Race Progress Update – Mike from our Academy Programme

HRDC Austin Academy A35 race

End of Racing – Mike is a happy man!

You may remember back in June we wrote a piece on one of our lovely clients called Mike. A 65-year-old, complete novice to the track who went through our Academy Programme and was due to race later in the year in an Austin A35 – a car that we at CAT Driver Training had restored and race prepped. Well Mike has now completed his first (and second) race so we thought we’d give you a follow up on his progress and some insight into what a day at the races feels like, for those looking to make the same journey in the future. Let’s dive in…

So, where was the race?
It was actually two races in one day at the BRSCC HRDC race weekend at the Castle Combe race track. The first race was 30 minutes and the second was 45 minutes and involved a pitstop. The pitstop was to allow for a driver change, however as Mike had chosen to do the entire race himself, he simply had to get out of the car and get back in again. In addition to the races, there was also the qualification round for each race.

Awaiting the race with Track Toys Racing Austin A35

Matt & Josh from Track Toys Racing

Pre-race requirements
One of the things that’s rarely spoken about when we talk about race preparation is what a driver needs to do before he or she is allowed on the circuit to race. It’s not just about getting your car and yourself ready, you also need to satisfy race officials and make sure you’re exactly where they want you to be, when they need you to be there. That means presenting entry forms, attending the drivers briefing, getting yourself signed off as eligible to race, presenting your car and yourself for scrutineering and a whole host of other tasks, all of which cause additional stress when you’re trying to get yourself into the right headspace for your race. Luckily Mike had members of CAT Driver Training on hand in addition to mechanics to ensure he was in the right place at the right time, and that his car passed the necessary inspections to allow it to be let loose on the track. “If it hadn’t been for Colin, Jo and Matt & Josh (from Track Toys Racing), I wouldn’t have even made it to the start of the race” says Mike.

The Race itself

The Race - HRDC at Castle Combe

Racing with the HRDC at Castle Combe

After a spin in the first qualifying session, Mike grabbed the bull by the horns and drove a faultless race. Track conditions were good and Mike finished 8th in his class (which is a points finish) and 21st out of the 29 in the feature race. “I’d never done a racing start before” said Mike, but he made a pretty good job of it, passing a number of cars straight out of the blocks by his second race. There were a total of 29 starters in the race covering a variety of classes. Of the 29, 11 of them were in the same class as Mike. It’s worth noting that Mike was racing against a variety of much faster classic saloons including a Lotus Cortina, a Jaguar XK150 and a Mercedes Benz 220S. He was also up against experienced racers such as former British Touring Car Champion, Andrew Jordan. “The differentiator in the race is the pressure itself” said Mike. “You just don’t get that when you’re out on a track day”.

Highlights
Colin’s advice for anyone participating in their first race is “100% safety, 100% finish” and by those standards, Mike more than met his objectives. He managed to knock an impressive 4 seconds off his lap time during the day and by the end of the second race, had truly found his inner racing spirit and was pushing the car to its limits. “Colin’s advice was invaluable” said Mike. “Between races he was advising me where I could gain more speed and take bends faster to improve my lap time.” Mike was also keen to point out that he beat the Chris Rea in his Morris Minor 1000.

What Next?
The next stop is the Silverstone Classic in just a few days time. Wish him luck!

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