Two for the Road is a hangout for mystery writers Tammy Kaehler and Simon Wood to chat, reminisce, gossip, speculate and argue about all things motorsport.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Cost of Good Intentions

By Simon

Not sure if people caught this little story about Mark Hales. Hales is well known car journalist and racing driver in the UK. He's been around since I was an egg. Hales is in hot water right now because he blew engine on David Piper’s Porsche 917. Hales was driving the car for an article and he over-revved the engine and popped it (although there is some debate this issue). David Piper, who has been racing long before I was an egg, sued Hales over the damage and won. Hales now owes Piper $174,000 for the engine rebuild and the court costs. The demand is likely to cost Hales his home and push him into bankruptcy. Ouch.

There are a lot of things going on here in the background. Hales claims the car miss-shifted and wasn’t his fault. Piper says Hales revved higher than as instructed. Hales supposedly agreed verbally to cover the costs before he knew the damage cost $100k. To add insult to injury, it doesn’t look like anyone took out any insurance to cover any potential damage, which I find surprising. The 917 is worth $2million. It looks like a lot of balls got dropped. Overall, it’s a big mess.

I can sympathize with Mark Hales’ plight. I once destroyed someone’s car. I can’t go into details because a story was concocted to cover up what happened as the one of the owner didn’t know I would be driving the car. I did come away with two broken vertebrae for my trouble, so I didn’t get away scot-free. But I can see how these things happen. Everybody knows each other. Everyone trusts each other. And one day someone says, do you want to take it for a spin and no one thinks the worst will happen and naturally no one protects themselves for it.

My advice is always, if you're going to race a car, make sure it’s your own—or have a lot of insurance.


  1. Wow, that's just an awful situation all around.

    1. It is and I'm not in his driving shoes.