May 4th

One size fits all passenger seatSo, it's back to getting the car and me into some sort of shape for the next race, which is at Donington.

A friend of mine offered to sit in the passenger seat of the Fury and show me the way around Rockingham at a track day there the other day. As the friend in question is a rather successful Caterham racer this is not something to turn down so I got the car together to take him round the track. I made a one-size fits all passenger seat (yet more foam, I'm getting good at this now!) and bought some new harnesses. I had some other harnesses bought last year but I really wasn't happy about the safety aspect of them. However, I'm not sure Matt (the poor unfortunate passenger) thought they were very comfortable really.

New DL1 mounting positionI'm also still unhappy about DL1 mounting. This is mainly because it's too exposed to the elements and is difficult to weather-seal. So, I bought a small aluminium box which could hold the DL1 on the floor of the car. The hope is that if I get this mounting sorted out then I can leave the DL1 in the car. This would mean that I don't have to start taping everything in when I get to a circuit which would be rather a relief.

However, I'm still not sure that this is a suitable mounting technique. It still isn't very weather proof so I shall probably modify it again. I'd prefer to use a proper weather proof housing but I haven't managed to find anything of the right size and weight yet.

Rockingham track mapSo, we met early Monday morning (it was a bank holiday) and trundled up to Rockingham. I've never been there before and it's rather an odd site in that it's an American-style motor speedway in the middle of industrial park. There are some HUGE grandstands and a track that has something like 13 configurations. Like always with a track day a lot of the track time is held up with other cars but all the same I had a great time and learned quite a bit from Matt. He doesn't seem to believe me but I found it very useful. He did confirm that I have a tendency to approach corners too quickly which I'll need to work on. I also, as I'd also thought, need to get the power on more quickly, some of which is dependent on me getting my lines rather better sorted.

One problem was that half way through the day it chose to absolutely chuck it down with rain. It was fun paddling round in the wet but frustrating as lots of cars were falling off all over the place and freuquently red-flagging the session.

I realised at the end of the day that precious few things had over-taken me on the track, so I must have been doing something right. The usual track day problem applied in that people often don't see you behind them, especially as the Fury is really a rather quick car and approaches people more quickly than they think it will.

A rather bigger problem was that as we pushed the car back in the paddock it started making an odd noise from the front wheel. It almost seemed like the wheel bearing, which wouldn't be totally surprising as I'd had them apart so as to change the studs in the front hubs. We jacked up the car and went to take off the wheel in question and struck a problem when one of the aforesaid studs started rotating in the hub rather than the wheel nut coming loose. This was a real pain as the only way to get the wheel off is to take the bearings out and unbolt the disc and caliper!

Hub and rotating studAt first I couldn't figure out how to get things out but I realised it was really quite simple and this evening I took off the wheel, still attached to the hub, and welded an old bolt to the back of the stud. Then I could hold it and undo the wheel nut. (The nut was actually pretty tight, which was why I kept going at Rockingham. I want to sort this before the race though.

This photo shows the stud with the lever welded onto it, along with the hub and the place the stud came from. You can see that the hole in the hub is pretty smooth which is why the stud wasn't gripping. I must admit that I'm a bit concerned that the same thing is going to happen to the other 7 studs at the front of the car.

It's not clear what to do about this. The nice chaps at the Kit Car Workshop say they've got some slightly fatter studs that will fit but they seemed to imply that the shoulders on them are quite large which could put me back in the same plight I was in before I changed the studs in the first place. Still having got the stud out I can at least talk to them about it. One possibility is just to MIG some aluminium into the hole in the hub, redrill it and refit a similar stud. If the worst comes to the worst I shall try that.

Fitting spatsAt Brands I got a pair of the "official" Fisher spats to cover up the rear wheels properly. These are going to have to be bonded to the bodywork and will need a fair bit of faffing about to fit properly. I started marking it out this evening but didn't actually start cutting the body to bits as I want to think about it before doing anything un-recoverable. Needless to say it's pretty hard to work out the proper position of these due to the multiple curves of everything. It could easily end up in the wrong place really.

One problem I'm going to have is that the front wheels, even after removing the spacers, are not exactly totally under the bodywork. Not sure what to do about that at the moment...

May 9th

Four studs again!Well, I managed to fix (or at least I think it's fixed) the rotating wheel stud. I got the new, wider, stud from the nice chaps at the Kit Car Workshop but as I feared there was no way I was going to be able to fit the front wheels without a spacer that would mean the wheels stuck out too far. So, I fell back on plan B and MIGged some aluminium into the hole and re-drilled it to 12.5mm I then pressed in another stud and low and behold it held!

To be honest, I reused some old studs for this whole process and I think I should really have got some news ones that hadn't had the "spliny" bits bashed up a bit. I may well, if I have a moment, get a collection of new ones and fit them so as to feel really secure about this whole process.

Finished! (It's bloody red, isn't it?)With that done it was on with the rear wheel spats. There's not really much to say about this as it was just a matter of marking the bodywork out where the spats were going to go, cutting the bodywork back, bonding the spats in with some GRP, using some filler to fill in the gaps, rub it down hugely, prime it and paint it! Of course that took days to do and in the process it's filled the garage, again, with dust and made the house stink of paint.

However, the end result is OK and it doesn't look too shed-like. This obviously means that just one race and they'll get all smashed up.

So, now I need to get the car ready for the Donington race this weekend. I want to have another go at mounting the DL1 in a water-proof housing as I don't seem to have succeeded at that. I may fall back on another sandwidth box but I need a bigger one that the one I used before due to the little board of electronics that I have on the back of the DL1 itself these days. I also want to put a "start logger" switch and "logging on" light on the dashboard.

We're going to have to leave for Donington on Friday afternoon as we have to scrutineer at 8:25 am! What's more, I need to get to the first time drivers' briefing before that so it's going to be really hectic.

May 12th

The return of the sandwich boxWith the bodywork sorted, I arranged for another mounting for the DL1. As I said, I've put it in a sandwich box again. Not just any sandwich box though, this is a Tesco Value box so it's bound to be a superior product. No expense is spared on this car. What's more, it have the advantage of being see through which means you can see the lights on the DL1 if you need to.

I also wired in a remote logging start switch (just above the red starter button) and a "logging on" light (just above the black horn button) so I can leave the lid of the box in position. Hopefully I'll also be able to see them in any on-track video I record as that should make syncing the video and logger together easier; a sort of automotive clapper board.

Parachute fittedI've been wanting to improve my rearward vision for while, especially after Colin Chapman appeared from absolutely nowhere to pass me at Brands Hatch. Some RGB racers run single large panoramic mirrors, much beloved by US NASCAR drivers apparently. I got hold of one of these from Stuart Taylor Motorsport and fixed it using the mounting provided to the roll cage.

I'm a bit concerned that it's too far up to look at easily, and that it's more like a parachute than a mirror. All the same, I think I'll give it a go at Donington.

So, I'm at the point where I really just need to tidy things up, pack everything away and set off for Donington. Wish me luck...

May 15th

Bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger.

Hmm, that just about covers it!

We set off for Donington on Friday evening and got there, nabbed a garage, prepped the car (things started really early in the morning) and settled down for the night. Scrutineering was uneventful but qualifying was going to be a bit of a trial as I'd only ever done about 5 laps of Donington Park and that was in the Dax back in September 2002. I could just about remember where the corners went but that was it. Come to think about it, that trip to Donington ended in disaster too. I wish I'd thought about that before.

All the same, qualifying was OK. I started slow but managed to get going faster and faster. I was actually faster on each lap than the previous one so something must have been going right. I was having real trouble with Redgate though as, as is obviously usual for me, I was consistently going in too quick. After everything I ended up with a time in the 1 min 25 seconds region which seemed OK for a first attempt. I was 14th on the grid out of 28 cars, in the middle of a group of cars which I regard as the people to beat.

When the race came around I made another of my demon starts and made up about 4 places on the run down to Redgate. The video at this point shows a number of cars spinnind and, what's more, I started spinning too, mysteriously after a car came up in the mirror incredibly quickly and shot past me. Given the quantity of rubber on the side of the car I have a suspicion that he hit me and tipped me into the spin.

This spin was the problem in that I spun round by 180°. One car shot to the side around me and the one behind him, Louis, speared towards me and slammed into the front of my car at some considerable speed. In fact, his right front corner hit my right front corner. After climbing out it was clear that things were very bad. After Mallory Incident III my car was towed back to the paddock with no drama. This time it was clear that the front of my chassis was actually on the ground which is not good.

Too much toe-outThe marshals pushed us into the medical support truck and took us to the medical centre where we got checked over. I just had a small bruise to my hand, I probably hit something in frustration. Louis had a little bit of whiplash but the general view was that things were just bruised and he'd be fine in a couple of days. After that we walked along to the scrutineering area where our cars apparently were. Louis's didn't look too bad. Mine, though, looked horrible. This photo was taken this morning after the car was back home. As you can see it has just a teeny bit too much toe-out on the front suspension.

We eventually got the car back on the trailer with a huge amount of help from a lot of people in the paddock but special mention must go to Adrian and his friend Duncan, fellow competitors Colin Chapman, Adrian Chapman and Neil Constable-Berry. Kit Car Workshop people Martin, Ian and Chris (the latter not racing today due to a problem with his diff) and Colin Chapman's friend Roger. The last person being the only one who had the nous to spot that we were trying to winch a car onto a trailer with the engine still in gear. Doooh. Even at such a low moment the general friendship in the paddock was great.

Oh well. Having dragged the car back onto the trailer and having had a shower and a cup of coffee (having a motorhome in the paddock is really great) we left for home and stowed the car in the garage overnight. This morning the aforesaid Adrian turned up again, this time with his son Chris, to help with stripping the car.

Seriously bent chassisIn fact, I've never made such quick progress and by the time Adrian left at about 1pm the engine was out and all the front of the car spread about the floor of the garage. I spent another couple of hours taking the dash and scuttle off and the front end of the car looked like this photo.

As you can see, this is seriously bent! We actually had to cut through one chassis member just to get the suspension off.

Anyway, the car's back on the trailer now and I will take it to the Kit Car Workshop tomorrow for yet more of their chassis fettling. Doubtless this is going to be even more expensive.

I've been looking at the datalogs and I scored a negative (backwards) acceleration of 1.8 g at the moment of impact, at which point I was doing about 20mph backwards. I think that's a record for longtitudinal acceleration in my datalogs.

 next page