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Wednesday 5th September 2012

PH Blog: keep it simple, stupid

If you're going to race like this it's handy to have a car you can fix with a hammer and zip ties



So I was at the presentation for a new car (to remain nameless) the other day and we got the full technical onslaught about just how sophisticated it'll be with computer controlled this and adaptive that. And I just suddenly started feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all and thinking do we really need all this?

Hammers and Gaffa tape just out of shot
Hammers and Gaffa tape just out of shot
OK, it's a bit of a Luddite attitude but chatting with F40 ownerNigel Chiltern-Hunt one of the things that struck me was his assertion that servicing it really is relatively simple due to the lack of electronics. OK, it's an intimidatingly complex car but it's still a mechanical device and one that, on the whole, can be fixed with skill, patience and a box of spanners. As Stuart pointed out when we were talking about it, what hope for the enthusiast Veyron buyer 20 years hence of doing the same?

This mindset probably wasn't helped by spending the weekend up to my neck in Caterhams. Now, I realise a car like that is a pretty extreme example of going back to basics. But from driving to servicing the Seven proves the worth of keeping things simple.

Dan's Roadsport after the first race...
Dan's Roadsport after the first race...
As I found out, Caterham racing very much is a contact sport. Just check out the lead photo on this blog - yes, that's two Academy drivers sending bodywork flying literally beneath chequered flag.

I jokingly asked Caterham's business development manager Dave Ridley how much of the firm's business model is based around replacement body panels over race weekends and though he took it as intended he laughed that they do see 'spikes' in demand. No bloody wonder either - there were cars in my Roadsport race that finished without any bodywork at all, a pattern repeated across the six grids of Sevens that raced over the weekend. Minor nudges and flying panels are part and parcel of close racing but there were also major pile-ups in the Academy race and my car getting a major shunt in the final corner of my first race that more or less took the front end off it.

Caterham pit garage always busy
Caterham pit garage always busy
Keeping all these lunatics on track was an incredibly hard-working team - a big shout to Brett, Mark (who looked after my car all weekend), 'Fighty Mike', Lee, Aaron, Rob and parts man Darren - well versed in creative ways of getting battered Caterhams back up and running. Between them they fixed an astonishing 40 cars over the course of the weekend, with more dropping by for minor repairs or just advice, and to their huge credit every car damaged in the first day of racing was back on the grid for the second. Seeing the state of some of them you'd have been staggered. But such is the beauty of a car that can be fixed with hammers, creatively applied trolley jacks, Gaffa tape and zip ties and be back out and racing the next day. Try that on carbon fibre and see how far you get.

Just as well you can fix 'em easily....
Just as well you can fix 'em easily....
Technology has its place. But it's nice to see a pit garage where spanners and good old-fashioned oily hands reign supreme and there's not a laptop in sight.

Dan

 

 

Race pics: Rick Wilson/Caterham

Dan Trent
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fatboy18

Original Poster:

10,384 posts

98 months

[news] 
Wednesday 5th September 2012 quote quote all
Have to say this is my biggest fear of track days, your words 'Lunatics'.
I personally do not believe it should be a contact sport and anyone who does come into contact with another car should be heavily penalised. If they want to do a bit of rubbing or push hard through a corner causing damage to another car then they should be thrown off the track and told to go and do Banger racing or get a job on Top Gear smashing up caravans.

Many racers and teams are on a really tight budget and to see their pride and joy smashed up because the mist has come down from one or two drivers is unacceptable in my eyes. I know we have seen F1 drivers throw a hissy fit now and again as do other drivers at various levels of the sport, but it really needs to be stamped out in my book.

Hill climbs are the better option if you value your car, if you go off and stuff it its your fault, not anyone else's.

Dan Trent

1,017 posts

55 months

PH Editor Bloke

[news] 
Wednesday 5th September 2012 quote quote all
A fair point but anyone who chooses to go racing Caterhams does so with their eyes open and it is spectacular fun. And I can speak having experienced the highs and lows this weekend past. Choice is yours of course, ain't that the beauty!

Krikkit

5,189 posts

68 months

[news] 
Wednesday 5th September 2012 quote quote all
fatboy18 said:
Have to say this is my biggest fear of track days, your words 'Lunatics'.
I personally do not believe it should be a contact sport and anyone who does come into contact with another car should be heavily penalised. If they want to do a bit of rubbing or push hard through a corner causing damage to another car then they should be thrown off the track and told to go and do Banger racing or get a job on Top Gear smashing up caravans.

Many racers and teams are on a really tight budget and to see their pride and joy smashed up because the mist has come down from one or two drivers is unacceptable in my eyes. I know we have seen F1 drivers throw a hissy fit now and again as do other drivers at various levels of the sport, but it really needs to be stamped out in my book.

Hill climbs are the better option if you value your car, if you go off and stuff it its your fault, not anyone else's.
Some series take very serious lines on contact, others don't. You pays your money and makes your choice, as they say. At the end of the day the Caterham lads end up in these scrapes because they won't give in to the other drivers, all you have to do to avoid pretty much any contact is get out of the close racing like this...

Has anyone regularly seen behaviour like this at a track day? Doubt it.

R300will

3,724 posts

38 months

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Wednesday 5th September 2012 quote quote all
In that case will i get disciplined if i stove someone's head in for punting me off and damaging the car?

Captain Muppet

8,092 posts

152 months

[news] 
Wednesday 5th September 2012 quote quote all
Dan Trent said:
But such is the beauty of a car that can be fixed with hammers, creatively applied trolley jacks, Gaffa tape and zip ties and be back out and racing the next day. Try that on carbon fibre and see how far you get.
I got this far:


The repair lasted 4 years before I put a new wing on it biggrin
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pw32

1,029 posts

85 months

[news] 
Wednesday 5th September 2012 quote quote all
Contact isn't tolerated in Caterham racing. I believe there was at least one exclusion and also points for another driver. That has been the case throughout the year as well. Most people are on tight budgets and it is possible to win on a budget. The academy guys had a tough weekend in terms of contact and judging overtaking but that is their second ever race meeting and judging the slipstreaming effect!


doogz

23,381 posts

74 months

[news] 
Wednesday 5th September 2012 quote quote all
Krikkit said:
Has anyone regularly seen behaviour like this at a track day? Doubt it.
You used to. They banned anyone in a race car from Knockhill 'hot hatch' days a while back. XR2 drivers were being passed on the straights by Evos and such like, then catching them the second they had to brake, and holding them up all the way round the fun parts. So a gentle tap at the right time on the way into Duffus or wherever, in your beaten up XR2, and said Evo was in the gravel and out of the way.

Hot hatch days in general used to be an absolute disgrace at Knockhill, people buying MOT failures and trailering them up, ragging them til they broke, or they stuffed them into someone elses car. Someone that perhaps actually cared about their car, and didn't want a clapped out Cavalier in their boot.

Things were tightened up a lot a few years ago.

fatboy18

Original Poster:

10,384 posts

98 months

[news] 
Wednesday 5th September 2012 quote quote all
Dare I say it but even at Baltimore last weekend in the ALMS series the 93 Viper shot down the inside on a hairpin bend as the Ferrari was turning in and contact was made, the Viper held the line pushing the Ferrari out of the way, then after the bend the chap in the Fezza was so cross he turned into the Viper again.

Really hacked me off as the Viper is not in the points at the moment as they are still doing shake down testing, so it was a bloody stupid move by the Viper. He did get a stop and go penalty that put him last in the group, but with stupid moves like this I would want the driver to repair my car! That might make em think twice!

Dan Trent

1,017 posts

55 months

PH Editor Bloke

[news] 
Wednesday 5th September 2012 quote quote all
pw32 said:
Contact isn't tolerated in Caterham racing. I believe there was at least one exclusion and also points for another driver.
This is true - the officials seemed pretty hot on this and contact was being reported and penalised pretty efficiently at Snetterton. It's a fine line I guess; when you've got big fields of identical cars it's going to be very, very hard to avoid all contact. Judging 'that's racing' from actual recklessness isn't a job I'd like but from where I was the racing was pretty full-on and nobody takes any prisoners. Even the slightest hesitation is going to cost you one, two or three places and everyone knows that.

Like I say though, it's not like anyone tries to pretend otherwise and you go into it with your eyes open. Wide open in terror at times but open nonetheless!



pw32

1,029 posts

85 months

[news] 
Wednesday 5th September 2012 quote quote all
"Wide open in terror...."

Yeah, I can relate to where your coming from. Check out BTCC star and Bookatrack Driver Paul O'Neill's race 2 in R300's. You'll note lack of contact although it gets very very close!

http://youtu.be/5cgSLdLGO8c

suffolk009

1,518 posts

52 months

[news] 
Wednesday 5th September 2012 quote quote all
The inexpensive wings on a Caterham also make it an ideal trackday car.

Many years ago I kissed the barriers at the ring in my first Caterham. Result was two cracked and scuffed wings. I got back to the pit area and Jez Coates (he was there with the new mango coloured R500, setting a record) just threw me a roll of gaffa-tape. "That'll get you home" he said.

My TVR owning friend pointed out that if she'd done the same thing in her TVR it would have cost her thouands to get it fixed.

A Scotsman

969 posts

86 months

[news] 
Wednesday 5th September 2012 quote quote all
When we raced XR2s at Knockhill the toolkit included a couple of pieces of 3x2 used for levering the bodywork back into some sort of shape between raceslaugh

RacerMike

1,030 posts

98 months

[news] 
Wednesday 5th September 2012 quote quote all
I for one have never purposfully made contact in a race, and you'd be pretty stupid to do so in a Caterham as the wings offer zero protection. You are basically in a two seat single seater (doesn't make sense I know!).

In all racing though, contact will inevitably happen ocassionally. It's almost always down to a misjudgement, but when you're within touching distance of the car next to you, it's not surprising. At the end of the day, you make the decision as a defending driver where to put your car as much as you do if you're attacking. It's entirely up to me if I want to try and hang on round the outside of a corner, but you have to accept that if the person on the inside looses it, they're straight in to you. This is where experience of those around you helps....something which the guys in the Acadmey don't have!

Contact on trackdays though...yes completely unacceptable.

srob

9,489 posts

125 months

[news] 
Wednesday 5th September 2012 quote quote all
Dan Trent said:
This is true - the officials seemed pretty hot on this and contact was being reported and penalised pretty efficiently at Snetterton. It's a fine line I guess; when you've got big fields of identical cars it's going to be very, very hard to avoid all contact. Judging 'that's racing' from actual recklessness isn't a job I'd like but from where I was the racing was pretty full-on and nobody takes any prisoners. Even the slightest hesitation is going to cost you one, two or three places and everyone knows that.

Like I say though, it's not like anyone tries to pretend otherwise and you go into it with your eyes open. Wide open in terror at times but open nonetheless!
They must've been pretty busy then laugh

I was watching from Russells... sorry Murrays on Sunday, and went through my photo's last night. For a non-contact sport there's lots with contact! Looked great fun though and very close racing, on the whole. There was one fella in the Fiesta race though, who seemed to crash into someone new on every lap hehe

Dan, I'll probably put some pic's up from the day in this thread later http://pistonheads.co.uk/gassing/topic.asp?h=0&amp... if you're interested smile

BarbaricAvatar

632 posts

35 months

[news] 
Wednesday 5th September 2012 quote quote all
Captain Muppet said:
Dan Trent said:
But such is the beauty of a car that can be fixed with hammers, creatively applied trolley jacks, Gaffa tape and zip ties and be back out and racing the next day. Try that on carbon fibre and see how far you get.
I got this far:


The repair lasted 4 years before I put a new wing on it biggrin
That's genius!

bicycleshorts

1,819 posts

48 months

[news] 
Wednesday 5th September 2012 quote quote all
doogz said:
You used to. They banned anyone in a race car from Knockhill 'hot hatch' days a while back. XR2 drivers were being passed on the straights by Evos and such like, then catching them the second they had to brake, and holding them up all the way round the fun parts. So a gentle tap at the right time on the way into Duffus or wherever, in your beaten up XR2, and said Evo was in the gravel and out of the way.

Hot hatch days in general used to be an absolute disgrace at Knockhill, people buying MOT failures and trailering them up, ragging them til they broke, or they stuffed them into someone elses car. Someone that perhaps actually cared about their car, and didn't want a clapped out Cavalier in their boot.

Things were tightened up a lot a few years ago.
hehe

Remember my first trackday at Knockhill about 3 years ago, someone binned it down Duffus on the sighting lap. We had a flew laps of yellow flags, first green flag someone binned it down Duffus into the other car.

Think the "Hot Hatch" days are still a bit mental, the open pit lane ones are great though.

Captain Muppet

8,092 posts

152 months

[news] 
Wednesday 5th September 2012 quote quote all
BarbaricAvatar said:
Captain Muppet said:
Dan Trent said:
But such is the beauty of a car that can be fixed with hammers, creatively applied trolley jacks, Gaffa tape and zip ties and be back out and racing the next day. Try that on carbon fibre and see how far you get.
I got this far:


The repair lasted 4 years before I put a new wing on it biggrin
That's genius!
Thanks! It made me very happy. I now have that wing hanging on the wall in my garage, still with the cable ties in it.

Alex Gurr

402 posts

134 months

[news] 
Wednesday 5th September 2012 quote quote all
As one of the lunatics racing in the Academy at the weekend all I can say is that for almost all of us our cars are our pride and joys (I saved hard to buy mine over many years and built it with blood, sweat and tears), but we choose to accept the risk that comes with racing because it gives you a bigger buzz than anyone who hasnt tried it could understand.

I have done a season now (with the exception of the final race) without any contact whatsoever and trust all of those around me not to behave stupidly. The accidents when they do happen are often as a result of inexperience or a genuine mistake...when they happen we expect each other to get out and shake hands and admit that whilst unfortunate it was a genuine mistake. For those who havent been involved in it you cant understand the camaraderie that is built up throughout the year and the trust that goes with it!

doogz

23,381 posts

74 months

[news] 
Wednesday 5th September 2012 quote quote all
bicycleshorts said:
hehe

Remember my first trackday at Knockhill about 3 years ago, someone binned it down Duffus on the sighting lap. We had a flew laps of yellow flags, first green flag someone binned it down Duffus into the other car.

Think the "Hot Hatch" days are still a bit mental, the open pit lane ones are great though.
I've done a couple of open pit lane evenings this year, and I'll try and squeeze in a couple more if the car behaves itself, they're very well organised these days.

boxsey

1,981 posts

97 months

[news] 
Wednesday 5th September 2012 quote quote all
Captain Muppet said:
BarbaricAvatar said:
Captain Muppet said:
Dan Trent said:
But such is the beauty of a car that can be fixed with hammers, creatively applied trolley jacks, Gaffa tape and zip ties and be back out and racing the next day. Try that on carbon fibre and see how far you get.
I got this far:


The repair lasted 4 years before I put a new wing on it biggrin
That's genius!
Thanks! It made me very happy. I now have that wing hanging on the wall in my garage, still with the cable ties in it.
That's better stitching than some surgeons do! biggrin

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