Good morning campers! So, the blog is a little bit late this week as I spent Monday hanging out with Charlotte Church as part of my ‘proper’ job as a music journalist. It was fun, she even sang for us and ‘cor blimey, does she have a set of pipes on her!
Anyway, I digress, this weekend we were lucky enough to play host to the 750 Motor club and their little brethren of racing drivers, including my friends in the Stock Hatch races, Alex Hall and Pip Hammond. Sadly, Pip hasn’t been racing this year after his Nova had been in the little car hospital, but Alex had come along to show us what he’d got as he took to the track for his first ever road race.
During the first practice session of the day we had a red flag, and suddenly the pits were flooded with cars patiently waiting to be released back onto the track, I was surprised at how well behaved they all were, lining up nice and neatly and sitting there quietly., well, apart from one bloke who came over and asked if he could check something on the tyres, of his mates car. I said “okay,” but obviously he didn’t take my word for it and went and asked a bloke instead, who obviously told him the same thing!
Completely off the subject here, but when I worked at Halfords I used to get exactly the same thing; a boy racer-type or mid-life crisis bloke would come I for something – lets say a set of wiper blades for the sake of argument – and he would walk in and say; “Is there a lad around who can help me with some wipers?” when I would respond with “I can help you with that” he’s look at me bewildered and reluctantly follow me to the wiper blade aisle.
When I would produce the right product for his particular car, he would mumble a thank you and wander off like he had to go and get something else before heading over to the ‘Parts desk’ and checking with the guys there if I had given him the wrong ones. I mean, come on, you look through a catalogue and match up the make and model of the car with the year, it’s not exactly rocket science, in fact you could have don’t it yourself mate!
That’s my point, it’s the mentality of people that you put a woman (especially a woman with long hair, nail polish and lipstick) in a ‘mans’ environment and they immediately think they you’re some kind of dolly bird who doesn’t have a clue what they’re doing.
Little do they know that I’ve grown up around engines and car parts from being old enough to wander into my grandad’s garage, and bike racing has been passed down from uncles to cousins in my family. I didn’t just wake up one morning and think “I fancy Sebastian Vettel so I’m going to be a marshal.” (Okay, maybe a little bit) but I do actually have a brain in my little head, if people did actually bother speaking to me instead of judging me on what I look like, they might actually realise that.
Anyway, I digress, I was stationed in Pit Lane so I could cheer on my friend Alex on during the starts, I even managed to use my charm to get most of the Pit Lane crew behind him as we watched the days events unfold…. In the morning he managed to qualify outside of the bottom three, and had done us proud already, but we still had a full day of action to go…At lunch time I wandered through the paddock eyeing up the various, um, cars hanging around and deciding which were going to be my favourites for the afternoons events, and with that decided and a full box of pickled onions in my belly it was time to go…
Alex wasn’t on the back row of the grid – although he had qualified in 26th (but it was his first time out remember!) and considering he’d never actually done a race start before, it was unsurprising that he tootled past us about 5 seconds after everyone else. That said, I think his determination, my wonderful screams and shouts and a few people spinning off the track helped him claw his way from last back up to pack to finish exactly where he had started, in 26th and fifth out of the six racers in his class.
We were so proud of him, especially since he went for a little detour at Knickerbrook and got stuck behind the most annoying driver in the world. So proud in fact, that I decided to share the glorious video of his day out on the track here, on my blog. Not only that, but if you want to be part of @Team Hall’ you can even sponsor him! How brilliant is that? Send me an email if you want some more info!
Aside from losing my voice whilst screaming for Alex, we didn’t have much drama throughout the day to report of aside from a racer SO determined to finish the race that he pushed on regardless of the plooms of smoke billowing from his engine. He pretty much limped through the chequered flag before rolling to a smokey stop in the middle of the track and leaving us poor marshals to push him to safety. Down the pit straight, around Old Hall Corner, up the motorcycle return road and into the paddock was quite a mission when you don’t go to the gym as often as your should and have just been stuffing your face with pickled onions, but I did my best and managed not to hit anything on the way through.
And that was that really, and perhaps the final car race I’ll be marshalling at Oulton Park this year. What a way to end the season eh? Cheering on a friend and being surrounded by decent people. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the marshals who have welcomed me into their fraternity this year, and all the people who have supported the blog… I am humbled to be a part of it all.
Alex Hall – www.nocontrolracing.co.uk