Sunday, March 17, 2013

All action - and surprises

Well here we go, the madness has begun and the racing is underway.  The ‘double-header’ which started the ball rolling this season has been and gone and normal service will resume for the next few months as the countdown to the World Final begins.

Before I go any further I’ll answer the question everyone is asking me:  “How is the Duratech?”   The throttle response is awesome and the speed it carries at the end of the straight is almost scary.   It needs a bit of development to give it more speed out of the bends and I’m working closely with John Toovey to get this sorted.   For an engine straight out of the box I’m really pleased with it.   It’s easy to forget just how much development people have put into the Vauxhall over the years and the Ford after all, is a relatively new venture in the world of Hot Rods with very few people having had one.  With a bit of fine tuning it will be up there with the best of the Vauxhalls, and when it comes to getting more power and tuning it, the Ford represents a whole new chapter with lots of room for improvements as we go along.   It’s something I’m very pleased to be involved with and am looking forward to seeing the progress unfold in front of us.

When you last heard from me we still had two cars in the workshop and lots of work to do.   We got mine very nearly finished and in a position to go testing and headed off to
Birmingham to give it a run.  Jason was there too and we spent the evening chasing each other around the track like a pair of hooligans before heading off for a feed at Big John’s (the main reason I think Dad likes Birmingham).  I can tell you now there is nothing better than getting into a Hot Rod you’ve been working on all winter and driving it again after a few months out of the seat.  This left John’s car in the workshop and after a couple of evenings’ work this was finished too, so we took it to Birmingham for a few test laps  before John headed off home with it.  Unfortunately this didn’t quite go to plan, with John discovering a bent propshaft as soon as he pulled out on track.  This put an early end to proceedings but it was definitely worth an afternoon out because the lads had brought me some doughnuts - in an attempt to keep me quiet I expect!

John has since sorted the car and done a few very wet laps at Lochgelly to test it.  He’s happy with it and ready to go for the re-scheduled season opener this weekend - weather permitting!

It had been arranged for some time that the World Champion himself and our friend Besty would be making the trip over from
Northern Ireland to stay with us for the first meeting, so after work on Friday I fought my way through the traffic to collect them from Birmingham airport.   When we got back it was time to finish the set-up on my car and head off for an early night.  Not likely!  As soon as the car was done it was in to get changed before we headed off out to sample a few drinks in town.   Although there were only a handful of people in the club we had a good night, the beer and Jaeger bombs were flowing so we stayed until closing time.

The next morning it was off to
Birmingham for the first meeting of the season.   The weather forecast was terrible but luckily the forecasters were proved wrong and even though it was cold it did manage to stay dry for the whole meeting.  We arrived early so I could do some practice and I did a couple of runs to get a feel for the car.  Glenn (Bell) jumped in and had a run too so if anyone saw me standing at the fence watching my car go round, that answers that question for you!   As we walked back to the pits we became aware of some noise and commotion coming from the back of the lorry.   As we got closer we were greeted by Adam Maxwell and a load of the Northern Irish boys who had hatched a very well kept plan to turn up and surprise us.  Seemingly the whole world knew apart from us three, so well played lads, and Corb - we are forced to say that you in fact do love to travel!

The meeting itself was pretty good with me getting a 5th and 6th in the two heats.   It was fairly action packed but with some much needed points scored.    The final wasn’t to be as successful, with me crossing the line 16th, so just outside the points.   A lot of the drivers moan about
Birmingham but I look forward to racing there and I’m pleased to see that we have a couple more rounds there this year.  Once the meeting was over it was time to load up and head home ready for Sunday - after a stop at Big John’s of course and then leaving Adam and his posse to go and cause chaos in Birmingham city.

The weather wasn’t going to be as kind to us on Sunday and as we drove to the track the rain, sleet and snow had already begun.  Unfortunately it was set in for the day and was enough to make any race track a very bleak place.   My car has always been a handful in the wet, but having the ‘World Champ and rain master’ on hand soon had this sorted and in practice the car was the best it’s ever been in those nasty greasy conditions.  Even though the car felt good the day turned into a disaster for me.   Things were going well in the first heat until going into the bend I locked a brake and slid the car into the wall, taking all the outside corner off in the process.   This left us with a big rush to get it all back together in time for the second race.  This one was pretty uneventful - I was steady to start with but was on the pace by the end picking up a 12th.  The final was another disaster.   The car was locking the brake again for the first few laps and by the time it seemed to have sorted itself I was at the back!   For a few laps in the middle of the race the car was brilliant but with a rapidly drying track I was soon left with the wrong tyres and started going backwards again.  I ended up finishing out of the points but survived the last bend pile up so that’s something to be thankful for.

When the meeting was over we were all left cold, soaking wet and in the case of the Irish boys - full of beer!   We just wanted to load the car in the truck, turn the heating up and head home.   The truck obviously had other ideas though and decided to uncoil the winch cable leaving us with the challenge of pushing the car into the back and then jamming it in place so we could strap it in.   Not a major drama, just not what you want after a particularly bad day.

So that’s it - I didn’t get the results I had hoped for but the car felt good and I really do have a sound base to work on over the year.   It was great to see everyone and I was quickly reminded just how many things we’ve planned for the year already!

We have a lot to do back at #27 H.Q. so I’ll keep you informed of progress.

Thanks as ever for reading.

Until next time


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