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Just a short update really, to say at this point in time I am now certified healthy enough to go racing! The cost was £80 with my GP for an hour or so. Filled with various prodding, peeing, stripping (slightly) and some freindly interrogation. Mind you, it was interesting looking at my medical notes for the first time going back to my birth, to say the least! Also just to be sure, instead of ticking 'No' to having had a tetnus jab in the last 10 years, I sorted that as well on the same day (nice surprise needle shenanigans there). Just in case I have an accident, am thrown from the car and impale myself on a rusty fence, perhaps.
The license form (which was getting a bit tatty after sat on my desk since September last year) has now finally been sent off, plus £51. So that's the big first expensive part done. Next I think I'll tackle a lid. As I found out at Snetterton on my PBMW fact-finding visit, if you're serious about motor racing you may as well get your own helmet early on.
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Well I'm glad to say that's now 3 out of three licenses I've passed first time round! Though I was amazed how much time you need on a circuit to really learn it properly, even one with only a handful of corners. I'm also pleased to say I officially helped break in the new Stowe mini circuit, never before driven on in anger!
Quite a lot of things struck me, including how you have to get your brain to adjust to a new kind of driving, almost like driving all over again. It completely ruins your perception of speed (as I found out when I left the car park in my own car, on the first roundabout I thought "hang on, this feels wierd!"). I learnt the importance of "sighting" corners - concentrating on the next corner and aiming where you want to be after the current one. My instructor Charlie Hollings wasn't too bad, but it's difficult to teach somebody racing speeds who's never left the main road before, in a limited amount of time.
On the driving practical test, I think I could have done a lot better, but I attained mostly 'B's and a couple of 'C's for my grades. One of the 'C's was for consistency as on my exam laps I was slow then quick then slow, cocking up corner after corner. As soon as you balls one corner up, you're kicking yourself for it and you lose rhythm. Still, a good pass is a good pass! Oh, and the theory test is pretty straightforward too. Know your flags, know common sense, and you'll walk it.
Now, a quick word on the cars if I may. Imagine the woman's surprise when I ring up to book my ARDS test, and I inform her I'd like the day with the Renault Clios instead of the Lotus Exiges, as I get to come down a week earlier. A bit impatient of me I thought afterwards, I should have waited a week to play in Exiges rather than a crummy French va va voom go kart. Well, I got a bit of a shock. Not really in terms of any power, but the way the thing tried to mate you with the side of the seat. There's so much grip I thought my instructor was going to kill us on the first lap he really belted it. Insane, really insane for a car which you could buy from a show room. The road legal track tyres undoubtedly help, but for me it was a new world of grip I'd only dreamed about. The (approximate) words of the head instructor big Steve still ring in my ears, "Guys this is a bit like skiing, you'll do it once and you'll know if it's for you or not. You'll either think 'hmm, that was nice but I've had enough now', or 'bloody hell that was awesome! I want to do this more and more!', with a massive smile on your face!". I reckon I'm easily in the latter group.
Oh, and the guys I went through the test with were rather nice chaps. I think we all identifed the "all-gob listen to me lads this is what the instructors won't tell you, but I know it all so I will" chap, but it's just as important to humour them politely, listen for a short while, then remember who your examiners and instructors are, so who actually counts. Speaking of the other guys, it's very interesting to chat and listen to their plans, what series they're joining. One of these 'sound' blokes was a certain Tom Hunt, son of a Formula One legend - smoked an awful lot but nice guy!
In conclusion, an brilliant brilliant day combined with an important license examination. I really was like a kid when I got to Silverstone circuit, seeing it so many times on TV. One of the best days of my life, making me a truly sad individual but still! And then there were the Caterhams, which were more like putting the car on like a tight fitting shirt rather than getting in it. The skid pan with the wild Meganes on trolley wheels. Simply put, I can't recommend it enough.
Meeting the competition for the first time!
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On the 6th March I will get a chance to meet some competitors in the PBMW series at their pre-season testing meet. On the agenda are beers (not before driving I'm sure!) and BBQ, so already I'm getting to like this series!
My National B Racing License is making progress, on the 1st February I'm heading down to Silverstone for a full day ARDS course. I had the option of booking on the 1st in a Renault Clio, or the 19th in a Lotus, so naturally I went for the earliest date! Stupid impatience... Oh, and transferring my GP to where I live as my current one is still 200 miles away in Cardiff! I'll need a medical along with a (hopefully) stamped ARDS pass to apply for my racing license.