So, my first weekend in the heady heights of BriSCA F1 is now over. Time to reflect, reminisce and learn, ready for the Skegness Speed Weekend in a months time.
I got to meet my new car for the season, new competitors, new style of racing and lots of new people.
The first new person I met was Miss Brassique. She was sent by Kunstvoller as a representative, to make sure I was doing my job. Baby sitting I think she called it. Many of you will be familiar with Miss Brassique from Twitter. And for those of you that aren't, she's not difficult to find. She is also exactly the sort of person you'd expect a Kunstvoller representative to be, and here she was on her first away mission, armed with nothing more than a pair of uncomfortable shoes and an iPad.
The next person to meet was Paul Hines. Paul wasn't racing this weekend so had been drafted in to help me out at my first race. Paul kindly brought his entire team along to look after the car. Between the sponsor rep and my own race team, I was starting to feel like Lewis Hamilton! But before the need to wear diamond earrings and cut a hip hop album overtook me, I needed to do some driving.
Here's a little something I'll tell you about driving, that I've learnt over the years.
When you race something with a V8 in it, life is about as good as it gets. Your Type R might rev to 10,000 rpm, your Radical might make 2.5g cornering and your National Hot Rod might be faster over a lap. But V8s are best. The only people that think those other things are important, are people that have never raced something with a V8 in. After the Legend, it's nice to drive something with brutal power again.
F1 stock cars weigh about the same as a church and, like a church, this makes them quite difficult to turn. Carry slightly too much speed into a corner and you miss the apex by a mile. With a V8 pushing you along, arriving at corners with too much speed is an easy thing to do. To combat this, F1 stock cars are fitted with brakes. Quite small brakes for a race car. In fact, when you consider the size and power of an F1 stock car, the brakes are almost a token gesture. "Hit the pedal HARD!" Mat Newson had advised me before practice. He wasn't wrong. These cars take some slowing once they have a lick on. But, its the same for everyone, rules are rules and at the end of the day, even inadequate brakes are better than no brakes at all. As I would find out in heat one.
I asked Paul for any last minute tips he might divulge. He said be smooth, the cars like smooth. Hit whatever is in front of you. Don't try to hold up the red tops, just let them go by and try to follow. Sounds easy enough, doesn't it? Heat one began and I settled at the back of the whites and tried to learn what the car could and couldn't do.
After a couple of laps, the car decided that one of the things it couldn't do, was stop. The pedal went to the floor in turn one. I went very wide but managed to keep it off of the fence. I pumped the pedal before I arrived at turn three but it was about as useful as a condom machine in the Vatican. I swung into three and, despite a collection of dead cars making the track narrow, survived another lap. I carried on, thinking "I wonder, if I was careful, if I could get this thing to the finish?" I hurled it into another turn, "Hmmm, but what if I need it to stop in a hurry? Red flags or something." I retired from the race.
This meant that I didn't qualify for the feature final. BUT, If I got my finger out and took the car to the collecting area early, I could race in the Grand National! Just as Miss Brassique was about to pull out her wildest dress and biggest floral "Ladies Day" hat, I pointed out that this was not, in fact, THE Grand National, but a race at the end of the day for all-comers. I lined up in the collecting area and as soon as the gate was open, I was in! A flood of other competitors, who also didn't make the final, took positions around the track and we waited for the off.
And we waited.
And we waited some more.
I don't know how long it was, but it felt like we waited at least 3 million years before the gate finally closed.
Okay, that's a exaggeration. Okay! If you want to call it a lie then do so. I wont argue. The point is it felt like a long time.
When we finally got the go ahead to roll out, a lot of the cars wouldn't go. Racing V8 engines aren't really designed for sitting around not doing much, and now several were flooding. Including mine. I thought I had cleared it with a few good hard revs but, when the green flag dropped, it died.
[Dafty's forgot to mention finishing 9th in the Consolation Race. One place off qualifying for Final. Get nowt for being "close" though – Ed]
On to Hednesford the following day! Refreshed from my stay in a sealed box that Kunstvoller provided for me. Yes friends, they managed to book the only hotel I have ever seen in my life, where you cant open the windows. Not even a little bit. I found all this out around midnight. Mostly because it was around midnight that I actually got in the room. You see, the wonderful Miss Brassique had picked up the key from the Hotel before she went to Birmingham Wheels Raceway. Whilst the key was safely tucked in her purse, she had sadly misplaced the hotel. She has the sense of direction of a homing pigeon. - that's been lobotomised and nailed to a lemming.
Having left the track some two hours before me and showing no signs of turning up until an hour after me, I was left to test out some of the Holiday Inn's other features.
The floor in the hall is quite comfy. I sat there for a good ten minutes listening to the couple in the room next to the room that should have been mine, having sex. Then arguing about having sex. The lifts go up. And then, with just the touch of a button, go down. There was a bench just outside the reception where you could sit and admire the stunning cigarette-dog-end garden. All in all the whole experience was just what you needed after driving a stock car all night.
Lucky for you, I'm not one to complain. [Just an ungrateful bastard – Ed]
I got to Hednesford early so I could be taught how to change the gearing on the stock car. It would be much easier if they had quick-change rear ends, but they don't. Rules etc etc...
As it goes, it isn't a bad job. We were then ready for heat one. It was a good run out. I like Hednesford. I tried to stay out of the way of the faster guys and still mix it where I could with cars that I could stay with. Eventually I lost the inside tyre with two laps to go, so I just nursed it to the finish.
Heat two I got shoved into a parked car. Didn't hit it hard, but it trapped me. The gentleman then kindly rolled out of my way and into the path of some two wide racing that was baring down on us. Carnage ensued and there's me still cranking away on the #13's starter button. Eventually it fired just as the yellows came out and the race went under caution. I snuck out from behind the wreckage whistling a tune and hoping nobody noticed. Race control had noticed. I was stationary when the flags came out so the officials parked me on the centre green.
I wished Mat luck for his final and went to the fence to watch. The cars all lined up and were waiting for the gate to shut. Why is this taking so long? Then a mechanic ran over, "Get your kit on, its all in for the final!"
"WOOHOO!" I didn't say out loud as I quickly put my gear on and headed for the grid. My first F1 Feature Final! And my first inside front row starting position! And it lasted all of a lap because unbeknown to me, I was in the process of collecting an outside rear puncture. As Dick Dastardly would say; Drat, and double drat.
New wheel fitted and off to the last Grand National of the weekend. Had fun! Got a tasty lick into the wall which bent the axle a bit, but the great thing about these cars is, they just keep going. Handled a bit funny but finished the race nonetheless.
And so endeth my first days on the job. I have to thank Paul Hines and his team for their help on Saturday. My sponsors Kunstvoller, AHM, Cost Effective Heating, Juice Electrical, MsportXtra and Dart Vale Cattery. And a massive thanks to Mat Newson and his team for finding a car for me and keeping it running through the weekend.
As we look towards Speed Weekend at Skegness, there are a few things I want to do different with my driving. But I think I've bored you enough for one blog post. Perhaps we'll discuss it closer the time.
I'd like to thank you for taking the time to visit our blog. Check out our racing schedule and I hope to see you at the track soon!
[You can read Kelvin's first post "BriSCA F1 Driver Bitches!" by clicking right . . . here. Also, please note, we're committed to Piegeons. It's not a typo – Ed]
***All the crap you see written here is Kelvin's opinion and not that of his associates, race team or marketing partners . . . with the exception of Kunstvoller, 'cause they're adept at backing and swerving anything ; D ***
Everyone who's part of the KunstSquad is friendly as fuck. Feel free to reach out, leave comments, ask questions and get involved with Kelvin (and the rest of us) over on social media:
You can also subscribe to our newsletter for the (infrequent) latest #KunstSquad goings on.