10 September 2000
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Setting off to Birmingham on Saturday, Clare and I stayed with Martin and Julie While. As ever, Mr. Hughes popped over and we cleaned my car (I must get one of those AutoGlym leathers!).
|We JUST managed to squeeze my car into the neighbour's garage overnight with millimeters to spare!||
Note Martin's gleaming FTO in the top pic and the FTO mug in the lower pic :)
The cars were put to bed when they were nice and clean, but it would be a 5am start the following morning! Meeting up with Jon Jones in a service station and driving to Linley's, the motorway was very quiet at that un-holy hour!
One of the best turnouts we've seen made the Trax2000 event an eye opener for the FTO Owners Club. Last year there were over 80 car clubs present and this year it was even bigger!
In total we had somewhere between 37 and 40 FTO's on the stand!
|We didn't have the best stand because this time around we were on grass near the centre of the circuit which was a little out of the way. Still, we did genererate a good deal of interest as people were walking around.|
Some of us had early circuit ride tickets, meaning that a professional driver took us round the circuit in either a Pugeot 306 (6-speed) or a Lotus Elise. Martin While and I drew the Pug and we asked the driver to show us the lines we should be using in the forthcoming track session. We were both impressed by the smoothness and calmness of the driver. He carried a great deal of speed into the corners and remained very calm while talking us round. We'd find out later that it wasn't as scary driving yourself round the track as being passengers!
The Track Session
After the briefing (a quick session of "do's" and "dont's" and a lot of finger wagging) we had just enough time to get back to the cars and prepare them for the track session.
Imagine the scene - 27 FTO's line up in two columns, the sun beating down. Everyone had long sleves and trousers and of course we were wearing racing helmets - "cool" was not a word to spring to mind. My air-con was on full for the 5-minutes we were stationery but would be switched off when I entered the track. Martin While's site has an excellent picture of us lined up at the start.
I was at the front with Dave White to my left. Looking over at Dave through his darkned windows, he sat there as cool as ice while I was really on edge - my nerves were on end and the adrenaline was starting to flow. Speaking to people after the event I found that everyone was feeling the same! When the marshalls directed me onto the track I navigated my car quickly around the Luffielf complex and Woodcote in order to get a good lead built up. I think I was a little keen going into Woodcote as the rear end stepped out :)
Me and Dave White snapped my Martin at almost exactly the same place on the track - on the approach to Maggotts
A clear track ahead of me helped build up a lead of around 15 seconds. I caught up with Taz before the start and finish line again but she pulled off the track. Eventually I started overtaking and lapping cars, making my way though about 90% of the field before the session was over. Some people saw me approach and moved over but others made it more difficult and had to be passed on the straights by taking a slingshot out of bends. Some of the fast drivers were Dave White, Stu Mutch, Martin While and Dave Hughes. Most people thoroughly enjoyed themselves and quite a number of people are now gagging for a track day!
(above) Around Maggotts - the hairpin (just out of shot) is very tricky as it was easy to unsettle the car under braking. This was a popular place for people to go off (including some FTO's!). The speed at this point would be around 80-90mph after a touch on the brakes (F1 cars will be doing 160mph at this point!) and the corner is aken at around 40mph in the FTO.
This shot is a beauty - thanks Andy! See the two cars - red & yellow? The red one is me on the approach to Bridge, the yellow one is Dawn in the gravel at Abbey corner. Also notice the tyre smoke :)
Following Dawn down towards Abbey she braked too late into the corner and locked the wheels ending up on the grass. I accelerated through the corner and away after checking she was okay.
On the limit at Woodcote. Notice how the rear wheel stays perpendicular to the track - a nice feature of the excellent suspension.
These next three shots were taken on the cool-down lap as we were in formation - (thanks to Andy for the photos again)
(above) I ended up shredding a set of EBC Red Stuff brake pads and almost succeeded in welding the backing plates to the discs! This picture courtesy of Steve Hemming.
|This is me and Dave Hughes changing my brake pads. Not exactly F1 pitstop speed but very much appreciated, thanks Dave!|
Another shot of us changing the pads spurred by onlookers :)
(above) The pad to the left of the disc; this is how much material SHOULD be on your pads - the pad to the right of the disc; what not to do at a track day!
Note - if anyone shot some digital video footage on the day I would like to hear from you! I am looking for footage to include in the next FTO Owners Club Video and if I use your footage you'll get a free copy! Please email me if you have a tape (I can get it back to you within a couple of days).
I would like to publicly thank Steve Hemming, Martin While and Andy McNaughton Jones for allowing me to use their photos on this site. Also thanks to Martin & Julie for the stay and Dave Hughes for helping me change my pads!!
For other write-ups and pictures of Trax 2000, see Martin While's site, Steve Hemming's site and the FTO Owners Club site.
Visit the Links section and look for the FTO Owners Club Resource to see some more rally photos