Thursday, December 16, 2010

The good times!

This has been a really tough season for us, not only has the racing been really hard and brilliantly close but we seem to have spent the whole season plagued with disaster after disaster.  The new car was a revelation at the start of the season and it seemed like we’d made such progress, finally having a car I enjoy driving and feel comfortable in.   The Tigra has been brilliant in every race it’s done . . . however, the same cannot always be said about the driver!
I’m going to talk about the disasters another week though; it’s Christmas, so naturally the subject needs to be a good one.
After a particularly bad meeting at the last Ipswich round - where the car was put in the trailer after the first race with untold amounts of damage to both the front and back end - my mood was terrible, and in my own words “I didn’t even want to look at the car again until after Christmas.”  As you will know from previous blogs I had a change of heart.   Dad and I spent the whole trip home from Ipswich brooding on the night’s events and my last words before I went off to bed at stupid o’clock were  “We’ll unload the car in the morning, park it in the garage and miss the last two meetings.”
The next morning came and we unloaded the car with the help of some jacks, a great deal of pushing and no doubt endless swearwords on my part, and finally got it onto the ramp.   I looked at it and pondered awhile, and in the clear light of day things didn’t really look as bad as we’d first thought.   I decided to take the wings off and see how things looked underneath the broken fibreglass.   A couple of hours later all the damaged panels were off, the axle was out and a list was written of all the parts we needed to order.   But that was it - I still wasn’t racing!   The next morning I ordered the parts, the following day they arrived and Terry took them away to paint.   Whilst waiting for the painted panels to come back, Dad and I set about bolting bits back on in the garage.   By this point things had started to change - well if the car happened to be finished we’d have to race it!    A decision I’m now very glad I made.
The next meeting was at Birmingham and we arrived early so I could practice during the afternoon and make sure the car was ok after all the work we had just done on it.  After a couple of laps just warming things up the car felt really good and I just seemed to be able to push it harder and harder.  That practice was the best the car has ever been.  We hadn’t altered any settings or done anything different but the car just seemed to really work.   Birmingham has always been my favourite track and I really wish we had more meetings there every year.
After all the bad meetings and non-finishes I was running well down in ‘thirty something’ place in the points, and my average was honestly quite horrendous.   This saw me starting on the front row of the grid.   It was dry, the car was great and it was my favourite track - and I was sitting on the grid waiting for the green flag to drop.
Now I’m awful about remembering what happens in a race.   I get so engrossed in the actual racing that I never even look at the gauges – something that really annoys my dad when I come back into the pits and don’t give him any feedback at all, so please don’t expect a detailed lap by lap analysis.
I was in the lead by the first bend and actually stayed there!   The halfway flag came and I was still leading . . .   5 laps, 4 laps, 3 laps 2 laps, 1 lap, chequered flag!   I’d actually won a race.   It just felt like all my prayers had been answered and all the hard work and disappointment of the previous few months had been worth it.
The next race came and I was in the lead again but I could see a rapidly moving Russ Wilcox in my mirror getting closer by the lap.   Fair play to Russell he was absolutely flying and was soon past me and tearing off into the distance but I hung on in there for second.  I was quite enjoying this!
As we lined up for the final it was threatening to rain but as the flag dropped it was still bone dry.  I was leading into the first bend and even though all sorts of chaos seemed to be happening behind me I just kept my head down and pushing forwards.    Again the laps started to count down with no major drama but the blue Mercedes of Graham Luscombe was getting closer and closer.   As Graham got within striking distance, the rain started; it wasn’t heavy but the track was starting to get quite greasy.   Graham wasn’t going to hand me the win on a plate and stayed right there on my bumper.  I think we had an absolutely brilliant race over the remainder of the laps and there was no contact or foul play from either of us - just proper close Hot Rod racing; Graham having more speed than me on the straights and my Tigra seeming to have the legs through the bends.   The greasy conditions seemed to suit both the car and me really well, and after what seemed like an age, the chequered flag waved in front of me giving me my first final win.
I can honestly say it was the best feeling of my life and it took a few seconds before I registered what had happened.   All my dreams had come true.   As we pulled into the centre Graham was the first man over to shake my hand and congratulate me.   I think the race we had is the best race I have ever had and one I’m sure I will remember forever.   It’s certainly been a talking point between the two of us since!
Just before I sign off for another week, I want to thank everyone for their birthday wishes last weekend.   I had a really brilliant weekend in London.  One with no cars involved at all!  It made a welcome change trading my life in the country for a couple of manic days in the city!
Thanks for reading.
Until next time.

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