Thursday, May 1, 2014

Plenty to report - part 2

So here I am back again, and this time I’m going to bring you bang up to date with what’s happening and how things have been going for me over the recent weeks.

After Birmingham there wasn’t a great deal to do to the car besides all the usual things, but there were a few tweaks we wanted to try on the suspension and spent quite a long time fiddling with it until we got it how we felt was right.  It’s amazing how long all these things take though and even what you think will be a simple job can end up taking the entire evening.

Seeing as I had no racing I decided to head up to Scotland for John (Sibbald)’s first meeting of the year.  Besty and Norden were heading over from Northern Ireland too so we made a road trip of it.  I picked them up from Birmingham Airport at 8pm on the Friday and we drove up through the night.  It was easily one of the funniest journeys of my life.  It took me ten minutes to get a sentence out at one point - I just couldn’t talk from laughing so much!

Saturday night saw my first trip to the Racewall at Cowdenbeath to watch the Stock Cars and Saloons.  I don’t know what it is about that place but I absolutely love it.  There isn’t an atmosphere to match it anywhere and the racing is first class as well.  It would have been rude not to go out after the racing so once the clothes had been changed it was back out the door and time to sample some of the legendary Scottish night life.  It’s a long story as to what happened but I ended up in the pub until 6am after everyone got split up!

Regardless of a pretty severe headache the next morning no doubt due to some bad ice or an iffy kebab eaten the night before, it was time to get down to the serious business of John’s first meeting of 2014 at Lochgelly.  After all the work from everyone over the winter it was great to see it all pay off with John not only winning a heat but the final too!  The car looked good all day and I gradually started feeling better too!  It was a great weekend and brilliant to see everyone.  It really left me buzzing to get back up for the European!  HRP have a great complex and I can’t wait to try both the track and the new bar out for myself!

It’s fair to say the trip home was more subdued than the one up and it seemed to go on and on but we got back safe and seeing as the lads didn’t go home until Tuesday evening I managed to get a couple of days work out of them driving the truck and picking up a few scrap cars.  Cheers guys - I’ll make sure I buy you a few beers!

Almost as soon as Besty had gone home it was time for him to come back.  My parents were heading away for the week and he flew over to give me a hand at work whilst they were away.  Before any work was done though, we had the small matter of a meeting at Ipswich to deal with.  After driving John’s car there a few weeks before it was great to get out in my own and do a few laps.  As soon as I did a lap in practice I knew all the changes we’d made to the set up had worked.

The first race was pretty uneventful.  After trying the outside for the lead I ended up getting rail-roaded back a few places and finishing somewhere mid-pack.  The second race was brilliant though, and after making a pass stick on the outside I managed to hold on to the lead and take the win - my first in over 18 months and my first with the Duratech under the bonnet.  I love my racing no matter what, but taking a win after so long felt good and made all the work we’ve put into the car worthwhile.  I have always had faith in John Toovey and the Duratech and it was nice when it all fell into place and worked.

The final was another good race and although I didn’t perform any miracles I really enjoyed it.  I scored points in every race, the car wasn’t damaged and I managed to take a trophy and some prize money home!  All in all it was a very good night out!

Besty bought us tickets for Brands Hatch to watch the first round of the Touring Cars the day after getting home from Foxhall at 3am, so the idea of getting up again at 7am and driving two hours to get there didn’t exactly fill me with enthusiasm…  But I’m glad we did, and I really enjoyed my first taste of circuit racing.  The facilities are great but the prices are frighteningly expensive!  I was also shocked at how many people we knew there - we even heard Dave Longhurst being interviewed at one point!  The racing was great and the sound of the Touring Cars is something else - it just doesn’t have the closeness and excitement of oval racing though so don’t panic, I won’t be jumping ship just yet.

With my parents being away I actually had to take some responsibility at work and it wasn’t the week long party you would expect from Besty and me. We did some long days and had a fair few problems to deal with so when Saturday evening arrived it was time to go wild and live up to our reputations!  Kym and Smiffy drove up to join us and we headed out into Oxford to see what we could get up to.  The random disorganised nights always turn into the best ones though and although we visited what seemed like every bar and club in the city, it turned into a great night out!

Once again after Ipswich we didn’t have much to do to the car.  The gearbox had to come out and go back for some changes and once again we decided to play with the suspension.  A slight delay with the gearbox left us rushing around trying to get finished though, and the now traditional late night before the meeting and loading up ten minutes before we leave didn’t fail to disappoint.

After a few practice laps the car didn’t feel as good as it had for the last few meetings but after a couple of ideas from my dad and Kym it was sorted and feeling good for the second race.   Due to a higher average I had been moved back to the yellow grade.   The first race got off badly with me having a terrible start but I got going ok after that and I managed to get the car home in one piece and score a few points.

The second race seemed just too good to be true.  The track was terrible where oil had been spilt and there was literally no grip.  Eventually it all seemed to come together though and I managed to sneak through and collect another win.  After waiting 18 months, to get two within three weeks felt amazing!

In truth after such a good second race I just wanted to survive the final and make it to the end with a straight car.  Luckily I got my wish and after one of the most chaotic races I have ever seen I managed to complete the 35 laps and pick up a fifth in the process.  I breathed a sigh of relief that I survived the carnage and got home in one piece.  I just want to say well done to my mate Shaun on a long overdue and much deserved win in the final and bad luck to my other mate Chris who had a huge accident in practice after his throttle jammed open.  I was just pleased to see you with a beer in hand afterwards!

All in all it has been two great meetings for me and I want to thank everyone for all their kind words.  Going back to racing purely for fun has been the best decision I ever made - I have no stress or worries and am going out and just enjoying every single lap.

It’s now time to get the car sorted for Lochgelly next weekend.  After countless trips to Scotland this will be my first time racing and I cannot wait.  Unfortunately I’ll be flying solo though as Dad has to stay home and work.  I’m looking forward to seeing everyone and I just know it will be a cracking weekend.

Thanks as ever for reading.

Until next time.


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