So, this blog has been a week in the making. I haven’t been slacking off or anything, it’s just that my ‘proper’ job as a PR & Events body has had me doing everything from writing, to crying and even to to drinking in the middle of the afternoon.
Anyway, forget about that, last Sunday saw the Avon Tyres British GT Championship roll into Donington, as well as their mates in the F3, Formula Ford, VW Racing and Caterham championships. It looked like a great weekend was on the cards, especially when I saw a few delicious Audi R8’s dotted around the paddock. Owning one of those is in my 20-year plan. In the first instance, I want to own a mini (that’s in my 10-year plan, along with buying a house, getting my eyes lasered, becoming a size 10 and finally finding a career in motorsport.)
So, to the weekend, we had the A-Team in pit lane for both days of action, with myself, my old race partner from blogs gone by, Andy Butler taking up his inaugural stint in pit lane, as well as Terry, Julze, Rachel, her lovely mum and Sue holding the fort on Saturday, with Tom, Simon., Marcus and my favourite bundle of orange fun Jayne joining us for day two.
There wasn’t much to report on the Saturday, a few cheeky Green & White cars relentlessly trying to steal as many seconds from their rivals as possible by pulling out of their pit box whenever they felt like it, regardless of whether there was someone in front of them or another competitor already zooming down towards the pit exit. Their complete disregard for any safety measures made sure I stayed well out of the way whenever they came hurtling off the track. I also pushed a Ginetta down pit lane, that was rather good. I look super strong pushing it whilst casually carrying on what looks like a very in-depth conversation, but in all honesty, it was travelling down a slope.
As per usual, the afternoon involved myself and the team gridding up the competitors for a few races, which as many of you know, is one of my favourite things to do at the track, especially when Andy gets asked to be a team’s grid girl after their regular tall, skinny thing couldn’t make it to the track. Obviously I was GUTTED to be brushed aside in favour of a tall, hairy MAN, but then again, I know I would have probably made all the other girls feel inferior with my stand-out outfit and, um, cool sunglasses, so I didn’t want to take away from their expertly perfected and extremely difficult hand-on-hips pose.
The next day was a totally different story as these infamous brothers turned up to do startline, I have never heard of them before, but as I found out that I wasn’t allowed to do startline as a direct result of their turning up, I was instantly furious with them. Apparently they come to race day, muscle their way into the running of the grid (which I must add, was nowhere near as smooth and organised as when our Julez was in charge) and don’t let anyone else take part. This was disappointing to me as it was my last car race of the season, and I was properly thrilled at the prospect of helping to grid up all day.
When I tried to find the guys after they had done their first lot of gridding, I was baffled to discover they had completely disappeared. I assumed they must have been called upstairs after the shambolic first lot of cars were all wonky, and thought I could offer my assistance over the course of the rest of the day, after all, more hands make lighter (and better) work right? Well, after the next race got off the line, I again went to look for them, but to no avail. I decided to ask another marshal where these grid kings could have gone, to which I was informed that they only come out for the start of the race, and spend the rest of the time around a corner, out of the way watching the racing.
No, that’s not very fair is it? My opinion of Donington Park was that pits & startline was a combined team, which is why it appealed to me so much more than Oulton Park (although Oulton is still my favourite circuit). I wanted the chance to combine my two loves by looking after the folk in the pits, but then being involved in the start of the races too. Luckily I was adopted by my new BFF David after he spotted me shoving a Pepperami into my mouth and decided to be my friend because I wore sunglasses no matter what time of the day it was. Even if it was raining.
As I explain to people day after day, I have a problem with my eyes, so I wear sunglasses to protect them from dust and rubbish, but obviously this is quite a redeeming illness and led to a pep-talk from Dave, a fellow University Of Central Lancashire graduate, who has pushed me in the right direction work-wise and got my ass into top gear (see what I did there) into finally hooking my dream job. So, I made an excel sheet, found some companies I’d really like to work for and dropped people a line. Which is probably a good thing considering the fact that I just got a call saying my current boss want ‘a word with me.’ Worried much? Could you see me in the dole queue? I walk past the job centre every morning, and no one there wears sunglasses.
I digress, so, after I’d bonded over a Pepperami and got over the fact that I wasn’t going to be gridding up, I decided to make friends with the Marcus the new marshal, which was fun, then I walked around for a bit, waved some cars down pit lane and had a go at turning that lights from red to green and waving a blue flag to people wanting to exit pit lane. That’s a VERY important job I’ll have you know.
Before long it was time for the main event; the three-hour British GT race which involved pit stops, refuelling , tyre changing and the unprecedented arrival of the man who almost got me to hang up my orange overalls a few months ago in pit lane wearing a cowboy hat. You can insult me as much as you want, but as soon as you put a cowboy hat on your head and don’t start riding a horse like Brokeback Mountain, I clearly regain the upper hand.
We were lucky enough to have BTCC drivers Gordon Sheddon & James Nash plus Stephen Jelley competing, and their presence created much a buzz around the paddock. Although, that was about the only excitement we got from the race, which saw Scuderia Vittoria’s Charles Bateman and Michael Lyons secure their second win of the season which ended in the dusk at Donington, making for a glorious sunset-lit champagne presentation.
The pit stops were fun, I’d never seen refuelling in the pit lane before and my photographer friend Matt Sayle had somehow been roped into being one of the Speedworks team which was hilarious as I watched him transform into pit lane pap into fireproofed team member. It was impressive, even if I was a little jealous that my career still hadn’t taken off. To be fair though, I wouldn’t be all that good at pulling wheels off and lugging a hose full of fuel around. Think of what would happen to my false nails… *ahem*.
So, I am aware that I have had quite an outpouring here, once again without having much to say about the actual racing. Standard. It’s the last outing of the year for me this weekend too, I’ll be at Oulton, out at Island for the motorbikes. So come and say “hello” if you’re about!
Oh, and just one more thing… Vettel for F1 Champ? I think so. 😀
Surreal Illusions Motorsport Photography