Friday, December 5, 2014

One Last Road Trip

It’s a cold, dark Saturday evening and there isn’t any racing on or a beer in sight.  Another year has flown past and it seems like only a few months since we stepped off the plane in South Africa to kick off this year’s racing.  Now the season has finished and the car is looking very naked in the garage as preparations for the Autosport Show get under way.

The English season didn’t really finish the way I would have hoped, and after another meeting seemingly dominated by politics rather than racing, we left Hednesford with a straight car but not many points.  The first race started disastrously with a crash after the first lap leaving me stuck up against the inside kerb with no damage but unable to move due to being boxed in by cars.  A yellow flag eventually saw me able to get going again but by now I was right at the back of the grid.  This is where I stayed for the remainder of the race.  The second heat and final were pretty uneventful too but I finished both without incident and scraped a handful of points.  I’ve enjoyed racing at Hednesford recently and had hoped for a good meeting - but never mind, that’s racing!

A few weeks earlier during a trip to Scotland I’d said that as long as the car was in one piece I’d head up and race the last meeting of the season at Lochgelly.  Not one to go back on my word the car was loaded onto the trailer and I began the long, yet very familiar trip up the M6.  What started as a lovely Saturday morning quickly turned into a very wet and miserable Saturday afternoon, so after a quick change of tow vehicle - to John’s trusty old Sprinter (to ensure we had somewhere dry to sit) - we set off to do some racing.  Recently I have really struggled in the wet both with the car and confidence so it’s fair to say I was pretty nervous.

I decided to make several changes to the car and want to thank all my friends who worked in the rain and helped me.  I always struggle at meetings without my Dad and I really appreciated all the help!  As soon as it was ready I headed out to practice and instantly knew I’d made the right decision as the car felt better than it has in the wet for a very long time - so already the trip had proved worthwhile.

Despite the truly horrible weather it turned into one of the best night’s racing I have had for a long time.  Thirteen cars were present for the meeting and along with Tam Rutherford, and Robert McDonald who was out giving John’s car a run, I started at the back of the grid.  It didn’t start very well though with me getting a little carried away on the first warm-up lap and spinning off into the infield!

The car was good in the race though and I managed to stay on pace for the whole race.  The weather hadn’t improved for the next heat but Terry Hunn had made a couple of changes to my car which improved it again and I found myself getting round a few cars and finishing seventh.  As we lined up for the final I was really looking forward to my last race of 2014 and it didn’t disappoint.  I will actually go all out and put it up there as one of the most enjoyable races I’ve ever had.  It was pretty hectic from the off and luck just seemed to be on my side as I managed to miss all the action, even finding myself up into third place with four laps to go.  Robert, and Ian Donaldson had other ideas about me getting a trophy though and had quickly relegated me back to fifth by the time the chequered flag came out.  I am absolutely determined to beat Robert one day.   I don’t care what it’s in; I just want to beat him!

I would like to thank HRP for making me feel so welcome and putting on such a good firework display (I mean the one in the sky, not during the stoppage in the Hot Rod final, for anyone that was there!).  Also thanks to all my friends for turning out and supporting me, and to John and Kylie for the accommodation!  Scotland really is my second home and I like the Scottish Hot Rod series.  Hopefully fixtures and work will allow me to come back and do some more in 2015.

So that was it, racing for 2014 was done . . . the car was wet and dirty but such an enjoyable night made the trip back to John’s seem much quicker.  An unplanned night out after the racing was a good way to finish the season too.

Once home it was straight back to business and the car was stripped down and the chassis cleaned in readiness for the N.E.C.  We plucked up courage and ventured deep into the garage looking for spare panels, only to find a complete spare kit.  After much fibre-glassing they resemble something usable and have now been dropped off to get a fresh coat of paint.  It’s going to be something a bit different, but we have no idea what yet!

With the car to finish, Christmas rapidly approaching and a weekend in Dublin for my birthday, I think the rest of the year is going to fly by!  I know I can’t wait to get back behind the wheel of the 27 machine for what is going to be the car’s sixth season.

I’ll be sure to keep you all updated…

Thanks as ever for reading.

Until next time


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