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Insider Report: Brit banned from driving after no-hands stunt

Published January 8, 2014

If you’ve ever seen some smart-alec on a ten-speed crash while riding with no hands, you know just how quickly the “Look Ma, no hands” routine can go awry. Yet, believe it or not, some folks think it’s cool to do the same while driving.

The most common version is that guy who steers with his knee. (Try explaining that one to your insurance company after you crash.) In this incident, we see a British driver caught red-handed — or rather, no-handed — by a traffic camera that filmed him driving with his hands behind his head.

A North Yorkshire Police traffic camera caught 36-year-old Richard Newton as he cruised along in his VW Golf for about 25 seconds at a speed of 100 km/h. Newton was convicted of dangerous driving, which brought penalties that included the loss of his driver’s license for 12 months, a hefty fine and 100 hours of community service.

On top of that, the police department has posted the video of Newton’s activity on YouTube for the world to see.

While I’m on the topic of just how quickly things can change, I have to take a moment to mention my friend and colleague, Jack Baruth. Jack, a friend and Jack’s Son were involved in a very serious collision near Columbus, Ohio on Saturday morning. Baruth, who is a regular features contributor to Road & Track, is a better driver than most, having had years of high performance driver training and is an active racing driver. The incident took place on a snow covered road and the Lincoln that Baruth was driving was hit in the passenger door by a Hyundai that was travelling in the opposite direction. Speed has not been called a factor and while Baruth is a talented driver, the Lincoln was not shod with Winter tires, which may have been a factor.

Fortunately, Jack’s young son was uninjured in the collision and Dad credits the EMS with helping prevent him from being afraid as Baruth and his passenger were extracted from the vehicle. Now that he is in less of a drugged up state, Jack has written about the incident and sums up his injuries, saying “I fractured my spine, hips, pelvis, right leg, and lost most of my spleen to some very brilliant surgery.” While Baruth’s condition is bad, his passenger’s situation is far worse, however she has already made a couple of posts on Facebook.

I share this as a reminder that no matter how talented a driver you think you are, even the smallest error in judgement can change your life in an instant. Do yourself a few favours: Take courses to be a better driver. Ensure that your car has the best tires for the conditions you may encounter. Keep your eyes open and be patient.

Robby Gordon at Dakar
Because of the remoteness of The Dakar, news and media can be very limited until after the event. That being said, sometimes independently created content can be more interesting or at least more timely. As I mentioned yesterday, American racer Robby Gordon has been struggling with mechanical issues. I have heard that he also got stuck atop a dune early on which wasted some time.

In this interview with a French reporter, Gordon explains some of the fuel problems he has been experiencing along with a broken air conditioner.

From the same YouTuber comes this video clip from the ever present aerial cameras of Gordon at speed.

As I am writing this, the Canadians David Bensadoun and Patrick Beaule are still on stage, having had to stop to change a broken fan belt. At the point when that happened, the duo were moving quickly and had passed ten competitors on the road.

A bit of digging has turned up another Canadian competitor. Calgary’s Campbell Mathew is competing at The Dakar for the first time and is at the wheel of a purpose built JIMCO buggy. Mathew’s performance so far is impressive, sitting at 68th position out of over 140 cars on the road.

In this video, Mathew and his South American co-driver talk about their first day at Dakar.

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