You have to feel for him. Mark Hales had a fantastic job. He was a UK racing driver and journalist who travelled the world writing about his high-octane exploits for glossy car magazines. He was among the most trusted names in the classic-car world, then in 2009 he borrowed a classic Porsche 917 from ex-Formula One racing driver David Piper for a story, and it all went wrong.
After several runs around the Cadwell Park track the engine of the £1.25 million ($2.35 million) sports car exploded leaving Hales red-faced and Piper with a busted 1969 Le Mans Porsche and a £50,000 repair bill. The engine, investigation showed, went bang because of an over-rev caused by a missed gear. Hales said it was a fault with the gearshift but Piper said it was driver error. The mess ended up in the courts and this week a judge ordered Hales to pay £113,000 in compensation.