August 2000

5th August 2000

I ordered some material during the week to do the tonneau cover with. Jill and I decided to do the job ourselves as the trimmers we'd been in touch with didn't seem to bothered whether they did the job or not. I ordered 2 linear metres of Mohair and all the lift dots I needed. The material came today, so hopefully this weekend Jill and I will have a go at doing the tonneau. Thankfully, John from Crendon lent us an old tonneau which we used to get a pattern from.

6th August 2000

So today Jill armed with scissors, sellotape and brown paper set about making a pattern from the old tonneau. After Jill had made the pattern we tried it on the car to see how it was for size. It was OK, but because my roll bar is a little further back we needed to put an extra inch in the length of the pattern. Once the pattern was correct we laid it out on the mohair and pinned it to it. Jill cut out the area for the steering wheel and then noticed that we had the pattern on upside down! This would have been great if we had a left hooker, but we didn't. We were both rather calm about the whole affair. As I didn't want to ditch £80 worth of mohair so we thought about a solution to the problem. Jill's solution was to sew on a patch that side but also embroider the word Crendon on top of it so it looked like a name plate rather than a mistake. And I must say it does look rather good. After about 4 hours work we were the proud owners of a new tonneau cover. It fits very well and we are both pleased with the final result.

7th August 2000 - track day

I spent most of this week preparing for the track day. I had to organise a helmet, making sure the car was clean, looking on the map to find out where Abbingdon was. I phone John Kerr at Crendon to ask if there was any preparation to do to the car. And he said no not really, see how it goes - you may want to increase the rear dampers a couple of clicks, but try it first.

I invited my mate Simon along who raced motorbikes. As this was to be my first venture onto any kind of track I thought Simon would be useful to have along for encouragement and advice.

The day dawned bright and clear as we set off at some unearthly hour towards Oxford. All went well until we got into Abbingdon itself, no signs at all for Abbingdon airfield. We stopped in town and asked at an Estate Agents, I thought they’d be the best ones to ask. Directions duly given and a quick conversation about the car we set off again towards what now became Dalton Barracks. Another couple of miles and we’re lost again, so I saw an entrance to the barracks and pull up to ask directions from the two soldiers on the gate. Now I don’t want to be rude to teenagers, but on the gate were two kids, who looked about 12 years old, toting rifles. I summoned up the courage to ask directions and one of them gave them whilst his colleague looked on warily. I expect he was waiting for us to burst out of the car and start a coup. We were rather concerned as all through the directions he was giving us he kept dropping in the word “shoot”. “Just shoot down here and turn left”, he’d say. We were glad to leave and get out of range I can tell you.

We arrived at Dalton Barracks at about 9.15am ready for the drivers sign on and briefing. Thankfully there were quiet a few novices, so I didn’t feel out of place. The day was organised by Easy Track and they made us feel relaxed but highlighted the importance of safety and common sense.

Our first venture on onto the track was a very slow convoy of 3 laps getting used to the track layout. One of the marshals led us round at about 40-50 mph just getting used to the track and its layout. I was really excited, nervous and worried all at the same time. I was glad we did these sighting laps before we were let out in anger, so to speak, as during one of these laps I had to shout across at Simon to ask which way the track went. I was concentrating too much on everything else and we arrived at a sea of cones and I wasn’t too sure which way to go! Did I mention the fact that I was nervous?

With that safely complete, Easy Track opened up the circuit. Because there were only about 20 cars the pit lane was always open. No-one had to queue to get out onto the track you just were waved through up the pit lane onto the track. Simon and I went out for four sessions throughout the day and each time we were getting faster and faster. On my first session I took it fairly easy getting used to the car and track. Perhaps I took it a little too easy as I was getting into 5th gear down the straight! Afterwards Simon talked me through the track and suggested better lines, alternative ways of taking certain bends. He also said he didn’t want to see 5th gear being used! So out we went again and slowly I improved in the areas Simon pointed out. I found it really useful having a passenger who was used to racing on a track. He was able to point out all the little things I could improve on. On our final session of the day it felt really quick. Certainly my quickest session on all and with no funny business I was really pleased.

Other members I talked to throughout the day were happy with their cars and the way the day was organised. We even had a few spectators, Steve Loadsman and a couple of friends arrived to see some action. All cars ended the day having the same body shape as did when they arrived.

Finally, well done to Rob Stanley for organising the whole event and taking the risk with the financial side of things. Click here to view the pictures.