EnduroKa. The name is becoming more and more evocative each time it's spoken in the office. And in the last few weeks, it seems we've talked about nothing else. How did we get here? Well, the seed was first sewn last year, when Matt P - he of numerous race starts and a thousand supercar launches - declared his first two hour stint in the Citroen C1 Racing Club to be, "one of the best drives I've ever had in my life".
Now, Prior is not known for unequivocal praise, so when it is imparted, we listen. He told us other things, too: like how friendly the grid was and how cheap it could be, and, most importantly, that from one end of the pitlane to the other, it seemed to be primarily about enjoying yourself. With mates.
This struck a chord. And because it was a motorsport chord, it had already been playing long and low in Ben L's head. Ben, as many of you will know, is PH's master strategist and event organiser; the flame-haired, tabard-wearing maestro at most Sunday Services. He has been distractedly muttering about PistonHeads taking part in some form of grass roots racing for as long as anyone can remember. Last year, his heart's desire was hamstrung by a budget so small that it wouldn't have furnished an amoebas' tea party. This year, miraculously, it isn't.
So we've taken the collective plunge. Not into the C1 Racing Club, admittedly - which is already well established and deservedly over-subscribed - but rather its all-new competitor, EnduroKa, the like-minded brainchild of MotorSport Vision. MSV, of course, needs no further introduction, except to say that its status as the UK's (and Europe's) largest circuit operator does provide its new venture with some considerable heft. There will be fully six rounds in the 2019 calendar which will take in Donnington, Snetterton, Oulton Park, Cadwell Park and Brands Hatch (twice).
As the name suggests, this is about endurance racing - or, as MSV itself puts it: "a mix of 5/6 hour races, with a highlight 12-hour summer race and a 500-minute season finale" - in the mighty Mk1 Ford Ka. A breakdown of the technical requirements can be found on the EnduroKa website, but suffice it to say it is primarily about going racing with the bare minimum of either previous experience or prerequisite fettling. Each Ka will therefore have a stock 1.3-litre engine, a smattering of Burton Power-supplied standardised parts, a roll cage and control tyres.
It will also have a team of between two and four for the shorter races, and three and six for the 12hr events. Naturally we've brimmed our team with six of the best, including everything from complete novices to Racing Pete (with half a million confirmed starts) and have even had the foresight to include a ringer from Caterham to make sure that when the serious spanner work starts, we don't do anything silly (like spend six days arguing about the livery with the cage still outside the car).
It should also be noted from the start that this is not the sort of fluffy 'media' entry which typically passes for motorsport coverage on automotive pages. We had the (very kind offer) of a fully setup car for one race, and rejected it. This, after all, is PH - not GQ. We're going to buy the car ourselves, prep it ourselves, shake it down ourselves, correct the things we've cocked up ourselves and then get it to each and every round ourselves (probably using the RAV4 Ben mysteriously bought for his other half the other week). Sure we'll probably ask for some advice along the way - but no more so than any other group of blokes new to the game and on the same grid.
Because, after all, being new to it all - and very excited about it at the same time - is what it's all about. If British motorsport has a defining problem it is that too few car enthusiasts transition from track days to properly competing at an entry level. Or even feel the urge to do so, thanks to the presumed limiting factors of time, money, resources - and let's face it, effort. Motorsport UK - the rebranded face of what was previously the MSA - is keenly aware of this fact, and it will underpin a new drive to promote grass roots competition just like EnduroKa.
Naturally we support that effort - and assuming we don't immediately stuff our KA into the barrier at the first try - the plan is to have a go at a few other events as the year goes on. We'll keep you posted on that, just as we'll keep you posted on a good many other things; not least full coverage of the EnduroKa results. We've even dedicated a new space in the forums to the series, where everyone is welcome to share notes and/or poke fun at the Team PH effort.
If that wasn't enough cream in your coffee, there's one final reason for sticking with us on this one. Because EnduroKa is officially a series and not a championship, the organisers will record no running standings nor declare an overall winner come November. But we will; we'll keep our own table going throughout the year and send the victorious 2019 team to Le Mans with 1st Tickets. There, we've thought of everything. Now all we need is a used Ford Ka.