It’s been some time since “Hooly” and I have been to the track. All racing has been suspended to rock climbing and fitness with several meetings thrown in. All we’ve done was work on our business houndagency.com until the Supercars came to town.
As a potential client is based at the racetrack and Dan is a member of the track, we got to wander up and down the garages that we’ve called home when Dan was racing. All the garages had been taken over by the teams that Dan will hopefully one-day race for, with or against. We braved the weather to see these big V8s in action.
Defying a manticore
As the sky opened up and the rain began to fall we looked for shelter as neither of us thought to bring an umbrella. Walking up and down the pit lane Dan saw an old karting buddy. Ushered in out from the rain we huddled into the garage standing beside the family and friends of one of the drivers. Staying out of the way of the driver and the crew, we perched ourselves in front of the monitors of the weather, cars, times and race.
While talking with the family and friends, the heavens released a torrent of water. Dan was explaining several sections of the track where people will spin out as he had in fact spun out there several weeks earlier. With in seconds, several cars spun out on that section while plumes of water sprayed up over the competitors making visibility next to nothing. We were informed it was the first wet race held in over three years.
After the race was over we wandered around as the rain had stopped. While walking around the team trucks, Dan bumped into an old friend who owns one of the team. After a chat we were ushered out of the rain and into the pits again of another team. Dan and the owners talked and joked about the wet racetrack as the Porsches took to the field. Like the V8s before, they to face plumes of water.
With the rain starting once again we left the track as we had a friend’s farewell drinks that night. We returned to base to change and get pretty. Once more we braved the cold and headed out, this time to opera bar. Meeting with our friend who flew out the next morning at 5am, we lived it up making some new friends who also had an interest in racing.
While talking about racing Dan had a brainwave. As his racing team had done some promotional work for a couple of companies, he had scored some free experiences. He gave these experiences to me as payment for shooting him at the track. The sneaky bugger had organised this to be used at the track for a race experience day to give me a hands on view on what he does.
Well yesterday was that day. I was to be strapped into a car and go around a supervised track. We piled into Dan’s car and zipped off to the track. With a hour before the race briefing and safety checks, I was ripped on by all the team of mechanics and drivers from the Anglo Motorsports who I’ve come to know through shooting Dan on the sidelines. All had heard of the wager between Dan and I, a six-pack of beer to him if I spun out voided if I stalled.
Chatting to several people who had done the experience or had a friend doing the experience, I slowly sank into my borrowed driving suit praying that I wasn’t driving first. Being known by the team it happened I would be first. After the track drive I was strapped into the car. It has been over ten years since I’ve been in a manual car let alone use a clutch. My racing experience has only been on simulators and gaming consoles or on the track beside Dan who isn’t really the best teacher.
In the cockpit with visor pulled down I turned over the engine and… Stalled. A magnificent stall that turned heads of the mechanics, drivers and everyone else there. After restarting I was ushered onto the track. Finding second gear, I pushed down the throttle and off I went. Racing driver I’m not as I was lapped twice and slow. I blamed the fear of spinning out and the damage of the car for my slow speed.
After a final ribbing of all the team Dan and I headed off to go karting. Dan had set his mind to the fact that if I raced, he’d race too and dragged me along. We drove over to Ultimate Karting Sydney and signed up for three 10-lap sessions after Dan had chatted with the owner (we saw him at the track during the V8s sparking Dan’s interest in dragging me along). Once track side and nodded on by all the staff, we geared up and hit the track. My kart was lucky 13.
I’ve seen Dan before a race, during a race and after race. I’ve never seen him drive as a part of a race. Technically, Dan race and me, seeing what it’s like. It was foot to the floor and praying to the race gods not to spin or stall. Dan sped away with me trailing behind concentrating on how to turn, not to spin and trying ever so hard not to drift.
By this stage I was used to being lapped so let the competitors lap me a couple of times as I tried hard to understand the kart, corners and lap times. Not understanding any I just let myself go and had fun. Keeping in mind the flags issued to my driving I still had fun cackling wildly as I pulled off turns that I thought were ok.
The racer in Dan was ever present as he viewed the results in disdain as he had come second a group of three by a tenth of a second or something like that. I am used to this Dan as its what I shoot when I’m at the track. As we watched children rocket around the track in kid go-karts, I prayed to the racing gods that I wouldn’t spin. Then it was our turn again.
With several new contenders on the track, two kids and another adult, we powered up and sped onto the track. By now I was really used to being lapped but unlike at the formula ford track, this was at speed and lower the to the ground. Taking Dan’s words to heart “accelerate and brake the whole time” I tried that but it was different. And it didn’t work. All that I needed to know is that it was fun.
With another brief break from racing Dan chatted to the other racer who had beaten Dan by a tenth of a second. They talked about go karting as a professional sport and the prices depending on which level is entered. They both sized each other up as they were in for a final show down in the final session. With the brief break over we re helmed and headed back to our karts. Mine was now 19, Dan’s previous kart, and Dan had 13.
With a new kart that had been doing better times, I knew that I would make it go as slow as my previous kart. Dan and the rest of the field sped off to leave me with an empty track to try and create a race craft while he tried to get the best time possibly. Knowing what he looked like in full suit I tried to give the field more room until I cut fine on a corner getting in his way. Dan bumped me several times while I cackled merrily and swore at him in Spanish.
With our final session over and Dan on top by a tenth of a second (I wasn’t really paying attention as I wanted to get my borrowed monkey suit off). Wanting food as the only I ate all day was from eight hours earlier, we headed to the café but not before Dan’s rival collected lap times. Dan, like a red rag to a bull, wanted to see his times on paper. With lap times in hand and a place in fastest of the week, we finally got some pizza and talked about the day.
We recapped the day of racing and how my understanding of motorsports athletes now increased as you have to be fit to throw a car around a track at high speed. Dan’s documentary skills were tested too as he filmed me after my car lap. This was liked by Dan’s racing hero’s son, as were the photos that I joked around with friends and family. On the ride home with the tunes pumping, my respect of motorsport had increased immensely.
You may think that driving a car that you do everyday is easy. Try throwing it around the track. If not your car, why not try a car shaped like a bullet that can go through a corner faster than a V8. If that isn’t hard enough or too hard then try a go kart. If that doesn’t teach you to respect a racing car driver as an athlete then you need to learn how to do it yourself.
A massive thanks to the crews at Anglo Motorsport and Ultimate Karting Sydney for letting me try and get my speed on.
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