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.***