When I heard the rain thumping against my window at a very cold and dark 6am on Saturday, I was tempted to roll over and go back to sleep in my nice warm cocoon, but I knew it was the last meeting of 2010 at Oulton, and I couldn’t miss it. Besides, my mental landlord was at home all weekend and I’m not sure I could refrain from pouring bleach in his milk if I was confronted with any more of these.
Anyway,. Moving on from the joy of house sharing. I got up and made it to the track ready for an 8am start on Druids. Anyone who knows Oulton Park is well aware that Druids corner is one of the crash hotsports of the circuit. Especially for bikes. And even more so in the wet. I had a sneaking suspicion I could probably get hit by a bike if one followed another into the gravel; but one strong coffee later and all fears were forgotten as the bikes hit the track. Literally.
After a crash during the first warm-up session, we knew we were going to be in for a long, and strenuous day, but how naive we were. Guessing we’d have a total of seven fallers over the course of the day, I couldn’t have been further out as that total doubled in no time, with guys falling off pretty much every race.
As I don’t want to bore you with the details of every visitor we had, I’ll set the scene for you and then give you a couple of highlights… *ahem* it was a cold and rainy morning…. Just kidding.
By the time the qualifying races began at 11am, it was FREEZING and throwing it down with rain. I had a hand warmer inside each glove, shoe and one down the back of my neck, as well as four layers of clothes, but I was still freezing. Quite morbidly I knew an incoming bike would probably take my mind of my icy extremities, but at the same time I didn’t want to venture out from under the trees into the monsoon outside. Sadly though, my shelter didn’t last long as the Suzuki of Michael Roberts came to visit us and the poor bloke didn’t even seem to mind… he was laughing it off even, and we even named a snail on the wall after him – it can get a bit boring waiting for the bikes to come around…
Once we’d packed him off to try and get some repairs done, it was time for the Formula 600’s and sadly our visitor during that qualifying race, Mike Hampson wasn’t quite as friendly. He was actually pretty scary and I wished I’d left him out in the gravel trap to find his own safety, but obviously I’m a professional marshal and would never do that. *ahem*.
Moving on, and Connor Beham’s class provided us with a shed load of action as Connor (the championship winner) decked it as far away from the marshals post as possible before his mate, Stephen Hall followed him in and left me to shift his Kawasaki which reeked of fuel pretty much on my own. I was wondering which would happen first – a third crasher coming to run me over or the bike exploding as fuel dripped around everywhere. Luckily I survived this traumatic episode as the rider himself rushed to my rescue and helped lug the bike to safety. The happiness was short-lived though, as I then got a fellow come isit me who had ripped his fingernail off during his fall, there was blood everywhere and I went all faint.. Yes, I am a bit of a woman when it comes to open wounds, but if I wanted to stare at gashes and whatnot I’d station myself on the St Johns Ambulance with the other folks.
Once I’d had some water and composed myself after the gore-fest, it was drama central time during the Forgotten Era Race as one fallers bikes was so heavy, it took five marshals to drag it out of the gravel, and left my trusty sidekick Andy with an asthma attack! The poor little soul had to be carted off in an ambulance to the medical centre. Luckily though, he was more concerned about missing any racing than his ailing health and he was back trackside after two races. He even refused a ride in the course car back to post and opted to leg it across Oulton Park in between races. What a hero.
The most epic part of the day though (for us, not for the poor rider, obviously) was during the Formula 600’s when Ross Dunstan found himself thrown from the bike and sliding all the way from our post down to the ‘Carlube’ bridge before slamming into the tyre wall and having the bike plough into him shortly afterwards. Ross was wearing an Arai Helmet and after speaking to the doctor who attended to him, it’s thought that this piece of kit was probably the only reason Ross was sat there talking to him and not in a much worse state. It really brings home the importance of spending that extra bit of money when you’re engaging in a sport like racing. There’s no price too high if it saves your life.
Finally, our nicest visitor of the day had to be Ian Pert, who I want to give a special mention too because whilst his accident wasn’t spectacular in the fact that it gave us an asthma attack or made me go all faint, he did strike a chord with all the marshals as he is a very special guy who is racing to better the lives of troubled kids. Ian runs a group called Headz Up Racing which aims to get kids off the streets and into doing some good. He gives them a few £100 and gets them building a bike in their spare time, which he then races at his local track in Scotland. So, what was he doing down in cold Cheshire? Well, in order for Ian and the team to be able to build a bike for the Isle Of Man TT next year, he had to have finished in to top 50% of a certain number of races, and this one was the last one he needed to get his accreditation down, so heartbreakingly, that crash cost him a lot more than seeing the Chequered Flag, it dashed all hoped of competing in the Isle Of Man TT.
So that’s where we come in, I’m hoping to get in touch with Ian and drum up some support for Headz Up Racing in the hope that we can convince ‘the people’ behind the TT entries to let Ian and the kids enter next year. I know it’s a long shot, but this is a good cause, and I’d hate to think that bit of rain at Druids could ruin what these Scots have worked so hard for.
If you have any idea on how we can help, feel free to drop me an email via firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next time. Farewell.