Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Aeroplanes, road trips and a cracking day’s racing!

After Northampton we decided to give the car a thorough check over and make sure nothing was ‘obviously’ wrong with it.   I had all the shocks off and checked all the clicks on them and made sure they seemed to be working as they should be.   I also had the brake calipers off and checked to see if anything was bent or damaged.   The inspection revealed both a bent rose joint on the front and a bent load jacker on the rear.  Both would need changing, but at a guess both had been bent for quite a while so the car would have been set up around them.
After a conversation with Sonny Howard, we came to the conclusion that the brakes weren’t set properly - with too much bias going towards the back - making the back end loose going into the bends.  The gauges I had for reading this had been damaged in an accident earlier in the year and quite frankly weren’t fit for anything!   With a new set ordered and on their way it was just a matter of getting them fitted and then finding a nice flat piece of tarmac to set them up on.   Luckily there’s an RAF base not a million miles away, and even luckier, my friend Daryl works there and said he knew just the spot we could use, and that he could get both me and the car on without any major problems.
Once on the base we had to drive past all the aeroplanes that are used to fly all the supplies and troops out to the various wars we’re fighting, and right across the runway and into a quiet corner out of the way.  Daryl stopped on the way round to pick up his V8 stock car - and it was quite funny to watch the looks he got from people as he drove it along the roads to our chosen testing ground.  I must admit I’m quite ignorant when it comes to other racing formulas and don’t really watch anything but Nationals, but the stock car is just a work of art with everything being so nicely finished and the quality of the work being so high.  It’s fair to say it makes a pretty awesome noise to go with it!
The brakes were definitely wrong and after spinning it a good few times and what seemed like an age freeing up and adjusting what turned out to be completely seized adjusters, we finally got it right.    With me happy it was loaded back into the trailer.  Roy from Race Car T-Shirts was also on hand to take a few photos of us skidding about and show me how the picture of my car is coming on; it’s amazing to say the least.
Whilst all this was going on we decided that we really should be running an ‘undertray’ on the car but seeing as we left it so late there was no time to get it sent across to us, the only option was a road trip to Norfolk to collect it from Boss Panels.   Ross was off work so we arranged to go up on Saturday morning, collect it and be back in time for lunch.    When a 3-hour trip to get there turned into a 5-hour trip, that plan was soon forgotten.   The motorway was shut meaning we had to take a detour past Ipswich and Bury St. Edmunds stopping in every village along the way!    We finally did arrive though and Mark had it sorted out and in the pickup in no time.   A quick look at the map found another route home which apart from the radio packing up and leaving us to sing proved pretty uneventful.
With everything fitted and sorted it was off to Hednesford for the annual bank holiday meeting and as I said before I’m starting to like the track more, but after having a big accident caused by brake problems last year and no practice to check everything was ok it was fair to say I was pretty nervous as we lined up for the first race.   After the warm-up laps everything felt good though and I just decided to ‘go for it’ from the flag.   It turned out to be a good, clean race with the car going and handling wonderfully and I managed to collect a sixth place in the process.
The car was brilliant again in the second race but it was just one of those races where it didn’t happen.  There was a lot of oil and dust covering almost half the track, and in all honesty it unnerved me a bit and I soon found myself at the back of the field.   As the dust cleared and my confidence came back I managed to gain a few places but it was all too late with me being well outside the points as the chequered flag dropped.   The dust was pretty extreme at one point and I can still taste it in the back of my throat!
Judging from all the other races the final was always going to be a fast and furious affair and it didn’t fail to disappoint.   The speeds you get up to round Hednesford are pretty insane and when you get 35 cars all packed onto the track its always going to be exciting.   It was a brilliant race though and I loved every single lap.   A fifth place and a straight car at the end of the day was an added bonus!
Overall I thought it was a brilliant meeting with some good points, some close racing and some good laughs.   My friend John and his girlfriend Mel came down from Scotland so it was great to catch up with them, and being parked with Kewy on one side and Gav on the other, it was always going to be a bit of a laugh.
With not much to do to the car for next meeting Ross and I have decided in a moment of madness to head off to Cornwall and do some mountain biking this weekend . . . it’s one way to keep fit I suppose!   Then it will be back home to get the car sorted for Birmingham.   This has always been my favourite track and with everything still so close I’m sure it will be another brilliant meeting to be involved in.
Thanks as ever for reading.

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