It’s been some time since I’ve updated posted a blog. I know, you’ve missed the bedtime reading. Such a lot has happened since I started ramping up my season preparations that the luxury of time to sit and waffle on hasn’t really been possible.
We’ve had the British Rallycross Awards night at the end of January where I was privileged to get up on stage to collect Graham Rodemark’s 3rd place trophy in the Swifts. I had a brief interview with Tony Simpson talking about the year ahead and my ambitions. Clearly that was and is to be up there on merit at the awards in 2016.
I then received copies of my rallycross 2014 photo yearbook, with images courtesy of Matt Bristow (Rubber Duck Does Photography) and personal review wording from Hal Ridge. Just the sort of collateral to encourage sponsors and for fond memories in the future.
I then spent a couple of weeks talking with various people about what to concentrate funds on going into the new season. Talk was of getting the engine out, so I had the opportunity to buy more toys to check cylinder compression which was fine. Instead, I opted for some tuition from Peter Gwynne, and a long overdue suspension refurb. By the time I sorted a date to hook up with Pete, it was the end of February with little over 2 weeks until the first round.
But over the course of February, I’d got through a whole load of pre-season prep methodically and to plan, if not the schedule I’d have hoped for:
- Ordered service parts including engine and gearbox oil, brake fluid and plugs
- Ordered a standard steel door and front wheel arches from an eBay breaker
- Acquired new tools including Gunson Eezibleed, gearbox oil syringe and angle grinder
- Removed the sump guard, bumpers and wings off Maud, got her up on axle stands, wheels off and dismantled the suspension in the garage
- Took the suspension up to Pete on my tuition day
- Cut away the broken fibreglass and made good with new the damage to the front panels & bumper from a full season of action
- Filled, primed and readied them for final prep and painting by Nathan at Bumper 2 Bumper
- Drained and refilled the engine and gearbox oils
- Sorted the sticky rear brake caliper with some brute force and TLC
- Re-threaded a cross threaded sump guard mount hole due to my heavy-handedness late last year
Now I work in software, but with a bit of technical confidence, some application to learn new techniques with access to YouTube, these were all jobs I could do myself, enjoy doing and are a good excuse to buy new toys! More importantly, they are part of what I love about running a racing car. I learn something interesting and new about the car, mechanics or how to do something all the time, and for me that is all part of the fun, game, challenge and satisfaction.
I took the delivery of the refreshed suspension from Avo Performance Suspension less than a week after they received it, but my late planning meant I then only had one weekend to get everything re-assembled. Once the suspension was back on the car, I could get Maud out of the garage, do a final thorough clean, adjust the setup and bleed the brakes.
My dad happened to pop by and helped out with the Gunson bleeder kit I’d watched him as a child use nearly 30 years ago when home mechanics were commonplace. Now I needed that knowledge, and although the concept of bleeding the brakes was new, it was actually pretty straightforward. What a great bit of classic kit.
The panels, door and wing mirrors came back from Bumper 2 Bumper with only days to spare before I had to get Maud loaded for the journey up north for the first round at Croft. But it all came together, with the last parts going back on in the dark after work hours in that final week. That work included cutting a new slot out of the front bumper for the cool new black towstrap, refitting the door furniture and new plastic interior panel to the freshly painted steel door, and getting it mounted up.
Even on the morning we left for Yorkshire, I was fitting some shiny new front mud-flaps. Leaving only an hour later than planned, we loaded the freshly serviced trailer and headed off. The sense of satisfaction having got the car fully sorted before that first race was brilliant. A lot of hard work and hours, but she was looking resplendent in fresh licks of orange and black, ready for all the gravel 2015 can throw at her.