Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Time to dry out...

I’m just starting to dry out from the meeting at Northampton on Saturday.  I can honestly say I have never been that wet in all my life!

I am lucky enough to be able to spend a fair amount of time in Scotland.  I love the Hot Rods up there and try and get to as many meetings as I can.  I’ve managed to get to each of the four tracks this year.  My friends Bob and Leeann got married recently and after a few beers on the stag do I agreed to wear a kilt on the big day.  This seemed like a great idea at the time until my flight to Edinburgh was delayed for two hours and I found myself getting dressed rather hurriedly in the car going up the M8 with the surprise Mini Bob had bought for Leeann on a trailer behind.  It was a great night from what I remember and I woke up next morning at Robert’s house with a pretty sore head!  It was straight from there to Lochgelly for what would turn out to be the last meeting for John in his 206, although none of us knew this at the time!

Typically, John flew in the old girl and was on the pace all day.  At some time during the day the deal was done in secret with Graeme Callender to buy his Tigra, and I have never seen anyone look so surprised when it turned up on John’s drive later that evening.  This new car left me with no choice but return two weeks later for the Sibbald anniversary party and a trip to Knockhill for his maiden run in it.  The Sibbald party turned into another pretty epic night and when we arrived at Knockhill I had actually driven the car more than John had - just by doing a few laps around his yard.  I think Knockhill is a great track and the Hot Rods look awesome going round there.  The day started with disaster though as the prop snapped on the way down to practice.  This meant we missed the first heat but it was sorted and good to go again for the second heat.  John had a couple of good races and picked up a few much needed points.

I decided to jump in my car last weekend and go to one last meeting at Lochgelly before the end of the year.  John is well and truly on the pace now and is flying in the new car.  After a small adjustment in practice the car was running round like it was on rails, and he had a good day getting a second, a third and then another second in the final.  It was good to watch the Ninja Karts too . . . some of those little guys are absolutely mental!

Between everything else going on I took a trip over to Northern Ireland to watch the British and Irish open.  As usual the Irish hospitality lived up to its reputation!  It was a complete riot of a weekend starting with Room to Race in Bangor, the racing simulator that lets you race around all the tracks we race at week in week out.  I think the lads treated me a bit unfairly here and wouldn’t let me finish a lap let alone a race without being rolled or turned into the wall.  The madness started later at the Ballymena Social Club then progressed to 15 of us crammed into Glenn’s lorry singing songs and having a good time.  I found myself helping Robert on the Sunday and after a quick diff change spent the flight home stinking of diff oil!  It was a brilliant weekend.   I always love heading over the water to see everyone and I can’t wait to go back.

My own racing has been pretty exciting too, with our first ever trip to the Mendips Raceway down by Bristol.  In all my years of racing I have never been racing in the West Country before and it was good to go somewhere different.  When we arrived in the morning you could barely see your hand in front of your face - let alone the track - due to thick fog.  When it cleared it turned into a lovely day and left us with a brilliant little track.  It’s relatively small, maybe Birmingham size, and it’s on a hill.  You drop down into a tight turn one and two then climb up a steep hill with a hump in the middle of the straight heading into turn three and four.  The speed you carry around it is incredible though and I have never come off from a race feeling so physically worn out!  I had a really good day though with a fifth in both heats and a ninth in the final.  It would have been a fourth in heat one, but me being stupid slowed down a lap before the chequered flag!  I really enjoyed the day and hope it becomes a yearly fixture for us.

Saturday night at Northampton was more suited to boat racing than cars but after 6 years of racing Hot Rods I can finally say I’ve found a set up for the rain that I’m happy with.  It started off dry in practice and for a while it looked like it was going to be a nice night.  That soon changed though and as the start got closer the rain moved in.  I headed out on wets and for once had actually made the right tyre choice.  The race started well but a bit of contact saw me heading towards the wall.  I managed to lock up and avoid any damage but it put me right to the back.  I got going again though and worked my way back up to thirteenth.  Luck wasn’t on my side for the next race either as I got involved with a spinning car and ended up stuck on the kerb; this brought the yellows out and unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to restart the race.

The weather worsened before the final and was more like a monsoon than a rain storm.  I could sit and give you all sorts of excuses as to why I didn’t finish but I just couldn’t see anything.  My glasses steamed up, my goggles steamed up, even my mirrors were steamed up, and I was struggling to see the corners let alone the cars around me.  If I’d kept going it would inevitably have resulted in an accident so I did the sensible thing and pulled off.  It’s left me with a car that needs very little work so that’s a good thing.

With two meetings left to go there’s still plenty that could happen.  It’s been a really exciting year so far and I’m really enjoying it.  Just typing this has reminded me what a great few months I have had!

Thanks as ever for reading.

Until next time


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