January 23, 2013

Mark Hales Invitational Trophy

Shit happens, at the track more so than elsewhere.  Maybe Hales gambled and lost but don't any of you tracktards reading this lie and say if had the same opportunity you would not have taken it.  

Certainly you have enjoyed his work so I say: let's help the man out, every little bit can help and if the response is overwhelming, the excess goes to charity.

We for one want to live vicariously sliding sideways at Goodwood in a priceless 250 GTO this fall!

Track Driver Magazine is doing all the work:

"During 2009 Mark Hales was driving a Porsche 917 belonging to David Piper for a feature with a Ferrari 512S owned by Nick Mason. This was for publication in Octane and Auto Italia magazines.

The engine failed due to an over-rev caused by a missed gear, and while Mark maintained there was a wrongly adjusted gearshift which he raised prior to failure, Piper maintained all was well. Similarly Mark maintained there was a verbal conversation surrounding liability in the event of mechanical failure not covered by the insurance, Piper maintained this conversation didn’t take place. Having then failed to obtain remedy from Octane magazine and their insurers he then sued Mark personally in the high court.

Any claim is highly unusual in the world of classic car racing and there are implications for both those driving other peoples cars, and the motoring press in general. This is well described by Motorsport Magazine's Andrew Frankel below;


The judgement went against Mark and he has now to settle the entire judgement of over £120,000.

The claimants lawyers have stated their intention to issue an interim demand for £35,000 which has to be paid in 14 days’ time.

Mark does not have the means to settle the judgement and now faces bankruptcy. The industry has pulled together to avert this and discussions are underway for events that you can support. In the meantime this Paypal account has been set up to assist Mark in relation to the adverse judgement.

Funds credited to the account are gifts, with any surplus being paid to Mission Motorsport – The forces charity headed up by Jim Cameron. While negotiations are underway, Mark is currently dealing with a judgement in excess of £120,000. The claimants lawyers have stated their intention by issuing an interim demand for £35,000 which has to be paid within 14 days of the judgment.

A personal message from Mark follows;
I’ve thought long and hard about this as you can imagine. I feel the decision against me was unjust and I can’t help but come to the conclusion the judge had made his mind up before the case began.

The lawyers have advised that an appeal is legally possible, but this has been an emotionally upsetting time and after four years the prospect of another two spent in similar fashion are not welcome and I would like to bring an end as far as I am able. Unless some significant new evidence comes to light, I do not intend to pursue this further.

I am a racing driver and journalist not a lawyer, and I would like to get back to what I do best.

Thank you all for your support both on line and directly, it’s very welcome and comes at a difficult time.



  1. Surely Piper had insurance on the car. That's nasty to sue Hales -- I think the rule of human decency should prevail here.

    1. In defense of Piper, we really don't know much about what happened before the lawsuit stage.

  2. AC, are you kidding? You're publicizing a collection effort for Mark Hales as if he's a charity case. I expect this from Autoblog, but seriously not from you.

    Hales is certainly in a bind, but it's one of his own doing because he didn't ensure he was properly covered before strapped in to the car.

    As a point, I certainly don't know UK law, but in the US, we'd advise Hales to file bankruptcy and render this an uncollectable judgment.

    1. Charity case? no, any excess were there to be any, would go to a charity. This is just giving a fellow tracktard a small hand. I'm not saying he's innocent and I suspect there might be more to the story which precedes the lawsuit stage. However, I gave a little, if anything because I have enjoyed his articles and watching him drive, I'd like to see more. If you feel the same way, do as I did, if not it's very easy to ignore.

  3. You need to read the response to judgment. He was not handling negotiations prior to litigation - the publishers were. By the time Piper was suing Hales goodwill was lost and he couldn't afford what was required. http://www.trackdriver.com/Response%20to%20Judgement%20-%20Piper%20v%20Hales.pdf

    1. CLick Here Certainly Octane does not come out looking too good... big mess.

  4. He might be better off declaring bankruptcy, most countries allow you to keep your primary residency in that case. Any donations can then go towards getting him back on his feet after declaring bankruptcy.
    This would be great because Piper would get nothing.

    1. I don't know how things are in the UK but really, having a bankruptcy on your record, especially after a story like thins, can't be a good thing.

  5. I'm sure that many of the readers of Axis have some knowledge of racing car insurances: I have some experience with that and from that I can tell that in any policy I've ever seen, internal damage to engine-gearbox wasn't covered, especially if caused by over-revving.

    So, there was no way that even an insured car would have been covered for the damage that happened.
    I think that common sense should have prevailed. I still believe that a collector that chooses to do what Mr Piper did should be aware of the risks and should care about all the damages not included in the policy.
    He wanted to sell the car, he needed some press coverage and he got it, so that was the fair deal IMHO.

  6. This has to be harrowing for Mark, and I think the classic car community as a whole should have the last word on the matter....after all that was the target audience for the intended article. I just hope that this does not mean we get to see less of these incredible machines. People like Mark Hales and other journalists throughout the years have played an active role in the high value that these cars now have by exposing them to the public and inspiring generation after generation of enthusiasts who would under normal circumstances never have access to these machines.


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