I Like Cars

Lotus Cup UK Speed Championship – Blyton Park (Round 6 & 7)

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The weekend went by in a blur of sunshine and smiles.

On Friday night we arrived late in Scunthorpe having met with roadworks and Burger King on the way. Of course we’d booked in to the Wortley House Hotel. We dumped our bags in our suite, the Queen Bess (I know, they treat me well!) and headed off to the bar for drinks with Alan, another Lotus driver who was staying at the hotel.

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Emma had sent me a message to let me know that she’d had her race suit sent to my hotel and for me to bring it along on Saturday. When I asked at reception they had no idea about this important package. There was concern that the courier may have got the wrong address, Wortley House Hotel were often receiving deliveries for the Warley House nursing home. I pictured confused elderly people being dropped off by accident at the hotel. Then I pictured The Stig in a wheelchair razzing about on an Axminster carpet. My levels of concern rose when I considered the possibilities of incontinence and the impact this might have on Emma’s enjoyment of the weekend. Luckily, I found out a bit later that there had been a right old cock-up and a replacement suit was going to be delivered to Emma at the track. Phew!

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We got up early, ate our breakfasts (the Crunchy Nut Cornflakes were much more sickly than I remember them) and headed over to Blyton Park. We were greeted by two massive hares, sunshine and loveliness.

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We signed on and all the drivers got given a special mug  printed with ‘Westfield Sports Car Club  – Blyton Sprint Weekend’. That’s the only cup I am going to get my mitts on at a motorsports event!

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We walked the course, had the drivers briefing, and then it was time to get on with the practice runs. I thought I’d have a slight advantage as I’d been to Blyton Park a couple of months ago for a driving course, I did recognise the track and I did have my bearings, but because I’d not been using the whole track to learn on (we did different exercises in different areas) I wasn’t as hot to trot as I’d thought I might be.

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It was an amazingly hot day. We sat in the shade and chatted over lunch. Emma organised us all, Xav made barbecue magic and I had a bun with both bacon and a sausage in it.

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Time for the timed runs, I made some stupid mistakes, like putting it into 4th instead of 2nd gear, (bloody idiot!) but on my 2nd and 3rd timed runs I struggled with getting it into 3rd gear and I think that was down to the heat, not my foolishness.

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As I was wandering around looking for Adam, I bumped into Xav’s wife Rachel, ‘He’s just gone on the grass!’ she said. Well, it seems he did go on the grass, yes, yes he did. He went off the track, flat-out, onto the grass, then he was launched from a small hump, all four wheels off the ground into a field of wheat, where he disappeared from view. Some moments later he emerged from this grassy other dimension with a small harvest in his front grill and shot over the finish line, still faster than everyone else!

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I can’t believe I missed it. Adam recounted it so clearly that I can picture it well, and it makes me smile!

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I was lucky enough to be up on the bank with the other spectators to see Duncan coming through the finish line though, almost sideways, one way, then the other, then the other! He did really well to control it. The crowd even cheered and gave him a round of applause.

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Dave says that all he sees is Tarmac and danger. Looking at this photo (above) I can understand that!

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In the end I managed a time of 88.82 seconds, just 0.74 seconds behind the next driver, and 9th out of 9. I wasn’t disappointed though, I really enjoyed myself and was excited for the next day.

We went back to our hotel and met up with Rob and Sarah for dinner. They brought me a cool little nodding turtle from Turkey. I like it. It seems we are always at the Wortley with these guys, even though none of us live nearby!

Later, when Adam was sleeping, I popped into the main hotel building to see if I could borrow a pen and I was hit by a wall of sound. Agadoo. In Scunthorpe. For a minute I was allowed the marvellous thought that this was the most popular choice tune for a party night out in town and that everyone was living in a pineapple and palm tree clad timewarp. Then I was told it was a school reunion, I was a little bit disappointed.

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It rained heavily on Saturday night, all night. We slept well in Queen Bess. When I did wake up I could hear passing cars splashing heavily through deep puddles. We ate breakfast and headed back over to Blyton Park.

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Up at Bunga Bunga (yes, that is a great name for a corner!) an army of slugs had invaded the track and were in the process of making a slippery trap for us all, probably so that they could send us off and rob us for spares.

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The Westfield’s all went out first and cleared the slugs, but I was hesitant on my first practice as I thought the track might still be wet, slimy and/or sluggy. My first practice was slower than Saturday’s, but my second one was over a second faster than my best time on Saturday – that was promising.

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Sarah (a super ace driver who joined the LoT gang this weekend) showed me the video of her lap. I sat in the back of her trailer and felt like I was on location with the BBC, or MI5 surveillance. Her driving was speedy and smooth. She went home with two trophies.

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I wore my balaclava under my helmet for the first time this weekend and it was great. I had thought that the extra layer would make me warmer, but it actually made things more bearable. Unfortunately it makes me look like Mrs Potato Head. I told Rob to look away other wise he’d get a craving for chips.

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On Saturday I got talking to a driver called Heather, and her dad, with whom she shared a 306 Rallye. They were really lovely, he seemed like such a nice dad and was really proud of his daughter. Proper family man. On my last run, I drove through the finish line, saw my time, felt chuffed with myself and looked up at the bank of spectators to see them both jumping up and down cheering for me! So lovely.

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We stayed for the prize giving at the end of the day, and I did my best clapping. I’m very pleased with my own improvements, not particularly against the other drivers (although I am always surprised that I am anywhere near the times of anyone else) but against myself. I ended up with a best time of 85.48 seconds, 7th out of 9 and dead chuffed.

It was a wonderful weekend. I’ve met so many lovely people. Everyone is so friendly and tolerant of my bad jokes. How lucky am I?

(These many photos of cars were all taken by Adam. Good work Adam!)