As always my favourite weekend of the year lived up to expectations and got 2012 off to a flying start. Considering we were so well organised I still somehow managed to turn everything into a huge last minute rush with me getting up at six and spending four hours charging around like a lunatic until we were ready to leave. I did remember everything though - a miracle in itself I’m sure!
Because I’ve still as yet to pass my trailer test and with Dad being really busy at work my Aunt said she would run me and the car up to the NEC. It’s only an hour away so she drove up, dropped me and the trailer off and headed home. I unloaded the car and put it straight in the Live Action arena and headed for a look around the show until everyone else arrived. I like every aspect of the show but walking around it on your own can be a little tedious and I was glad when the time came to check into the hotel.
I’m in a very lucky position to have such a great group of friends but unfortunately they all live at opposite ends of the country to each other and it’s very rare that everyone is all together in the same place at once; this thankfully is one weekend when we are all together and we always make the most of it. After one of the nicest meals I’ve ever eaten (where between us I think we ate an entire trawler load of prawns) and a few drinks at the bar we decided it was time to head off into town.
Six of us piled into a taxi and headed into
. Three English and three Scottish – Hot Rods is definitely an international sport! We went straight to a 70’s bar called ‘Flares’ and with half of Scotland already in there, the vodka and Jaeger bombs were very soon flowing. 70’s music is definitely before my time but the company was great and we had a really good night. I’m a bit fuzzy about when or how we got back to the hotel but I do remember Terry Maxwell appearing from nowhere and trying to buy the taxi we were getting in. Random times! Birmingham
The next morning wasn’t as good as the night before and I’m sure Gav will sympathise in how bad I felt as we sat there looking at our breakfast whilst everyone around us tucked in to big fry-ups. We spent the day wandering around the show feeling sorry for ourselves until the time came to head off into the arena for practice.
I was feeling fine by this point and was ready to drive the car again after the break. It was a great group of us doing the racing and we had a laugh in the pits the whole time we were there. Gav and Carl had offered to help me with the car and we got stuck in and got it ready to race. It felt good to be back behind the wheel. We did three practice runs then it was back to the pits to wait for the show to start.
I think the whole event is well timed and well run - a real credit to all involved, and although I struggled getting to grips with it in there and ran round at the back for all three races it was still great fun. The unforgiving concrete wall around the edge might have been a deciding factor though as Jason very unfortunately found out when his steering broke.
Once the show had finished it was straight back to the hotel for another meal and a few more drinks. We must be getting old though as we decided to stay in the hotel rather than join John and the others back in town. We were joined by Gav Taber, his team and our friend Scott and had a few drinks before retiring to bed at a much more sensible hour to get a good night’s sleep.
Sunday morning saw a much more sociable breakfast before checking out of the hotel and heading back into the show. My Dad and Neil were heading up as were Jay and Sarah so it was nice to spend the day walking around with them and catching up with everyone.
The live arena was much the same as the night before but with added oil so once again I did take it fairly steady - not great to watch I’m sure so sorry about that. We survived all three runs though and the car is now ready for a bit of testing before the season gets back underway in a few weeks time.
Once the show had finished and the car was back in the car park, a few minutes of panic ensued – I couldn’t find the trailer keys. After much rummaging through my pockets and on the floor I found them stuck down the side of the seat in the car. I have never felt so relieved in all my life, as the big hitch lock on the front was definitely going to be a bit of a stumbling block in getting the trailer hitched onto my pick-up!
With the show over for another year and the car back in the trailer it was time to head home. Thanks to everyone who helped get the car ready and helped me whilst I was there, also thanks everybody for the great company. I’ve included a couple of pictures; one of me in the arena, one of John’s mint new Lightning Rod and one of us all - after a few drinks!
Thanks as ever for reading.
Roll on Autosport 2013!