Yes some cake, now you know why I'm 20 stone!
The Donington event that the cake was given I am pretty sure was the event that Win Percy and Alan Grice appeared with the Skyline. Win was a great driver who mostly raced abroad in the late 80's a bit like Steve Soper, and Alan Grice was a larger than life character that seem to emanate from down under. I have a feeling that they had done Bathurst together, may have even won it. But that Nissan really put the cat among the pigeons, again it did not have the grunt of the RS500 but it handled really well. There is some quite good footage of it at Donington in that two driver race (we blew up, again!!). Ultimately it ate its rear tyres as I think it was running on Dunlops, but certainly raised a few eyebrows on the day.
I thank you for your messages of encouragement it is nice to know that so many of you appreciate my memories from the racing days. Out of respect to my long suffering wife I could never write a book, because you only get the family rated stories on here, but some of the funniest and outrageous stories are the X rated ones that sadly I could never put on here.
Strangely as I write this on the 14th May we are on the eve of my 61st birthday, some 29 years after those pictures were taken and I can remember it like yesterday, but it would appear that my memory may be a little selective. Here’s another related story to amuse you.
Back in 1989 a few of us thought it would be a good idea to buy Karts to train on in the week, six of us as I remember, Robb G, Tim H, Laurence B, Vic L, Robbie Stirling (sports car driver) and Me. Anyway I was tasked with buying these Karts, we had decided to buy new identical 100 National Formula Karts and Tim suggested I should visit a shop/manufacturer called Dartford Karting. I drove down to Dartford one day and found this 'shop', it was like a little corner sweet shop but full of Karting goodies. I was in there for about 5 minutes before the guy asked me if I needed some help to which I replied, yes, I would like 6 chassis, 12 engines, 72 wheels with slicks and 16 wheels with wets, 6 stands and so it went on this long list of stuff. The guy stopped me midway and asked me if I was taking the p.ss? I explained to him the situation, he obviously thought I was completely mad, but once I gave him a cheque in payment he seemed to cheer up a bit and take things a bit more seriously. I organised for him to take all the completed Karts to Tilbury kart track two weeks later where we would take delivery of them and he with a couple of his guys would help us to run the engines in, as they were two strokes they had to be run in carefully with various mixture adjustments over an hour and a half..
When I had ordered all the chassis I had specified different colours I remember mine was red, Tim’s was blue,Vic’s was white, and then I’m not sure who had what colour but I know there was a black one and a green one and a yellow one. We ran these machines in at Tilbury that day and then proceeded to race each other, you can only imagine the shenanigan’s that went on.
There are two or three amusing stories that I can tell you about these Karts that were played with on a weekly basis, but one is as follows.
Tim Harvey who was an ex-karter and from our prospective was obviously the guy to beat in these karts. The karts were all identical and ran on identical controlled tyres. I could just about hold on to the back of Tim if I got behind him but could not get past him. After running these things a few times Tim thought we should enter a proper race with them, I for one was not that keen on it, but the next thing I knew Tim had entered 4 of us for the next race meeting at Tilbury. We did not have the correct RAC racing licence for Karts, but in view of the level of the licence’s we had the RAC gave us dispensation to run.
The word soon got round the Karting fraternity that these BTCC boys were going to do a race. I could see we were going to be in for it to the extent that I had a big target embroidered on the back of one of my race suits that I was going to wear on the day. Having been forced into doing this race, I announced to the others that if I was going to do the race I was going to do it properly and that meant taking my race truck, awning and motorhome along with my full BTCC race crew! The other guys thought that was a great idea and followed suit, so not only did the Arquati race artic arrive, but also the Labatts one, Vic Lee’s artic and John's who ran Robbie’s sports car. The team’s arrived at Tilbury really early in morning and set up, the only problem was with all our equipment, trucks and motorhomes in the paddock there was not any room for anyone else. It really, really, p.ssed off a lot of people, but we all thought it was hilarious. By this time I had bought another couple of engines and spare chassis etc which was set up for the wet.
We went out for the first heat and the other karters were all over us like a rash, everyone was determined to beat these jumped up Touring Car guys. In the first race I was half way up the grid and the races were rolling starts as the karts were fixed drive. I managed to jump the start really well and got up to about third and was immediately black flagged, which I ignored! On the back straight a lap later someone came alongside me and punted me straight off, I rocketed across the damp grass at full speed and hit a fence with the kart wrapping itself round one of the posts. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, I thought it was hilarious but at the same time I had really bashed my shoulder and was in real pain. My mechanics ran over and lifted my kart up and took it back to the pits, it appeared to be bent like a banana. As I still had another heat to try and qualify for the final I told my mechanics to just take the engine off put it on the new chassis, and then put the bent chassis complete in the rubbish skip, it was done as a wind-up, but boy did it make people mad, nobody saw the funny side of my disposable Kart philosophy!
Tim had done quite well in the 1st heat which did not go down well and it seemed that we were just making ourselves more unpopular by our lunatic behaviour. The Karters could not believe that we had just thrown out a complete chassis. I had my new chassis taken to the grid for my second heat, my shoulder was still painful but bearable. Tim and Vic were both well up the grid. So to the second rolling start, I stayed in position this time and once the flag dropped and I got to the first corner I knew I had a major problem, as I turned into the corner and braced myself against the wheel the pain in my shoulder was horrendous. I pulled into the pits and got out of the Kart, my racing was finished for the day. Tim went on to finish 3rd I think in the final and maintained the honour of the BTCC boys. For my part I went to the hospital on the way home and was x-rayed where it appeared I had broken my shoulder !
The postscript to this was that I had been more seriously injured in a tiny 100cc Kart than I had ever been in any of the proper high speed racing cars I raced, serves me right I here you say. Well we were never invited back to do another Kart race, Motoring News if I remember correctly did a piece on it that week which was abit of a blast.
We continued with the Karts through the season and winter of 89/90. There are some really funny stories that happened with these wizzers. Including a midnight race on the road that involved a few of us! But that’s for another time. Sorry haven't got any pictures of the karts.