After my last foray into Oulton Park’s pit lane was cut short by being booted up to Island Bend with a set of flags, I was rather looking forward to prancing up and down the pits whilst having a nosy at the various cars (and drivers, oh AND mechanics) hanging around the start and finish straight.
After fuelling up with two cups of Kenco (see what I did there?) I was ready to watch the rich kids zoom around Oulton for a day – apparently if you pay Mr Palmer (who owns the circuit) £50,000 he’ll give you a car, a team of mechanics and just about everything you need to compete for a whole season, all you need to do is turn up…
That’s probably why the meeting is called the Formula Palmer Audi Blast In The Park. What with old Palmer owning it, the kids driving around in Audis and, erm, where the ‘Blast In The Park’ bit comes from I’m still a bit lost, unless he means Oulton Park or Mallory Park or Cadwell Park… but then what would they call it when it goes to Snetterton or Brands Hatch? Anyway, I digress, there are drivers to be schmoozing.
Whilst policing the pits I was happy to see the regular marshals team walking around and being their usual happy selves, including serial womaniser Terry, who has one eye on the racing and one eye on the totty throughout the day, much like my good self in that way, only I manage to play it cool and keep my grubby little paws to myself.
The morning didn’t hold too much excitement, I chatted my way into a course car ride with Andy Butler which was rather exciting, although I did make it clear to him that I thought he was going rather fast, I guess never going over 70mph in my little C2 has kind of held me back when it comes to being driven around a racetrack. I’ve never even been on the Waltzers for goodness sake, and don’t even get me started on the time they had to stop the Runaway Train and let me off at Flamingo Land. I was 13. That was embarrassing.
That reminds me, it’s nothing to do with Oulton but I had another experience of motoring shame on Friday night which I thought would be interesting to share with you… Everyone knows that when you’re in a motorway traffic jam, you tend to keep the same cars at the side of you during the tedious crawl forward, and this particular jam was no different, only luckily for me (or not so lucky in hindsight) there was a rather hunky gent in the car to my right with whom I exchanged a number of flirty glances.
As the cars got going again I knew it would be the end of our somewhat brief courtship, so I turned and gave him my best smile, hoping that he’d wonder about the mysterious girl in the slow lane for the next few hours. That would have (probably) happened had I not lost concentration over what I was actually supposed to be doing on the motorway in the first place and drifted out into the hard shoulder, knocking a load of cones over in the process.
Oh my, how ashamed did I feel? Bouncing over orange beacon after orange beacon, much to the amusement of most of the people around me – bar some old codger who obviously still maintains that women should not be allowed behind the wheel. Oh well, at least next time I meet a hottie on the road, I’ll remember to multitask.
Anyway, lunch over and brief fire put out (I cant really report on that as I was too engrossed in Dairylea Dunkers to find out what some car was doing on fire at the end of the Pit Lane exit – I knew the firemen would have dealt with it just fine) and we were on with the racing.
Despite not wanting to enjoy the Formula Palmer Audi’s as the competitors were just rich kids whose parents forked out for a ready-made racing car each year – whilst other drivers have to save up their pocket money for months and months just to be able to buy a clapped out old car in the first place – they were pretty amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a car go by so fast ‘in real life’ and it really made you admire the bravery (or blatant stupidity) that many of the competitors have! Still, my heart lies with the guy who graft for hours just to be able to head out onto the track, they’re the one’s who truly deserve our admiration.
I also made a point of cheering for race marshal-turned-driver Andy Holley during the Golf Gti Championship – partly because he’d been nice to me on a marshals forum and partly because his car was orange (like our Probans) with little headlight eyes. That deserves a win in my opinion.
The AAA Saloons were also fun to watch, but they were just another class of cars that make that ‘swoosh’ sound that I despise on anything that fits in the same vein as Subaru Impreza’s. I don’t know why I dislike them so much, I think it’s because this bloke that lived next to my ex boyfriend used to beat up his wife (and people in the town on a Friday night) and he drove one, so it’s kind of a subconscious hate. Besides, when I see them on the streets, or the local McDonalds car park, there are usually a load of chavs with drawn-on eyebrows hanging about, which I’m not a fan of either.
Then there was the SPEED race (I don’t know why they put it in capitals unless it’s an acronym) which was another endurance race, and you all know how much I love endurance don’t you?
I’d like to say it was fun in the pits for the three hour killer, but to be honest, it wasn’t any better than being elsewhere, except being able to sit down in the marshals room and have a well deserved brew when we got a bit fed up. Oh, and we got to watch the pit stops which were all rather exciting, and we spent some time laughing at a extremely rude man who thought he was better than everyone else in pit lane. Unfortunately for him he seemed to have missed the memo that blazers, jeans and brown loafers went out of fashion years ago.
About two hours in and with only four cars left out on circuit, I kind of started losing the will to go on and my contact lenses felt like they were going to burn out of my head, so I went for a walk along the garages to find out who would let me sit in their racing car once the day had come to a close (obviously I didn’t ask Captain Fashion in case his ego got any bigger) and managed to persuade Jean Lou Rihon to give me a go.
Quite how he gets in there is beyond me ( I didn’t want to jam my legs down in case I couldn’t get out again and/or pressed something I should and went shooting off out of the garage in something that is driven by what looks like a Playstation steering wheel. Here’s my photograph though, I’m a natural don’t you think?