Welcome to the latest in the occasional series of articles where I (@TinTopsUK or Nicholas as my mother knows me) go racing.
Fans of my previous article will know that my first Mini Super Twos race day was a reasonable success, with a 5th and two 6th places. This modest success made me confident I could secure another positive result as I entered the non championship Oval Expo round on January 22nd, how wrong I was.
Being an ‘exhibition’ race there was no practice. Ask any F1 team and they’ll tell you practice is for pussies anyway…….wait, no they won’t!
The freezing temperature gave us some very clear signs that the conditions were going to be tricky. A quick walk around the circuit gave further clues, frost on the ground and watching the more experienced driver wildly over/understeering confirmed it was going to be fun.
At this point I was joined by my friend Syed who the team (me and him) photographer on the day, and frankly remarkable images they were considering it was his first time photographing a sporting event!
Race one quickly rolled round and I started at the back owing to my use of the hire car. The whole race was little more than an extended practice session for me, trying to find the limits and work out which bits of the track were ice and which bits had grip! I managed to make my way up through the field to finish in 6th place, a finish I was very pleased with.
A steady run in race one gave me confidence going into race two with my sights firmly set on climbing through the field. We lined up for the rolling start and slowly made our way around the cold and slippery oval.
The pace picked up for the rolling, start heading out of turn two, and we quickly arrived at turn 3, which is when I decided to head for the barrier on the outside of the track. The race hadn’t even started and I was already a long way behind, time to sort it out and crack on. Que TopGun style American rock anthem.
Slowly, slowly I closed in on the back of the pack and started making my way past people. I caught the back of two cars and had a bit of a play, being careful to remember it wasn’t a championship race! A few laps later I nearly got caught out exiting turn 2 by tapping the outside barrier but I got away with it. As the race went on, I caught the back of Paul Cook’s beautifully presented car and was very grateful to dive up the inside as he ran a bit wide on the exit of turn two.
An uneventful run to the flag resulted in another 6th place finish. I had hoped for better but my mistake on the rolling start meant that wasn’t going to happen.
I had the Go Pro on for this race and having watched the raw footage it’s quite clear my technique needs some serious work. If any driving coaches are reading, please feel free to send me constructive abuse.
By the time the final came around, the temperature had dropped to around zero and the track was incredibly slippery. This is the only explanation I can think of for my performance.
We lined up for the final round and despite starting last, I was pretty confident that after two good races, I could move forward and make a decent race of it.
In short, I didn’t. I had an absolute nightmare. Whether it was the drop in temperature or my innate lack of talent, it was a horror show. Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t get the car to do what I wanted, all I got was understeer. I tried everything I could think of to stop my seemingly inevitable slide towards the barrier but nothing worked, not even my best Cole Trickle face.
I know I was over driving, but stopping myself from doing what I logically know was wrong, was impossible.
I spent the rest of the race slithering around at the back, then spun in turn 4, got lapped and went back to the paddock suitably embarrassed. I was that guy with all the kit, his friend the photographer at the track and finishing last. The very personification of ‘all the gear, no idea’.
Races one and two were great, this is despite the obvious flaws in my technique and daft mistakes.
I race for fun and Mini Super Twos is definitely that. My issues in race 3 proved I have a lot to learn, however some quick coaching post race from MST top man John, broke it down into simple terms; ‘stop turning the wheel so much’.
Despite my shocking showing in the final, I might be back out in an MST again soon, maybe this time when it’s a bit warmer?!