Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Out of my mind on cake and speed!

Last Saturday I took part in the MGoT/CT Track Day at Oulton Park, and what a great weekend I had.
I travelled up to Oulton Park in the company of my old mate Darren Reynolds who was taking part in his fist TD using his very standard Peugeot 205GTi 1.9. We met with Dave Langrick at the B&B I had booked, and were later joined by Dale Barker, Dave and Dale using their respective notorious (within CT circles) cars, Spitfire mk4 with 2.0 six cyl. engine that has been lucas fuel injected and Herald Convertible fitted with 4 pot 1500cc engine. We then all met up with Doug and Katie Foreman at the pub they stayed in Tarporley called 'The Forresters Arms' (Seemed to be a great pub-nice vibe). D and K were using Katie's mk2 GT6, this car already being used for its 3rd event in so many weekends, the previous events being the Oxford MC Autosolo at Sliverstone and The Regis Rally, held down in Sussex. This little car has been pretty well unused for 15 or so years and within 4 weeks of purchase by the Foremans has entered 3 demanding events-good stuff or what!
After a quick pint in The Forresters we went next door to a Thai restaurant for a spot of grub and wine in Dave and Katies case-a riotous couple of hours were then enjoyed, culminating in Dave doing a Peter Sellers impersonation, you had to be there but it was bloody funny!
So the to TD on the following morning, we woke to a nice cloudless morning and after a small but appetising breakfast went onto Oulton Prk for the usual preliminaries of signing in, briefing and noise testing-the limit being a liberal 105db.
Then it was time to do our 'Sighting' laps behind a Vauxhall VX220 sportscar, these relatively slow laps showed two things, one being that Oulton Park is a teriffic race track and the other being that it was dammed slippery!
This left two more sessions for the morning, as they say on BBC1 F1, the track started to come back to us as it dried out and by the last session a dry line was more or less descernible. This meant that the previous tip-toeing around driving could be dispensed with and all drivers could start to explore their cars and the limits of handling and speed.
Honestly, I thought Oulton is one of the best tracks I have driven and I was itching to get stuck in after lunch. This consisted off a sarnie scrounged off Dave and a cuppa brewed up on my small camper stove, followed by a piece of fruit cake-all very cheap but very welcome as the weather was quite nippy and had brought on a hunger! Dave regaled us with a CT event rating system based upon dundee cake, one cake being something like a TD, two cakes being the HCR, three cakes being the RBRR and four cakes being the 10CR! Bizarre and surreal, but in a way accurate. Katie and Dave spent a good fifteen minutes giggling about this and the ability of my kettle to make tea making a time consuming past activity, I pointed out that tea making is a serious business and like most nice things should not be hurried, their answer to this is unprintable! If I had used my brain and remembered that as most UK tracks now have good facilities I should have taken my electric kettle!
Dave talking to Katie about his 'Cake' theory (She looks to be texting though)! The 'Stove' is in shot!

Anyrate enough talk about the good old Brit staples of tea, sandwiches and cake and talk about the next few sessions. Mercifully the track had fully dried out and presented a nice dry surface, this enabled some faster laps to be completed, well when I say 'fully' I don't mean Druids, this was still as slippery as well, an eel, after gradually getting a bit cocky and starting to prove how well balanced the 2.5 is, she bit me in the bum with an horrendous spin, one minute forward facing motion, the next minute backwards along the track, onto the offside verge and hey ho we were off to the barrier, a quick correction and I'm off across the track onto the nearside grass to stop amid clouds of rubber smoke and crap! Like a proper berk I then managed to stall the car, however a quick turn off the key I was off again wheelspinning down to 'Lodge'. I then made a complete cock of that corner, however managed to get around that to have a breather as I went along the main straight. I was gutted about this as up until the spin I had been gaining upon Chris Shaw and his rapid but innocuous looking SAAB, here was me thinking of where I could overtake him, oh well.
The next sessions were somewhat subdued as rain came down therefore the track resorted to be a ice rink! All in all though a great day, I do hope that one day we can all return to enjoy in dry conditions what is a challenging circuit.
By the way I must say that the GT6s present were superb, As well as Katie's lovely mk2, Keith Dandridge was there with his just re-painted silver mk2, Roy Lacey and his always improving white mk1 and Tim Ward and his fantastic just 'out of the box' mk3-how low is that car! Reckon the old car culture is waking up to the fact that the GT6 is an under-rated gem!

A nice photo(?)(Left to right: Dave Langrick, Katie Foreman, Doug Foreman, Dale Barker, Martin Randle and me)!!!

Afterwards it was time for the now traditional 'CT De-brief' in a local boozer, the Shrewsbury Arms being chosen, all present agreeing that Oulton Park was fun. Dave then suggested that we adjorn to a chippie he had seen in Winsford for fish and chips-bloomin' lovely it was as well. Nothing like chips and a can of coke on the side of the road! Dave was full of great ideas all weekend-top lad!

I left Winsford at about 18.00 to get home for 20.45. One snag being that I had no overdrive, this has previously shown no sign of a problem, I therefore hope that a wire has become dis-connected during the spin! I shall have a good look next weekend.
I must use this space to thank Chris Shaw for all his hard work in organising the CT presecence at Oulton Park, nice one Chris. Also of course, thanks to Dave Livingstone and the MGoT people, nice that all that silly Triumph v MG rivalry is disappearing.
Also, cars of the day either Peter Jackson's rapid 2.5Pi mk2-fast car or what or the yankie V8 engined MGB convertible-that car was so stable and looked to be so well engineered. Its great to see old cars being used like this. Also forgot to mention Lloyd and Ken McNeil's Standard Ten, what a car, they were at Cadwell Park earler this year and again caused alot of good comments as well as being fast!
Only one or two events left, the main one being the Bedford Car Club 'Santa Rally' to held just before Xmas. This is quite important as it could decide who wins the CT Drivers Challenge, if Mike Helm decides to take the 'Drivers Championship, its between me and Mike Bishop. I will more or less be in the hands of Ellis Stokes who will be navigating for me, no pressure then. I know that if Ellis is on his game we could beat Mike, brave words eh!
Looks to be a good way to end the year!

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