Preparation and Testing
Between the Fire at Snetterton and the first race at Cadwell there were only 14 days!! The first week passed in a blur of buying parts and seeking advice, the second was spent in Richards work shop at Horncastle learning about the finer points of re-wiring a Locost, plumbing in a new fuel tank, static timing, replacing my brake fluid reservoir, changing the ignition system and working out how to exist on no sleep!
So it was with slight intrepidation (only inhibited by the 3 hours sleep I’d had that week) that I started the engine and rolled on to the Cadwell Track for the first time on the morning of the test day. The timing hadn’t been set properly but I’d promised myself that I’d spend the morning working on the car and the afternoon working on the driving!!
The morning passed very quickly, we missed the first session finishing off the wiring (putting in relays etc) and in the next two sessions the car went well. With the car set up using static timing I wasn’t going to push it but it felt good and I was very relieved that the car was back to its old self.
With the timing sorted over lunch time it was back on track for the final testing sessions. With lots of Locosts now on track it was fantastic fun, my times dropped dramatically and the engine sounded great!
The track was damp for qualifying but I was in the second group so whilst Locost session A raced around the track I was able to watch from the sidelines. The track looked a little greasy and times were slightly slower than the day before but not by much
When it was our turn out on track I took things slowly making sure I’d got the 3 laps in the bag I needed as a new-comer to be allowed to race. Then I put my foot down and tried following some of the faster runners. The day before my fastest time had been a low 1:55 so I was delighted when I saw 1:54 flash up on the dash board in front of me. The reality was even better, when the results were announced I’d managed a 53 (just!) I’d qualified 29th out of 41 with a 1:53.99 for the first race and 26th with a 1:54.07 for the second.
Race 1 – The Heat (Started 17th Finished 15th)
The first 12 would go straight through to the final which meant my qualifying position of 29th put me 17th on the grid. I needed to finish 15th to make the final so I had to make up places. I made a good start but didn’t plan it very well. I shot off the line then found I’d got nowhere to go and ended up loosing a place! Now I had three places to make up to make the final! On lap 3 one of the cars ahead had a mishap and I gained one of those and two laps later Dickie Brown was called into the pits to remove a damaged wing and gifted me another. Finally on Lap 6 I managed my first overtaking manoeuvre of the race putting me in 15th place and in the final.
Race 2 – The Final (Started 28th finished 23rd)
Starting 28th and last on the grid for the final I had everything to gain and nothing to loose! I held position at the start (last!) then made a few good overtaking manoeuvres. However with quite a large chunk of the 30 minute race to go I found myself alone. The car in front disappeared forwards the car behind backwards. Desperate not to loose momentum, without a tow and no one to chase, I started to play the lap times game. A friend had joked I shouldn’t come back in unless I could manage a 52 and I was determined!! I was delighted when 1:52.71 popped up on the dash board. As I tried for even lower times I started to catch James O’Donnell. As the laps when on he was getting closer and closer and when the chequered flag fell I was within three seconds of him. It was a solid but slightly lonely race.
Race 3 – Monday’s Heat. (Started 13th Finished 19th)
I was looking forward to Monday’s race as I had my highest grid position to date, 13th, right in the middle of the 28 car pack. However, Monday morning saw rain arrive and lots of it. Having never driven the car in the wet this was going to be a challenge! I was 13th on the grid and needed just to hold position to make the final but it wasn’t to be!
16th after a poor start I needed to make up places but I also needed to keep the car in one piece, a tricky task whilst trying to average 60 round a wet Cadwell. By lap two I was down in 18th. I finally gained my first place on lap 3 getting back up to 17th and whilst this wasn’t great I was still running, 6 of the original starters weren’t!
With oil on the track from the day before I had an interesting moment round hall bends. I slid on some oil under the trees and caught the car as it rode over the kerbs, the car following shot down the inside but also slid and we ended up doing a graceful slide with the cars touching (my first ever contact in a Locost) all the way round the corner. I thought it might end in disaster but somehow we both held on to the cars and although he took the place I was just pleased both cars were in one piece.
On lap 5 I realised the track was drying and I could probably be a bit less cautious, I speeded up a bit and instead of sliding off instantly knocked 5 seconds a lap off my times. I repeated this on the next lap but it was too late and on lap 7 the chequered flag fell and I was still in 19th.
Race 4 – the Final
The final was a very strange affair for me being the only Locost race I’ve missed so far this season. I was 19th in the heat and therefore I reserve. Everyone turned up in the assembly area so my only hope of a race was a large crash on the first two laps leading to the race being red flagged. Not something I was about to wish for! However just in case this did happen I had to get the car refuelled and prepped then drive down ahead of the field and wait in the pit lane.
I wasn’t alone Glenn Boyer was in the same boat albeit ahead of me in the queue! In the end he got to race (after a retirement on the green flag lap left a slot) and I watched from the pit lane. It felt very strange watching the others race when my car was there and all ready to go.
It was a good weekend. All the gremlins created by my weekend at Snetterton had gone and I’d had an hour and 15 minutes of great racing!