Thursday, January 20, 2011

An Irishman, two Englishmen, and a missing Dutchman!

Well, first and foremost thanks to everyone who voted for me in the driver awards, Most Improved Driver 2010!   This came as a total shock to me, and it means so much that you all voted.   Things have just been getting better and better, and this was the icing on the cake.   It’s fair to say that it’s all I’ve been talking about since, and I really am overjoyed about it.   Going up onto the stage for the award was a brilliant feeling - especially sharing the experience with John and Chris, two of the biggest names in Hot Rods, and both really deserving of all their awards.
I don’t really know where to start with this because there’s so much I want to write about.   The weekend certainly didn’t disappoint, and I left it feeling very tired and hard up.   I won’t bore you with all the details, but there were two very late nights, lots of beer, and - most importantly - a lot of laughs!
I had heard so many things about racing in the live arena: some people said how great it is, and others were telling me it’s very slippery and really rough on the car.  So, when the time came for the first practice, I was very cautious and just took it steady to figure it all out.   I thought it was brilliant. We had a set of old wets on the car and it seemed to have enough grip to be controllable yet you could still get it sideways with the smallest touch of the throttle.   It was great being back in the car after two months, and I was quickly reminded just how brilliant a National is to drive.
The track was probably about the same size as Yarmouth but was almost laid out in a square, with a big concrete pillar making up each of the four corners, and a concrete wall around the edge.   You entered the track one end, then exited it at the other; everything was tight on time and was run like clockwork and you don’t even have time to leave the car between races.
We had a bit of a scare after practice when the marshal thought the car was leaking oil, but an inspection showed no leaks and after a few quick checks we were good for the show.   If I’m honest, I had never intended to push the car that hard and risk damaging it and was only going out there to enjoy the experience.    Racing under the lights was brilliant and the atmosphere was almost electric - all the drivers were giving each other respect and just out having a good time.
Both shows went well, with me getting more confidence with each run.  I didn’t win any races or set the world on fire - just had a thoroughly good time putting on a show with my mates.
I had billed the weekend to be a pretty wild social event and it really didn’t disappoint!   Myself and Ross managed about 5 hours sleep over the whole weekend, but ‘you’re only young once’ and sleep, as they say, is for the weak!   Friday night saw us sit down for a meal before heading off into town for one or two social beers.    This however didn’t happen, and before long we all found ourselves at a very random 80’s club. . . drinking Sambuca. . . and Gavin and Carl pulling off some very retro dance moves!
I thought Friday night was random but it wasn’t even going to come close to Saturday’s antics.   The evening began with 16 of us heading into town for an Indian meal – five people went in John van den Bosch’s  pick-up, leaving the rest of us to cram into the back of a delivery van.   I would love to have seen people’s reactions as we all piled out of it onto the side of the road.   After the meal we all headed back to the Hilton to get an early night . . . not likely!   After some beers in the bar, Ross, myself,  Steven O’Shea and John Van den Bosch’s  brother Peter decided it was time to get a taxi into town.    It was already well past by this point, so any chance of an early night was now well out of the window.    When we got into town Ross went to a cash-point to give his bank balance another battering.   As he walked back across the road he saw Peter disappearing off into the distance not to be seen again that night - and not through lack of searching I might add!   It was the biggest feeling of relief when we saw him at breakfast the next morning and he explained he had to bluff his way into a hotel to use the toilet, and had been unable to find us again afterwards.   After a fair few vodkas we ventured back to the hotel at about half past four.   I retired from the hotel bar at about 5.30 (I know when I’m beaten - and I was driving next day),  Ross and Steven were still going strong and finally found their way into bed at about 7am - only to get up at 9 for breakfast . . . mental!
I could keep writing about this weekend because we just had so many laughs but I’m sure you’re starting to get bored of my rambling by now.   Thanks again to everyone that voted for me, it really does mean so much.   It was a cracking weekend and I can’t wait for the Autosport 2012, see you there!
Until next time, stay lucky.

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