In 2009, Mark Hales, a respected journalist, was invited to drive a Porsche 917 belonging to David Piper, a former Formula 1 champion. He drove the car at the superb Cadwell Park circuit in Linconshire, UK.
The car blew up.
Mr Piper was not pleased, and a legal battle ensued. The car was repaired and sold, but the legal battle has only just ended.
After a long, drawn-out case, Mr Hales was ordered on January 22nd by a UK court to pay $174,000 in damages a mixture of legal fees and the cost of repairing the car.
For more information on the story, you may wish to see:
MotorSport: Mark Hales found liable in Piper case
What's This Fund?
This is a complicated case, and a situation that many of us car enthusiasts deal with every day on the track or the road. At the end of the day, a historically important car has been badly damaged and a well-known journalist has had a very bad start to the year. I'd like to raise as much as we can towards Mark's bill so that we car nuts can continue to see these great vehicles on the track as they were meant to be driven, and continue to read the writings of those given the opportunity to drive them for us. Let's put this particular event behind us and allow racing journalism to continue in future in the fashion it has for a hundred years.
Where Will the Money Go?
The money will be transferred into UK pounds and given as a cheque to Mark Hales. There are other moves afoot to raise money for the same purpose - if we all end up in the delightful position of having too much money, Mr Hales will be asked to nominate a motoring charity of his choice to which the remainder of the money will be donated.
Who Set This Up?
My name is Chris, and I'm just a car guy like you. I have a race car that I let other people drive (not a Porsche 917, sadly) and I'm passionate that this event shouldn't scare journalists or racers out of some great stories.
How Else Can I Contribute?
Mark is in touch with the UK magazine, Track and Driver, who have set up a fund here. If you know of other campaigns, let me know and I'll list them too.
Let's get this going!
Image courtesy of bjmullan, distributed under Creative Commons.