Here we go again

Since selling my Rebel stock car I have really missed the short ovals and I keep going back to see what formulas there are as a way back in. I always found myself looking at the GP Midgets site and watching the videos on YouTube.
This week it all got too much for me, I mentioned to Carol (my wife) that I liked them, she didn’t say no and I set off to March to look at one. So I am now the new owner of a Scorpion GP Midget. Oh boy.

If you are interested you can look at the GP Midgets website to see what they are about, but this one has a 1.4 vauxhall engine on 45 Webbers. Apparently if I can’t win in it then there is something wrong. I’m guessing the thing wrong will be talent, or lack of. First race is in 3 weeks time and already I am scared.

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Reliant Rebel

A couple of weeks ago I was driving down a green lane somewhere in Warwickshire, with my wife Carol and our children, when Carol spotted some cars in the corner of one of the fields. We drove round to have a look and saw an area with 10 to 15 cars scattered around, including a number of Hillman Avengers, quite a few Triumph Dolomites and a small red car which on closer inspection turned out to be a Reliant Rebel.

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A Hillman Avenger which the owner is planning on restoring.

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An Automatic Triumph Dolomite.

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Was a Dolomite before being burnt out and scrapped.

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The Reliant Rebel as it was left in the field.

The next day I searched for some images of Reliant Rebels online and found some photos of the same Rebel taken a few years before it was relegated to the field. As you can see from the photos below it had had some work done to it and it got me thinking. I had chat with Carol and she told me how much she liked the car so I decided to try and find the owner and see if he would be interested in selling.

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The Reliant as it was 3 years ago on Ebay.

I left a note on the car, but after a week with no phone call I decided to contact the land owner who said he would contact the owner of the car. Another week went by and I was beginning to lose hope when I received a call from the owner and agreed to meet up in the field for a chat. Long story short (which isn’t easy for me) I made an offer and am now the new owner of a Reliant Rebel, which has been extensively modified and was previously used for drag racing, running a 2 litre Pinto (some of which is missing).

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On the way home on the trailer.

So what are my plans? If you know me you will know that the most likely thing to happen will be for the car to sit in the barn for at least a year at which point I will sell it for less money than I bought it for. But who knows, this time it may be different. And anyway, at least it’s not sitting in a field anymore.

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Safe and snug in the barn with the Imp for company.

Historic Rally Show

Last year I had planned to take my Hillman Imp to the Historic Rally Show at the Heritage Centre in Gaydon, but didn’t manage to get the Imp ready in time, so after another year off the road I made attending the show this year my aim.

The Imp was booked in for an MOT last Friday, and scraped through, leaving me last week to tax and insure and clean the car. After a short drive on Friday the only problem was a slight fuel leak which was easily solved (even for me)  and the car was ready for the show.

I got to the show at ten o’clock and parked at the front of the Heritage Centre behind a fantastic Anglia, before being  told I could park with the rally cars in the rear car park.

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I got chatting with some of the club members in the exhibition and have to admit that I like the sound of the road rallies that they run. They involve stages on public roads in which the idea isn’t to drive flat out, but to complete the stage in a set time. These stages are then followed by special ‘tests’ on private land when you get to drive to the maximum. These rallies last the whole day and the cost is very reasonable. Food for thought.

Here are some of the cars that were parked in the show area at the rear of the centre.

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This 1967 Volvo was for sale for £4000. And yes I was tempted, but I am a sucker for any car that has a for sale sign in the window.

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I had one of these when I was 18. Sold it for £900. Doh!

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Vinny loved it more than me.

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I told the boys that the cage on the front was for killing Zombies. I hope I don’t give myself nightmares.

Rebel Racing

As I haven’t updated my blog for a very long time I thought I would summarise what I have been up to in the past few months:

The first thing was the selling of the Van Diemen to a man in Belgium. This left me with mixed feelings, because I really thought that I would never sell the car but also felt that it was time to try something new.

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With the Formula Ford gone I bought a Rebel Racing stock car. At this point you probably all think that I have gone insane and you may be right. After fixing an oil leak and re-spraying the car in my garage with aerosol cans (something I will never do again) I took the car for a test day in Northampton (£30 for 6 hours of testing). It was at this point I began to question my own sanity. I had gone form the best handling car I had ever driven to something that felt like a boat on wheels.

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My first race was at Buxton in the British Championship (£30 entry fee). I had my practice run of 6 laps and this made me realise that I had done the right thing in choosing to try stock car racing. It was an incredible buzz to be on such a small track with other cars, but that was nothing compared to the first heat. Beginners can start at the rear of the field if they want, which seemed like the best idea. The race began and I was soon avoiding a big crash and trying to settle in to the race. After about 10 laps of the 15 lap race I was being lapped and I finished the race in 12th place. And wow, what a buzz. I got out the car and ad to sit down to recover. Unfortunately the car then failed to start before the next race and I went home a little disappointed.

The next race was Aldershot and again I started at the back of the field in both heats, managing to finish both and get a position one row from the back in the final. After a short battle with a couple of other cars my gearbox broke and I retired from the race. I have in car footage of this on YouTube.

The next event was Birmingham and the car was running badly in practice and after much head scratching in the pits (with help from a number of other mechanics) the diagnosis was a burnt valve. So again we packed up early and went home, with the Rebel going to Rebel HQ the following week to be repaired.

With the Rebel back the whole family headed off for a weekend at the European Championships in Northampton. Stock car racing uses a grading system with the lowest grades starting at the front of the field and I decided that it was time for me to do that after wetting my teeth at the back of the field. So it was that I lined up third on the grid in front of 35 cars. It was absolutely terrifying and the most amazing thing I have ever done at the same time. There were cars everywhere and I was being nudged into corners as cars were spinning in front of me. I made it to the end of the race intact and as I lined up to leave the track I was told that I needed to go and get my trophy as I had finished third. This was news to me as I had no idea where I had finished.

The next heat, as it turns out, was the beginning of the end. I again lined up in third place and was running well until waved yellows slowed up the field to clear a crash. On the restart I lost concentration and instead of left foot braking I put my foot on the clutch and ran wide. This caused me to drop to the middle of the field and a couple of laps later a car span in front of me. I braked as hard as I could (which never did much in a Rebel anyway) and was pushed into the spun car. The next thing I saw was sky until I landed and hit the wall was then finished off with a smack on the back bumper. I then made a fuss like a little boy because my back and neck hurt a bit (okay, a lot) and then went numb and the race was stopped. Two ambulances arrived on track (all watched by my wife and children) and I was informed that they were going to cut the roof off my car. At this point I had an amazing recovery, akin to a footballer who realises that his opponent has now been sent off, and climbed out of the car to a round of applause (not ironic, apparently).

The following day I woke up with a stiff neck and lump on my lower back and decided that it would be a good idea to race in the European Final even though I could barely sit in the car and my mechanic, Graham Roberts, was unavailable that day. I started the race near the back, let everybody through whenever they got near me, got bumped a lot and pushed towards more spun cars before finally running out of fuel on the last lap.

My bottle was quickly running out as I lined up for the first heat for the rest of the event. A few laps in I had a moment coming out of a corner and before I could straighten up I was clouted by another car leaving my wheels pointing in opposite directions. I limped back to the pits, my bottle gone and my back hurting and set about repairing the car. This lasted for about 2 minutes at which point I began to think something along the lines of ‘what the f*** am I doing this for’ and I loaded up the car and went home.

At this point I was on the verge of quitting for good when Carol, my wife, informed me that she didn’t want me racing any more. What a relief. The car was put up for sale soon after and sold within a week.

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Well, that wasn’t so much a summary as a blow by blow account, so I will shut up now and write about the future in another blog later this month.

Tough Decision

It hasn’t been a very good couple of weeks for me on the sprinting/hillclimbing front. A couple of days before Castle Combe my starter motor gave up, but I managed to source a new one and was confident of making the event when, on the Thursday night, it jammed causing me to have to have to take a day off work and finally pull out and lose my £120 entry fee (as well as a day’s pay).
The car was then booked in for repair which was finished just in time for Loton. The electronic ignition then gave up on me resulting in another day off work and a rush to Aldon to purchase replacement parts. All was ready on the Friday night when the starter motor gremlin returned meaning another event withdrawal. I decided that I would at least try to get a refund for the event, but was told in a very blunt and, it has to be said, rather disrespectful way that no refund was available. So another £120 down the toilet.
I decided that I didn’t want to risk missing another event so cancelled Shelsley Walsh ahead of time (another £12 gone) to give me time to sort the car out once and for all.
The car is now back in the garage and will back to its best in no time, but the driver won’t be. The whole episode has left me disallusioned and skint and being the impulsive person that I am I have decided to sell the Formula Ford and take a break from sprinting. I am sorry to all the other Formula Ford drivers because I know the class needs as many as possible, but hopefully the car will be bought by someome who intends to sprint/hillclimb it.
I am hopeful that the car will sell quickly because it will be the best priced one on the net, so if anybody know someone who is interested………
As for me, I may well be doing some other form of motorsport (more on here if anything happens) and I will appear from time to time at an event to catch up with everyone. Until then I will be sitting around at home wondering whether or not I have made a mistake.

Mallory Park 17th March

So the season has finally arrived. Crack open the suncream, get out the deck chair and sit back and enjoy the sprinting.

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Okay, so not how I had imagined it. I arrived at Mallory at 7 o’clock and it was cold but dry. I signed in and got to the front of the scrutineering queue, which turned out to be a good idea, as the queue was soon the length of the entire paddock. Once back, Geoff Ward (the driver of the only other Formula Ford), introduced himself and told me of his travels to Mallory and the of the fact that he had forgotten to bring a minor item with him. The engine cover!! (Sorry Geoff, but I had to include a photo).

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It will be okay though, Geoff informed me, as long as it stays dry. At which point the rain arrived, followed by sleet and finally snow.
The first runs began and by the time our class went out it was Arctic conditions. The track was the most slippery I have ever encountered, causing me to nearly spin whilst going in a straight line and the snow was sticking to the already fogged visor. Getting around was a challenge in itself.
I clocked a time of 76.57 seconds and Geoff did an amazing 12.19. I was getting the car back on the trailer ready to go home when it became clear that Geoff wasn’t that quick but that the snow was tripping the timing beam. After the first set of runs the sprinting was then called off because of the timing issues, so we all stopped for lunch and prayed that the snow would stop whilst watching the early casualties and more sensible drivers pack up and go home.

The snow stopped at around 1 o’clock and although still raining, the sprinting began again. My 1st timed run felt much faster than the first and although fairly hesitant clocked a time of 78.22, which I was pleased with until I saw that Geoff had a time of 77.50 seconds, although for some reason the official results gave him a fail.

The rain had stopped for the second timed run, although the track was still wet and very slippery. My run felt good, even with a scarey moment half way round Gerrards and I got a time of 75.50 seconds, with Geoff getting a 76.44. FTD went to Gary Thomas in his new Force PT, pictured below prior to the lunchtime thaw.

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Here are some more photos I took around the paddock before my fingers became so numb that I couldn’t wotrk the camera.

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Tony and Martin putting their Dallara away after Tony’s morning kiss with a barrier near the finish line.

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My favourite car of the day. Sorry, no more details because I forgot to make a note of the number (do I really have a future doing blogs?). Any ideas, please help.

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Art?

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The ever present Clan Crusader of Eric Morrey.

Getting Ready

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It’s that time of year again when I thought I had loads of time to get my car ready but it’s now only six weeks. Not that I have had a lot to do, but the new season is coming up very quickly.

This winters jobs were to change the outer cv boots, do some tidying and painting, the obligatory oil change and of course change the gear ratios. It should all be done within a week and I can look forward to the first event.

After three seasons driving the Formula Ford I am now going to give the SBD HSA championship a good go, entering more sprints than in previous years and giving a few hillclimbs a go. I have been regularly badgered, during the last couple of years, to have a go at hillclimbing, but have never really fancied it (read that as ‘have been too scared’). I have now caved and am going to give it a go. I have also entered the Service Hydraulics Speed Championship as some of the rounds overlap plus it gives me a couple more local rounds including Mallory, Curborough and Silverstone.

First off for me this year is Mallory, 3 chicanes and all, where I hope it will be better weather than my last time there when it rained all day and was very cold. Following that I will be at Castle Combe for the first time. I’m already pretty scared about the place because from what I can see it looks very fast and I’ve got Chris Bennett to deal with! After a two week break I will be doing my first hillclmb (ever) at Loton. Get ready for hours watching YouTube to learn all the correct places to spin.

Hopefully this won’t be the last blog I do, although in a house with a wife, 3 kids, 2 dogs and 2 cats it could well be.

Peter C-G

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