Our mate Nick aka @tintops on twitter, has been going ’round in circles down at arena Essex. He’s a good lad and we are very happy to support him. In return, he has agreed to drop us updates on his motor racing adventures. Here’s his latest from Mini Super Twos. Enjoy;
I’ve always considered short oval racing to be a bit scary if I’m honest.I
love a trip down to Arena Essex to watch Stock Cars, Hot Rods and Bangers but didn’t think I’d ever got the chance to give it a go myself, even if it did look fun!
All that changed when I got talking to Paul Sweeney about the Mini Super Two formula he had recently got involved with. Paul is a proper oval racer having raced Late Model Stock Cars (basically a Nascar) and I thought if he’s involved it must be good. After a trip to spectate a round we sorted a car, a date for me to race and I headed to YouTube for some pre-race knowledge!
The day quickly came and I saw my racer for the first time, what a beauty she was. After the liberal application of some stickers from some friends of TinTops (thanks Kunstvoller, Skull and Pistons, Horizon Watches, Panda Racing xx) she looked ready to race……..but first practice.
One thing that I’ve failed to mention so far is the fact it had rained in the day and was still spitting when we suited up. So, a car I’ve never driven, a form of motorsport I’ve never done before, experienced ‘proper’ oval racers and rain, this can only go well….
As we headed out, the rain was still hit my visor but the track was mostly dry. The only wet bit was on the exit of turn 2, which I hit and instantly understeered into the wall.
With no obvious damage I carried on trying to learn lines, breaking points and anything else that might help me stay on the track.
I fully expected a telling off for throwing my hire car into a wall but as I entered the pits I got a thumbs up from Paul and some very helpful advice from the other drivers, not what you would get in most paddocks!!
Being a novice I was starting last for the three races, in fairness I was happy with this as I could try and follow the quick pack at the front and learn how to do it properly. Having made a good start I quickly moved through the pack and reached car 24 Gordon Barnes, another experienced oval racer.
After a few laps following Gordon, my confidence growing with every lap, I started to make use of the fact this is a contact sport. After a few laps of friendly contact and place swapping, the last lap board came up and going into turn one I may have given Gordon quite a big ‘love tap’ pushing him wide into turn 2.
That was all the space I needed as I dived up the inside, held the line into turn three and four and took the 6th place. Not bad from last!
Race two was a very similar story. I started at the back, made a few aggressive but fair moves early on and found myself behind the 24 again!
We ran together for the race with regular contact, place changes and a few lairy moments from me as I found the limits of both the car and my talent.
At the end of this race, roles were reversed with Gordon coming home 6th and me in 7th. All that was left was the final with positions usually decided by the points you have gained the first two races but, being a novice, I was quite rightly where I belonged; at the back!
I headed into the final confident of a decent result. I had raced well until this point and all bets were off.
Again, I started well, picking up a few places and got past the 231 car of Matthew Clayton who was in the running for a podium spot following some great results earlier. I knew he was quicker than me so was just keen to stay ahead for as long as possible! Going into turn three I got a nudge from behind, which is perfectly fair.
I turned in but what I should have done was check my mirror as Matthew was heading up my inside. One big contact later, Matthew was spinning and I was still heading in the right direction. After our coming together the car felt bad, pulling heavily to the left but I ploughed on regardless, ending up in 6th. Arriving back in the paddock I was concerned I had both broken my borrowed car but also taken out a potential winner but a quick look around the car didn’t show any suspension damage or any other reason for the pulling. Turns out I had put a hole in the rear tyre!
Feeling guilty about taking out another racer, I headed for Matthew’s van to say sorry. His reaction summed up everything about Mini Super Twos. He simply said ‘that’s stock cars’, a proper racers reaction.
I had a great night racing a great car against drivers who want to have fun and don’t cry every time another driver comes within 6 ft of them. I am extremely grateful to Paul and John for the opportunity, the superstars from Skull and Pistons for coming to support and the guys at Kunstvoller, Panda Racing, Roundstone Vans, BlackTop Media and Horizon Watches for being supportive and interested in what I do.
Should you wish to follow in my footsteps you can hire a Mini Super Two, you never know we might be on track together next year…