Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The action begins again

Sorry it’s been so long since you last heard from me.  So far this year things haven’t really been going to plan.  It’s with great sadness that I must say my grandfather passed away at the beginning of March.  It was unexpected and came as a complete shock to us.  Obviously losing someone who I saw everyday and have worked closely with my entire adult life has had a big impact on me and left a huge hole in the entire family’s lives.

Although he never raced a Hot Rod himself he used to watch the likes of Barry Lee and George Polley at Wimbledon back when it was shale.  He also raced Stock Cars back in the ‘50s when they were big V8 American cars ironed up.  Although never particularly successful he had plenty of stories from the old Stock Car days - long before things like health and safety were thought of!

His real love in life was rallying though and he enjoyed success both driving himself and building cars for other people.  Through the ‘70s and ‘80s they had a successful business running alongside the scrap yard building and maintaining customers’ cars.  When the mark 3 Escort first came out they converted them to rear wheel drive and built them into rally cars, selling them all over the UK and Ireland.  The first one they ever built was driven by my Dad and still sits under a sheet locked away in the yard.  One day, when time allows, we are going to get it out and restore it back to its former glory.

Although he never managed to get to watch me in a National, a meeting never passed without a phone call to see how I was getting on, and back when I raced Minis it would be very rare for both him and my Nan to miss a meeting.  Looking back I’m probably glad he didn’t watch me in the Hot Rod as there would have been many times that I’d have been on the receiving end of a stern word!

I’m going to miss him but he would be the first person to tell us to get on with it . . . so it’s business as usual at work and racing.  For the first meeting we decided - as a tribute to him - to sticker the car up like the rally cars he used to build; although it didn’t appear to bring me any extra luck!

We are disorganised at the best of times and with all this going on it looked very unlikely we would make the first meeting but thanks to ‘Team Kew’ and Mork (a family friend for as long as I can remember) we all got stuck in on a Sunday and got the car back together.  I can’t thank you guys enough because without you we certainly wouldn’t have made the first meeting.  I also want to thank Brendon from Smith Race Fabrications for all his work and ideas on the car over the winter.  I’m looking forward to working closely with Brendon over the next few months but more on that another time.

With just enough time to spare I borrowed a car off my aunt, then Lee and I running two hours late as usual, headed off to Birmingham to put a few laps under it.  Straight out of the box the car felt brilliant so it was worth all the effort getting it put back together again.

The Friday night after the funeral turned into a pretty drunken affair (something my gramp would have insisted on) with myself, John Sibbald, Jason Kew and his wife Kerry, and several other friends heading from the pub to sample the delights Witney had to offer.  This however led to a very hung-over Saturday morning at work and an even worse Saturday afternoon getting John’s and my own car ready for Hednesford the next day.

I must admit it felt great to be back racing again.  I haven’t missed the politics and the moaning at all but let’s face it, National Hot Rods on a dry day at Hednesford are pretty amazing!  The first race could easily have turned into a disaster as I exited turn two to find a parked car looking at me.  I managed to avoid it but some others weren’t so lucky.  Just a racing incident and I think everyone managed to get sorted and back out again.  I was allowed to restart the race from the back and although I finished outside the points the car was feeling pretty good.

The second heat got off to a better start but due to several silly mistakes on my part I fell back down the grid a fair way and just managed to scrape into the points with a 14th place.  Once again the car felt really good.

The final was a much better race and although I didn’t perform any miracles I managed to stay pointing the right way, avoid any damage and cross the line after 35 laps in 7th place, not as high up as I’d have liked but with a straight car and some points I can’t moan too much.  I must just say a big well done to Kym for his win in the final - a cracking drive and most deserved!

Going off topic a bit I would like to mention the truly epic night we had up in Scotland for George Macmillan’s gold roof party.  It was a couple of days’ hard work getting everything set up but what a brilliant night.  George is a great friend, a great racer and a great F2 world champion.  I would like to wish him all the best for this year, both in retaining the gold and in his chase for the national points title.  After a great start to the year he is currently leading so hopefully come the end of the year he can add the silver roof to his already impressive list of titles!

I would just like to thank everyone for their help and support the last few weeks, not just with the car but in life generally - it’s great to know I’m lucky enough to have such good friends.  I think in honour of my gramp I should hit this season hard and see what happens . . .  so Tony, this year is for you!

Thanks as ever for reading.

Until next time


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