Friday, May 10, 2013

Running out of time

Tomorrow we are racing at Hednesford and as of yet we’re nowhere near ready!  It’s been a very hectic few weeks and work has been manic too, leaving us with very little time to do the car.

I won’t go into too much detail because Jason has already told you all about it, but a few weekends ago we went on one of our legendary go karting trips to Aylesbury.  In the past these trips have earned a reputation for being complete and utter carnage, usually resulting with someone - if not everyone - getting thrown off the track.  Something must have come over us this time though and we were all very sensible and just wanted to race rather than destroy one another, and over the entire evening not a single black flag was issued!  I’ll happily admit that I’m usually terrible in a go kart but I actually managed to lead a race for a while and for the first time since we have been going I qualified for the final!  It was a great night, but I can tell you a hundred hard-fought laps in a go kart leaves you feeling absolute scrap the next day!

The meeting at
Aldershot was one I’d rather forget.  It’s a shame because both the car and the track were good.  Nothing went my way though and apart from a 10th in the first race it was just a complete disaster.  I tagged the wall coming out of a bend in heat two and bent the wishbones on the passenger side. I said to Dad in a strop back in the pits “Let’s just load the car up and go home” - but we fixed the problem and I headed back out for the final . . . a decision I now regret.

It was one of those ‘unavoidable’ racing incidents but a few laps in I got involved in an accident going through one of the bends.  I don’t think it was that bad a collision but I bit my tongue and was walking around pretty dazed afterwards.  The car was a bit sorry for itself though with bits hanging off all over the place. Overall it was a meeting to forget and although I’m still just hanging in the top twenty it didn’t do my points haul much good either.

I had already decided not to race in
Scotland because John Toovey wanted to make a few changes to the engine, so after the meeting we cut all the crash frames off with an angle grinder, took all the bent bits off and pulled the engine out ready to go back.  We have been having problems selecting reverse too so the gearbox was taken out at the same time.  This left a very bare car with pretty much everything from the bulkhead forward having been removed.

Although I wasn’t going to race I still flew up to
Scotland to help John get his car ready for the European.  There’s a new service where I can fly from Oxford to Edinburgh and I can be at John’s house three hours after leaving mine.  Upshot of this is that unluckily for him, chances are I’ll be visiting more often!

I could easily do an entire blog about the weekend’s events; from the pub quiz to an epic road trip in a huge lorry but I won’t bore you with all the details and just stick to the racing.
Firstly:  what a place Lochgelly has turned into, the facilities are brilliant and the tarmac in the pits is better than on most of the motorways round here!  The meeting was really well run and I thought although there was one big accident, there wasn’t as much carnage as most people expected there to be with so many top-name drivers on a little track.  John had a couple of pretty mixed days with some consistent results mixed with a couple of DNF’s.  He came away from the European with a ninth and no damage meaning we could get loaded up and head to the beer tent to sample a few drinks before heading off into town for what turned into one of the best nights of the year . . . though my wallet and head disagreed next morning.

I felt a bit fragile the next day but it was back to the track for the second day of action.   On Sunday there were a few less cars but the racing was just as good.   John wasn’t very lucky in the first race and picked up some rear end damage but we rushed round and got it repaired for heat two.  I think this was John’s best race of the weekend and he come home with a 5th - keeping plenty of the big name drivers at bay behind him.  Once again luck wasn’t with him in the final and he picked up more rear damage putting him out after only a few laps.   All in all I had an absolutely great weekend with all my friends.  It’s a shame I didn’t have my own car there but I enjoyed working on John’s car - and it was nice that the only money I spent was in the beer tent!

Back down here in the real world and time is rapidly running out to get ready for tomorrow’s meeting at Hednesford.   We still have a great deal to do but we will be finished in time.  The engine is half in and some of the front suspension is on, but the rest is still to be done.  One day we will be ready to go racing with more than half an hour to spare, but until then the workshop is calling me!

The tragic news about the loss of Nick Thomas came as a complete shock last weekend.  It’s such a terrible thing and Nick was one of the best guys you could ever meet.  He always had time for a chat and would really go out of his way to help you any way he could. I’m sure I speak for everyone but “Nick, you will be deeply missed and have left a big void in the oval racing world.  Thanks for everything - rest in peace.”

Thanks as ever for reading.

Until next time


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