2014 built on 2013’s resurgence in trackdays. Thanks to all friends and family that shared in car adventures this year.
March: Rockingham with Northloop and Circuitdays
The MX5 was easily the slowest car in attendance but it didn’t stop Dad and I enjoying ourselves. Should have kept the roof on for the faster banked sections but it was too nice, and un-seasonally warm weather. Thankfully a lot nicer weather than my last visit in 2012. Ice rinks offered more grip than the circuit on that occasion. Then my e36’s clutch met its untimely end. Leaving me 300 miles to drive home with no clutch. 2014’s visit went a lot smoother (trailers are great) with the afternoon spent chasing Matt and his 924.
April: Thruxton, and the Transit
Project tow SAAB turned out to be a disaster, and far from the cost saving Caravelle replacement we hoped it would be. Struggling to find a tow car Tyronesnell trailers came to the rescue with their Transit. For a die hard VW fan it put me in a tricky situation as it’s a surprisingly good van!
Matt also booked Thruxton and we had some more close lapping. Seen at the start of his video above. The day began wet and slippery, particularly on the exit to the chicane with lots of incidents and red flags. Slowly started to establish a rhythm and enjoy the circuit. It’s bumpy and fast, with lots of potential to have a high speed off that keeps you sharp. To further keep the pressure on you could overtake on both sides. Sadly not a lot of people wanted to let an MX5 through so I had to resort to borrowing a friend’s VLN tactic: hopping through when faster cars went for an overtake: Long session.
May: BCA BMW car auction + Tow barge purchase
In a bid to buy a tow car (pun intended), after way too much time spent browsing car classifieds, Dad and I attended our first car auction. We both enjoyed the day and learnt a lot but the prices, including buyer’s fee, were higher than cars on our local BMW dealer’s forecourt. An eye opening experience. Car after car went for thousand more than anticipated. Dejected, we went home with our tail between our legs. Any thoughts of getting a bargain BMW died this day. The budget was upped, and with the help of a good friend, the below 530d tow barge was collected from Poole, Dorset. The budget… lets not talk about the budget…
June: Bedford with Circuit Days
The 530d’s maiden tow was effortless. Comfy seats, an auto combined with a good stereo and plenty of torque makes for a pleasant place to spend time and munch miles. Even with the surprise that the 5 series’ boot is smaller than the SAAB’s. First time at Bedford with a trailer and it’s a proper faff. Trailers are not allowed in the infield paddock. The MX5 rewarded the separation of tools, trailer and tow vehicle by jamming a front caliper on.
Thanks for the roadside repairs goes to friends Iain and Jon, and other tips from ‘Loopers. I learnt a lot about calipers and Iain managed to free it up allowing for an afternoon’s lapping. First glimpses of the Plus Four Engineering Lexus powered v8 MX5 were the highlight! Even if it did get beached on a sleeping policeman attempting to get noise tested. Once home I did a full service, fitted two new front calipers and changed the brake fluid.
Two glorious days at the ‘Ring. Taking my total to 41 driven laps and, not that we were timing, driving my fastest lap to date (9:23). Massive thanks to Ray (driving in this year’s VLN, hoping to get out and watch at least one) for all the coaching. What’s better than two days at the ‘Ring? Colour coordinating team t-shirts and the hire car!
August: Glorious Goodwood and Evo Track Evening at Bedford
First trip to Goodwood, and great weather despite the impending tail end of a hurricane. Sessions based, interesting and very well organised. What a wedding venue! Congratulations to Steve and Helen. Brave move having a Northloop Trackday the day before. I wouldn’t hurry back in the MX5 (the circuit deserves a faster car), or choose to do a session based trackday. But it’s a great circuit and feels very special to lap. There aren’t many trackdays with Spitfires taking off and landing while you’re lapping. A lot of fun was had closely lapping with friends in similarly powered MX5s (thanks Simon and Hannah).
Returning to Bedford without a trailer was a lot more enjoyable. Accidentally passing Bedford (thanks to taking a 200 mile detour) in my company car I definitely wasn’t tempted, in the slightest, to turn a few laps… Bedford Evo Compilation
October: Donington with Northloop and Circuit Days
After buying the MX5 at my first time to Donington this was my first solo visit / revisit. It’s becoming my favourite UK track. Certainly my favourite trackday of the year (in this country)! It also presented an opportunity to help Mission Motorsport and offer pax laps to ex-service men. The reward for which was further firming up my 2015 plans with pax laps in their Caterham Academy car.
December: Brand at Brands with Mazda On Track (MOT)
Brand for a surname and not having been to Brands seems even more silly having finally been. In the wet and cold lack of December daylight I learnt two key lessons:
1. My Federal 595s don’t work in the wet and cold
2. Paddock hill bend is scary. In fact: all of the circuit is scary with the 595s.
Fiddling with tyre pressures proved futile. A dry line finally started to form and confidence grew when an RX8 stopped play by dumping its oil over the entire circuit. After a shakey start it was still a lot of fun. I’ll be back.
Thanks for reading. Here’s to a good 2015, and another year as an Evo subscriber!