My First Race! Silverstone International 22/08/15
This was the peak of my fear. This was all unknown. What if I miss my place on the grid? What if I stall it at the start? I’d never even practised a race start in the dry, and even the wet ones after spinning last week were on my time and not to a set of lights!
I started my engine, took a couple of deep breaths, and followed the other Vees out of the holding area onto the track…
As I pulled up to the grid the marshals pointed my into place, showing me the exact line to stop at. I was calm and in the zone, but as the 5 second board was displayed my visor fogged up as I realised I was breathing quickly and heavily.
I got control as the red lights came on above the start line, keeping the revs up and slowing my breathing and heart rate down, and dropped into the zone as the lights flashed out.
I reacted so quickly that I actually hesitated because nobody else around me seemed to be moving. I got an ok start, but had to lift almost immediately as I couldn’t get around the car ahead.
37 cars piled into the first corner with wheels hanging out everywhere, twitching as everyone tried to find a gap.
I stayed out wide and drove around the outside of the track, having to drift wide to avoid people, and finding some bugger had put traffic cones there! I smashed into one with the left front suspension.
I kept the throttle open and the cone flew away, and the suspension looked ok as we all piled into the next turn.
The rest of the race is just a blur. I settled into the racing lines and found I was getting faster every lap. Total confidence in the little old Sheane as I pushed harder, braked less, turned in faster.
I stuck a few overtakes on people, and avoided spinning cars.
I found my car came out of the corners really strong, and after I passed people I could reel in the next car ahead even down the Hangar Straight.
I was enjoying it, cackling madly as I nailed a corner here and there. I was battling with names I’ve been watching racing Vee for years, and coming out ok!
I pulled in Nick Brown, and as he got sideways onto the Hangar straight I got a good exit, passing him into the braking area, and he switched back on the exit to regain his position, but then lost the back end through the next turn.
I had nowhere to go, and flicked the wheel right to try and get around the back of him and straight into the gravel trap.
The nose cone took a battering, but I missed Nick by millimeters, and got back on the track in a shower of gravel, shaking the wheel and hoping none had got into the calipers.
I got back the places I’d lost and found myself with a clear track ahead. Knowing it must be near the end, I got my head down to make sure I dropped the cars behind me – I was having this one!
One of the things you can’t appreciate from the outside is after the chequered flag, as you do your cooling down lap, the marshals wave to you. This actually makes you feel really special, and I almost got emotional as I gave them all a thumbs up as I passed.
We were guided into park ferme where I jumped out and chatted to Glenn and the other drivers excitedly.
I’d done it!
I learned that I’d actually taken 17th place overall, and 4th in Class B – massively exceeding my own expectations, and at last I felt like I should be out there, and had proved that. Better still, I was only around 3 seconds a lap off the pace of the leaders!
Race 2 was more of the same, but with a slightly worse start, and I knocked another half a second off my best time. I found that I could trail brake into corners and slide the back end out just enough to get me through the faster turns quicker, then get straight back on the throttle. You have to get these cars sliding to be quick.
I won’t go into more detail about the races, as this has been far too long already, and you can watch the onboard videos for yourselves!
I found I’d got myself up to 18th place and 5th in class – but better yet was passing Ed Lowndes into the very last corner. He’d been the car 20 seconds ahead of me that I couldn’t even see in the first race!
To top off an already awesome day, I was given the Driver Of The Day Award!
I know I can go faster, and so can the car, so there is more to come. With a bit of luck, I can’t see why I can’t get a top 10 place with the Sheane.
Glenn has a few modifications he wants to make, and we’re working together very well changing set-ups (told you my time playing Forza 4 wasn’t wasted!).
So that was my first ever race. It’s still all a bit surreal.
All the drivers and crews are a great bunch, and I can’t wait to get back out there!
I hope you enjoy the videos, and thank you all for reading this and your support. I hope this blog has helped show people that you CAN go from nothing to racing driver on a very limited budget, and you can live your dream.
And seriously, get out there and do it! Now I’ll be keeping you updated on the equally as hard progress forward from here, to try and climb up the order and see how far I can really take this.
I still have a Hell of a lot more to learn!
Onboard videos of both races here: