13 - Thruxton

Up at 0830, breakfast by Anthony, and off to Thruxton race track. A fairly long drive (an hour plus) made so easy by yet again Anthony.

At the track, we registered (Geno's rides: click here; Tony's rides:
click here), took in a briefing including a video and we queued up briefly for our 3 lap instructor ride. Very nice and informative.

Next was our laps in the Porsche Caymon where we got to ride with the instructor alongside. Tony was in car #5, and I was in car #6. Tony’s instructor seemed like a nice bloke. When my instructor arrived in the car, my first impression was ”ah no not a girl!” – fast forward from my relapse back to grade 5 and hey, I was OK with it, really. Nice (car)!

Got the hang of the track in the Porsche (5 speed right hand drive), I still tend to turn into the turns a bit early and not accelerate fast enough out of them. My biggest problem in all the cars was not being comfortable of where the brake pedal was and being sure enough that if I needed it in a pinch, my foot would be there. So little room between the pedals, each car different from the last. The impact was as I came to a turn, instead of coming in full and then braking, I would always release the throttle and preplan my braking costing me a second or two as I secured the brake. Doesn’t happen on my Zed since I know where the pedals all are.

Next was the Lamborghini LP640 Murciélago. Wow, 611 horsepower, 6 speed clutchless with paddle shifters, $500,000 CDN car, fast, huge brakes, I actually found them too sensitive at first with just a slight touch braking me faster than I really wanted. On the Campbell Cobb Segrave technical portion of the track, 3 quick turns in succession, my instructor pointed out how easily I took the car through the turns without any leaning of the car – at 85 mph. Not sure if it even felt like I was going 40 mph. What a machine. Don’t think I want one of these, it would take me 5+ minutes to get in and out every time! Cool doors, not practical. Got it to 135MPH so I was told.

While I was in the Lambo, Tony was putting the Porsche 997 Turbo through its paces. I think I lapped him a few times.

Finally it was time for the Formula Renault. I got the wide bodied version of the car, and pointed out that I signed up for the slender one, but was advised that there was more room in this version for my large shoulders. Climbing in was not so tough. Had to straighten my legs and fit them into the small well and then slink down into almost a lying down position. Almost no knee bend. There was no luxury here. 4 speed, the shifting done on a small stick that seemed to be connected to a 1” plumbing pipe that went down the right hand side behind me into the engine. This was a motor on wheels, literally. One of the reasons I chose this as my final car – there is no room for an instructor in a one-seater.

So of I went, alone, except for the video camera above my head, to begin my 5 laps, with no one to remind me of the corner approaching at the top of the rise, or you really should brake now as we are coming to the chicane. Transmission a bit rough, steering oh so sensitive, oh and me sitting (rather lying) down in head dress, helmet, visor, gloves, booties, buckled in a 4 point harness where at first I thought “not so tight, I can’t breath!”.

Started out down pit lane, then took the first few turns easy, got used to the shifter, and I was in heaven – but – also aware that if I got too excited, too fast, too cocky, I really could be in heaven. And knowing that that would be hell for Lisa, I calmed down and enjoyed the ride. Each turn and each lap smother and faster than the previous. I was one with the car. And before I knew it, I got the “IN” sign, last lap chap; and so I pushed the car as fast as I could, and I was smooth, and it was all good. The limiter kicked in several times on my last 2 laps so I did get this car going as fast as they were going to allow me (limited at 140mph or  225km/h - darn). And into pit lane I went, so excited, but my faithful photographer who was there for all the other photo ops (Lisa), was not to be seen. Pity. Not really, she was great.

So what was left for me was my de-brief, my grade, and a CD of the photos. I suggested to Lisa - she was already “down” for an instructor lap for twenty quid. Off she went, I took a few snaps, and buddy said stay there, film her when she returns in 1 ½ minutes. Nope she was gone a good 3 minutes. She was so excited, so many woo-hoos, spreading the Lisa charm that her driver said what the hell let’s go around again. So excited she exited the car with a grin from east to west and yelling and screaming “how cool was that”. The others around probably thought she was a plant!

My final score 80. Tony 81. Scores are under review!!! Women tend to mark harder.

We went for a quick pint and f&c in Lower Whallop near Nether Whallop and other Whallops but really who cares. Except the music playing was strange. One song was Anne Murray signing White Christmas. Typical British pub?!?

Had a scone and clotted cream and jam for dinner. Then we went through some of my 1000 photos and videos…

********** coming soon ********
      Video footage from my cockpit in the Formula Renault
Lisa's joy ride
Thruxton Raceway
Thruxton Raceway's On Track Photos