After months of preparation.
After a little “bit” of expense.
After countless times my husband Tony had returned home with his head hung low, his “tail between his legs” and his most recent acquisition for the car carried under his arm because “Jon said no….”.
The day of the New Brighton Prom Rally 2012, run by Wallasey Motor Club, had arrived. Friday 7th September 2012 – the boy’s first proper event was upon us.
We all met at Jon’s for the obligatory team bacon sandwich and cup of coffee before the convoy of cars and vans set off. All the cars were polished to perfection and the sun was shining. Was this a good sign perhaps?
We’ve got ourselves a convoy
There were two other cars prepared by JRS Motorsport, in addition to Tony’s Subaru WRX, taking part in the event this year. Dennis Rowlands and his co-driver Peter Swan were in a Ford Escort Mark 2, they were car number 26.
Dennis’s Ford Escort Mark 2
Neal Arden and Giles Corbett were competing in car number 19, a Subaru Impreza.
We arrived at New Brighton around lunch time. Woke up the co-driver Tom Phillips (the picture is already on Facebook for all to see so no need to post it again here – bless!). OMG! This was a proper event. This was the type of event that we normally go to and watch but this time we, well Tony, Tom and the others, were actually taking part. A spectacular site greeted us as we rounded the final corner and pulled passed the marshals into the service area. A veritable “ocean” of cars, tents, vans and trailers were all sparkling in the sunshine next to the glistening sea and the promenade of New Brighton beach. We really could not have asked for better weather.
Move over and make some room…..we have arrived
Quicker than you could say “here’s your JRS tee shirt, you can get in the back of that van and change” (Oh yes I did!), the cars were off their trailers and joining the queue for scrutineering. Then the “debate” over setting up the service area ensued. The outcome was satisfactory and all three vans and respective servicing gazebos/canopies were set up next to each other and, after a little adjustment here and there along the way (those that were there will know), boy did it look the part – very professional!
Service areas one, two and three………all present and correct sir!
The nerves and the tension were starting to build. That would be Tony’s and Tom’s nerves not mine just yet. Mine came later before the start of stage one. Would the car get through scrutineering? Would they be able to start? Also a new “Tony” ritual was born – cigarette, toilet, cigarette, toilet…. you would understand if you were there!
OK. This is all getting a bit too real now. Time to get changed.
Yeah! The car passed scrutineering – hurdle one – tick!
Now all we had to do was wait for the start of the night stage. Because Tony and Tom were car 89, and because they started the stage in reverse order, it meant the boys got to do their first ever proper stage whilst it was still light. Not that me nor Tom’s mom could even bear to watch as the night stage started! My life did the first few cars fly so fast around those corners.
A few of the guys from Tony’s club, Longmynd Auto Club, had managed to finish work and make it to New Brighton before the start of the night stages just to cheer Tony and Tom on. They were going to take part in the Longmynd Club ritual of “van camping” on the car park overnight and many other club members came along on the Saturday to offer their support as well.
The moment had arrived, the start of stage one, and Tony lined up against a Mark 2 Escort. Would they start ok? Would they go the right way? Would they finish all in one piece? So many questions in so little time as it seemed that no sooner had they taken off, than they had finished. Tony was physically shaking when he got out the car and “Has Jon got the kettle on” were his first words so I guessed he was ok!
The black car and the yellow car had a race. All black wanted to do was….
“What? You really take everything down and pack it away to come back the next morning and put it all back up again?”. If you had blinked you would have missed this all happening – I think Jon Ross the lads may have done this kind of thing before! About 11pm everything was packed up and loaded and we were on our way to the hotel. Straight into the bar for them and ….. straight upstairs to bed for me.
Oooooo. Ahhhhh. Bright lights
Early on the Saturday morning we were up, grabbed a bit of toast, some cereal, a cheeky pain au chocolat or two and were out the door. OK so maybe it wasn’t as early as the rest of Jon’s team who got back to the site at 06.30am to set up again, but it was early enough for me and those that know me know that late nights and early mornings are strictly not my forte 🙂
Ahem, sneaked the gangster car back into the service area (just to unpack it you understand) and all before 8am.
So the boys had started 89 out of 91 cars and had now been seeded 73 for the start of the next ten stages through out the Saturday. Well done boys.
It was quite a hectic day as each of the ten stages were driven twice and there was about a 30 minute gap in between each go. Cigarette, toilet, cigarette, toilet, sit the kids in the car for a photo, cigarette, autograph, toilet, photo, change the tyres, cigarette………. it was a full on day. The odd incident on the track. The roar of the engines and the squeal of the brakes. The very amusing commentary man who literally did read everything people had written on their entry cards – I’m sure some of it was meant to be tongue in cheek….at least I hope so! There were lots of spectators on the Saturday which made it a really good day.
Queue this side for autographs and photos please
Slowly but surely Tony and Tom got better and better as the day went on. Obviously their confidence in the car was growing and they were listening to all the advice and help they were being given. They were improving their times on each outing. Placed 53….. Placed 46…. they got better and better and it really was quite a proud moment when Tony had finished to see that he had finally realised a long held dream of competing like this. He managed to finish 40 out of 91 cars. Tom did a great job as navigator – they never went wrong once. Not a bad first outing Hubby!
Round the bend…..no handbraking
After a spectacular days driving it was all over by 5.30pm and the cars were loaded onto their trailers and the service area was packed away. Again, another” blink and you will miss it” moment from Jon and his team! Vroom……and they’re off.
A bit of hanging around for us to get bits and pieces signed and then we were off, making our way home with the sun setting behind us and Tom sleeping in the back of the car again – sorry, didn’t photo it this time 🙂
When is the next one?