Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Twenty Ten (part 2)

After Skegness we were sitting just outside of the top 18, and qualifying would have been very hard - but possible.   We went into the last meeting at Northampton and I drove awfully!   The car was good, everything else was fine, but for some reason my head wasn’t in it.   Don’t ask me why - I have no idea - but my driving was dreadful.    I think I managed to annoy everyone that day.  Dad and I fell out, and I got more and more frustrated with myself as the day went on.   With the dropped scores taken into account, I left the day in about the same position as I started it.   Another year that we wouldn’t be doing the world final!
The evening before we leave for Spedeweekend it’s our local Motor Show, and every year we take some advertising boards, leaflets, a few vehicles from work - as well as the Hot Rod - and put them on display.   It works quite well really as it means we only have to polish the car once!   Because I was flat out at work, my friends Ross and Neil spent two days cleaning and polishing both my Hot Rod and my Dad’s Sierra Cosworth, making them both look like new.   The Cosworth hadn’t seen the light of day for ten years so you can imagine the polishing needed there.    We had a great night and all went back to my house for pizza and a few beers.   Whilst the rest of us were away enjoying Spedeweekend, Ross was stuck at home with food poisoning he got from the pizza . . . not a home-made one I should just add, so my Mum’s off the hook.
About a week before Spedeweekend I had a phone call from Graham Brown telling me that the two guys in front of me in the points wouldn’t be racing at the weekend and if there were any ‘no shows’ or drop-outs from the world final grid before signing on closed on the Saturday, then I would be called upon as first reserve.   It wouldn’t have been the same as qualifying in our own right, but it still filled us with a bit of hope for a place in the big race.   We fitted four new slicks just in case, and had everything ready should the opportunity arise.   Sadly it didn’t.

We spent the weekend enjoying the support races and the car was going well.    I managed to qualify for the Best In Britain on Sunday which I was really pleased about as it was the first time I had qualified for anything.   The grid positions were pulled out of a hat and I think I managed to pull something like row 14 outside.    Basically this meant I was starting at the back!   I finished somewhere near the back too but I was happy as it was the first Spedeweekend we’ve been to where the car didn’t end up going home held together with tape and suspicious looking bits of aluminium!
The first round of the year was at Birmingham and because I’d scored quite a few points at the last couple of rounds, we found ourselves with the highest average and starting stone dead last!   If I’m honest, I really enjoyed this.   I love Birmingham anyway and found myself under so much less pressure starting at the back.   I picked my way through some cars in the heats to score a few points but just missed out on qualifying for the final.
From this point things went downhill very quickly!   National Weekend was brilliant on the social front but the racing was a complete disaster.   We had brake problems all weekend and I was really off the pace every race.   Added to this our lorry has a nasty habit of breaking down on the hill into the track every year.   As soon as my dad turns the truck off and leaves us to head back to work it always refuses to start!  This year was no exception and the next hour was spent spraying ‘Easy Start’ into the air intake as the queue of people behind got ever more frustrated.   Andy Holtby came to the rescue and removed the stop control to get us running but it meant you had to stall it to turn it off.    We still haven’t changed it to this day...
The next few meetings following National Weekend are probably the worst and most expensive meetings I’ve ever had.   We picked up serious damage for three meetings in a row, and after the last Ipswich meeting I was ready to quit!   Something I’m very glad I didn’t do.   I think with the exception of the roof and one door we replaced every panel over 2 months.   The car was back on the jig and we bent two axles and numerous other parts including several steering wheels! 
After deciding to repair the car and keep racing we went and had the almost perfect end to 2010, which I’ve spoken about in previous weeks, a heat and final double along with a second at Birmingham and two 5ths and a 4th at Hednesford the following week.   This sees us currently sitting 18th in what can only be described as a seriously close points chart - and I’m sure the hard work of qualifying for my first world final is only just beginning.
So that brings us to the end of 2010’s racing.  With the 2011 season just around the corner I think Nationals are at the best they’ve been in years; massive grids of cars and everything being so equal, and I’m proud to say that I’m part of it.  I really would love to qualify for the world final this year, but - as so many are so quick to forget - it’s only a hobby, a very expensive time consuming one at that! And I’m not going to let one race take over my life for the next 6 months.
I’ll be back next week with my adventures from Sweden.
Thanks for reading

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