Snetterton 7th October 2007
Last Saturday we traveled across to Snetterton near Thetford an old bomber base by the A11. As usual the race preparation consisted of beer and a BBQ and a talk about tactics for the next day. This was to be a 4 hour relay race, run with a handicap. The handicap being me.
Everybody sends in their fastest time at Snetterton or other race circuit and the team is given extra laps or no laps at all.
The COCKSHOOT was the name of the team I was in it consisted of Alan Bates and myself driving MGBs, Ian Wright, Steve Mckie and Steve Gregory driving MG Midgets. Included in the race against us were some exotic machinery including Porsche's and Alfa's, plus the usual MGs.
Practice went well with the object not to go too fast and spoil your handicap time. This time I had put the correct fuel in the tank. The fuel tanks were topped up to the Maximum because we usually only race with small tanks of 6 gallons and we did not want to make too many pit stops. We were planned to have sessions of 30 minutes each before the change over. As I had raced here the most I was sent out first .
Because this was going to be a long race trying to keep out of trouble at the first corner was the main priority, even though I did manage to overtake a couple of cars on the way in. After the first lap I found myself behind a Ford Capri who used all the track to stop me passing he was quicker on the straight put I was quicker through the corners. We were locked together for several laps, until I tried to pass him at Russell , where I dived to the inside he blocked me and to miss him I took out all the plastic bollards some of which hit his car.
I didn't have any problems with him after that.
The car was running well until near the end of my session I was overtaking a Midget when traveling into the Esses the car lurched to the right then the left and then tried to rollover on the near side wheel, obviously all was not well. As I passed the pits I signaled the team that I was coming in and to get the next car ready. The handling was getting worst and I suspected that the wheel nuts were loose as we have had this problem before. I managed to survive the Esses but as I entered Russell I turned left to exit it but the car just went straight on over the kerb and through the run off area. luckily it wasn't far to the pits and I managed to limp in. All I could see in my near side mirror was bits of rubber flying every where. Paul Goodman the team manager was trying to urge me on as the next car could not leave the garage until I had passed him, unfortunately as we discovered there was no tyre left.
I parked the car whilst Ross from BT tyres changed the wheel and refueled the car ready for the next outing.
The rest of the team were driving well and were keeping consist ant lap times. Soon it was turn to get consist ant in the car again and wait for the go signal. As Stephen passed the garage I came out back on to the track and kept racing for the next 35 minutes every thing went smooth with no major moments I had to be a good boy as the clerk of the course was not impressed with me taking out all the bollards.
I came in and it was Alan's turn to finish the race He drove well and at the end we finished first in our class just three laps behind the handicap winners.
That is the end of the racing for this season we start to strip the car down soon to rebuild it for next season.
For us this has been a good season we have finished 2nd in class and 4th overall in the championship and we have just had a class win at Snetterton .
Once again I would like to thank my sponsors, Entune 2000, Revolution Recruitment and BT tyres also anybody who has helped out and all the Alex Lester Show listeners who visited .
Silverstone 22nd September 2007
This race was the final race of the Cockshoot championship and there were five of us who could win the championship on this one race. I had to win the race to have a chance.
On Friday traveled Sept I traveled the short distance to Silverstone to set up equipment ready for the next day The rest of the team were arriving the next day or whenever every thing was ready. This was a race that I had to win to have any chance of winning the Cockshoot championship. I stopped at Weedon to fill the car and jerrycan and made a terrible mistake that will become evident later on.
On arrival I walked the track to memorise my braking and turning points to give me the best possible chance. After setting up camp it was time for a few beers with some friends. Here I made another mistake but more of that later.
Saturday was a dry and sunny morning there was time to check the car over one last time before signing on and scrutineering which was fairly painless. On the way to scrutineering the car had started to smoke slightly but it sometimes does this as there are no oil seals on the valves and it clears it's self when warm.
Soon it was time to practice, on the way to the assembly area the car started to misfire slightly, on the last race I had a small oil leak and I had overfilled the engine with oil to ensure I didn't run dry and I thought that was the cause of the misfire.
The car passed the noise test once again and we went out to practice, unfortunately I didn't complete one lap as the car broke down in exactly the same spot I caused the race to be red flagged last year and they remembered me. I was towed back to the paddock and we started to repair the engine. At first we thought it was an electrical fault and we replaced the plugs, rotor arm and anything else we could but it still would not run. We then checked the fuel and found the fault I had put diesel in the car instead of petrol. Her comes the excuse I normally fill up with Shell Optimax but there is not one on route so I filled up with what I thought was BP Ultimate, I didn't know there was a diesel version, I do now though.
We empted the tank, flushed the fuel lines and tried again, it would run but not very well we then replaced all the old electrical items and after a quick try out it was running ok. I then had to convince the Clerk of the course to let me race, he agreed and I had to start from the back of the grid.
What I needed was an act of God a miracle would not be good enough, especially for this one race only last years champion was out and nobody could touch him.
I went out onto the track for the race and this is where we had a hand of god incident where I just managed to guess when the lights would change, although one or two people said I jumped the start. By the first corner I had come from 18th to 10th, second piece of good luck on the second corner Ian Witt my main rival spun off and two other of my rivals were spining locked together. I over took several more cars and by the end of the first lap I was 4th next was the MGF of Paul Rigg , then the MGB GT of Alan Bates who gave me a hard time passing him and we both nearly entered the kitty litter at Brooklands.
By the end of lap 3 I was 2nd and that was how it stayed until the end, Ian Witt finished 3rd and took the championship. I finished second in class and third overall in the championship.
At the end of the race when the prizes were being given out and every man and his dog had heard about me putting diesel in the car and made all the jokes there were, a man came to me and said he worked for Mclaren and he offered me a job in formula one as a refueller for Ferrari.
After last year when the car would not work properly this has been a good year for us and I would like to thank, all the people who have visited us and wished us well, the pit crew, and my sponsors, Revolution driver recruitment and BT tyres from Rugby, ENTUNE 2000 from Bolton who built the engine and Peter Burgess who tuned it. also anybody else who has helped us.
My other mistake was on Friday night when drinking I somehow agreed to race this Sunday the 7th October at Snetterton in a four hour relay race. If any body is in the area please come and say hello.
Castle Coombe 15th September
On Friday 14th Team Slap My Top! ventured into deepest Wiltshire to race at Castle Coombe. The locals obviously love the racing so much so they removed the signs to the entrance and we were nearly in Bath before we turned around.
We set up camp and put the BBQ on as it was dark a sausage or two dropped to the ground when questioned I said you've got the one with herbs on.
For once we had a dry day, the race I had entered into was not a championship race but It is a great circuit to race on it is basically the perimeter roads of an airfield with a couple of chicanes thrown in and is a very fast circuit. The best corner to watch is at Quarry especially on the first lap when 40 cars come screaming in all trying to out brake each other.
As this wasn't a championship race I decided to use an old set of tyre's which in retrospect wasn't a good idea as they were a bit corners As. ( Getting the excuses in early)
I was racing in the MG car clubs Peter Best championship but the MG Metros were racing with us as well which would make it a interesting race as rear wheel drive cars and front wheel drive take different lines through the corners As there were 42 cars racing I was one of the first out to practice, I''havn't raced here for a few years so the first few laps were just learning the circuit again but then I started to come across the slower cars and it was hard to get a fast lap in. I had qualified 10th overall and 4th in class behind a MGC 3 litre and two 3.5 V8s as my car is only 1.9 litres it wasn't too bad, but as in other things in life size matters.
After watching some good racing it was our turn to race the lights went of and once again I had a bad start, and dropped a few places, and worst of all I was surrounded by MG Metros. Going into Quarry for the first time I managed to out brake one car, and survived the mayhem, going into the first chicane I was almost into the boot of the car in front , the only casualty was a couple of those plastic poles to keep you from cutting the corners. They don't work because two of them went flying as we all cut the corner. I was gaining on the field next on my list was a MGF, I managed to out brake him going into Camp corner, then the next one was a MGB of James Walpole we had a great race for the next couple of laps until I out braked him and nearly myself going into Tower corner.
I was starting to lap slower cars now which slowed me down and with a few yellow flags the MGF had caught me up. We were the last race and on some of the corners the sun was in my eyes. As we exited Tower together my friends car James Darby had broken down at the chicane after it and there were yellow flags being waved I was approaching two back markers and I couldn't overtake then until the green flag. The MGF caught me up and was almost into my boot. Luckily I managed to get past the two back markers but I didn't realise it was the last lap and I carried on past the chequred flag and it was only when I saw the marshals clapping that I realised that the race was over.
I finished 9th overall and 4th in class but I was the fastest
4 cylinder MGB in class which is a small victory.
Our next race is at Silverstone this Saturday 22nd,at the moment I am joint leader of the Cockshoot championship but there are 5 of us who could win it. My sponsors Revolution recruitment, BT tyres and ENTUNE 2000 are going to be there plus Kilsby the local MG CAR, family friends etc so there is absolutely no pressure to win at all.
If anybody does come to watch come over and say hello.
Oulton Park 18th August
We traveled up once again to Oulton park on a wet Friday night to set up camp. Somewhere the plan has gone wrong, I go up early set every thing up and the team come along later, I'm sure I didn't see Schumacher setting the tents up for Ferrari.
Saturday morning arrived wet and dismal. Scrutineering went OK with just one item wrong even though we'd raced with it all year!
My main sponsors Revolution Recruitment and BT tyres had turned up, also some family and friends, so there was no pressure on me at all.
Then it was time to visit my favorite lady with her noise meter and yes we passed this time. It was now time for practice. I was third car out onto the track and easily passed one of my rivals and started chasing another one it took a while but he eventually moved over he thinks practice is racing. As we approached a couple of slower cars I backed off slightly as not to hit them going into lodge he tries to overtake us and nearly wipes four cars out. I was not a happy bunny.
The track was very greasy especially by Druids as I found out traveling down it sideways.
Ian Witt one of my main rivals for the championship was broken down by the side of the track and I had to say oh what a pity or words to that effect.
After practice I went to receive my times and I was on pole position, the car was checked for oil and water and loose wheel nuts and was pronounced fit to race. I was not allowed to tamper with it, although I did notice the car next to me on the grid was changing to his wet tyres. Even if I had some wet tyres I wouldn't have changed them.
Soon it was time to race and the kind lady with the noise tester gave me the victory sign well I think it was that.
It had been raining lightly and the track was damp and greasy I could feel it on the green flag lap. We approached the grid the lights went to red then off and all that happened was my tyres spun and spun. It was a terrible start, and I was down to fifth or sixth. I managed to pass one going down hill into Cascades and another at the bottom of Tower hill as we approached Druids the leading car spun off into the gravel trap. Every body at once slowed down because he had found where the oil was. Ironically he was the car with the wet tyres on.
Going under the bridge before Lodge I overtook another car and I was in second place behind Ian and for the remainder of the race it was like that. I got level once or twice but could not pass him even though I did have the fastest lap time. When we started to lap slower cars they seemed to let him through but held me back.
In the end I finished second again.
As I write this I am jointly leading the Cockshoot championship with one race to go at Silverstone on September 22nd, but because of the scoring system there are five of us who could win it it is going to be one interesting race.
Curborough 5th August
On Sunday we visited the MGCC sprint meeting at Curborough.
When I started racing one of the first events that I did was a sprint at Curborough. A sprint involves just your car and the clock and it can be highly specialized, but it is also a good fun event.
The first two practice runs went well but as I did my first timed run I forgot that my brakes were still cold and I overshot a turn and went into a spectacular slide that ruined my time, I had two further runs, but I only finished third in class but I had an enjoyable day
The next race is at Oulton Park once again on Saturday 18th August
Oulton Park 28th July
At the last race at Cadwell park the overdrive gearbox had failed and from the time we arrived home we worked on the car night and day to repair it with help from O.D. Services in Rugby. In fact we were still working on it the night before the race. The reason being that to work on the gearbox the engine has to be removed first and after putting it back together we found two serious leaks.
We managed to get it through scrutineering but as we went out to practice we were told that the car had failed the noise test.
The practice session went well as we were second on the grid, behind my rival Ian Witt.
From the finish of practice until the 10 minutes before the start of the race myself and my mechanic Paul tried various ways to reduce the noise, we even sent out two of our supporters Jeanette Bell and her friend Louise to various garages to purchase some items. Eventually we sort of borrowed an exhaust from a formula ford car that was racing there and a part from the camper van and we passed the noise test with 10 minutes to go but it was not exactly secure.
As the lights changed I had a bad start and I dropped back, but as we approached Fosters, which is a downhill right, two of them out braked them selves and I was back up to second. This was how it stayed until two laps from the end when I caught up to the leader, Ian. I could get level with him but I could not get past him even though I tried all the tricks in the book and a few besides all the while the makeshift exhaust was dragging on the floor.
We crossed the line with just 0.23 seconds between us. I am third in the Cockshoot championship and first in class.
Cadwell Park 14th July 2007
We were racing at Cadwell park on the 14th July and we did quite well. Traveling up there the weather was damp and we thought we would be in for a terrible time but we were lucky to have two dry races.
Cadwell Park is my favorite place to race and I recommend that you should go there one day it has to be the most challenging track in the country. The Cockshoot championship practice went very well with no problems to the car the only damage to a wing mirror when I tried to cut a corner and took out a marker post at the top of the mountain. I had qualified 2nd although the guy behind me was only 3 tenths of a second slower than me.. The second practice for a so called friendly race went to plan, I was tenth overall and 2nd in class.
After our usual briefing about driving standards it was time to race. As the lights went out I managed to bog down the car and the 3rd placed guy was level with me as we entered the first corner, we stayed like that around the first corner but I had the better line into the next corner which is called Charlies and as we exited onto the back straight I was just in front of him. For the next lap I had him and the rest of the pack behind me but as we exited Charlies for the second time a car behind me spun and caused chaos leaving me time to make a break and pull away.
I finished second overall and second in class at the moment I am first in class and forth in the Cockshoot championship.
In the second race Imade a good start and held off the car behind me until the last lap when he hit me and I spun at the Goose neck almost rolling it.
We are racing Saturday 28th July at Oulton Park near Middlewich if any body does come to watch find us and say hello.
Silverstone 22nd 23rd 24th June 2007
Hi here is my report from Silverstone.
We arrived Thursday night at Silverstone to be informed that we could not come in as some people from F1, who ever they are, were testing. At last we were let in and we erected our shelters, which with the rain we did use.
Friday arrived wet, why they have to arrange a race meeting the same weekend as Glastonbury I don't know, it's a guarantee of rain.
My first untimed practice was on Friday afternoon. Parts of the track were covered in water but we went out, it did not last long with several cars in the kitty litter or gravel traps if you prefer. After one red flag we went out again and as I approached Abbey I braked but the car behind did not. the first I knew of it was when I was spinning he hit my rear and to add insult to injury he managed to hit the front of the car as well.
We spent the rest of the afternoon panel bashing to try to pass scrutineering which it did except for the noise test which was described as slightly too loud. Time for a BBQ and some beers.
Saturday came wet our first qualifying session was just before lunch and amid some slides on the corners I was quite pleased. I was 2nd in class.
I had a good start and was up to about tenth place when, at a yellow flag incident, the rest of the pack caught me up and I was then hit several times by one car and forced to retire with damage to my rear wheel arch fouling my tyre.
The rest of the night was spent panel bashing to prepare the car for the important race the Cockshoot Cup Championship. We did however manage to go to the disco until midnight where of course I did not drink much.
Sunday seemed to rain more than the rest put together and there was standing water on the track. Doing my checks I found that one of my brake pipes had fractured and was loosing fluid, no wonder I had no brakes, this meant a mad panic to find a new pipe but it was fixed before qualifying. I went out carefully at first but pressed on knowing that I needed a good result for my championship points. All went well until the last lap when I hit a patch of water and went sideways into the pit wall. I returned to the paddock for more repairs.
Our championship was also sharing the grid with the MG Metro championship and there was a grid of 44 cars and I was 7th overall and pole car in my race. I did not get a good start because a Metro stalled in front of me this was a stroke of luck because as I approached the first corner there were cars everywhere with Metros spinning as if it was choreographed. I managed to escape the mayhem and pulled away. My only problem was that my nearside tyre was fouling the wheel arch and putting smoke into the cockpit. I managed to hold on to first place as the race was halted under a red flag.
This was my first race win I have had class wins before but not race wins and I was over the moon.
I must say a special thanks to the team and especially Paul repaired who repaired the car several times
Our next race is at Cadwell park on Saturday 14Tth July.
Angelsey 26/27th May 2007
We were racing at Angelsey at the weekend this circuit has just been rebuilt and we were involved in one of the first races, it even has a corner named after the late John Peel who did his national service here as it once was a missile site.
After our good result at Oulton Park we were expecting a lot possibly even a win.
Our practice session was on Saturday afternoon and things went well with no loose wheel nuts this time. The circuit is tricky with a down hill corkscrew which in the wet is interesting. We qualified 2nd in class and second overall but the MG Midget in front of me was flying and my only hope of beating him was if he had a breakdown.
After practice we did the normal checks then had a BBQ. Sunday dawned cold and wet and we had the first race on a damp track, I was overjoyed. I had a good start and almost caught the pole position car, behind me I was being swamped by the rest of the pack and it made for an interesting first corner. After a couple of laps I managed to pull away and chase after the leader but I could not catch him. I finished 2nd overall and second in class.
We checked the car over and soon it was time for the second race,once again I managed a good start and nearly got in front of the pole car this time though I tried harder and nearly caught him with two laps to go but I pushed too hard and spun off ironically at Peel corner but I was so far in front of the other cars I still finished 2nd overall and 2nd in class.
I am now equal third in class and fifth overall in the championship.
Our next race is at Silverstone on the 22nd 23rd and 24th of June and it is one great weekend.
Oulton Park 19th May 2007
Here is my report of my ace at Oulton park on Saturday 19th MAY.
We are also known to BBC radio 2 listeners as TEAM Slap My Top! from the Alex Lester show.
The weekend did not start well because as I arrived at Oulton Park on Friday night due to an admin problem I had to pay for my own ticket and the bar was shut.
Saturday dawned overcast but dry with the threat of rain. We were the last group to practice and it all went well except for Island bend where it is allegedly a flat out corner but as I found out it wasn't for me as we had a big moment on the grass narrowly missing the gravel trap and a wheel vibration was found out to be loose wheel nuts OOPS!.
I had done well and qualified third in class and third overall.
I was behind two MG Midgets which are a lot lighter than my MGB and have a better power to weight ratio.
My main sponsor John Caldwell from ENTUNE 2000 had arrived with some new parts and he fitted those as I am not allowed to play with the engine.
Soon it was race time, I did not get a good start and was swamped by cars from different classes but I was soon free of them, luckily one of the MG Midgets had a worst start than me and I took full advantage. he soon caught me up but he was having trouble with his gearbox and couldn't take full advantage of his power. We swapped places several times, He would catch me going into the corners but I was faster out of the corners. On several corners we went around them side by side. As we started to lap other cars I managed to get a small lead and held it to the finish.
I finished second in class and second overall.
I would like to thank all the people who were cheering me on I don't know if they were Alex Lester listeners but there were quite a few on the hill leading up to tower bend and druids.
We are racing this weekend at listeners practicing Sat and racing twice Sunday if any listeners are there come and say hello.
Silverstone 31st March 2007
It went quite well, after the test we had at Mallory Park and the rolling road session I was confident that we would not disgrace our team.
It was a dry but bitterly cold Silverstone as we prepared the car for practice I took the car to scrutineering and it failed the electric cut off switch would not work and I had resort to a bodge to get it through before they would let me race.
I was one of the first cars out onto the track for practice and after a short time to warm up the tyres I went for it I try to chase after a faster car to achieve a good practice time and I was chasing a V8 MGB GT and I managed to keep up with him although once or twice I nearly overcooked it and nearly ended up in the kitty litter.
After being weighed at the end of my practice and thankfully within the weight limit I was 8th overall and 6th in class considering that 3 of the cars in front of me had almost double my cylinder capacity. I was the third fastest 4 cylinder car there and with over twenty cars on the grid it wasn't bad.
Soon it was time for the first of our two races.
It wasn't the best start I have ever done but it was ok, I did manage to drop a few places but as we hurtled into Beckets which is a tight right hander I managed to out brake a car and sneak through and I was only one behind and as we entered which is another tight right hander with a camber that wants to throw you off the track I managed to pass another car. I had one more car to pass a red MGB and I would be back to where I started I caught him up but I just did not have the power to pass him as he could block my every move. We were equal in power on all of the track except Copse where I was faster but because he blocked me I couldn't get past him and I had to just hang onto his bumper and hope he made a mistake.
This carried on until lap eleven when he made a mistake and went wide at Luffield and I saw a gap you could get an artic through, a few unkind people who watched said that there was only enough room for a bicycle but I went for it anyway, he saw me tried to block me and I kissed his rear knocking him into a spin. I later found out that his oil light had come on and he had eased off for a fraction.
I was through and soon I was behind a blue MGB and after a couple of laps I was hassling him keeping my bonnet about the size of a fag packet from his boot. Because I had been slipstreaming for most of the race the temperature gauge had started to rise and I had to move into some clean air. We were at this time lapping other cars and I was hoping that he would be slowed down by a back marker I would find a way through but it was not to be until on the penultimate lap he out braked himself at Copse and I sneaked through, he was soon after me and it was now a case of role reversal as I had to hold him off for one lap.
This I managed to do and as I crossed the finish line he was just 0.6 of a second behind me, and I finished 7th overall and 5th in class. I was over the moon, the car had run perfectly unlike last year when it would lose power and misfire and I had equaled the best lap time of one of the V8’s.
After another scrutineering post race I spent my time repairing the damage from my little kiss it wasn't a lot of damage but it had damaged a headlight cover which are expensive and are only sold in pairs and I have three offside ones but no near side ones now.
We were the last race of the day and unusually we had the same grid as the first race usually the second grid is where you finish in the first race , so one of the cars that I had overtaken was back in front of me.
Once again I did not get a great start and I was swamped at the start and again lost a few places including one to a big green RV8. He could beat me in a straight line power race but I could out brake and out corner him which I did at Copse I think he was surprised just how late you could brake at that corner survive and so was I. By now I was in tenth position and I came across the blue MGB again and once again I out braked him into Copse after a lap of close racing. It was now the turn of the red MGB I caught him up on the back straight and tried to sneak past him at Brooklands which is a 90 degree left hander leading into Luffield I moved to the left , he blocked me and I took out all the plastic markers that are there to stop you cutting the corners. Once again I was slipstreaming him all the way around the circuit trying to pressure him for a couple of laps and he made a mistake going into Copse I was through, now he slipstreamed me for a couple of laps I was trying to make my car as big as a bus to stop him passing. Unfortunately I was watching him too much and as I blocked him at Brooklands on the inside line He managed to pass on the out side. Once again I was the hare chaseing the rabbit and he knew we were equal except at Copse and he blocked me at every attempt. my Only hope was that one of the back markers would block him and give me a chance. But lady luck was not on my side and one of them blocked me and he was able to get away.
I finished 8th overall and 5th in class.
Overall I was delighted the engine had performed perfectly and the suspension was quite stable.
We are next out at Oulton Park on the 19th of May .