Cadwell Park is TERRIFYING
But in a good way. I spoke to a couple of Marshal's throughout the day and they told me that even during the week, they are pulling cars out of the Armco. Bikes just vapourise apparently !
Definately a Circuit designed to thrill !
I drove 3 laps of Cadwell Park last year. I paid for 2 races, but I was popping hoses, missfiring and generally breaking down with every possible situation. I think the Scoob was more terrified than me (It was our first race together). It even wee'd itself in the holding area before finally blowing a main fuse. Bless.
But 'we never put a healthy dog down'
So here we are, it's not raining (quite the opposite infact - it's bloody hot), the cars here, Wife's here and so is my Sister and her husband - who later on will turn out to be the best Pit Crew anyone could ask for !
It's Saturday afternoon and we finally roll into Cadwell Park after what seems like a weeks worth of village roads. It's good to see familiar faces and chat before the day. Calms the nerves. So we wander around, giving the tour while we watch the madness of the Practice sessions unfold.
One entries M3 threw a bolt out of the cam cover, vomitting it's oil out and turning it into what sounded like a 1970's Black Cab. Everyone tried to find that 'special bolt' that only BMW makes in only 1 size to fit only 1 hole. No luck. He had to pack up a go home. Sorry mate, I really felt for you.
Off to the hotel for an early night ! Only, the room we had was right next door to a frikkin' disco that went on till 11:30 ! No sleep there then !
So it's up a 6:30am after getting about 4 hours sleep. Wifey goes and signs on for her Media Tabard and Pass while we get our stuff together ready for the first Practice Session. Everything is double and triple checked this time - Cameras,Comms, fuel, etc. etc. No mistakes this year.
So out we roll for the first time since the new gearbox has been put in. Things are going OK initially, although I have a 'straight on moment' turning right for the Gooseneck and end up taking to the grass. That won't happen again, I got about a foot of airtime ! Landed so hard that my dashboard camera hit me in the face and my roll cage padding started flying about the cabin.
On the next lap I went for 4th and it went 'SNAP'
. The gearstick was all over the shop !
An immediate sinking feeling followed by jubilation as I looked down to find that the gearstick linkage bolt had popped out. So I rolled back to the paddock and quickly found a replacement. Jumped back in and caught the last 10 minutes of the Practice session. Bubble and Kick to the rescue with a proper fix after that.
It's time for lunch and everyones stuffing their face apart from me. Can't eat because of nerves, so I go for my 60th wee of the day :roll: It's qually time !
We run through our 'list of people to watch'....
15 Degrees North head the list in their exceptionally well prepared Orange and Blue Clio, followed by the Peak Rev's racing light Blue Ginetta and Raw Motorsport in the Silver Rocket Pug.
I'm sitting in the car in the holding area in full race gear. My eyes are stinging with sweat and i'm not far from passing out. Nothing to eat, not much fluid and a lack of sleep caused by an endless looping version of the Macarena being blasted out of the hotel disco.
Off we go onto the circuit. The breeze through the windows is a welcome relief and the car feels nice and stable. Lots of back markers to get through. Some more observant than others !
A 1:48, a 1:49, a 1:47.....
Coming up to the mountain on a hot lap and someone's dumped oil all over the braking zone ! I don't see it ... The car immediately loses the rear and gets VERY sideways - Raw Motorsport behind me in the Pug (I hope he's got it on video). So I stamp hard on the throttle on full lock trying to bring the front back round. It's starts to grab and I flick it back right, 4 wheel drift up the mountain for a Colin MCrae style corner entry !
It's a 1:53 and there's only 4 minutes of Qually left. I've got 1 more lap in me and no fuel left so I give it everything I can.
Brother-in-law's on the radio spurring me on. I'm going as hard as I dare. Through hall bends, flick, flick, flick, flick, hard on the brakes into 2nd for the hairpin. Up to 3rd for Barn, turn in and gun it ....
It's a 1:46.044 !!!!!
I take pole with seconds to spare
Coming back to the pits the fact I'm on pole starts to hit home :? I'd much rather be chasing than running for my life ! Still, I should be able to get off the line in traditional style !Time to race...
The cars full to the neck with fuel. If I last 45 minutes it'll definately be empty. So we creep onto the circuit, riding the brakes while I get the obligitory side to side swerving done to keep some heat in the treads and brakes.
I can see the Blue and Orange Clio in the rear view mirror darting left and right behind me. I take my pole slot on the grid with him next to me.
Time goes pretty quick and before I realise it's the 1 minute board. Then almost immediately the 30 second board .... The Clio flicks his launch control on .... Riiinnggggg...ding ding ding ding ding ding...
The lights are on. Double check 1st gear... holding holding. GO !
Bang into 2nd, bang into 3rd... into 4th.... another super start
It doesn't take long before the Clio's all over me with the Ginetta in hot pursuit. I'm running for my frikkin' life !
8 laps later and the old 888's are giving up the ghost. A massive 4 wheel drift into the Gooseneck as the Clio closes in again.
Into the mountain and he's right beside me now. I push and push and just manage to close the door as we roar into Hall bends WAY TOO FAST !
The 3 of us are a long way ahead of 4th place now (17 seconds) and we roar up the straight. I drop into 4th, but it goes into 2nd ! The gearbox is back to it's old tricks. The Clio squeezes past. I close the door on the Ginetta but 2nd place is short lived. The Ginetta goes through just after the Gooseneck. I'm holding onto 3rd now.
We pit the next lap. It's clockwork and a bit over the 2 minutes. I'm out again for the final stretch and taking back marker after back marker. The Clio and the Ginetta are having their own tussle almost 27 seconds ahead of me now. I've got brake judder and no tyres left so I settle in the remaining laps.
The flag seems years away and I'm exhausted.
It's the final lap and I turn onto the straight. The flag comes out as I cross the line in 3rd.
3rd Overall and 3rd in Class. Not bad for a beaten up old Scooby. It really held it's own for a while against the real race cars of Nenadic' and Peak Revs Racing.
I'm elated. I'm exhausted.
For us, a brilliant close to the worst weekend in the history of weekends last year !
I know that not everyone came away with good memories and I wish everyone the best of fortune and luck getting their cars repaired to come back and fight again. I'm a testament to the proof that if you keep pushing through the hard times, the good ones will come !
We have a fantastic video from the day, all very dramatic stuff !
Hope you enjoy it as much as I did http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fcDhcaztCZE