Pouty's Bemsee Minitwins Racing Adventure Blog 2 - The First Races
Wouldn’t you just know it? Haggis failed the noise test! 5 minutes later Rich appeared with a baffle he’d procured and told me to get ready while he sorted it. Later in the day I came back to the pit garage to find my gloves tucked on the tyre warmers drying out and my helmet cleaned and visor ready for the next session, Rich was just the man I needed in my garage!
We quit about 3pm in the end because I couldn’t feel my fingers at the end of the Revit straight anymore!
In February I went to the Bemsee ACU weekend at Brands Hatch for some theory. Saturday afternoon is classroom based for the ACU licence and Sunday is on track with instructors. They basically reinact a race day so you can learn where you need to be at what time, they also include a practice start to properly test your nerve! Lining up on the grid for the first time waiting for the lights is some buzz I can tell you, dont arf make your heart pump!
Not as much as prepping for your first ever race mind……
Snetterton Round 1
Thursday 5pm; van fully loaded I left to go to my first ever race meeting but the excitement was short lived, I stopped to fill up with diesel on the M11 and the van wouldn’t start!
You couldn’t write it, months of prep, several thousands of pounds in and I wasn’t even going to make it to the circuit! My heart sank, I swore, a lot, and after 2 hours of fumbling in the dark I gave in and spent the last £250 in my bank account joining the AA at 10.45pm!
Yeah I thought membership was cheaper than that as well, “you’ve called us in an emergency situation Mr Wheatley” said the polite voice on the other end of the phone. I see how this works: I’m in the shit so you’re gonna have my pants down!
I eventually arrived at a pitch black, freezing cold, and silent Snetterton paddock with a fully laden van at 1 am. I managed to pull my sleeping bag and duvet into the cab and I slept wrapped round the gear stick for 4 hours before the sunshine woke me up, what a way to start your first race meeting!
I Missed Friday morning practice setting up but got out for the afternoon sessions. I got belted past into turn one several times, these boys were fast, seriously fast! I’d also forgotten to wear my rookie vest! The orange thing that gets you another 5mm of space from the experienced guys.
Structure for the weekend was qualifying Saturday morning followed by 2 races Saturday, 2 races Sunday. I got through Friday on my own before Rich & PJ joined me that evening to pit crew for the races.
Saturday morning broke with beautiful sunshine, it was ideal track weather and I qualified 4th, front row start at a circuit I hardly knew, excellent! Unfortunately we also noticed the rear shock was leaking oil: the one thing I hadn’t checked because I had an invoice for a rebuild! There’s a lesson, I thought. We wound the damping up and Rich made a little bandage which we kept an eye on.
The nerves were unbelievable on the run up to my first race - I’ll be back in a minute, I just need another wee!
The race ran under a split start with the Thunderbikes (loosely regulated “do what you want to your bike” class) and I had to wait on the grid for 40 seconds after they left. I had to wait with engine running, heart thumping and all eyes on us from the pit wall until our turn came.
The 5 laps went in a blur. I got a great start and led very briefly into the first corner, scrubbed far too much speed off playing safe and they came round the outside, I can’t tell you what happened much after that but I pushed as much as I dared and crossed the line in 4th. My first race and I was doing as well as Crutchlow in this year’s MotoGP!
I was in a daze, and my emotions were doing back-flips. I had actually raced - a life’s ambition had come true! We then managed a 5th in the second race of the afternoon, not a bad start to the weekend from a grid of 20 odd rookies! The guys shouted me dinner in the circuit resturant; me cooking would have spun the dice on whether we made the next morning’s sessions, and I went to bed somewhat elated and exhausted in equal measure. Despite the back of my van being a balmy -1 degrees I slept like a log albeit with most of my clothes on! Through dreams of nipping up the inside of Mr Haga around Druids and being interviewed on the tellybox it was clear we had a problem: I was addicted. Racing - there is no buzz like it.
First race Sunday morning and I was up for it, weather again was beautiful sunshine, confidence was building and I was gonna push it.
I wanted to give Rich & PJ reward for all their support. Simon Gilbert, Gab’s other half told me not to come back without a trophy, and that’s exactly what I did, I was running well but couldn’t match the pace of the front guys but then there was dust on the horizon, and I realised a faller meant I was now 3rd in the race! I took a quick glance over my shoulder down the Revit only to see the number board of another bike and decided I wouldn’t do that again and just tried to get it home, which I did.
It was like winning a GP, I had a grin a mile wide and rolled into the pit with Rich and PJ clapping.
Sunday afternoon I was running 4th again and pushed too hard on the last lap trying to pass for 3rd and ran on the grass, I rejoined to get 6th. I called my wife to tell her the amazing news I had got a trophy in my first ever race meeting and she said she could better that, she’d met Gok Wang in a resturant that afternoon and spoke to his dog!
There was no chance of my achievements going to my head at home was there?
Thank you to everyone for their amazing support in making my dream happen, I hope to do you all proud. Rich, PJ, Dannie, Gabbie & Simon, Simon @ OMC, Mike @ MD racing, Anita @ Riders GP, Sasha & Alex, Seb Kelly, Simon @ SL Sign works, Bonkie & Lottie & Michael Neaves and mostly my amazing wife Nikki.
Now to Brands Hatch!