Been a bit busy lately

By Caroline Lodge

After a slow start to 2012, I’ve spectated at a couple of events and done a bit of rescue work, however,  things seem to have kicked off since the end of March.

A surprise phone call one evening, lead to me sitting in the hot seat, next to Ivor Clark at Charterhall for the PJ Hunter Plant Hire and Groundworks Stages. (AKA the day Ivor lost his underpants) The couple of days leading up to the rally were entertaining. After a call from Ivor inviting me to come and see if my bum would fit in the rally car seat, I ventured up to his place – yes my bum did fit in the seat. Driving through Gretna with the roof down and Ivor in the passenger seat of my Mazda I felt a bit like the guy who drives the Pope-mobile, Ivor’s head was sticking out of the top of the car as he waved and called ‘Hellooooooo’ to every person we passed. He’d also told folk that I was a masseuse!

All sorted and we arranged to meet at Charterhall on rally day. I called to see where about he was, he then asked, ‘where’s your suit?’ my reply was ‘I last saw it on your kitchen floor!’ (a bit worrying to say the least) any way after a bit of ratching about he found it in the service vehicle. Phew.

We were suited and booted, sat in the EVO and ready to go (well, I thought we were), 3 mins to SA1 – Ivor hadn’t sorted his belts! Perhaps it wasn’t my bum we should have been worried about. In arrivals Ivor was a bit peckish and stole a piece of cake off a passer by. Very nice Batenburg he said.

SS1 we seemed to be getting into the swing of it, weaving between the tyres and making sure I got the splits right. I called 90 right tightens, the track tightened and we ran out of room on the exit of the bend, spectators scattered and the fence folded in front of us! (evidence on the front of the newsletter) We carried on and made it to the finish line with no further mishaps. SS 2 was a repeat of 1 minus the fence incident and we were 12 seconds quicker this time.

SS3 we were stopped about 30 yards after the start – the escort in front had caught a tyre and rolled. So we were allowed to go again (I’ve never done that before) 3 and 4 went well again we were quicker on the second run.

The gaps between the stages gave us plenty of time to socialise and catch up with folk. I was even given a talk on how ‘girl navigators are rubbish’ by one young man – perhaps his Uncle and Granddad should warn him that it’s not really the thing to say in the presence of 2 female navigators!!  Luckily, for him, Katherine and I found it quite funny. But I may file that one and remind him about it when he’s older.

The last 2 stages were running in the opposite direction, also strange things were happening in the car and I was getting the blame!

SS5 we got beached on a tyre and dropped about 10 secsonds, which was annoying. What was also annoying was the number of people standing VERY close to the track – especially those with children in push chairs. But I’ll save that rant for another day.

Final stage and we went for it, on the last lap we were on a straight just behind a Scooby, as we were touching about 115mph the Scooby pulled to the left to enter a square right, Ivor nipped through the gap, we were both whooping as we made it through. We finished 8th overall and were quite happy with that. What Steven’s feelings will be about what we did to the car remain to be seen. I had a great day and thoroughly enjoyed my trip out with ‘Ivor the Driver’. Thanks to everyone involved.

What has this to do with Ivor’s underpants? Well between stages 4 and 5 Ivor announced that he’d lost his underpants, some say the elastic snapped, however there are some of us who think that they may have rotted, only Ivor knows the answer.

The following week Jonathan, Barry, Geoffrey and me, had a trip up to Barford for the Briscar meeting there, a fun day which although not very enlightening it was very entertaining – Barry will tell you about that one.

 Another week at work dragged by until, it was time to get in a competition car again for the first round of the SMC Sprint and Hillclimb Challenge. This was at Kames circuit on Sunday 15th April. All the SMC competitors met that morning – well all 2 of us! Me and Geoffrey that is. With Barry there in the role of team manager, media personnel, service crew and the person to have words with Caroline (because she was driving like someone who had forgotten to take their ‘wake up pills’ and was nearly 5 sec slower that last time she went there)

Long and short of it, Geoffrey drove well, I didn’t, he beat me and is leading the challenge, but we haven’t got much competition if no one else takes up the challenge.

Saturday 22nd April – Doune Hill Climb, D-day for Caroline.

A number of years ago, in another life, I went to watch and support a mate doing Doune Hill Climb. With its, narrow track, banks, walls, trees, blind corners and steep climb it scared the life out of me, and I was only watching! Fast forward to 2010 I returned to Doune to spectate and my feelings had not altered, in fact I may have said something along the lines of, ‘you’ll never get me to do that event’. I’m sure I said the same in 2011. So in 2012 there was my name on the entry list!

The day of the event, a very early start, Barry had always thought there was only one quarter to six in a day. We travelled through some really nasty weather, which didn’t do a thing for my nerves. After unloading the Corsa and wondering how we were going to get the trailer out of the muddy field again later on, the ‘lads’ sorted the car and I went for a trip up the hill with some other Doune newbies. OMG there are even more corners than I thought and they are all blind! I tried to take in some of the advice from the driver, then went to get ready. As we were double entering the car, I was effectively taking the role of ‘tyre warmer’ for Geoffrey. If anyone thought I was shaking a lot before I set off, should have seen me at the top. Some of this may have been temper as I managed to select 4th instead of 2nd through the esses near the finish line, a trick I managed to do again on my second run. Although I was a bit happier as I’d managed to get up into 4th across the meadow before knocking down into 3rd for the steep climb at East Brae.

As there were a very large number of competitors the gaps between runs were quite long. Giving me time to calm down, think about what I’d done and how to improve, then to get wound up again. Also I had chance to go and look at some of the other cars, there seems to be a class for everything, road cars, racing cars, Sports Libres, Classics, Throughbreds, Modified ……. I didn’t know what half of them were called but a lot of the cars were very shiny and pretty, noisy and FAST.

On my 3rd run I saw a red flag, the Caterham I was following had done something silly on one of the corners so after a tight squeeze turn around I went down for a restart and made a complete hash of turning the car around again – narrowly missing the timing gear! What’s more dangerous than a blonde driving a car?

A nervous blonde reversing in a car.

This run was better again as I’d actually managed to get it into 2nd through the esses although getting a bit wide on the final left hander put me and the car VERY close to the barrier coming out of the corner.

Geoffrey got 2 chances at his 3rd run, there had been a problem with the timing gear and his recorded time was 27sec. The hill record is 35.62!!!!!!! So he was King of the Hill for about 2 minutes that day.

I hadn’t been paying much attention to my times, my aim had been to get to the top in one piece and improve my lines on the corners. My 4th and final run went very well, and I knew I’d knocked my time down by the rate I was shaking when I stopped in the top paddock! Believe me, the fluttery butterfly feeling you have before you start turns into a big booming drum when you get to the top.

My best time was 62.something seconds

Geoffrey got 55.65 seconds

I really enjoyed my day, and met some very friendly, encouraging people. Thanks to Jonathan and Barry for putting up with someone who spent the day swinging between being very quiet and nervous to bouncing around on an adrenalin high in less time than it took some of the cars to get off the start line. I should thank Geoffrey for making, bullying, tricking, encouraging and helping me to do one of the most, scary things I’ve ever done, it was brilliant.

My only worry now is, what on earth will my next challenge be?

 The following day we were up early and out again for a motorbike trail, which is always entertaining but a little bit tame following the previous day’s motorsport. I left that early to go to the SMC autotest at Long Park, now that was very eventful and I’m sure someone else will fill you in on that. Next stop Medical cover at the Pirelli then, competing at Ingliston.

Who said that SMC members were only interested in rallying????