badge, LED hockey-sticks under the 'eyes' a bit like an Audi R8, a bulging the hood and double-bubble roof.
Interesting that this halo car will be badged SRT rather than Dodge. (Remember Ram used to be a Dodge, too.)
The Street Racing and Technology (SRT) team are a great bunch of severely clever and enthusiastic hot rodders who hang out in a kind of clubhouse at Chrysler’s HQ in Auburn Hills (on the outskirts of Detroit). They make cars they want to drive, and thoroughly enjoy themselves chucking prototypes around on the test track to make sure they achieve sufficient grin-factor. They actually began as team Viper, when developing the beast.
By making the Viper an SRT, Chrysler hopes some of the halo’s glow will reach Jeep and Chrysler. We can infer from some executive comments that the quality will be higher than you might expect from a Dodge, too.
That’s not all that’s going on, though. Chrysler is trying to boost SRT as a brand like AMG, you can now follow the team on Facebook.com/driveSRT, Twitter @driveSRT, youtube.com/driveSRT and flickr.com/driveSRT
This will be handy if the rumoured Barracuda replaces the Challenger – Plymouth was culled in the recent industry-wide bonfire of the brands. You could hardly have a Dodge Barracuda. Barracuda SRT, though; that has a ring to it.
I’m going to be immersed in the New York International Auto Show for the next couple of weeks. I’ll be posting gossip and teaser pics as they appear. It’s incredible how the buzz has changed since last year. The electric and hybrid thing is still humming along, but the reveals this year are SUVs, crossovers and beasts with big engines including the mighty Viper SRT.
New Yorkers feel hard done by because they pay an average $4.04 per gallon (including 69c in taxes), but fuel still doesn’t bite into US weekly budgets the way it does over here. I pay more like $10 (£1.40 per litre).
There’s a real feeling of optimism about the US auto industry: bails-outs have been received, extra weight has been shed (Mercury, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Saturn, Hummer). It’s time for a new start. Or rather it’s back where it was when I arrived in Detroit back in 2004 – SUVs and muscle cars.
If you haven’t seen Clint Eastwood’s Halftime for America Superbowl ad, sponsored by Chrysler, (“Detroit’s showing us what can be done”) have a look: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRtvpMPLQ8o
This blog is by a woman driver, for everyone to read