It seems that recently some local residents to Mallory Park race circuit have become annoyed and are taking action against the circuit. The reason for their annoyance? Noise.
Yes, that’s right. These morons bought a house near a motor racing circuit and are complaining it is noisy. They now want the circuit to cut the amount of times it is used and impose further noise restrictions. The owner has stated that any further cuts in usage of the circuit will deem the circuit unprofitable and not worth running. An option to sell the circuit for housing is tabled as an alternative if the circuit was to be sold.
The most annoying thing is, what kind of moron buys a house by a race track and then complains it is noisy? Do people buy houses next to Airports, Motorways & Railway lines and then demand the council put a restriction on their usage because they don’t like the noise? I’m sorry, but if you by a house in a noisy area, it is your own fault. Don’t go complaining and ruining other peoples enjoyment of something they love. Just move somewhere else. After all, there are many race fans who’d love a house next to a circuit.
Most of you will know that all race circuits in the UK have to adhere to strict rules and regulations imposed by local authorities regarding usage and noise levels. Curfews are put in place, some race cars have to have silencers fitted to bring them within the noise level set for a race meeting and the likes of the Brands Hatch Grand Prix loop can only be used a certain number of times per year. All this is usually because a load of moaning residents don’t like race tracks to be noisy. Ironically, even Donington Park has curfews and noise limits and that is right next to the East Midlands Airport.
Most of the circuits in this country have been in place for many years. Long before these residents even moved to the areas. Racing on the whole, in past decades was a lot noisier than it is these days too. Some circuits like Silverstone, Goodwood and Snetterton were built on the site of old airfields, which, when in use, would have been noisy too. I really don’t understand the mentality of some people. Do people buy houses next to football stadiums and then phone up the council when the home team scores a goal because the crowd are being too loud? If you ask me, the noise restrictions in place at many circuits already spoil motor racing. I want the cars to be loud. I want to hear engines rumble or scream. In fact, I would love to live in one of the houses that back on to the Brands Hatch Grand Prix Loop and I would be more than happy for it to be used every weekend so I find it unlikely that these factors would de-value a property as there are many other petrol heads like me who would love that.
What’s more, is that these killjoy NIMBY types don’t think of the bigger picture. These circuits bring a vital boost to the local economy. Not only do they provide jobs, but local Hotels, Bed & Breakfasts, Pubs, Restaurants, Shops and Business’ all benefit. Thousands of fans flock to race meetings each weekend, many, along with teams, drivers, mechanics and even media such as myself, will often want somewhere local to stay, eat and drink. I often book myself into a local B&B or Hotel and eaten in the Pubs or Restaurants nearby and I have seen teams and fans alike do the same. Yes, some race weekends are bigger that others, but they all help. I’ve tried to book somewhere to stay overnight for some race weekends only to find that every hotel or guesthouse in the vicinity is fully booked. Think about the impact it would have on many people if a circuit was to close down.
A fine example, albeit on a grander scale, is the Isle of Man. Just think of how many tourism business would cease to exist if it wasn’t for the TT and the Rally. The locals embrace it and let’s face it, most have to in order to make a living. And how about LeMans? How many people would even know where that town was, let alone visit if it wasn’t for the 24 hour race? I can imagine tourism, due to motorsport, is one of the biggest sources of income for both these places.
You can’t tell me local businesses in Silverstone Village and the surrounding area would be thriving if the circuit wasn’t there and I imagine takings in the local guesthouses and eating and drinking establishments during the Formula One or Moto GP weekends are sky high! Some places probably even rely on the trade the circuits bring in and if the circuit was to close down so would they. Surely no one wants to see that happening. So it is much more than just a case of a noisy circuit being forced to close and sold off for housing development.
Whilst I appreciate talks over the future of Mallory Park is in the early stages, I sincerely hope that the Circuit does not fall foul of a few moronic locals who should just move away if they don’t like it rather than spoil other people’s enjoyment of something they love. We can’t lose Mallory Park and I hope sense will prevail. Otherwise who knows what the consequences will be for other Circuits and the sport we love.
Save Mallory Park.
A couple of weeks ago, the British Touring Car Championship headed north of the border for its annual trip to Scotland and the Knockhill circuit. Again it was a weekend of high drama and yet again one man in particular was right in the centre of it all.
I initially decided not to write about this particular incident, which saw Aron Smith make contact with Jason Plato sending the latter off into the gravel and out of the race. Previous blogs expressing my opinions of Jason Plato and his attitude and behaviour have generally been met with agreement. However some fans of the outspoken racing driver, who’s lead has clearly been followed by those who support him and have decided to be very critical of my own opinions. Some been quite personal but many claiming I know nothing about what I am saying. Somewhat Ironic in many cases.
So you can imagine my delight in a saviour in an unexpected form. There were so many things I wanted to say about Jason Plato and his attitude, behaviour, driving and his somewhat scathing and hugely hypocritical comments live on TV. One man saved me the trouble of writing down my views, as he had already done so. This man? The Boss of Motorbase Performance Dave Bartrum. A BTCC race winning team and also a British GT winning team too. So this Man cannot be accused of not knowing what he is talking about.
Dave had written a blog about the weekend at Knockhill which included a large section about Jason Plato which went like this:
“The only sour note of the weekend was Jason Plato’s reaction to the incident with Aron. I realise he will see it his way and we will see it ours, that’s natural. I was disappointed in the penalty which TOCA gave us because we’ve been on the receiving end of nearly identical incidents with Aron & Rob Austin in round 1, TOCA verdict – Racing incident, Liam & Lea Wood at Croft, TOCA verdict – Racing incident. Someone does it to Plato, TOCA verdict – 3 points & a £500 fine. Is it because its Plato? Maybe, who knows? With that in mind when we heard that 888 & Plato had appealed we were surprised, turns out Jason wanted more! He even suggested that Aron had a job to do on him! What can you say to this? Paranoid maybe?
Jason is supposed to represent British Motorsport, in two roles even beyond his role in the BTCC with MG & 888. He is the face of the KX young driver programme mentoring young aspiring drivers & has a major role at the BRDC as a Director. Yet despite all of this he remains the most outspoken, shouting his mouth of to anyone who will listen about how badly everyone else drives! Sorry, am I missing something? Is this the same Jason Plato who rammed Matt Neal off in a fit of rage/revenge at Snetterton, the same Jason Plato who rammed Gordon Shedden of at the last corner of Donington after pushing him along the back straight whilst Gordon tried to brake, and the same Jason Plato who simply disposed of Dave Newsham disgracefully at the first race of the season? And that’s just this year. He has been one incident away from a 3 month ban for a little while due to his own indiscretions on track in the last 12 months. Pot and kettle spring to mind!
He suggested Aron doesn’t deserve a race licence. Quite frankly, he is the man who needs banning from the championship. Why TOCA didn’t give him points for his revenge mission at Snetterton on Matt Neal is anybodies guess! Probably because he has so many points already. MG & his sponsors should think twice before renewing his contract if he continues to behave like this. He makes damning statements that other teams and drivers are merely ‘playing at this’ and we’re just ‘pretenders’ unlike the paid professional drivers. At most, if this was the case there would be a 3 car grid, this is modern day Motorsport. I amongst other would love to have the budgets of yesteryear and be able to pick two fully paid drivers like Andy Neate & Jason Plato as 888 have been able to this year!
How he keeps a job with the BRDC is beyond me. He is a Director in the most influential club in British Motorsport, he is in a role which people need to respect him and look upon his as someone who sets an example of how a race driver conducts himself both on and off the circuit. In my opinion he does neither! It’s a joke that they have someone with such low regard for fellow competitors and young drivers in such a position. It’s hypocritical. There is a new young driver programme which he is fronting. He then accuses Aron of being ‘a pretender’ because he pays for his drive. Will that be the same for all the drivers under his management who are paying for their drive? I doubt it, I’m sure he will change his mind then! Quite frankly no driver having been mentored by him would be welcome in a race car of mine.
All of that said I do respect his driving ability, he is clearly very talented. He also puts on a great show for the public, who seemingly love a bad boy. Maybe we’re just another part of his show this week. I just think if he kept his mouth shut and his thoughts to himself the world would be better for it. I can only assume, and half understand that Aron is on the receiving end of his passion from the reality that Jason’s Championship received a massive dent at the weekend due to him making a mistake of his own by drifting over into Aron, giving Aron very few options. Jason made the uncharacteristic error in which he lost out, something he doesn’t do very often. I think most drivers would have driven exactly how Aron did, and the others probably would have ended up in the gravel themselves!”
This is worryingly almost exactly what I wanted to say on the matter and many will know I have been saying similar for a long time, but only this time, hopefully, I won’t get abuse from certain people so thanks Dave.
Now even the most hardcore Jason Plato fans must take on board some of these comments and surely see Dave has a very good point. I am however, not criticising people for wanting to be a fan of Mr Plato though. I have said it before and say it yet again. The guy has great driving ability there is no argument there. But is he really a role model to those who do support him? Especially the younger generation. Is the do as I say not as I do attitude setting a good example? Is the constant moaning and criticising of the rules and others inspirational for others? Lots of Plato fans say he is a hero and legend. But is this really the way a hero should conduct himself?
Two words I have just used are thrown about far too much in describing sports stars and mostly unnecessarily. Hero and Legend. I’m going to stick my neck out on the line here and risk further abuse by saying Plato is neither of these. Good yes. But not hero or legend. Why? I’ll tell you why.
A Hero or Legend is not just someone who reaches the very top of their discipline, but someone who inspires others. Someone who sets a good example to others, overcomes adversity, conducts themselves well and shows a good, positive attitude and strives to achieve. But most of all, someone others can look up to. A role model who people want to emulate. After the Summer of Olympic and Paralympic games, it is clear there are many that put the MG BTCC racing driver in the shade.
For motorsport fans though, If you want a real Hero, Legend and Inspiration, look no further than Alessandro ‘Alex’ Zanardi. The Italian ex Formula one driver suffered a horrific crash in 2001 in the Champ car series and subsequently lost his legs. Whilst many of us, faced with this for the rest of our lives would wallow in self pity and hate the life that you now face. Alex didn’t. He continued do race for a few years after his legs were amputated, but he had his heart set on one goal. The Paralympics.
Without moaning, complaining or criticising, Alex set out to achieve this goal. Training hard in the face of adversity, all this hard work came to fruition last week. The road cycling took place at Brands Hatch, somewhat poignant in this incredible story and Alex Zanardi was there to represent Italy in the hand cycling with his unique three wheeled bicycle which was no doubt designed with the help of some of his friends within formula one. The British crowd were there in their thousands to cheer and support the participants with many motorsport fans there to support Zanardi.
All the hard work and determination came to fruition for the Italian which saw him take two Gold medals and a Silver. The delight within the motorsport fraternity was clear to see. This man’s incredible journey in the face of adversity had come good and he had reached the very peak. This man is a genuine Hero. A true Legend. And an Inspiration to all.
Dave Bartrum’s full blog can be read here.
With the second half of the British Touring Car Championship now underway after the long summer break, the eBay motors team have launched a new and novel challenge to highlight just how big eBay’s market place for car parts really is.
eBay Motors launched its Mechanics Challenge at Snetterton with British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) star Tom Onslow-Cole and TV motoring expert Edd China to highlight the wealth of automotive parts on the site. The Challenge is for Tom and Edd to turn a milk float into a race car using parts and accessories from eBay Motors, the UK’s leading online automotive marketplace with more than 18 million listings and 250,000 cars and motorcycles for sale.
During the next month Edd will work with the eBay Motors BTCC team engineers in a challenge that will showcase their skills as top mechanics and the huge range of parts and accessories available on eBay Motors. The activity culminates in September with Tom behind the wheel in an exciting final test. BTCC fans and motoring enthusiasts will vote on the parts and accessories from eBay Motors that will be used to transform the milk float into a race car. The finished car will be on display for fans at the penultimate BTCC round at Silverstone on the 7th October 2012.
Edd China, eBay Motors blogger and host of Wheeler Dealers, commented: “This is a really tough challenge, but I am very excited to be working with Tom and the guys from the eBay Motors BTCC team to build this vehicle. The range of items available from eBay Motors will make our job a lot easier, and we look forward to getting started on the developments.”
Tom Onslow-Cole, eBay Motors team driver, added: “I have never been involved in anything like this before and can’t wait to get started. Having driven the milk float around Snetterton it is clear that we have a massive amount of work on our hands. We have got some great engineers working on the car and I am eager to see what is in store for the final challenge.”
For exclusive videos, imagery and to see the latest vote statistics go to www.ebaymotorsbtcc.co.uk
Its been a busy few weeks for me and my blog has been neglected somewhat of late and the distraction of the Olympics hasn’t helped so I thought it would be time for a bit of a catch up before I head to Snetterton this weekend for the British Touring Car Championship.
Over the last couple of weeks I have been taking photos for the local Pony Club Junior and Intermediate camps. Not quite the fast paced adrenaline fuelled action I see trackside but it is still good fun. The weather was good for both weeks, and I’m always treated well there by the organisers. Despite the hard work it is always worth it and I do enjoy covering the Camps. I don’t get to photograph equestrian events as much as I used to and I do miss it at times so it’s always nice to go back to where my sports photography all began.
The weekend just passed It was back to the track and the first weekend of three in a row at Snetterton. The British GT & F3 Championships headed to the Norfolk circuit and I was there to photograph my favourite UK championship. Initial weather forecasts were promising, but those who have been to Snetterton will know how unpredictable the weather can be there. The place seems to have its own micro climate and the best option is to pack for all conditions.
This was definitely the case as despite the dry relatively sunny conditions all morning, black clouds gathered during second practice for the GT’s and when a red flag was put out for an off from Ollie Milroy in the Ecurie Ecosse BMW, the heavens took this cue to open. Thankfully I could see this and the thunder and lightning coming and as soon as the red flag made an appearance I made a bee line for the safety of the media centre. Within minutes the down pour had flooded the circuit and the pit lane. The GT cars were not going to head out in those conditions and the session finished. Subsequent race and qualifying sessions were to be delayed until after the rain stopped so areas of standing water on the track could be pumped away.
The rain delay meant the GT qualifying, due last on the timetable had to be dropped. Grid positions for both 1 hour races were to be decided by the 2 practice session times. This played into the hands of the Trackspeed Porsches as it was pole in race one for the 31 car and pole in race two for the 33 car.
Sunday was to be a new day but the unpredictable weather returned. Heavy rain returned and disrupted the rescheduled timetable meaning the second Ginetta Challenge race of the day had to be dropped to avoid breaking the curfew. It also meant the F3 cars had to take on the elements but Both GT races avoided the wet and had two dry races. The new McLaren MP4-12C of United Autosports Charles Bateman and Matt Bell took a debut win for the car in the championships meaning it was a remarkable seven different winners from the seven races so far in the season. It looked to be a possible eight different winners from eight races in race two as after the pit stops the Trackspeed Porsche of Jon Minshaw and Tim Harvey led comfortable but a fuel pressure problem meant they dropped back to second place leaving team mates Joe Osborne and Steve Tandy to take their second win of the season. For full race reports, visit the Checkered Flag website here.
With just two points separating the top five drivers in the championship, it is all up for grabs over the remaining two rounds at Silverstone and Donington Park and it looks set to go right down to the wire. Despite Lotus not making an appearance in GT4 at their home circuit and the Jones Brothers Mercedes also absent an addition to the field was the Rhino’s Leipert Motorsport Lamborghini LP600 of Hari Prozcyk and Marco Attard. It was a welcome addition and even with the absentee’s 12 different manufacturers were represented on the grid with the possibility of this increasing to 14 for the next round. As you can see that is a pretty impressive field and one of the reasons British GT is so great.
So next for me is the British Touring Car Championship back in Norfolk after their long summer break. I haven’t photographed the Touring cars for some time due to calendar clashes and it seems like a long time since I last shot them at Donington. I really hope the weather stays dry and I’m sure the thousands of fans who I know will be heading there will be hoping the same.
Photos from the F3 and GT Races and sessions can be seen on my Facebook page.
With two weekends away from the track, I have been at somewhat of a loose end. Thankfully the British Grand Prix and the GT1 & GT3 championships have kept me motorsport withdrawal symptoms at bay, but it has been a good time to get a few things sorted out before what will be a manic six weeks or so.
I had decided it best get my Telephoto lens serviced during my ‘break’ as I was beginning to experience a few niggly issues with it. I have had it a few years and it has taken a lot of abuse in that time and served me well, but it was beginning to struggle to focus on the shorter focal lengths and I had some intermittent problems with over exposure. So despite the cost, I bit the bullet and sent it off for a service to get the issues dealt with. There isn’t ever really a good time to fork out a lot of money but it needed to be done. Probably one of the many expenses incurred that a client or customer doesn’t really think about when enquiring about and sometimes questioning a photographers prices but I won’t go it to that now.
Having been told the initial service turnaround time was 2-3 weeks, I was surprised to have a phone call just 4 working days after dropping off the lens at Sigma telling me it was ready to be sent back. I was pretty pleased as I was worried there was a chance I would be without the lens this coming weekend at Brand Hatch. The issues seem to be resolved now so I look forward to having it working fully ahead of my impending busy schedule.
As well as getting the lens serviced I used this down time to re-design and update my website. It had been neglected somewhat so was due a spring clean and a sort out. My design and website building skills are somewhat limited but I seem to have managed ok and I’m relatively pleased with how it is looking. I am never fully satisfied but considering my ability with this kind of thing, the end result isn’t too shabby and initial reactions seem positive. I have added a few new pages and features and now images from the motorsport events I cover over the year can be purchased as prints and a calendar will keep you updated on which races I have been at and will be attending this year. So feel free to check out the site www.chrisgurtonphotography.com
Towards the end of the month I have a couple of Equestrian events I will be covering. So it has been a good time to get things sorted out for this too. As I print images onsite at these events it was time to order in paper, mounts and the dreaded ink! This is a huge outlay for me and although I should more than recoup the costs after the event it is never a good feeling making a bulk order when initial funds aren’t overly healthy. I always print on high quality paper and use the original best quality Canon Inks that go with my printer. I never use the cheap refill type inks as my Dad ruined a printer of his using cheap alternative inks despite my warnings. I believe in the best quality for my customers despite the extra costs to myself. I will never know for sure but apparently the chromalife ink I use is guaranteed for 100 years. I guess that can’t be bad and I know my prices are very competitive. I’m looking forward to the equestrian events and I really hope the weather is favourable.
So on to this weekend and I will be at Brands Hatch on the GP loop again where the Britcar Endurance series is supporting the International GT Open and F2 championships. There is a full programme for the weekend and I am really looking forward to it. The following weekend is one of the great highlights of my year. The Silverstone Classic. The biggest race weekend of the year with over one thousand classic race car entries and a few thousand more classic cars on display. It’s well worth a visit, especially for the Group C Dusk race on Saturday evening.
The two three day equestrian events then follow before we head into August and three back to weekends at Snetterton. I don’t think I will have time for my Birthday in the middle of that but it should all be good fun.
Finally, I’m giving away a few A4 prints to my Twitter followers this week and to those who like my Facebook page. Follow the links on the right of this blog to my Twitter and Facebook pages to find out more and you could get a free print for yourself.
This Saturday was round three of the MSA Britcar Endurance Championship and Production Cup at Snetterton. Naturally I was in attendance and looking forward to a great day’s racing.
Despite the rain on arrival, it did clear and although the sun came out it was still cold. I managed to catch the sun which and I remain adamant that Snetterton has its own micro climate. However, there was no further rain after the brief early shower which was good enough for me.
The racing was good in both the Production Cup and the Endurance Championship with both being joined by new entries. The full race reports can be read at the Checkered Flag website by just clicking the following link: The Checkered Flag.
So from Norfolk, It’s on to the Nordschleife as this week I head to the Nurburgring to shoot Round two of the British GT championships and of course, the 24hr race on the ‘Green Hell’. It will be my first visit to the iconic German Circuit, in fact I’ve only other experience of Germany was a brief stop at a service station as we passed through on our school coach coming back from Austria. I’m pretty sure this visit will be a lot more exciting. I will be heading there overnight on Tuesday with some friends and thankfully two of whom have been to the 24 hour race before. Unfortunately for them, they will have to put up with me turning into an excitable ten year old for the week as I cannot wait!
Hopefully I will try and sort out my data roaming package on my mobile phone so I can still tweet with random mutterings, the goings on, photos and of course my experience as a Nurburgring ‘Newbie’. So why not give me a follow on Twitter? You can do so here. Also I will try and update my Facebook group page and of course I will try and Blog when I can as well.
That’s all from me for now, I need to crack on with my packing.
I’ve decided to write a quick blog as I am really in need of some help. Well, information to be more precise. A friend of mine, Graeme Cameron, took a photo of this car, pictured, in the back of a lorry at Snetterton. Now it is obvious it is some type of Group C sports car, but what we’d like to know is exactly what make and model it is.
It has been bugging me for ages and thoughts of Aston Martins AMR1 and Mazda’s 787b have proved fruitless as there always seems to be something not quite right. Whether it is a wing mirror, the front splitter, headlights, position of tow ring etc there is always something that has differed slightly from anything we have thought of. Also, I might be wrong but if this is a genuine Group C car and not some replica or kit car, then I think the livery is not original.
So I turn to you. Does anyone know what this car is or knows any information about it? If you do, please get in touch and let me know. Then hopefully I can sleep a bit better at night as this is driving me mad trying to work it out. Having said that, It is probably something glaringly obvious. Either way, if you know anything, please come forward! And if you have photographic evidence to back up your claim, all the better.
*No cash reward or other alternative available.
Have you ever been in a situation whilst on a night out, you notice an extremely hot girl that you can’t help but keep staring at? And whilst staring you get the feeling you recognise her? Then it hits you. It’s the girl who lives down your road or it’s the girl you go to college with? The same girl you’ve seen walking her dog, or wandering between lectures in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt? Only this time, she’s done her hair, put on her make-up, is wearing a figure hugging dress and wearing killer heels which make her legs look like they go on for miles. Does this sound familiar? You take notice because all of a sudden you realise how gorgeous she is, right?
Well this happened to me recently. Twice in fact, and ever since it has been playing on my mind. The girl in question? The Audi R8.
I’ve never really been interested in the R8. It just seemed to be an average supercar. Similar Audi styling you see on various other Audi models and nothing much to make me stop and stare. That was until I was at Donington a couple of weekends ago and more recently, Snetterton last weekend. At Donington, entered into the Dutch Supercar Challenge races was an Audi R8. I didn’t think much about it whilst browsing the entry list until I saw it. Wow! It was beautiful. A vision of Red and Black. The R8 had made me stand up and take notice.
It happened again at Snetterton. Having not been at Oulton Park for the first round of the British GT championships, it was the first time I got to see the two United Autosports Audi R8 GT3 cars in the flesh. They looked awesome. Everything a GT Race car should be, aggressive but sleek at the same time. They sounded good too. But what was it that transfixed me and left me staring? To be honest I don’t know. Maybe it was the racing body kit, the huge rear wing or the vented GT40 style bonnet. Or maybe it was just something simple, a decent livery or a combination of them all. Whatever it was, they looked fantastic and I had noticed.
This got me thinking. A good livery on a race car can make big difference to how the car looks. Stripes, straight lines, swirly patterns, two or more different colours, can all change not only the look of the car but also the perceived design of the car.A nice colour scheme will ultimately prove popular among fans and can be liked more than the next car because it looks better. I know some colour schemes can be down to the team sponsors and perhaps this might force a car to be a specific colour. But sometimes, a sponsor can create a colour scheme that is just perfect. I am of course referring to the light blue and orange Gulf colours. It has become iconic and makes any race car noticeable. It is world renowned and has probably become the most famous livery of all time, particularly within GT and endurance racing. There are of course many other Iconic colour schemes throughout motorsport history, but there have been some howlers too and some that just don’t look right. One example within the British GT championships is the two GT4 Lotus Evora’s. They run in a red and white livery which I don’t like much. I know that they would look a lot better in the iconic British racing green with gold trim.
Another topic of thought led me on to the fact that within motorsport, there seems to be the ability to make your average day to day road car look so much better when it’s race prepped. The addition of a body kit, aerodynamic improvements, lowered suspension and big spoilers is something every Chav or Wideboy tries to add to his old Vauxhall Corsa or Ford Escort to make it look ‘Cool’ yet fails miserably.Rallying is probably the best example of motorsport that can turn your average family run-around into a pure monster. The new WRC cars have turned the humble Fiesta, C3 and Fabia into objects of desire. You wouldn’t give another glance if you passed a Fiesta in the street, but if you saw the WRC version drive past, you may well have had an accident in your pants! Within GT racing, they improve what are usually great looking cars in the first place. Much like being the stylist for Kiera Knightly or Katy Perry, they already look great so you can’t go far wrong, but within rallying, you get given Susan Boyle and Janet Street-Porter to work with! For example, let’s face it, the Metro was a rubbish looking car, but the 1980’s group b 6R4 car was just incredible! Everyone loved it. It had been pumped so full of steroids, its veins were on the verge of exploding. It was a shadow of its former self, but everyone noticed it. There are many examples and I could go on for ages, but I won’t. We all have our favourites.
Throughout history, motorsport has been taking normal cars and turning them in to real head turners. This time motorsport has for me, made me turn my head and notice the Audi R8 and I’m glad it has.
Those who can, do, and those who can’t, talk about it. Or in my case, photograph it. That phrase was quite apt last night as thanks to Nick at Tin Tops UK, I was taking part in a two hour into the night endurance Karting race in Brentwood. It was my chance to be a racing driver rather than photographing and talking about them.
It’s been many years since I last went Karting and I have never done it on an outside circuit. I was hoping not to disgrace myself and upon finding out during the signing in process there was to be 10 teams, I was hopeful we weren’t going to finish last. However, as other divers turned up carrying their own helmets, race suits and racing shoe’s all hope quickly turned to despair. These guys must have done it before! Some were even entered as a single competitor. I was hoping they would tire before myself, Nick and Rich the third member of our team.
With a 15 minute warm up/qualifying session before heading straight into the race, it was decided Nick would warm up last and start the race for us. The plan was to do two 20 minute stints each to keep us fresh. Well, like I said, that was the plan! After my initial five minutes I came in fearing the worst. Although it felt I was going quite fast, the karts that overtook me told a different story. I looked at the time screen with Rich. 41.5 seconds. We were last. How far off the pace was that I wondered. About 3-4 seconds that’s how far off. Oh dear, it was not looking good. Thankfully Nick was out there getting quicker and a lap in the 37 second area meant we weren’t going to start last. We started Eighth.
A good start took Nick up a place on the first lap and a couple of drive through penalties meant fifth place was looking respectable. One of the guys with his own gear was hitting Nick from behind and getting cross, this upset our WAGS and left them wondering how loud they needed to shout for him to hear their torrent of abuse. With this irate 40 something year old let through, Nick proceeded to tail him proving he was no faster. After the first driver change I asked Nick where his braking points were. ‘What braking points?’ he responded. ‘Its flat out all the way around except the hairpin, but you only need to lift off for it.’ It was clear I had a lot to do to set a respectable lap time.
Before long I was out on track. It took me a while to learn the circuit and at times it was hard to ignore my brain telling me to brake. The first of my 20 minute stints was spent trying to work out if it was better to let the car run wide exiting certain corners or keep it in tight, where the limits of the Kart were and which is the best line to take. All this whilst trying not to be a mobile chicane for those lapping me. I was beginning to feel like Takuma Sato. After handing over to Nick for his second stint I was told my best lap was about 38.9s however we were in ninth place. I wondered if I could actually go any faster or was I on my limits.
After slurping on energy drink, looking at the timing screens and hoping Hispania Racing don’t call, it wasn’t long before I was getting ready for the final handover and my last go. By then we were running close to the team in eighth place. A few laps into my last run was beginning to get into the grove. I’d changed my line into the long sweeping corner before the straight which was helping and I was beginning to master the tricky sections. I even managed to overtake someone turning into the hairpin. I was beginning to hold my own out there and if it wasn’t for sliding occasionally here, or running a little wide there then perhaps I could have caught one or two others.
The Chequered Flag drop and the two hours was up. We finished ninth but the eighth placed team were apparently worried as I was catching them and with a few more minutes, I could have snatched an extra place. Never mind, I had got my best time down to 38 seconds dead and was lapping quite consistently. Our best lap as a team was set by Nick which was 36.800s. The fastest of all was a 35.950 We were told by one of the other teams who go there often that they had never seen such a fast race and hadn’t seen every team set a lap time below 37 seconds. I guess we could take some crumbs comfort from that.
It was a great evening and I loved every bit of it, I’d like to thank Nick and Tin Tops UK for inviting me along to take part and hopefully I will be back to set a 37 something lap time soon. In the mean time, I’m off to Snetterton to photograph the British F3 & GT Championship’s at the weekend to see the real racers at work. After racing a Kart you certainly gain a lot of respect for those guys. It was hard enough to consistently set good lap times in a 20 stint at 40mph and not tire, but to keep your concentration for over an hour at more than four times the speed is something I am in awe of.
It’s been a busy weekend for me as It was my Brother’s wedding on Saturday. It was a great day, the weather was fantastic, the church and marquee looked brilliant and much fun was had. It all went smoothly including the set up and clear up.
I won’t bore you with the details as more importantly, in terms of this blog, I was back trackside at Snetterton on bank holiday Monday for the MSVR F3 Cup, GT Trophy and MSVR Team Trophy. It’s only been the second time I’ve been there since the new layout and you all know I had my doubts as to whether I like it or not. However, its less scruffy, the grass is growing and although there is still a lot of work to be done, it seems to be improving. I have also found some good spots for taking photos from. I’m still not sure about the new corner names though! I should be back there again later this month for the British GT and F3 championships so let’s see how the first major series on the new layout goes.
The F3 cup was dominated by Aaron Steele, much as it was in March when they were last at Snetterton. With 2 pole’s, 2 fastest laps and 2 race wins, Aaron led both races from start to finish. It was another dominant performance in the GT Trophy as Leon Price and Rob Barff had entered a new Ferrari 458. It was the first time I had seen one on a race track and it blew the opposition away. Leading from start to finish in each race it took both race victories. Disappointingly there were only 9 entries in this event so the field was somewhat sparse. Aaron Scott was taking part in a Ferrari 430 and took third place in race one but failed to make race two due to a clutch failure. He told me that it’s still early days for the GT Trophy and the fields should grow in the near future, the sister GT Cup series attracts large fields so hopefully it will be a matter of time before more take part in the two diver Trophy series. Let’s hope so as you will know by now how much I love GT racing.
The other race series at Snetterton was the Team Trophy. Run by MSVR the Team Trophy is a two driver equivalent to the Trackday Trophy. Both of these series are run for novice racers as a cheap way of getting into motor racing. The vast array of cars taking part makes for some interesting action from Clio’s to BMW’s and Mazda MX5’s to Porsche’s. The days 40 minute race was won by Dan Surridge and Julia Penfold in an MG ZR190.
This weekend I head off to Donington for the third round of the Britcar Championship. Its going to be a full race weekend with support races from the Mazda MX5’s, The Dutch Supercar Challenge, the first ever Smart 4two cup race and the BOSS GP. I’m really looking forward to The BOSS GP as BOSS stands for Big Open Single Seaters and includes a field of ex F1 cars including a 1995 Tyrell 023, a 1991 Jordan 191, a few Benetton’s and a couple of 2000 and 2001 Arrows alongside a few Champcars and Indycars.
Unfortunately, a few teething problems arose this season within Britcar as this year they are now running under the MSA banner. A few rule changes have been made after the season has started and timetables changed with little notice. Hopefully they are just that, teething problems and these can be sorted out without too much issue. The field within Britcar is looking strong and I hope the series will only continue to grow in stature. The last thing I or anyone else wants to see are teams leaving the series due to goal posts being moved halfway through a season.
I was going to write about the BTCC at Thruxton but to be honest, I think I should just leave it. Yet again Plato blamed his race one puncture on the Turbo Powered cars and then saying it’s a total joke. The only joke is his ridiculous moaning!
My humble mutterings have gained some recognition. As you may well know this blog was nominated to be part of an online survey by Longlife Exhausts to find the best car blog.Thanks to the guys at Tin Tops UK who made the nomination, Trackside Views made the list of 20 in the vote. Amazingly, by voting close this blog came out top by just two votes. Therefore I would like to thank all of you who voted and enjoy reading my thoughts. I hope I can continue to bring you an enjoyable blog which you will all continue to read and hopefully some more recognition will follow. A special thanks goes to Tin Tops UK for not only their initial nomination but their continued support along with my good friend and fellow motorsport photographer Pete Mainey.
Not a lot else has happened this week for me as I was unable to attend the Season opener of the British GT and F3 championships at Oulton Park. Those who know me well will know I particularly love GT racing and this year’s line up is super impressive. Audi R8’s join the grid along with a Corvette, Mercedes SLS, a Ferrari 458 and a pair of Lotus Evora’s in the GT4 Category adding to the existing cars the field is awesome. It was the reigning champion Trackspeed Porsche that took the race one lead whilst the Scuderia Vittoria Ferrari 458 took the honours in race two after starting from the back. It looks to be a close battle for the title again this year and I can’t wait to be shooting them all again when they head to Snetterton for round two in a few weeks.
Before then, I will be off to Donington again for the third round of the Britcar championships the weekend of May 7th and 8th and on May 1st I’ll be at Snetterton for the MSVR GT Trophy and F3 Cup. It always seems like an age since I was last trackside when I have a weekend when I’m not so I can’t wait to be back out there. I wonder if my opinions of the new layout at Snetterton will change.
In the mean time there is a small matter of a wedding that will be happening. I’m not talking about a balding bloke called William and a posh girl called Kate, I am of course referring to my Brother Tim’s wedding to Sophie. It is the day after the Royal wedding and although I’m not bothered about Friday’s festivities, it is handy to have been given the day off before my brothers big day. I’m going to be an Usher so I will be having to scrub up well. I’m not sure what is expected of me apart from handing out matchday programmes at the church and driving my brother there. To be honest, my Astra Estate isn’t going to look great with a ribbon on it, but I’ll give it a clean. I’m hoping the weather stays nice as the reception is in a marquee and it will be good to be able to be outside too.
It’s going to be a good bank holiday weekend for me and I can’t wait. Not sure how much I will remember afterwards though. Whatever you are doing this weekend, I hope you have a good one, and if anyone will be at Snetterton on Monday, come say hello if you see me about.
The World of motorsport has well and truly kicked into life. Last weekend I was at Snetterton for the first race on the new layout and you can read my report here. People have asked me what I think about the new layout and to be honest, I’m still not sure. Obviously it will look a lot better when the grass has germinated and it looks less of a building site, but that’s not the issue I have. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is that bugs me but there is something I’m not overly happy with regarding the new layout. Maybe it’s just change and it will take a bit of getting used to but it just feels like there is too much in such a small space. Yes it’s good from a photographer’s point of view and for the spectators, particularly those on the new viewing banks but it gives it a bit of a go-kart track feel. It’s good that the circuit is being developed and Jonathan Palmer wants to bring bigger and more exciting race series to the Norfolk track and I understand there is a lot more development needed such as the pit and paddock area before these big race series will be attracted but after being there I am not totally convinced. I am very fond of Snetterton as a race track and always felt it had a unique charm, but to me it feels like that charm has gone.
So on to this weekend, Formula One makes its much anticipated return and I am actually watching the free practice on BBC iPlayer as I write. (Other television Channels are available) It looks like it will be a great season with a number of drivers fighting for the title and I’m sure, a few surprise packages along the way. At least at the time of writing this, the McLarens seem to have surprised those who seemed to write them off already with their fast pace in FP2. I guess we will only know for sure how well they are running come the Chequered flag at Albert Park.
As for me, I’m off to Silverstone on Saturday to cover the first round of the Britcar Championships and it will be great to be back with a great racing series. A big grid is confirmed and a great selection of cars will be on show so I hope to get some good photo’s. I’ll be looking forward to see the Synchro Motorsport Honda Jazz. I had a bit of an obsession with that car during the 24hr race last October and it was fantastic to see it keep up with an Aston Martin Vantage for a number of laps until it came in to pit. Also, amazingly for a Honda Jazz, there wasn’t a pensioner in sight!
The BTCC media day took place on Thursday and a huge grid was announced to be lining up on the grid this season. The fantastic YourRacingCar.com team announced a huge coup in the form of last year’s championship contender Tom Onslow-Cole. The VW Golf struggled a bit last year in their first season but if anyone can get the best out of the car then Tom can. I’ll be looking forward to seeing him battle for points with the fan backed team. Other good news is that of TechSpeed running two ex RML Chevrolet Cruze’s with John George and fans favourite Paul O’Neill. Paul got a couple of podiums last season in an older Honda Integra so perhaps he will consistently be a front runner in a very competitive car. However, I point this out to those getting too excited. If O’Neill is fighting for the championship come the end of the season along with the likes of Jason Plato, I don’t think we will see O’Neill fighting too hard against Plato. Let’s not forget who supplied TechSpeed with the cars and have given a lot of assistance to. Yes, Plato’s RML guys!
Finally, a quick update on my Juke Challenge. A very respectable amount of £80 has been raised for Comic Relief, so as much as I hate the car and the experience, I am happy to have been able to raise the money for a very good cause.
So the motorsport season starts for me this weekend. I’ll be photographing the MSVR ‘season starter’ weekend at Snetterton this coming weekend. It will be the first race weekend for me this year and I can’t wait to get back trackside. Also, I will finally get to see the new circuit layout at the Norfolk track. On this note, the names of the new corners have been unveiled today so I’ll have to learn them too. In the meantime, I’ll have to get all my equipment ready, batteries charged up and memory cards formatted in preparation. I’ll blog about the weekend and post a few photos next week.
The MSVR weekend will include great racing from the Lotus Elise Trophy, the Lotus Cup UK, Project 8 Saloons, Production BMW Championship, MSV F3 Cup and others. So if you’re chomping at the bit to get out and see some racing then why not get yourself down there. £16 for a weekend ticket is a bargain. You couldn’t watch a league football match for that and they are only 90 minutes!
In other news, I’ve completed another model for my collection. The 1994 Larbre Competition Porsche RSR that was raced at Le Mans. I’m pretty pleased with it and it doesn’t look too bad. I found a great website with all the information on cars, drivers, times etc of all the Le Mans races over the years as well as photos. I was pleased to find some pictures of the car I’ve just built, so if like me you love the 24hr endurance race, then check out www.lemans-history.com Next up, a 1988 Minolta Toyota 88C.
Finally, I’ll be driving my most hated car tomorrow. The Nissan Juke will be taking place with currently £55 pledged to Comic Relief for me to go through with it. Not looking forward to it, but it’s for a good cause. If you wish to donate anything, even just a pound, then you can do here and you will be in with a chance to win a framed A3 Motorsport Print. You can’t say fairer than that surely?