Strange Silverstone

“Well it worked a minute ago!”
“Well it’s not working now!”
“Urgh….bloody wiring….next time we build a car…”
“I know I know, we’re not squashing all the wiring into the dash”
“Just trace that wiring back, what’s that one joined into?”
“Well we’ve spliced into this red one here……I can’t see, pass that torch…..which then goes over here past the master cylinders…..urmmm, god this is a mess.”
“Get all that tape off ‘em”
“Hmm, there’s several wires under here. Ah! See, the one we’ve joined into comes out over there, not over there, where’s that one go to then?”
“The wipers!”
“Ah! Try it with the wipers back on then”
Sure enough with the wipers on and power being fed, the new rear view camera and screen burst into life.
“Brilliant, so when you want to see what’s behind you, put the wipers on”
“Or we could wire it into something that’s permanently fed”
“Yes, or that”

Wiring problems fixed and the Tigra was sporting a fancy new rear view camera and screen ready for round 2 of this years championship at Silverstone. The new screen was being tried as Brian continues to berate the lack of rear vision available from the Tigra, especially compared to his beloved 205! In truth the car had rather been fighting against us in the run upto Silverstone as first we managed to snap one of the flywheel bolts off in the engine (cue several expletives) which resulted in further headaches when we couldn’t find replacement bolts for our specific flywheel. Meanwhile the only reason it had been taken apart in the first place was to fit the new clutch which had been the cause of our problems at Brands Hatch. We’d like to say a massive thankyou to Sean at the Exeter Gearbox Centre for supplying us with our lovely new AP clutch!

Still, with the clutch, flywheel bolts and rear camera wiring problems behind us, we only had to drop in a new radiator after the old one had been damaged at some point during the Brands meeting. After ordering what we thought was the right radiator, and giving it a quick look at when it arrived, we set to work chopping off all the various plastic mounts we don’t use, before offering it upto the car…..only to discover it was exactly like our usual radiator except that it was 6 inch’s wider! No amount of persuading and re-routing of brake ducts was going to make the radiator fit in the car (and we couldn’t send it back after chopping all the mounts off it) so we ordered another radiator, fitted it, and finally called the car ready! Just as well really, as it was Friday morning by this point and it was time to head off to Silverstone. The car had other ideas however and refused to start when asked to leave the garage. We did a quick change of the MBE box and she fired up straight away. We then put the original MBE box back in and she still started fine. Bloody racing cars. Anyway, we weren’t going to argue and hastily loaded up and got underway as we had one stop to make on the way to Silverstone…a rather unusual stop too.

No you can’t race that Ross

Ross has long fancied owning an old convertible British sports car, and he’s finally decided ‘stuff it’ and bought one, which we picked up from Stroud (which is rather handily placed when travelling from Torquay to Silverstone!) After a quick look round the car we’d made up our minds and Ross squeezed himself into his tiny new toy, a 1972 MG Midget, and set off in pursuit of Brian in the van and trailer on the way to the circuit. The previous owner looked faintly horrified that the little car would be travelling 70 miles in the pouring rain, but that was nothing to what he looked like when told the car would be attempting 200 miles from Silverstone back to Torquay the next day!

You’d think they could have sorted that roof out by now

70 miles later and we’d all arrived at Silverstone in one piece, Ross having giggled pretty much the whole way at everything from the tiny car itself, to its tiny wipers, its manual screen wash plunger, its indicators being on the wrong side…pretty much all of it really. Immense fun…even before he had the back end out on a wet roundabout, who says you can’t enjoy yourself at 20mph 😉

Anyway, Ross’ new toy aside, we were glad to be on the Silverstone International circuit this weekend, a much more interesting layout than usual with the added bonus of us having the use of the new F1 garages in the impressive ‘wing complex’. Such is the size of the garages we had several cars per garage, and as the garages had no internal divisions, we were all in effect in one huge garage which was more like a hangar. It made the whole weekend a bit different and quite good fun to be honest, if only we’d had enough room to get everybodys transporters parked somewhere close by it would have been great. Oh, and being able to get the cars out of the garage would have been good too. We all made it work in the end but it must be said that was down to all the teams and drivers and nothing to do with some of the organisation which was pretty poor.

On the way to qualifying!

Right, as we’re nearly 1000 words into this update lets move onto some on track action shall we? Raceday morning and although cold, the wet weather of the previous day had been replaced with clear blue skies, a definite improvement. We were also soon through a brisk scrutineering and noise check before Brian headed out for qualifying at 9:30. As Brian got to grips with the new circuit, the rest of the team headed for the pitwall (along with pretty much everyone else….not a great deal of viewing choices at Silverstone.) It must be said the cars looked pretty quick as they blasted down the pit straight and through turn one out of view.

Qualifying (Photo used courtesy of and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

With this being a new circuit to pretty much everyone, there was a much bigger spread of times than usually seen at somewhere like Brands for instance. The end of the session saw the returning Tommy Field take pole with Chris Brockhurst joining him on the front row. Brian managed 14th fastest of the Intermarques, just ahead of Philip Young and Mick Robertson who it was good to see back on track.

(Photo used courtesy of and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

Despite the promising session and feeling that the car was working well, Brian didn’t feel too happy on the unfamiliar circuit. Not an uncommon feeling at all, and he would head out for race one with the aim of trying to follow some of the other cars and getting some more experience. For the first half of the race that is exactly what he did, closely shadowing Philip Young and some of the rest until a mystery noise began developing. You can hear the noise on the incar video by clicking here. After several laps of questioning what was going wrong with the car, Brian had a quick spin on the way into the final complex, either due to the problem or on oil which had been put down and was catching out a few of the drivers….take your pick.

(Photo used courtesy of and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

It was a shame not to finish the race but the car really sounded sick as it cruised in and once back in the pits the team wasted no time in stripping the back end in search of the problem. The whole garage was a hive of activity as everyone seemed to be working on some problem or another. As the halfshafts and diff were dropped out of our Tigra for inspection, team Smith / Autocross were hard at work just behind us with the gearbox out of the green Z4. Dan Smith came running over to borrow the welder (never a good thing to need at the circuit) and Tommy Fields team were taking a disc cutter to the rear diffuser of their car after being disqualified from the win in race one due to the diffuser overhanging the rear of the car. This promoted Lewis Smith to the win with Malcolm Blackman taking second after Chris Brockhurst suffered a retirement….which he was also hard at work fixing. Third place was Dan Smith who put in a great drive considering he started from the back and only got a couple practice laps in during the morning, top effort.

Brian goes to work (Photo used courtesy of and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

Back to our car and with the halfshafts deemed okay it was the diff which was the cause of our race one problems, so with the spare diff in the car, Brian was out in time for race two. He was also straight back in at the end of the first lap though as the car filled with smoke for a reason we have yet to determine! Hopefully it was just a bit of random oil finding its way onto the exhaust.

What a great garage! (Photo used courtesy of and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

With us out of the race we witnessed one of the most bizarre finishes any of us can ever recall seeing. Lewis Smith had found his way into the lead early on and was controlling the race beautifully from Tommy Field in second. He was looking all set to make it a double victory on the day until he, and everyone else, inexplicably pitted on the final lap. Nobody on pitwall could believe what was going on, not least Tommy Fields crew who jumped in the air as Tommy screamed past and took the chequered flag, the only driver to do so. But what on earth was everyone else playing at? Suffice to say there were many confused discussions going on post-race, but basically it seems that two cars had suffered problems and were limping back to the pits. This had caused the white flags to be waved on the start finish straight (at near full race distance) so the drivers had passed by a waving white flag, and the flags also aren’t very close to the racing line at Silverstone. They had then come round the next corner or two and found the slow moving, retiring cars. The first cars on the scene must have assumed they’d seen the chequered flag, not the white, when confronted with what looked like cars cruising back to the pits as normal after the race. Once one or two more cars had joined the retiring cars it meant everybody else caught up with a track full of slow moving cars, and it seems everybody but Tommy misread the situation or didn’t quite have the conviction that they were right and the other 20 odd drivers were wrong. So everyone pitted. And I suspect Tommy laughed his ass off, well we’re assuming there as we certainly would have! It looked like nobody was going to even be classified except Tommy, but eventually Lewis got second place, with Chris in third and the rest following. Looking at the results it seems that Richard Smith still ended up with a DNF when it looks like he was fifth, to be honest we don’t really know what’s going on with that. To further confuse matters, Malcolm Harding got excluded for track limits, Tommy Field and Steve Burrows got 30 second penalties for track limits and Simon Smith, Lewis Smith and Mike Thurley got 10 second penalties for track limits. This surely must go down in history as one of the strangest races ever, to be honest we’re still half expecting to find out that somehow we won it after retiring on lap one!

Freebie! (Photo used courtesy of and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

Headache inducing races aside and Brian was the lucky winner of a new tyre at the trophy presentation (yay!) before we headed back home from an eventful meeting that will live long in the memory. In other news Ross can report that Silverstone to Torquay is a pretty long journey at 55mph….but he was glad to make it and still smiling when he got there!

See you next time!

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