The Jag XJ-S story part 3.
The saga continues, we find the 'Black Pearl' at Snetterton 07.
Racing is bloody brilliant, the thrill and excitement of a fierce battle on the circuit, the feeling of achievement, the nomex underwear…
There was a point where I didn’t think I was going to get to the first race of the season, I had to make large repair sections to the underside of the car, many of the ageing bolts on this classic Jag had sheared during the rebuild, the trailer I bought on ebay didn’t turn up, the race tickets didn’t turn up and the day before the race the gearbox developed the ability to engage more than one gear . But we like challenges don’t we?
I put all other work on hold and tackled each problem in turn, and by the day before the race the only problem left was how to get the car to the race. Luckily Dave Ried turned up trumps and lent me his new trailer for the weekend, top bloke.
I got to Snetterton at midnight, pitched my new tent (special offer from the supermarket) and passed out. I awoke at 4am because it was bloody freezing, the cheap tent offered no wind protection and even less insulation, so I took it apart and covered the back of the Disco with it and slept quite comfortably on the back seat instead. Never buy cheap camping equipment.
greeted me as I emerged from my nylon and tank tap encrusted retreat on
Saturday morning. It was great to meet up with my fellow racers again
and swap similar tails of last minuet repairs. Last minuet is one thing,
but Crash Gordan trumped us all by actually rebuilding his entire cooling
system between races, turning up to a race in a car you haven’t
finished building yet is pure class.
Once out for the qualifying session I had time to relax a bit, but then it occurred to me I couldn’t remember if I had torqued up the wheel nuts, needles to say my first lap was conservative. But after a few laps, gathering pace with nothing major falling off, I started to feel quite happy with the car.
The suspension and final drive mods seemed to work rather well and inspired confidence, my home brewed exhaust sounded commandingly raucous and the engine pulled strongly past about 120mph. Crikey, it felt good.
I am used to qualifying last, but this time managed to have four cars behind me at the start of the first race. As the start lights went out I managed to loose all four places in the first hundred yards. Now I was in familiar territory, but it soon became clear that the car was faster than the one in front which meant it was time to practice the high art of overtaking. Unfortunately I am crap at this, but after dithering on several corners I worked out a safe place to go for it and dived up the inside of the first car, then I remembered to breathe again. The next car was taken on the straight, the new diff proving absolutely spot on as I crept past at about 130mph, whilst all the time my mind was screaming to slow down for the next corner. Another two cars were taken before the end of the race leaving me 22nd out of 28 starters with two cars not finishing.
Gordans old car was driven by Mike Sharman, new to the series, who took off like a thing possessed and won the class 1st rather decisively. So it looks like I will have a lot more competition this year and my hopes of getting a few class 2nd s started fading.
The second race was on the Sunday and the grid positions were based on the results of the previous race which meant no less than six cars starting behind me. I was determined to get my start right this time so I talked to the drivers starting around me to get an idea of what to do, Paul Reynolds and Crash Gordan were really helpful and a strategy was hatched.
Sitting on the grid
I was still nervous, but when the start lights went out I dived up the
outside of two cars in front of me, excellent! Into the first corner surrounded
by sliding jaguars, it seemed impossible get that many cars round such
a small corner. I conceded the two places to my fellow racers who were
much faster, not wishing to slow them up. On the straight I was behind
Crash Gordan who is the fastest chap in our class, I figured that if I
could just keep up with him then I would learn something. Unfortunately
all I learned I s how important it is to prep your car, as his coolant
system exploded and covered my windscreen in glycol. The fact that I couldn’t
see through it was resolved when I tried to brake and simply went very
sideways, sliding on his glycol slick, thus allowing me to see where I
was going through the side window.
Well that went with a bang! The Mallory race started of with pouring rain, which posed a new challenge as I have never raced in the wet before. But we like challenges don’t we? (am I repeating myself again...)
Cunningly I had plastered the windows with rain repellent and the inside with anti-fog, which worked a treat. Whilst other cars were struggling for visibility and grip, I was merely struggling for grip. I started off very conservatively in practice, feeling my way round and slowly building pace but it very soon became clear by the way the car veered sideways at every opportunity, that there was not much more pace to build. Then it started raining harder.
After lunch, the first
races included MR2's and single seaters, both having substantial 'offs'
and a number of Toyotas limping back to the pits heavily damaged. This
was like an old fashioned warning, a bit like when they used to put severed
heads on spikes on the city walls to warn incomers, but without the hygiene
I even started making a little headway, almost getting the hang of it, when a number of cars arrived on the inside just as I went into the big corner at Gerards. There was some tyre squeal, a degree of rotation, a thump and then I was hurtling towards gravel. Now, gravel stops cars and I didn’t want to stop, so I kept my foot in, aimed for the shortest rout across the trap and onto the grass beyond. Now my off road racing paid off as the V12 Jag snaked across the wet grass in a merry salsa back towards the track. But not before Paul had cruised past.
Well, that’s racing. I have to fix the front wing, door, bumper, front and rear suspension on the right and something's bent in the transmission. Time to take it apart again.
Obviously with the
engine and gearbox working well it was time to take them out.
|Never buy cheap camping kit...|
|It survives Snett, with trophies too.|
|A wet Mallory, thrills and spills to come.|
|A damp start.|
|But drying for the race.|
|Side by side and flat out.|
|Obviously it ends in tears...|
|A big change as the 6 litre goes in, and more rust comes out.|
|New logo too.|
|how low can you go.|
|A 'repaired' wing, ahem....|