How to Start Racing - buy your copy & accelerate up the grid

Posted: July 5, 2016

Our Austin A35 Academy car has dipped its toe in the world of circuit racing. I thought it time for an update.

We finished the build just in time for the final eligibility scrutineering session at Goodwood on the 29th of March. I say “we” as Easter came and went spent in my garage till 2 am on most days to get the job done. I owe Nick Houghton, my friend who built the Austin with me, a big thank you.  Mark and Liam also who gave up their weekend to ensure the car was ready.

We christened the Austin Amazing Grace ("AG") - a reference to my mum who is no longer with us.  AG had her first shake down run on the Handling Circuit at Millbrook.  All went well with just a few niggles to sort out before a full track day at Donington in May.  Phil Marsh, with 3 years of Fun Cup under his belt, and Steve Clark an experienced circuit driver, spent the day putting laps on AG.  Wet in the morning and dry in the afternoon. Apart from an alternator failure, we had a reliable and safe first outing. Nothing fell off!  Very happy.

The engine remained tight - we therefore did not dyno the engine prior to our first race at Donington.  Half way through the build, the organisers announced we could run adjustable dampers, changing the original mandatory ruling.  Having already purchased the non-adjustable version in the bundle of suspension parts I purchased from Moto Build, I opted to continue with these and gauge how they performed. 

Snetterton HRDC Race - 12th June 2016

We entered the 2 races available: Phil Marsh to drive in the Academy race and; myself and David Alstadter to drive in the Touring Greats saloon car pit stop/driver change race.

Friday Test Day Practice

Prior to the race on Sunday there was a test day available with space. We found a set up that was quick but not quick enough. I had opted to jack the car up on the drivers heavy side with additional tyre pressure - this gave us speed limiting understeer.  Pursuing further adjustments was not possible as time ran out - the day was in sessions: 4 x 30 minutes giving a total of 2 hours running.

Sunday Race Day

Seat time is never wasted.  We downloaded what information we had accrued to Matt Friend, our engineer and tyre pyro genius.  Within a few hours Matt had set the car to parameters he felt would work - and they did!!  Phil qualified 3rd in the academy field, David and I, 4th - around mid pack overall.  Great start.  The car has pace and hasn't even been optimised.

Sadly the day was not to produce the result we were all hoping for as the brakes failed in Phil's race whilst contesting a safe 3rd.  Despite a new master cylinder fitment, the brakes failed again in David's stint at the start of race 2.  This highlighted an inbuilt brake fault - as several other Academy cars also suffered brake failures. 

We ended the day 2.5 seconds off of the fastest Academy car, with a route to find the pace we are missing.  In all honesty, I was over the moon to see Phil work his magic and for myself, great to get back behind the wheel in a competitive environment with David.

We have come away with a brake problem to engineer out of the system and several areas to find speed.  AG is booked in at Abbey Motorsport with Mark Gillam for a dyno session.  The adjustable dampers have been ordered and will be arriving in the next 3 weeks.  I will be booking at least 2 track days/test session prior to the next race outing in September to fine tune set up.

Moving Forward

Amazing Grace will be ready for customers to test and race once the above is sorted.  If you would like to join us on a track session and if happy, book your place racing her, please contact Jo and of course, call me if you have any questions or would like further information.

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