“You only had one little job to do!”

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The Lee Holland Stages, Anglesey, March 2014

The day started well enough, the weather was warm and there was a slight daffodil nodding breeze. The sun however was a little on the shy side for my liking and was slowly been bullied into submission by a dark cloud or two that loomed above. Still there was no knowing what the weather on Anglesey would be like until we got there as it seems to exist in it’s own little weather bubble. A change in plan was in order for today as Tony and I were travelling in one of the vans with Jon and Rob. It was a bit reminiscent of being in a mini bus on a school trip although I found it quite comical when Tony nodded off at one point and then promptly slid sideways and fell off the end of the seat when Jon went quickly round a roundabout! It could be said that was just deserts for him forgetting to pack the camping stove so I could cook the hotdogs on Sunday. Yes that’s right, Tony only had “one little job to do” and that was to remember to pack the stove into the van when he was in the garage loading tyres and spare car bits ‘n’ bobs all of which were of no use to me in the cooking of hotdogs! There then ensued a lengthy conversation about alternative means of cooking hotdogs that included the use of a kettle and a microwave, not together I may add, but it all amounted to nothing as Tony was instructed to by another cooker when we stopped at the shop near the track.

There were no police stops this trip so we made it to the track for scrutineering in good time. Having successfully passed over those irritating little speed bumps, that make your whole world shudder, we pulled into the track and it was noisy and quite busy when we got there as there was a track day taking place. No time to watch though as the car was whipped out of it’s protective shuttle quicker than you could blink your eye. Well it nearly was. Tony’s other little job to do was to watch Jon reverse off the trailer. Not a difficult task you may think but I am not sure Tony’s mind was was all together on the job in hand as the more Jon reversed, the more the shuttle lid closed back down. Stop! Stop! came the cry. They say a photo can speak a thousand words and I think the one below perfectly explains what had happened!

Right, noise testing first – check. Scrutineering next, suits and helmets – not check. Where were the suits and helmets? They were in the van with the navigator. Where was the navigator and his van? Well …… they were stuck in Bangor and we were at the track. First rule of rally club: always keep the suits and helmets with the car – will be a check for future events! P.S. They didn’t have any camping stoves at the shop. Camping gas canisters, yes, but camping stoves, no. Tony appeared with two disposable BBQā€™s. I just rolled my eyes and chuckled……thankfully I had made sandwiches. Errrrrmmmm where were the sandwiches and the food bag? Stuck in Bangor with the navigator, his van, the helmets and the suits! Oh and nice prank call Tony on the way to the hotel. I’d already checked there was room for you in Andy’s van before I left with Jon and Rob so no, you weren’t stranded at the track!

It’s become a bit of a home from home the hotel we stay at each time we race on Anglesey. We seemed to be the only guests this time. Richard made himself at home behind the bar and a round of applause erupted when the land lady confirmed a supply of bottled cider and a bottle of Disaranno. Little faces soon began to look worried though when she also confirmed a very limited supply of Guinness was available. Who was going to change their drink of choice then? Newbies or Oldies? Soon I found it quite comical to see how much enjoyment a group of grown men can get out of reclining chairs and settees and later on most took great delight in shouting at the person on the telly in The Cube and telling them they were doing it all wrong. Food ordered it soon became time to sit down and eat. Now although the food was good there seemed to be the usual imbalance between the quantity of meat to vegetables provided. All I’ll say is that somebody in the kitchen must have a fetish for new potatoes and carrots. A few eyebrows were raised. That’s all I’m saying. Dinner over I decided to slip away quietly to my bed when the discussion at the bar turned to the rum selection and bottles with bits of bark in it! Yes, bark!

I’m convinced that somebody must have changed the clocks that night as there was no way enough sleep had been had before the dulcet tones of the alarm work me. Auto pilot kicked in…….got to be down for breakfast at 7……..yes, 7. I wasn’t last down, Josh was. What? He’s ill so get’s let off? Oh, OK, I was last down for breakfast. Well that’s alright because I didn’t want much for breakfast and I had wrapped up warm for the day with so many layers that if I didn’t get outside soon, I’d melt away! A smile erupted on Tony’s face as he practically skipped his way down the corridor, it was raining. Great. Rain is good for Subaru drivers who sit in a car most of the day in the dry, but is not good for those of us who are spectators…..and photographers….and journalists! Boo! Yay, I’d put a big brolly in the food bag before we left!

The rain had stopped by the time we arrived. The fog hung on though and wrapped everything in a veil of mist, the kind of mist that turns hair frizzy! Not that I was bothered though as the bone chilling wind soon made me put hoods up and up they stayed all day. My how people have become camera shy these days. I don’t seem to have my usual collection of “setting out base camp” photos this time round, just a lot of backs of heads as people see the camera…..I’ll get you all at some point during the day, when your guard is down, you’ll see!

Tyres changed. Fuel added. Maps checked. Advice given. It was time. It was time for stage one and Andy’s first go at being a navigator. Now I have to say he had been playing it cool since we left the day before and didn’t seem phased in the slightest at hurtling around the track in a car with Tony. Fair play. If you were worried you hid it well šŸ˜Š. The racing had started and the familiar roar of engines and smell of hot tyres filled the air as I walked, rather quickly (these cars get a shufty on don’t you know) to just passed the start line to take some photos.

The visibility wasn’t too good thanks to the clinging fog but a quick look over my shoulder showed a glimpse of sun warming the top of Snowdon. It transpired that that’s where the sun would decide to stay all day unlike at home where there were reports coming through of sitting out in the sun enjoying a drink or two. Hmmm. Oh yeah, I’d worked out if I registered for WIFI I got 15 minutes free, bargain! Tony had moved onto another part of the track for the rest stage one so I started to make my way back to the van for a warm. Hang on a minute. Was that Tony and Andy coming in? Earlier cars were still out. The sight of them appearing back into base camp brought people running in from all directions. Was there a problem with the car already? Not that flipping gear box again surely? It transpired Tony had spun the car and Andy lost his sense of direction (who wouldn’t when Tony turns the car into a Waltzer!) so they went wrong on the next split. Nothing to worry about at all Andy as even the most experienced navigators miss a split sometimes don’t they Mr M? It was good to get it out of the way during stage one as after that for the remaining stages Andy was nothing more than perfect each time. The Micra came back in after finishing round one and Richard the navigator emerged from the car in a snow flurry of paper. “They added an extra chicane and they didn’t tell us about it until the start line!” ……well words to that effect!

The boys did well in the following rounds and a great ‘friendly’ Subaru/Micra battle ensued for the rest of the day. A knocking sound developed when they came in after one stage in the afternoon. A lengthy conversation then took place over what exactly the sound was. It was quite funny. Tapping? Banging? Knocking? Flapping? So many words for just one sound.

Yes, a flapping sound. That was it. The car was jacked up and the wheels were off in a flash. With the tyres removed it became obvious that the there was so much tyre rubber on the track and most if it seemed to have ended up on Tony’s tyres. Wheels were switched around, I don’t even pretend to know the reason why, something to do with wearing off the extra rubber, but they were and they were off on their way again. Nope. That hadn’t fixed the problem so further investigation was required. Ooooo getting down and dirty! The noise was coming from the rear. Ahhh a problem with the suspension. An “It would keep going until the end of the day but would need to be looked at later” look crossed Tony’s face. I’ve seen that look before!
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The Micra finally finished 21 and Tony came 22, 14 seconds apart. Again in a blink and you will miss it moment the base camp was taken down and packed away with such skill and finesse. How on earth Jon and the others fold that ground sheet away perfectly every single time I’ll never know…..years of practice I presume. Must be a dab hand at folding washing!

It was a pretty uneventful drive back to Telford, we normally get stuck in traffic but the A55 behaved it’s self. After the cars were unloaded it was the normal quick turnaround and down The Plough for a celebratory drink…..or two. And the camping stove? That now lives in the back of Jon’s van and everyone is very happy with that arrangement šŸ˜€.

Event four 07.07.13 JRT Enville Stages at Anglesey. Flashing blue lights and Superman pants, it’s all part of rallying!

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Event four had arrived, the JRT Enville Stages at Anglesey’s racing circuit and it had brought with it gorgeous clear blue skies with not a cloud to be seen. The weather was perfect for a road trip. Could this be a good omen for A & E Racing?

Why are we waiting, why are we waiting, oh why, why, why?

Why are we waiting, why are we waiting, oh why, why, why?

You could smell the tarmac on the road melting as a heat haze shimmied all around us, distorting and blurring the horizon. We waited, patiently, in the lane for our final competitor to arrive and join the convoy (Errrm weren’t we waiting for you last time as well??!!) and it did look a bit like a school outing, minus the packed lunches and doting, waving parents, with all the blue JRS T-Shirts on show for the passing motorists. Mine was packed my bag ready for tomorrow’s race day.

JRS school outing

JRS school outing

There were four JRS Motorsport cars entered in for the event this time so an extra van had to be commandeered. It had to be a plain white van to fit in. Hmmmm a plain white van? Now who did we know with a plain white van? *Drums fingers on the table whilst deep in thought* Ta Dah, a new vehicle was initiated into the gang, by performing undiscloseable rituals and being “tagged” with JRS Stickers all curtsey of Richard Mason, the window fitter come navigator on this event. Or should that be Richard Mason AKA “Go, Go, Go, Chicane, Chicane, Chicane”. Aren’t in car videos a wonderful invention “It’s a quiet car really Mr North”?

There comes a time in every van's life where a van has got to do what a van has got to do.

There comes a time in every van’s life where a van has got to do what a van has got to do.

Now I have learnt through past experience that the journey to, and sometimes from, the event kind of forms part of the rally itself. Much discussion and planning had taken place about the route that would be taken this time around as the journey back home last time had been won by someone not taking the usual route. We set off on our adventure and I suppose I should have titled this blog post as “12 lads and one girl – part two”! The convoy of four vans and trailers wound it’s way down the twisting country lanes until meeting the main road. It looked very impressive and caught the eye of several passers by and motorists many of whom did a double take when all four vans and trailers over took them at the same time – sorry, can’t break the convoy!

At times the A55 duel carriage way could have been said to resemble scenes from Top Gear. You know the ones, the classy shots they do of all the fancy cars driving alongside each other? Well the lads did their own version albeit restricted by only having two lanes and not having camera men hanging out the back of a Land Rover in front of us! The sea was glinting and shining to the right of us, doing it’s best to beckon us in and majestic medieval castles rose from the hills to the left of us. And then………….flashing blue lights appeared behind us. FLASHING BLUE LIGHTS. Lots of little faces appeared in wing mirrors along the line of traffic as the game began of guessing who he was after. The newest gang member “Go, Go, Go” was subtly persuaded off the duel carriage way and was escorted away for a quiet chat. It transpired that it was advisable not to display trade plates in a car being towed on a trailer. The “newbie” white van met us at track just in time for scrutineering although he seemed somewhat bashful over the whole experience.

Will it, won't it, will it, won't it? We're staying out of the way and not getting involved.

Will it, won’t it, will it, won’t it? We’re staying out of the way and not getting involved.

There was a bit of lane changing when lining up for the scrutineer to check the cars especially when a certain scritineer came into view! It was a lengthy line and it took a while to get all the cars through but we got there and then it was on to the competitors signing on. Cue event number two when a certain driver had not noticed he had been sent the wrong type of licence! This was turning into a very eventful trip and the rallying hadn’t even started yet but it all had a happy, if not slightly expensive, ending.

Nobody does queuing better than the British!

Nobody does queuing better than the British!

Hello hotel, we’re back šŸ™‚ ! The obligatory teem meeting was held in the bar until the food was served. Ā The obligatory team meeting carried on in the bar after the food had been finished.Ā As per usual all the promises of early nights and not too much alcohol went straight out of the window.Ā Hind sight is truly a wonderful thing especially for those who are used to drinking a certain drink and who went on to suffer quite badly for not drinking their usual, hey, hey, wink, wink, nudge, nudge, didn’t make it to breakfast šŸ™‚

Blue skies, happy days

Blue skies, happy days

The day started out warm and hazy. People started out warm and hazy. It was the kind of haze weather wise that you knew would burn off and reveal a gloriously sunny day and the type of haze people wise that would slowly fade with the aid of a paracetamol or two. It looked like a mini festival had broken out when we arrived as there was a sea ofĀ brightly colouredĀ tents spread out before us. The real sea was beckoning again, it’s pull hard to resist on such a hot day, and the Snowdonian mountains were just breaking through the heat mist. What a place for a race track. What a day for a race.

Hello mountain

Hello mountain

Now I am sure all will agree that it would be fair to say the setting up of the service area was not carried out in the usual snappy, punchy manner it normally is. It was a bit more “head in hands….will someone please put up tent four”. Hindsight again.

Tent two on the move

Tent two on the move

Tent two of errrr four up :o)

Tent two of errrr four up :o)

The sun broke through and the haze cleared and it got hot. It got very hot and with no breeze to be felt it got hotter and hotter. More and more spectators arrived, parking their cars on the hill and staking territorial claim to their bit of grass for the day with neatly laid out picnic blankets and cool boxes. The nerves started to build and the adrenaline started to pump. The “fag, toilet, fag, toilet” routine kicked in and before you knew it, stage one was about to start.

Rally, rally, rally

Rally, rally, rally

It was the first time out for Tony with Eddie as his navigator. Even though Eddie came with a wealth of experience I think both of them found the first stage a little daunting before it started. Anxieties were soon laid to rest before the start of stage two and the “grins from ear to ear” broke out all round. Good job really that it is a quiet car as the intercom stopped working at one point but hey as it was a quiet car they could cope with out it. OK, I’ll shut up about it now!

And they smiled from ear to ear

And they smiled from ear to ear

The day progressed and with four cars all out then in, out then in it all became a bit of a tyre/spring changing, tea making, water drinking blur as to which stage we were at. What? We aren’t even half way through yet? Ā It’s what, only 11 o’clock? Ooooouuuffff, bring on the reinforcements, bring on the “Village People”. No I am not talking about the very camp pop group from the 80’s so stop singing YMCA to yourselves in your head…….”Young men…..” and stop doing the dance moves, put your arms down! I am talking about the “Allscott village people” (minus one who *cough* had needed to stay in bed for a little extra sleep but made it later on) who came along to offer their support and wave their corkscrews. Yeah, well done you. Jon get more T-Shirts :o)

The new partnership of driver and navigator began to work like a dream team. 4.44 for stage one, 4.40 for stage two……there’s a theme here, bear with……the times are getting quicker….. 4.06 for stages three, 4.03 stage four, until stage eight. Let’s just say that from now one Eddie will now be known as “Eddie, the split, Myatt”. Did it matter, no not really. All were having a great day’s racing and that’s all that mattered in the end.

Round the bend.....no handbrake

Round the bend…..no handbrake

Yeah, all four cars finished unscathed and in one piece and now that the tablets had kicked in and the haze had lifted, the packing up was the well known “blink and you will miss it moment”. Tent down, tent down, mat rolled, mat rolled, clothes changed in the van, cars on trailers and we were off. The race…..journey…to get home and back to the pub (a very nice country pub called The Plough at Allscott that comes highly recommended if ever you are out our way, with delightful hosts and a fantastic chef who serves food to die for) began. It was all going so well until Colwyn Bay. We were stuck in a two lane traffic jam from Colwyn Bay all the way to Chester. Do these people not know we have food on order back at the pub??? You never really notice how strange some people can be until you are stuck in a traffic jam and start people watching in the cars that are stuck along side with you. I can confirm, there are some strange ones out there!

We eventually arrived back at the pub (The Plough at Allscott….Oh I’ve mentioned that already, OK) and Dave the chef saved the day and our sanity with a very welcome meal, although I am sure some ate theirs with their eyes shut catching up on a few missed forty winks.

Roll on event five!

Emma x

Oh, and the Superman pants I mentioned in the title? Sworn to secrecy but the owner did protest strongly that they had faded to pink with age! As I said, it’s all part of rallying!

A bit of pampering and the lady looks good.

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Heads up and check her out! Our lady has had a bit of a pampering session and just look at the results. A very impressive makeover thanks to the team at Chase Studio in Telford who created the fantastic new design. Also Stripe Master and Tint Master of Telford for all their hard work on producing the graphics.

And then the wheels got a bit jealous so they had a make over as well, thank you Pro-K Wheel Refurbishing in Telford.

Next event out for us will be the JRT Enville stages rally at the Anglesey Circuit, Ty Croes on Sunday 7th July 2013. Come along and watch!



From North Wales mainland, cross the Britannia Bridge onto Anglesey. Continue West along the new A55 Dual Carriageway for approximately 12 miles. Look for the White on Brown tourism sign for the circuit at Junction 5. Follow the A4080 signposted Rhosneigr and Aberffraw. Continue past Rhosneigr, which is situated to the right of the A4080 on towards Aberffraw. Just under 5 miles from leaving the dual carriageway (A55) look for White on Brown Tourism signs at a small crossroads and turn right towards the circuit.

Visitors travelling from the Port of Holyhead should travel east along the A55 for approximately 7 miles then take the A4080 from Junction 5 as described above.

How to find Anglesey Circuit

Event two 08.02.13: The North West Stages

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**Note to all readers that I should have posted this blog entry before the recent Anglesey one but as I wasn’t there at the North West Stages, soaking up the atmosphere (and the rain) in person, it’s taken me a bit longer to write it šŸ™‚ **

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Whoop, whoop. The boys finished the North West Stages and as they say “the boys done good”.

There had been a heady mix of excitement and anticipation in the air as the build up to the next event began. This was going to be a big deal and, as with other past events, the aim was merely to finish, although there was an unmentioned understanding that it would be good if they could at least beat their last placing of 40. That was their target.

The North West Stages sponsored by Legend Fires is reputed to be the best way that club rally crews can experience something of what it would be like to compete in a major event akin to ” a tough European rally, with central servicing, a non stop time schedule, thousands of spectators, night time stages and much more”. It wasn’t going to be like the single stage events the boys had entered previously as this one was going to be run over several different venues and surfaces with timed road miles in between. A total of 26 stages in 24 hours, this was big. We’re they and the car ready for it? Oh yes they were.

The weather forecast had been scrutinised for updates several times a day in the days preceding the event, in fact maybe even several times an hour if the truth be told. Maybe even more than one website was checked on “just in case”. How can different websites have such different weather predictions for the same area? Someone needs to have a word with the Met Office as they are not understanding the information you are giving them! We stuck with the Met Office gurus in the end, they should know what’s going on. A slight ripple of “oh my god it’s going to be wet” panic started to make it’s way across a previously still pond.

The final night before they left had some moments of confusion to it. Tony came home and reported that his whole car was in bits on the floor of Jon’s garage. Errrrmmmmm you’re racing tomorrow shouldn’t it be in one piece all sparkly and polished I thought to myself? It transpired that there was actually a whole “spare” car (minus the shell) in bits on the floor that would be loaded into one of the vans as spares in case anything went wrong.

Friday morning came and after a restless night like kid’s on Christmas Eve, Tony, Tom and gang set off for the obligatory team breakfast before making their way to Blackpool. Me? No I didn’t go this time – I’d been checking the weather reports remember šŸ™‚ and besides, it was going to be a bit of a non stop weekend by all accounts. I understand the the normal routine kicked in as soon as they left Telford, Tom fell asleep only to wake up just outside Blackpool.

I got a picture text at about 1.30 that seemed to show they were getting off the M6 and onto the M55 towards Blackpool. Very nice boys but get a shifty on as registration has just opened was my reply!

scrutineering

Car scrutineering pass – check. Tony eye test pass – check (slight age related panic moment all the same). Car number 77 was stickered up and ready to roll. 95 cars were running in total so a starting place of 77 wasn’t bad this time round. Just time for a cup of tea and a quick fag or two before they were back to the hotel.

The night stages commenced with an bit of pomp and ceremony as the Mayor of Blackpool waved off the first cars at a ceremonial start. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and go. There may have been a little slip up on stage one but that’s ok and hey, the boys were shown at the top of the leader board for a while and they pulled it back together for the next three stages.

A bit of bling on the ceiling and a lot of bling on the floor

A bit of bling on the ceiling and a lot of bling on the floor

The boys had been given inside secure parking at the hotel for overnight and apparently the ballroom had been designated as the indoor parking area. Poshest garage anyone would ever park in with the large glinting crystal chandeliers hanging above, I’m sure even Elton John, Mr King of Bling, doesn’t have chandeliers in his garage! He doesn’t, does he? There sure were some very nice (read expensive) cars parked in that garage that night. The plan was to go back to the hotel and get something to eat but the draw of all those cars was too much and the boys took a bit of a walk around before finally getting something to eat quite late and getting to bed at midnight, hmmmm might regret that late night in the morning.

OK so the full English breakfast may have helped start the day off nicely, it was going to be a long day ahead and there were several stages to be run. The weather wasn’t the best. To be fair the weather was more than atrocious. The rain was horizontal at times and the wind was howling a gale. Credit where credit is due to all the spectators that had ventured up to Blackpool to offer their support and to watch the boys on this event, quite a few from the Longmynd Motor Club had made the effort.

Wet, wet, wet (not the pop group - the weather!)

Wet, wet, wet (not the pop group – the weather!)

The stages today would all be different to each other both in difficulty and road surface. One was at Weeton army camp (Tony liked this one the best of all) then on to a water treatment works, a go carting track, a dock yard and of course the promenade at Blackpool itself. That wind and ran just didn’t let up all day, it was a tough day’s driving. Me, sitting back at home in front of the fire, kept people updated on the timings and posted results on the Facebook page. Snug šŸ™‚ .

bend

No hand-braking!

Tony said that the day went so quickly and there wasn’t much time in between stages to think about how long they had already been sitting in the car even though their legs and backs were constantly trying to remind them! There was time for a quick service on most stages, I say most as there were some where the boys just carried on to the next stage. Note for future reference that the Landrover following you with the two men in it waving their arms at you are your servicing crew. They are calling you into servicing with their waving arms, not sending you on! I think the boys got a bit carried away with all the excitement but who could blame them……. they were rally drivers!

They slowly crept up the leader board through out the day. It showed in their timings that they were getting more comfortable with the event after each stage.

It started to drop dark so Jon and Neal (the Landrovering arm wavers) fitted some more lights onto the front of the car to get the boys safely through the next lot of night stages. Not a lot of pages left to cover in the road book so the end was in sight. Team hug ……. “Let’s do this bro, lets push, push, push to the end”.

Under the finish line they came, boys still in one piece (maybe a bit tired) and car still in one piece (may be a bit muddy……. is that a bit of tree sticking out of the grill?). And what a finish line it was, this was a big deal event remember so there was a big deal event archway to pass under as the finish line!

Big event archway finishing line

Big event archway finishing line

The boys had finished in 33rd place. At least they had finished as I heard it reported that there were a great number of the 95 starters that didn’t finish, even some winning contenders didn’t make it to that archway.

Ahhh my boys

Ahhh my boys

I’m sure by past experience that a substantial amount of money will have passed over the bar in the hotel that night, I didn’t need to be there to tell you that.

It’s a big thank you to all concerned and another event under the boy’s belts. Roll on the next one.

the team

Emma x

Event three 17.03.13: Anglesey, The Lee Holland Memorial Rally- twelve lads and one girl!

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Twelve lads and one girl, me!

We were all going to Anglesey for the next event in the A & E Racing calendar, the Lee Holland Memorial Stages. Who’s got the rolls for the hot dogs in their van?. Don’t the team look lovely all dressed in their t-shirts and, no, they are not all taking a wee!

OK, proper picture this time!

P1040160

Three vans and trailers left Jon’s yard and set off for the seaside. We got ourselves a convoy.

All loaded and ready to go

Two out of three cars are here.

P1040154

As usual, Tom had fallen asleep before we even got out of Telford! He did the same on the way back as well.

The weather was predicted to be wet, very wet and it was for most of the journey but as we crossed over the Menai Bridge the blue sky broke though the dark clouds that had followed us all the way. We pulled up at the race track to be bathed in glorious sunshine although that wind was still sharp.

Yeah, sun’s out!

Will the cars pass scrutineering? The examiner was known for insisting on a proper hand brake so it may be a case of fitting one on the carpark just to get Tony’s through. No, it was not the handbrake he wasn’t happy with but Tom’s seat that was set too far back past the middle of the roll cage. A slight discussion ensued and it was agreed that the seat’s position could be changed before the next event. Car number 28 was good to go.

Mr September trying for a promotion to Mr July!

Mr September trying for a promotion to Mr July!

Will it? Won't it?

Will it? Won’t it?

Watch your backs as out come the A&E stickers whilst everyone wasn’t looking. Who got a sticker? Everyone did but did they notice? No the didn’t!

Back to the hotel to put the rugby on in the lounge. Some made themselves at home by taking their boots off and putting on the fire. Hmmm in Wales watching the Welsh play the English. Interesting, as was the door handle on our room. It opened, it shut, it locked me in the room, it opened, it wouldn’t lock.

It transpired the next morning at breakfast…… at 7am…… Yes, 7am that some people only left the bar and went to bed at 5am. Now I know I am getting “older” but surely even these youngsters would find that hard going through out the rest of the day? I’m sure there will be some photographic evidence later on to prove it! Discussions over breakfast included a bit of friendly banter as they normally do……. “good weather for a 4 wheeled Scooby” …. ” top 10 place today Tony” …..

Rain, dark clouds, a bit of sleet thrown in just for good measure as we travelled back to the track. There was a very efficient chappy on the gate who made sure we all had tickets even though Tony protested ” I am a driver mate”!

Tent one of three up

Tent one of three up

A new invention - a tent with many legs!

A new invention – a tent with many legs!

Setting up of the service area was carried out with the usual finesse and meticulous attention to detail I have come to know and expect from Jon and his crew. They all know what they have to do and it was a great team that had come along to help service this time around. To name a few: Neal (in charge, don’t argue), Tommy (can I have another cake?), Owen, Slim and Josh (the 5am crew) and not forgetting Zack who helped out. Three teams were taking part, Jon and Rob, Mark and Chris, and not forgetting Tony and Tom. Do you see where I am coming from with 12 lads and 1 girl theme! Tony put in his servicing requests to his team for each time he came in: 1. Fuel check, 2. Tyre check, 3. Fag rolled and ready to smoke please.

The heavens opened and seemed to dump everything it had in the way of rain onto the track just before the first stage. It was more than torrential, it could be classed as biblical if you believe in that sort of thing. The nerves were kicking in all round as all the lads got changed into their race suits and all you felt was a slight rush of wind as Jon shot out of the van and got straight into the driver’s seat of his car. A mere blurĀ of blue and white but not quick enough not to get photographed!

First stage over and back in to service where they let some of the pressure out of Tony’s tyres to see if that felt any better for him on the next run. Fuel checked, fag smoked they had about 10 mins before they were out again. “Tom, when are you breaking for lunch so I can get the hot dogs on?”, ok all the essentials covered so the boys were back out for the second round.

I stood on the side of the track and I could hear Tony before I saw him. Around the corner he came and he had the biggest smile on his face. I knew he was enjoying it this time out and I knew he was driving well from all the comments I heard from others standing around me. I could have waved the biggest banner to let everyone know that that was my Tony and Tom in that car they were all talking about, I was like a proud mother standing there listening to it all! They came into service very happy.

“Tony, 5 minutes” shouts Tom as he headed back into the car for round three. It’s a good job Tom is there to keep Tony in check with the timings. It was during this round that Tom said everything just clicked into place and started working well. Car, driver and navigator merged into one and became a pretty impressive team.

It was during round 4 and just before the racing stopped for lunch ( it’s a very civilised sport you know!) that Mark’s car had a bit of an argument with a part of the race track and despite Neal’s best efforts the race track sadly won on this occasion.

I acquired some catering space in the back of one of the vans, in the dry, out of the rain, and I think the hot dogs went down well with all concerned, as did the cakes I had made and the large box of biscuits. My pleasure boys. Some of Tony’s sponsors managed to make it along despite the weather. Roean Landrover were there along with Andy from AGL Electrical.

It was a very busy event and taking time out to look around, it seemed to cater for all levels of competitors. There we those with not a lot and those with colour co-ordinated artic lorries, cars, tents, t-shirts and underpants (probably)! It didn’t matter what you had as all were very welcome. We got an occasional break in the weather just enough to brush your hair back into place and to let you catch a glimpse of the snow covered Snowdonia mountains glinting in the distance. I later decided it was easier to hide my hair under my hood although I was very surprised not to get any comments about my ear muffs, the boys are slipping!

There were four more rounds after lunch and disaster struck on the second to last corner of the final round, Tony lost 3rd gear but they managed to make it over the finish line and back into servicing, straight on to the back of the trailer as, in normal JRS Style and after a bit of tent hugging (to get them back into their bags) the service area had been packed away quicker than you could say “who’s for a drink back at The Plough?”. Tom then appeared from the office with the biggest grin I had ever seen……”we may have won a trophy!” he announces and a bit of frantic checking later confirmed that not only had the boys finished 8th overall, I’ll repeat that a bit louder in case you didn’t hear me, THEY FINISHED 8TH OVERALL, they also finished 2nd in class and had won their first trophy. Well done boys.

In a cloud of dust the vans and trailers set off for home maintaining the racing spirit of the day all the way to the pub. We waited for the presentation and after a tense few minutes in case anyone put in an objection to the results the boys bounced their way to the front to collect their awards. They had even bigger grins on their faces when back at he pub they were told that their result should make the Motoring News.

I left them all enjoying their drinks and reminiscing about their day as I went home to defrost and warm up in a hot bath but this really was a good weekend and one that was enjoyed by all.

Emma x

PS. Yes I’ll cook hot dogs again next time!

Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3

Even the snowdrops were shaking with the cold as we pulled up at Whitchurch Airfield. It was cold. So cold that it made our faces numb with in a few minutes and our eyes stream with tears. By the very nature of being an airfield, it was flat and open so there was only Jon’s van to give us any protection and respite from the iced wind.

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We were only here to test and set up the car before the next event but you would have thought we were on an Arctic expedition. New brake pads needed to be bedded in and the suspension needed to be adjusted. Jon took Tony through how to adjust the suspension starting from it’s softest setting….errr no good, bobbed around like a boat on a choppy sea, to a setting Tony felt happy with. Several laps around the track and the brakes were good to go.

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The new hoses …..red ones….. had been fitted and were working fine.

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An hour later with the sun setting as they loaded the car back onto the trailer it was heated seats on, heating blasting and a subtle suggestion to Tony that fish and chips would be a nice idea for tea on the way home.

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Thrashing around on a stubble field …apparently!

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It was a welcome surprise to wake up to an unexpected warm and sunny day on Sunday. I say welcome because some people did not get home until 5am that morning so sliding out of bed at 8am was made all the easier by the cajoling rays of sunshine that filtered their way through the bedroom blinds.

The guest in the spare room needed to be woken up so what better way than to allow them the pleasure of a Murphy dog alarm call! “Morning Mr Crump, it’s time to get up”. Wet nose and kisses ala Murphy always gets the desired effect, never fails.

Off for breakfast…..yum……what time is it again…..strong coffee please?

The event we were going to was hosted by Telford Auto Club another local and long established rallying club and the organisation on the day was down to Jon Ross and Neal Arden of JRS Motorsport – cue neatness, order and straight lines – only joking šŸ™‚

JRS Motorsport

The tents go up, then down so quickly you can’t even see the guys moving around!

The field that was used was kindly donated by local farmer Nick Gwynne of Charlton Farm and a couple of the cars used came from Eva Metals in Tweedale. Ā Ah so a stubble thrash is “exactly what it says on the tin” – a field recently harvested (hence the stubble), a load of cars and severalĀ enthusiastic rally drivers in the making – gottcha šŸ™‚

They keep on coming through that hole in the hedge

Soon quite a crowd of willing participants, cars, trailers and spectators began to gather but the show stopping event was the arrival of the errrmmmm “catering facilities”. Now, I had heard mention of the Porsche BBQ on several previousĀ occasionsĀ but I was sure I was being wound up. I am beginning to understand what this lot can be like once they get started. Nope! It was actually the back end of a Porsche that had been very cleverly converted into a mobile BBQ – just take a look at the photo below if you don’t believe me!

Has to be on the list of “world’s most expensive BBQ” surely?

Jon Ross and several other officiating people set up command HQ on …………… aĀ trailerĀ in the middle of the field! Well I suppose it was a good vantage point and it did keep them out of harms way when the odd overĀ zealousĀ driver came past the finishing post with a flourish. Let’s not mention the flying BMW then šŸ™‚

Out of harms way

On your marks….get ready….go!

Now I am the first to admit that I am not the most confident of drivers so why on earth this lot found itĀ hysterical to drive around the field, blindfolded, dodging obstacles and relying purely on the directions of a navigator is a little beyond me but they all had a good time.Ā Testosterone fuelled competitiveĀ natures reared their heads as things got under way (the ladies behaved) and there was the odd accusation that there may have been some cheating going on (I do not need to mention the accused here – YOU KNOW WHO YOU WERE!!!) which prompted the confiscation of the smaller pair of blacked out glasses inĀ favourĀ of a welding mask. Iron Man meets rally driver.

Didn’t know Iron Man drove a Fiesta

I’m sure the commuters on the passing trains must have wondered what on earth was going on as it seems that the replacement welding mask had the desired effect and obstacles were not so easily dodged – cue Tony (oops, forgot, Ā I wasn’t mentioning names was I) parked, yes parked, on top of a barrel.

To the right, not straight on

We can modify your car in any situation

The sun shone all day which helped the day along and all the kids seemed to be passing the time of day by competing in their own quad bike championship ably helped out by the odd adult or two along the way.

Quad bike championship

Each driver competed in several rounds, some driven one way round and others driven in reverse (that’s driven in the opposite direction and not literally in reverse although I’m sure this would be a welcome additional type of round in the next competition!).

Note to husband – do not spray the wife in dirt again šŸ™‚

A few events added to the day:

1. WheelĀ changeĀ Longmynd Auto Club Style

Looking a little red in the face there boys

2. Parking competition

More than happy to report that both were male drivers šŸ™‚

3. Further car modifications

In a Michael Caine accent “Your only meant to blow the bl**dy doors off”

The final race got under way around 5pm and all the drivers gave it their best shot at becoming the winner.

The winner, Ben Crump, was announced, the field was cleared and then it was off down the pub for the obligatory team debrief!