Thursday 20 December 2012

Sprint Cars vs Late Models

There is no stronger sign of writing incompetence than starting a blog with a passage about how difficult it is to write a blog. There are millions upon millions of things happening in the world every day, so really only a complete thickie would have nothing to write about.

I personally have lots of things to write about. I want to share my experience of racing Sprint Cars with you. I want to tell you about the forthcoming Kart race at ASI. I want to remove from my chest the burden that is my grievance with the French Automotive industry. I want to tell you how Team Awesome is getting on and my plans for Joe’s future in racing. I want to explain how one of the sponges in our kitchen exploded for no apparent reason before my very eyes.

My problem is, would you find it interesting? To a good writer, this wouldn't be a daunting task. A good writer could make a ham sandwich interesting. But I'm not a good writer. I'm an apprentice to the world of writing. A Watson in an industry of Holmes. A Robin in a sea of Batmans [Batmen?]. I am the unwanted pineapple on the pizza of storytelling.

That said, you can’t win if you don’t play the game. So like that time with Hercules and the onion, I'm going to vanquish my demons and tell you some interesting things about stuff.

It is no exaggeration to say that everybody in the entire world has asked me what the difference is in driving a Sprint Car from driving a Late Model. I have to say that my first impression of the Sprint Car was much like my first impression of Late Models.

When I first went to Warneton to test drive a Late Model back in 2006 (CAMSO V8 as it was then) it was fantastic. Here we have a car that weighs around 850kg packing 450BHP. I knew straight away, I wanted to race it.

Since that time Late Models have gone up in weight and down in power. The new crate motors come in at 400BHP and the weight is now somewhere north of a metric ton. To drive one on its own is not as much fun as it used to be.

I haven’t driven one with the new-fangled braking system that was introduced last year, but with the old GM style caliper, you have to start braking somewhere near the port of Calais to make turn one at the Belgium track. Once in the turn, you can pretty much mash the throttle. It is the bumps in the road that make the car skittish, not the performance.
 And what about those bumps? Warneton Speedway has never been the smoothest race surface in the world, but nowadays you would be better off with a Land Rover than a Late Model. The track has more lumps and bumps than Gerard Depardieu's face.

The Sprint Car weighs about as much as an empty pillow case and the engine rules allow enough tuning for a engine builder to make around 500bhp possibly more. The cars are lively and their massive tyres and wings provide a phenomenal amount of grip. They too, do not stop very well. The brakes on the front of a UK Sprint Car are slightly worse than the ones on my BMX. This is a bit disconcerting given the speed you arrive at a corner, which is faster than a Late Model and a lot faster than my BMX. The Sprint Car does have a larger rear brake, however. This is designed for turning the car more than slowing it down. Braking harder doesn't retard your speed so much as it ensures you arrive at turn one going backwards.

Not being able to slow the Sprint Car down isn't really that important anyway. The grip allows it to carry more speed through the turn. It allows you to pick up the throttle earlier, and fires you off towards the horizon very rapidly. Again, at Warneton, it is only the bumps that upset the balance of the car.

So, as a car, the Sprint Car is very good. But that does not make a Late Model bad. This is like comparing Ben and Jerry’s ice cream to Haagen Daz. They are both tasty, cold and a perfectly acceptable substitute for sex.

Where the Late Model scores highest is in the actual racing. Racing Late Models is more fun than squeezing blackheads on to a mirror. And there is so many Late Models that it is difficult not to have a race regardless of what position you are in. Overtaking in a Late Model can be a clumsy, messy affair with paint swapping, panel beating and races often being won by mere inches rather than feet, seconds or laps.

In UK Sprint Cars you get a handful of drivers going very fast in a line. Overtaking in Sprint Cars is a risky business. Late Models can barge by each other with little chance of repercussion. Try the same thing in a Sprint Car and you can expect to find yourself upside-down and on fire. This, in turn, makes Sprint Cars very exciting to do, though probably less exciting to watch. There simply isn't enough Sprint Cars out on the track at any one time.

Then there is the dirt. The Sprint Cars race at Coventry and at Horndean. These are shale and chalk tracks respectively. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but it is certainly different. It adds a whole new dimension to the driving experience.

The Late Models don’t have dirt. They have Venray, which is definitely a good thing. The half-mile oval at Venray is the best oval in Europe and driving there is simply breathtaking.

If you are thinking about budgets and you live in England (and probably even if you don’t.) The Sprint Cars are more cost effective.  Between April and October, they do about one race a month. Tyres last forever because the races are short. The most expensive races on the schedule are Warneton, but there are only two of those.

To race a Late Model you need a big trailer or one with no sides. The cars won’t fit on a 6’6 hauler. You only have a couple of races in the UK and you are racing at Warneton a lot. And that is not cheap if you are hauling the car from the UK each time. You are allowed 12 tyres per season and you will need all of them.

There is a lot of damage in Late Models though it is mostly superficial. There is less damage in Sprint Cars but when it does happen, you will probably need another Sprint Car. And another driver.

In conclusion, I do not believe one is better than the other.  The pros and cons of each series will depend on which aspects of racing you prefer.

Me? Well, I think we need a full-bodied stockcar that weighs about 600KG and has 500BHP and only races on the half-mile at Venray. And maybe Lydden Hill.
Until such time, I shall just flit between Sprints and Late Models.

After all, they are the same, just different.

All together now: “Ebony and Iv-o-ry live together in perfect har-mon-y...

***All the crap you see written here is Kelvin's opinion and not that of his associates, race team or marketing partners.***

Tuesday 10 July 2012

The best car in the world probably has slicks and nowhere to put your shopping.

So with all the racing stuff and the tuning things, you are probably wondering what my daily driver is.

Have a guess.

No, you're wrong. It is actually a Peugeot 106. No, not a Rallye. No, not an XS.

It is 1997 1.5 diesel model. Jelous? You should be.

Allow me to give you a brief run down of the stats. It does 0 to 60 sometimes and has a top speed when going downhill with a tail wind.
It will quite comfortably seat 4 people if two of them have no legs And there is more than enough room in the tailgate to swing an earwig.

The exterior is a dazzling shade of faded red broken up with a sporty orange oxidisation colour on the leading edge of many of the panels, giving it that flip effect that the yoof of today like on their "Hot Hatches".

Ok, so it is not great. But let me remind you that I am a racing driver and, contary to popular belief, racing makes you poor.
A wise man once said "There is a small fortune to be made racing cars. You start with a large fortune and whittle it down."

So, although on the face of it my humble 106 seems like a shed, it is only out of necessity. It is an unfortunate hinderance that I have to travel around to do my job. My 106 is the most cost effective way of doing this. I can fill the tank of it for about £50 which is just about enough diesel for the little Pug to drive to the moon and back again. You would have to stop a couple of times to top up the oil but hey, there is plenty of oil in the world, right?
 Being small, I can park it in my lovely little seaside town. Being cheap means I have more money to spend on race cars. I do literaly work with race cars so that I can pay to do more work with race cars. How sad is that? Oh my god, I am becoming my dad!

Anyway, that is why I drive a Pug 106 diesel.

But what if I could afford any car? Well, I have always hankered for a Porsche. If you can afford any car in the world, you might as well buy the best. Which means buying a Porsche. Not just any Porsche. A 930 Turbo Targa Flatnose. I think that would be favorite. Then, for taking the in-laws out  shopping, you can't beat the M5. The BMW M5 is simply the best saloon car in the world and has been since it first came on the market.

Both of these are good cars. Expensive too. But not the stuff of the mega mega rich. We are talking people so rich that, not only do they have butlers, but their butlers have butlers. And those butlers have dogs who also have butlers. and those butlers order the dogs food in from Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenee in France and spoon feed it to the dog.

 Is there a car for people whose butlers have butlers have dogs have butlers? 
For that you need to think what is the very best car in the world? 
What is the ultimate car? 
 Well, let us assume it will come from the best car maker in the world. So let us assume it is a Porsche. Best car they did? 
Maybe. But probably the 911 GT1 Stra├čenversion.

Yeah, that is a serious motor car. Also, you could race it. But then if you were going to race a Porsche, you would get a 935. Or a 962C. 
Hell, what are we talking about? A Euromillions Roll over? Let's have both! 
And while were at it an AMG DTM Merc. A Rowdy Burns Chevy Lumina. A Mclaren MP4/3 Formula 1 car. A Mclaren M10 from the days of F5000. The list goes on...

So what would I drive if I won the lottery? Probably a 1997 Peugoet 106 diesel. But wait until you see all the race cars I will put in my garage.

Oh, and I'd be poor again.

***All the crap you see written here is Kelvin's opinion and not that of his associates, race team or marketing partners.***

Thursday 10 May 2012

Why I hate Audi.

Ok, hate is a strong word. Too strong in this case. I don't hate any Audi cars per se, I just don't particularly like them. One day, I promise to write something about cars I do like.

Audi exists to represent VAG's sport and prestige division, yet they offer nothing to justify this accolade. In the competitive market full of BMWs and Mercedes, Audi offer the consumer some very expensive Volkswagens.

"Ah yes," Says Audi man, taking a quick puff before gesticulating at me with his pipe, "But you forget their sporting heritage!" Oh yes! Didn't Audi once make a wheel bearing for a Grand Prix car? Sorry, no, Auto Union has a sporting heritage, Audi does not.
"But they brought four-wheel-drive to the motorsport arena!" Wrong again, my pipe smoking friend. That credit goes to Porsche with, not only the first four wheel drive race car but also the first hybrid as far as I am aware. Then you have the Spyker 60 hill climb car and let us not forget that Massey-Ferguson served up four wheel drive to formula one in 1960. That is 21 years before the first Audi Quattro started the Monte Carlo Rally. Although the car crashed first time out, it was a fantastic debut for Audi and it changed the face of rallying for ever, but is that enough? The World Rally Championship has been around since the mid seventies and in that time Audi have only won it twice.

"What about Le Mans?" True again. The Audi R8 Prototype has been pretty unstoppable in GT circles. In 2000 the R8 took it's first Le Mans win. Audi beat the likes of BMW, Ferrari, Porsche, Mercedes, Panoz and Nissan. Partly because of the mechanical excellence of the R8, but mostly because all those manufactures retired their respective sports car teams at the end of the 1999 season. This left Audi to battle with that most notorious of sports car designers, Cadillac...

Of course, non of this is important in the real world. A good friend of mine loves Audi. She has an A6 that she uses to get lost on the outskirts of Brighton when she comes to visit me. She says the Audi is comfortable and fast. It has massive boot space. It is everything she wants in a car. Well, that's great! She is German and those things are important when your German. But you could spend less money and get all of those things from the equivalent Volkswagen or, dare I say it, Skoda.
I love Skodas.
Because you're going to a Skoda expecting it to be bad, you are always pleasantly surprised when it isn't. It's like a Volkswagen. Which is a good thing.
When you go to an Audi you're expecting it to be amazing. You are always disappointed when it isn't.
It's like a Volkswagen. Which is a bad thing.

 The other day I was invited for a quick go in a v6 Audi A3. It was great. It was fast. It was planted. I didn't drive it far or hard but I could tell this was a very very nice car. A bit like a Golf. But not a Golf.

Then there is the TT. I've driven a few of these in different engine configurations and have enjoyed every single one.The only thing that would stop me owning one is that, every now and again, I would have to look at it from the outside. If you believe Top Gear and Autocar, then the TT's main competition is the Porsche Boxster. The Boxster is the car Porsche would make instead of the 911 if any of the 911 owners would treat it like a real car and not a birthday present for the wife. If the TT is good, then the Porsche is a sublime driving experience that will leave you contemplating that TT must stand for "Too Tight" to buy the Porsche.

And finally, the R8. The road one. I must confess I know very little about this car so forgive me for making some assumptions here. I am going to assume that it is the fastest and best handling supercar on the planet. I am going to assume that it's build quality is second to none and that it is probably quite economical. in fact, if you have got a moment, I am also going to assume that it can solve the financial crisis, bring peace to the middle east, find Madeleine McCann and fetch my slippers when my feet are cold in the morning.

I will assure you, nonetheless, that when I have £120,000+ to spend on a Volkswagen, I will be wanting the badge to say Lamborghini.

***All the crap you see written here is Kelvin's opinion and not that of his associates, race team or marketing partners.***

Monday 23 April 2012

Kart Tracks Need More Dinosaurs.

When I was young, Rye House was one of my two favourite Kart tracks. (The other was Fulbeck, if you were interested.) The first corner, Stadium it was called, was epic and required what Duke Nukem would call "BALLS OF STEEL!" The turn is a long sweeping right hander that tightens into a very fast "S" bend. It can be done flat and sideways, which is enormous fun, but not really fast enough on race day. Returning to Rye House after about 15 years away was interesting to say the least. There wasn't much there last time I arrived at Rye House, asleep in my dad's VW Transporter with my Junior 100TKM rattling around in the back. It was just a wiggly strip of tarmac next to the Speedway.
This time however, there were dinosaurs.
Rye House has grown.

Some people would argue that dinosaurs are not necessary in today's modern racing facilities. That having a Tyrannosaurus Rex minding the gate at a Karting venue is a little "Over the top". Well, to them I say, don't knock it until you have tried it. I have raced many tracks in front of many people and, I can assure you that, even the most enthusiastic of race fans cannot grab your attention in the same manner as having a Tyrannosaurus Rex leering at you from the boondocks.

For several laps of the qualifying session, I tried different lines through Stadium bend. I figured the Tyrannosaurus Rex had probably seen many a race at Rye House and I hoped that my Jurassic friend might offer me some tips. Perhaps a toothy grin when I got it right or a dismissive wave of the claw when I got it wrong. No such luck. He was poker faced throughout the session. It started to occur to me that this dinosaur might not be a real race fan after all.

The dinosaurs are not the only addition to the Rye House Karting facility. There is a Mini Golf course. There is Laser Tag. There are new pits and a new club house/office/cafe/business centre combination building thing.

The building thing is big. But also quite brilliant. It contains a Kart shop where you can get anything from a balaclava to a complete Kart. Upstairs, there are briefing rooms, changing rooms. There is a cafe that does a fantastic Breakfast roll which, as any F1 driver will tell you, is the cornerstone of any good racing driver's diet.
Outside the cafe is a balcony with tables and chairs and a fantastic view of the track. Back inside, on the far wall, was something else I haven't seen for a good 15 years. No, not that, a Vauxhall Junior race car. The type of car I learnt to race in. The series has long been defunct, although the cars still turn up in open single seater races now and again. This particular car belonged to Gary Paffett. He was on the Zip "Young Guns" team when I started Karting. He is in DTM now.

The corporate safety video is hosted by Charlie Butler Henderson. Everyone would have preferred a video about his sister, Vicki. Alas, beggars can't be perverts or some such proverbial nonsense.

The Pro-Karts at Rye House feel faster than those at other tracks I have visited, but they are probably not. They are fast enough to give you a vast amount of satisfaction when you go through the aforementioned Stadium bend. This alone is worth your race entry fee. It is still the best corner on any Kart track in the country.

I qualified 5th on the grid and, in true Formula One style, after 45 minutes of racing, 5th is where I finished. But still, don't let me ever tell you that circuit racing can be dull to watch. Stand at the fence at Castle Coombe, then try the same thing at your local short track and you decide.

Don't get me wrong, though,  I love track driving, and I certainly still love racing Karts at the all new (new to me anyway) Rye House.
Now with added dinosaur!

***All the crap you see written here is Kelvin's opinion and not that of his associates, race team or marketing partners.***

Friday 13 April 2012


Today's blog is about a lovely weekends racing marred by yet another attempt on my life.

The Easter races at Warneton in Belgium, marks the start of the European Late Model Series. There are lots of reasons to go to Belgium. Actually there are none, But that's where the track is, so that's where we went.

The demise of Sea France means that we are kind of obliged to use P&O for our channel crossing needs. Not that we mind, because we would use P&O anyway. Given the choice between a Sea France vessel and that of a Somali pirate, I would wager you would see better service, better food and friendlier staff on the pirate ship. The last time I was on a Sea France boat, the waiter in the restaurant treated me as if I had just urinated over his shoes. If I had urinated over his shoes and he had then taken them off, put them on a plate, garnished them with a freshly squeezed turd and served the whole ensemble to my table, it would still have tasted better than the warm vomit that spewed forth from the ships catering department on the day in question. Still, they've gone bust now. Long live P&O!

RCD-UK were testing their three cars at the track on Friday. This could have gone better as one of those cars ended up in the wall. For those that are not familiar with this part of motorsport, the idea of a test day is to make the car better as the day goes on, so that you end the day with a better car than you started with.The problem with cars in the wall at the beginning of a test day, is that you spend the rest of the day making the car the same as it was in the morning. Two out of three isn't bad though, and the team took home some valuable information. RCD hire their cars out, as do Roots V8 Racing who I usually drive for; so if you did want to come and play our game, you can.

Saturday was a busy day, I just had time to pump up the tyres on the #4 car and drive it around the track to make sure nothing fell off the car. Then we failed technical inspection.

The problem with the original Tanner cars such as the #4, is that the designer made them to be fast, not to move large lumps of lead around. This means that there are no places to put any extra ballast and I wasn't prepared to mess around fabricating one in the time we had until the first race.

Penalties are usually applied after a race, there is no precedent for people wishing to turn up and deliberately cheat. Which is basically what I was asking to do.

You know, I long for the days when we can go back to the old weight rules. We are gradually making our cars less fun to drive at the cost of using up more brakes and tyres. Then again, I also hope that one day there will be peace throughout the world and that maybe even a chicken can cross the road without having his motives questioned. Everyone can have a dream.

The penalty was agreed with the drivers, that I can start from the naughty step. Cars in the European Late Model Series start in groups based on average points scores. Just like domestic U.K stockcars but without the coloured roofs. The first group is for rookies then there are about three more groups on your way up to defending champion and superstars. Behind this group, is the naughty step. For drivers that think Late Models is a contact sport. Or that the rule book was advisory and should only be used in the workshop as toilet paper or to prop up a wobbly table.

Anyway there I was, and for company I had "Jeff" Gordon Barnes in the #24 Chevroford, he too had come in under weight and was faced with the same predicament. From our lowly position at the back, I have to say I had some of the most enjoyable racing I've had for a while. After a couple of lucky cautions and taking some diabolical liberties with the "non-contact" rule, I even got a third in the feature race on Sunday.

On Monday however, I was the victim of a savage and vicious attack for doing nothing more than eating a sandwich.

Such was my distress that I forget the nature of the sandwich in question. I have managed to block out some of the horror that unfolded, but sometimes I still wake up in the night screaming. You might think I am over reacting but you weren't there, man, you weren't there. We were called up for a drivers photo and I had managed to stow away a sandwich for my walk across the pits. It was beautiful. Soft white bread. I moved it to my lips, wondering what taste sensation would lie within. Then,suddenly, I was assaulted by a supposed female friend. She had decided, wrongly, that eating a sandwich is a two player game.

We constantly argue about food.

"Do you want some chips?"
"No, I'll have some of yours."
"No you won't. If you want chips I will buy you some."
"Why can't I have some of yours?"
"Because they're mine. I want a bag of chips. I know I want a bag of chips, that's why I'm buying a bag of chips. If I wanted a half empty bag of chips, I would buy a half empty bag of chips. If you want chips, I will buy a bag for you. You don't have to eat them all, but you are not eating mine."

It's the same in restaurants. We order food.
"Can I have some of yours?"
"You can have some of mine."
"I don't want some of yours. If I wanted some of yours I would have ordered what your having."
"But I want some of yours."
"You should have ordered it then."

Why is the concept of ordering the food you want so difficult for women to grasp?

Anyway, I already had the sandwich part of the way in my mouth when she swooped like a vulture and took a bite so big, that she bit off part of my face with the sandwich. There was blood everywhere. It was like that scene in Carrie. I was taken away for medical attention. My life will never be the same again.

Mr Hassell has started rehabilitation from his facial injuries and he is currently filing litigation against the woman in question.

The woman has forwarded Kelvin and his legal team the following statement: "Regarding the incident that took place outside the Roots V8 Racing team garage at Warneton involving Kelvin, Myself and a sandwich, I would just like to say, grow up you big girls blouse. "

Mr Hassell has no further statement.

***All the crap you see written here is Kelvin's opinion and not that of his associates, race team or marketing partners.***

Wednesday 28 March 2012

Pure Tech Racing

It has been along time since I sat in a single seater. Technically it still is a long time because the single seater I sat in the other day wasn't really a single seater at all! Confused? I am. Shall I start again?

The year was 2012 and it was the dizzying height of British summer time. March. We have had a lovely March here. I even sat down the beach with my girlfriend last Sunday and enjoyed a Pimms.
But as the weekend ended and April began, the news was already talking about snow in Scotland. As sub-zero temperatures loomed, one Scottish man considered wearing a pair of trousers, then decided against it. Emergency services had begun stockpiling essentials like Scotch and deep-fried Mars bars in preparation for the cataclysmic winter which would sweep our nation. It will roll down the country, obliterating any hope we had of a nice summer.

So, anyway, it was March. And a friend of mine made the unfortunate error earlier in the year, of agreeing to marry some girl.
The chap in question is head honcho on a Formula Student team. Formula Student, for the uninitiated and those too lazy to Google, is a University challenge where groups of students learning motorsport technology can design, build and race cars. This happens at Universities all over the world, then they have a big race meeting at Silverstone, where the cars break down and the students all get drunk and watch Big Bang Theory.

For his surprise stag effort, we took the budding victim, err, I mean, groom to be, to Pure Tech Racing in Gatwick. The venue looks, from the outside, like a professional race shop. Inside is impressive too with a cafe and row of Grand Turismo cabinets for people to play whilst waiting for the real simulators. There were a couple of F1 cars. Oh, and the new Mini Cooper Cabriolet parked in the lobby.

The first thing they do is check your literacy by making you write your name clearly on a piece of paper. It was a shaky start but with teamwork, grit and determination, we were able to overcome this first hurdle.

The next thing they do is give you a drivers briefing.

The drivers briefing is brief and mostly for the drivers. It  contains the usual "red means stop, green means go, one way around, no bumping" you know the drill.

After that it is qualifying. The game room is massive and looks like the bridge of a starship. The games cabinets are laid out like a proper race car and do all proper race car things. They have four point harnesses and even in softy softy billy bunter mode, they can still pull 1.5g. In race mode, it is possible to have an accident in the game which moves the cabinet so violently that all the monitors smash.

Pure Tech Racing use their own track so that there is no advantage to race track veterans like your old and crusty scriber over here. I, of course, kept quiet about my racing history, just in case they had any other handicaps they could put on me. All I have ever wanted in life is an unfair advantage and it seems like whenever I get one, some git wants to take it away from me.

You start in the pit lane. There is no clutch in the simulator which makes it considerably easier to move than a real race car. It is still possible to stall the car though. Once you get on the track the car is as close to driving a real formula car as most people will get. It uses a sequential box with paddle shift which made me mindful of the old Baby Grand with the motorcycle box. I used to spend lots of time wondering what gear I was in when I was racing that...
After a few wonky gear changes, locked brakes and getting used to the steering wheel feedback, it was time to examine the track.

You get about 15 minutes for qualifying and the track isn't too taxing so you are not rushed into learning all this stuff. From the start line there is a chicane which, when you're on a flyer, you will use all the curb and go into it a lot faster than I ever managed in my time on the simulator. After a few pretty ragged attempts, I opted to go in slower and have an easier time of it. If you take too much curb here, you have one of those monitor-breaking accidents that I told you about earlier. You can actually die in the game. If you have a big enough wreck, you have to start the lap again from the pit lane. And, for added realism, the race instructor stabs you in the heart with a ski pole.
After the chicane, the track opens out into a very fast sequence of bends interrupted by a couple of hairpins. Like all racing, there is an art involved. The computer car has peculiarities as does the computer track. All of these must be mastered to be really fast. However it is easy enough for the total novice to have a pretty good stab at a decent lap time just by hitting the marks, learning the basic line and where to slow down.

After qualifying there was a very civilised coffee break where I could gloat about how fast I was and the instructor could explain to the other drivers why I was so much better than them. They give you a proper data logging read out with a speed trace of the tracks lap record and of your effort. It is all very proper and gives you ideas to work on for when you get back in the cabinet for the race.

The race itself is about 13 laps or fifteen minutes, whichever comes first. Our race started, as many simulator races do, with a monumental pile up in the chicane. It all started, as it often does, when Billy Big Balls decided to make a bid for the lead from the last row of the grid. Fortunately, my main competitor and I, had already gone by then. We raced as far as the next hairpin where he promptly drove off the track and into the boon docks and I never saw him again. I tried a few different lines with the car and a few different driving styles, which the car didn't really reward. That said though, we were on the billy bunter setting and I dare say, the more realistic the game gets, the harder you have to work. The car was built to be easier to drive. More importantly, fun to drive. And that it was, after the race everyone agreed that it was fantastic and we shall definitely be doing it again.

After the race there is official results, more data logging sheets and even a real podium. No spraying stuff at people though.

All in all it is a great evenings entertainment. Everyone should drive a formula racing car just for the experience. If you cant get to do that, then do this instead. In fact, even if you have driven a formula car, still do this. It is a very worthwhile driving experience.

I won by the way.

***All the crap you see written here is Kelvin's opinion and not that of his associates, race team or marketing partners.***

Saturday 24 March 2012

There is a reason you must always carry a Zippo lighter.

The other day, my Team Awesome team mate and I were watching a documentary about UFO's.
Unidentified Flying Objects.
We watched it as sceptics to see if it would challenge our belief that only drunk country hicks ever see aliens. It certainly did challenge this idea, pointing to a few credible people that have claimed to see flying saucers.
However, though I understand that there are probably lots of things flying around the clouds that are "Unidentified", I happen to believe that they are more likely to be piloted by a bloke called Dave from Basingstoke, than a small grey creature from the lesser regions of Alpha Centauri.

After the program I pointed out that I believe more in ghosts than I do in aliens. My team mate disagreed.


Stating, also wrongly, that there is more evidence to support the ideas of aliens than there are for ghost. I then pointed out that his mother is so fat, her left butt cheek is actually in another time zone. He said "You can be very childish sometimes." To which I countered, "You are more." Before leaving my seat and ambling to the front door, with an accompaniment of aeroplane noises, to defecate in his new trainers.

Although it wasn't discussed at the time, I think one thing we can both agree on, is that neither of us believe in curtains.

Curtains are quite possibly the stupidest invention in the history of the world. I don't have curtains and haven't since I left home.
Humans, like all animals, rely on light to tell their bodies what they should be doing. If it is light, you should be up and foraging for food. If it is dark, you should be watching Simpsons or asleep. These things were built into us at our creation. When it is light outside, I want to see it. I want it to wake me up. Likewise, if it is dark and cold outside, I don't want to be woken up. This is a perfectly natural thing.
"Yes," I hear you cry in that stupid voice you use when you think you are more clever than I am, "But when I get up, I open the curtains to let the light in!"
Well, I'm afraid all that proves is, that you're a git.

You got the things hanging there, covering a perfectly good window. They probably cost you a fortune and dare I say it, they look very nice.
To you.
All your friends think they are ghastly horrid things. I know they said "Oh yes, they're lovely!" When you showed them your freshly purchased window coverer. Truth be told, they wouldn't use them to wipe their dog's bottom. They look like a hobo has vomited on to a table cloth, and you thought it would look nice hanging on the wall. Better than a window. But even you KNOW you're wrong because in the day time, when you are about the house or when you have friends over, the curtain is tied up in a bunch to the side of the window. You cant even see the bloody thing. No no no, you only unveil this terrible contraption at night. When no one is around to see it. Including you, you're going to bed.

Frankly, anyone with curtains is an idiot. Curtains have been responsible for more wars and mass genocide than any over invention in the world. They have a terrible impact on the environment. The curtain has all but wiped out the Caspian Tiger and the Sumatran Rhino. It has increased third world debt and made many thousands of staving children homeless.
Next time someone is showing you their new curtains, think about the children and the future generations of this world. Then set alight to his new curtains. Think of the world you are saving as you watch them burn.

Together we can make the world a better place.

That is why you must always carry a Zippo lighter.

***All the crap you see written here is Kelvin's opinion and not that of his associates, race team or marketing partners.***

Tuesday 17 January 2012


I remember thinking to myself, as I looked at the #5 Roots V8 Racing Chevrolet sitting expectantly on the trailer, that it was a bit rude of the world to carry on like this.

I had escaped, you see. A deal had taken place that saw me flying to the United States to drive an ARCA Stockcar at Little Rock. I lost myself in the North Carolina sunshine, fell in love with the little half mile "paper clip" style oval and the hugely over powered and under braked NASCAR has-been race car. It is all the same as Euro Late Models. As ASCAR. As Speedcar. As the now NASCAR affiliated Race Car Series. That's what we tell everyone, isn't it? That we are a kind of NASCAR in our part of the world? But it isn't the same. Not by a long long way. Not even by ARCA standards which are still a long way from NASCAR Cup. I soaked up the heat, pounded laps and talk about a type of racing that very few people outside of America truly understand. I felt like one of them, even though I didn't quite talk the same. I felt connected. Wired. Home. I knew I would be racing in Holland the following weekend, but that was as far from my mind as you could imagine. The only things I bought from my life on the other side of the Atlantic were my race gear and the image of how proud Tony would be to see me driving this car.

The rain running down the aeroplanes porthole sized window washed away the warm glow of North Carolina and reminded me that this was my real home. England. A place too wet to run stockcars how God had intended them. I didn't unpack. I gave my house mates a hazy run down of what happened, still slightly shell shocked. Then went to Belgium to collect my steed, the aforementioned expectant #5, for the coming Dutch race.

Originally I had been asked to drive the #77, but later it was decided Chris Roots would do this. News I was very pleased to hear. Tony's car should be at Venray, and it should be a Roots driving it. Chris would drive the #77 and I would drive the #5 rental car. It would be a hard weekend for all involved. Especially for Lynne and Chris. I wasn't much help to them. I got the #5 on the podium a few times, running out of rubber while everyone else was bolting on new tyres. I proved that Roots V8 Racing have good rental cars, but that was all I could do. What we needed was something else. Maybe something not found on a race track. Something to change. Something that meant Tony was still there. Sometimes I could feel him there. Sometimes he feels so close you could touch him. But I know he isn't there. I know how much it effects me and I feel guilty. It must be ten times worse for Chris, Lynne and the rest of the family. I am so ashamed of my inability to support these people that I love so much.
Back at Venray, I can't even look Chris in the face when he is seeking comfort from a bottle of beer in his race hauler. I go to bed early. I get out of bed late. I pause only to hug and kiss my house mates who have come to support me. I put my lid on and race. That is pretty much all I can tell you about the best oval track in Europe. Sorry if you wanted a review of Venray. Go back to Google and try again.

The following Late Model races I used the #77. I took an easy start position somewhere near the front to win at Warneton, feeling like I was borrowing a life that wasn't mine to borrow. I raced Tony's car before, but back then I was just keeping it warm for him. Make sure it was race ready for when he comes back. But on the final laps of that heat, I knew he wasn't coming back. That he would not race this car again. That I couldn't phone him after, and tell him how well his car had gone. Or compare set-up notes. Or talk. Or anything. Christof stood by the drivers window until I had composed myself enough to get out of the car. "The crowd are waiting and you still have a job to do." said that little voice that allows me to turn off Kelvin and turn on that guy that smiles and waves and talks to the race fans and gives the kids his trophies, chats, shakes hands, tells the jokes and puts on the show. As I got out of the car, Christof whispered "For Tony." I nodded, took his chequered flag and waved to the Belgian crowd. I took the car to the pits and when I saw Lynne again, it was all over for that smiley flag waving guy. I would have given anything for the whole world to just crumble away. I am ashamed again. Selfish. I break down in Lynnes arms instead of supporting her with her grief. We are not sharing a victory here, we are sharing a loss. This is what we race for now. Winning here will never be the same again. I don't want to do the next heat. Or the final. Or the next meeting. I'm not sure I want to race at all. I go and sit in the camper and stare at the window. I watch my friends, colleagues, fellow drivers. I should be out there with them, showing them a strong front. But my legs wont work. My mouth is too dry when I go to speak. I make sure it is too close to race time for them to engage me when I leave to get back in the race car. I am failing them.

By the time we are going to Ipswich, I have completely lost the plot. There has been an accident which means we can't use the M25 and must drive through London. I am on Tony's computer finding a route as I have done many times before. I need to take charge. To sort this minor problem out and get us under way. But it wont come. The person that won three local road rally titles in his rookie year, now seems incapable of reading a map. I stare and stare at the screen, but it is just squiggly lines, none of it makes sense any more. I now have a blinding headache. I screw my eyes shut. "Concentrate. You have done this a hundred times, just get on with it." But I couldn't. Every time I looked at the printout it looked wrong. I tried cross referencing maps and even looking at pictures of the junctions on Google Earth, but it may have well been another planet because I recognised nothing. On the road it was no better. Lynne had to guide us through the first bit, then we found our old friend/rival Jimmy, who guided us back to the motorway. I wasn't even in proper control of the hauler. Then I started telling myself I shouldn't be driving. Not the hauler and certainly not the racecar. But that would let even more people down. I needed to try to get it together.

A race at Silverstone in August with my dad's team bought back some memories of times before I became a stock car driver. It was relaxed, I drove neat and cautiously, racing is expensive here. It was a lovely weekend, I miss racing with my dad and his team, but not enough to drag me away from the ovals.

I started planning a way to get the #13 back on the grid at Warneton for 2012, and when I could see no way to make it possible, I got a Sprint Car instead. I couldn't finance the Late Model. It was too expensive and too far to travel. I needed a change.
It was all excuses. I ran away.
But it's ok because now Chris will race the #77.
Except Chris got a new car for Superstox.

Tony would have been ever so proud to see Chris and Nick racing together in Superstox. Especially when Chris goes on holiday and young Nick "Borrows" his dad's race car and knocks all the wheels off it...

But I guess that still means less time for the #77 Late Model, a car that Tony also loved.
Here we are, both skirting the issue that someone has to race that car. Someone has to shine that light in Tony's series. We can't run away. We have to go back.

I have to go back.

I have to do more for the series and for Roots V8 Racing.

I will make sure the #77 will win at Venray, on the track that Tony was so looking forward to racing on and never got the chance.

And I will build a new Late Model to race with my name over the door.

This is my 2011 confession.


Does anyone have an old Ascar chassis for sale?

***All the crap you see written here is Kelvin's opinion and not that of his associates, race team or marketing partners.***