My name is Ray Blake and I am a ’Petrol Head’. My addiction to cars drives my wife mad and I thank her for putting up with my obsession for over four decades. From the moment I was given my first Corgi model car when I was five, a Studerbaker Gold Hawk, I was fixated on cars. I have progressed through toy cars (Matchbox, Corgi, Dinky, Hot Wheels, Scalextric) to my first real car (1967 Austin A40 Farina, given to me by my grandfather when I was 16), to the zenith of a collection of six classic cars.
My other claims to the status of ’Petrol Head’ is that I was a petroleum inspector for 35 years and the ’head of petroleum’ for the last nine of those years. Since then, for the last three years, I have been technical manager of the Petrol Retailers’ Association. So, you can see that one way or another petrol has been and continues to be a major feature in my life.
Another aspect of my fixation is that I watch as many television programmes relating to cars as time and my wife will allow. Having arrived home from chairing the latest meeting of the Petroleum Enforcement Liaison Group (PELG), and with my head spinning from the issues discussed at the meeting, I slumped down in front of the TV and caught up with an episode of ’Chasing Classic Cars’ that I had recorded. In the episode, Wayne Carini visited The Buffalo Transportation and Pierce Arrow Museum. In the museum the owner has built a full-size ’gas’ station. It is based on a concept created by the renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright. My reason for mentioning the Frank Lloyd Wright concept for the gas/petrol station was that on the ground floor below the sitting room and behind the car filling area, he had placed a fully kitted-out bedroom. He provided the bedroom so that the attendant could go to bed but jump up and serve any customers that pulled onto the forecourt. At the PELG meeting just a few hours before watching this programme, there was a debate around realistic times for ’trained responders’ attending unmanned petrol stations in the event of an incident in the middle of the night. For one brief moment I thought that maybe the esteemed architect had found the obvious answer!