MY FIRST RACE!!
H.S.C.C. SILVERSTONE, 17th to 18th MAY 2003.
Well, this was it. After something like four and a half years since I originally bought the racecar from a website in America, it was now time to actually get the thing out on the track. We were aiming for the HSCC's Donington Park meeting in April but missed that by a mile. Silverstone was the third meeting of the year. To say that I was nervous is probably the understatement of the century!! What with being my first race and my first time out in the car, add that I had never even SEEN the Silverstone International Circuit before (it's about half of the Grand Prix circuit), it was going to be a bit more difficult than I thought. then, of course, something else happens too : it rained!! Well, silly me, what was I expecting from England at the end of May??? Some sunshine perhaps?? No such chance!! We decided to take advantage of a test day on the Friday before the meeting proper, it was a good job we did!!
And just before I was due to go out for my first session Jonathan informed me that I had no brakes - at all!! It seems that as the brake system was SO new after the restoration (new pads, calipers, everything!) they just weren't working. What it needed was a few really hard laps to loosen everything up. Of course, what with the rain, that was the last thing they were going to get!! Oh well, what can you do?? I just got on with it and tried not to throw the car at the scenery.
Practice / qualifying was just around Sunday lunchtime and was just about dry. At least I qualified, albeit dead last. What were you expecting? Another Schumacher??
Race was at 4.30 and we were hoping that it MIGHT have dried out a little by then. WRONG! As we came round from the warm-up lap, all I could see beyond the grandstands were absolutely BLACK clouds!! Great. The green lights came on and off we went!! After only a matter of maybe 200 yards I was suddenly driving though debris. Two cars were stuck in the barrier on the left, right ion the middle of start / finish straight. The spray was amazing, I had never experienced anything like this before, visibility was absolutely zero. Half way round the lap we got red lights and red flags, race stopped. We formed up on the grid again while the two crashed cars were removed. After what seemed like an age but was only probably about ten minutes off we went again, I got a better start but it didn't seem to get me any nearer the car in front!! At this point the rain was horizontal, it seemed to be hitting the track and bouncing up three feet before coming down again. Those of you who have visited Silverstone will know what I'm talking about! I kept hold of the guy in front of me and was even thinking about overtaking him for a couple of laps, but what with aquaplanning down the straight (I kid you not!), I eventually came to the conclusion that it was probably better to finish than to try & overtake someone and ram him from behind because I couldn't see him. I left it at that and brought the car home. So, in the end, was it fun?? Well, yes, sort of. It was absolutely brilliant to be out in the car at last, especially after the fantastic job that Jonathan has done on it, but the weather was SO bad I couldn't enjoy it, I was concentrating on not pranging the car!
I am next out at Brands Hatch on the Grand Prix Circuit in early July, and am I looking forward to that?? You bet I am!
I'll report on that soon.
Photo credits : thanks indeed to Ian Drew, Phil Peel, John James, Tim Taylor, Martin Waldron and Martin Nicholas for the pictures on this piece.
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