Spirits are still flying high!
Our MacMillan sing songs:
Spirits are still flying high!
Our MacMillan sing songs:
London, 23rd April 2017: 40 to 50,000 people converge to the start lines. London is gridlocked getting ready for the biggest marathon on Earth.
We are here, more to the point, she is here. Lesley is ready for her biggest sporting challenge yet. The picture of her Mum sealed in her memory, today more then ever.
I have no doubt she will go the distance.
A huge THANK YOU to all her supporters, having raised £2,500, she is now focused on stress management.
Thursday 6:00am I Get into my truck direction Oulton Park. It’s the British GT Opening week-end and I am racing in the Ginetta GRDC+ series. My new mechanic, Kevin was already there and helped put up the awning.
The car did not start but we had a new starter motor as spare So, no big deal, a 20 Minutes job. The view from my “in-house” mechanic was that it was not a starter motor issue but a battery issue, no problem we had that as a spare too. In the end it was a starter motor issue but what we did not realise was that the new starter motor was of different size then the old one. It just did not fit! Ginetta assured us that it should fit…well I don’t know how many Ginetta’s are sold every year but it certainly not a mass production item! So it’s kind of a constant prototype development type of story I guess.
Well the rest of the day was spent trying to fit alternator… the advice was to file the sump to create more space. That was just too risky for us. Ginetta did not carry the old version, but luckily Phil McGarthy sold me an old refurb starter motor. Tired we went to our hotel at 21:30. Phil, a racing competitor, started his team last year and looks the proper part now as well as having improved his driving skills…another one to watch.
6:30am, ready for the testing day. The weather is not great, the track is wet and greasy, but that is part of the fun. There will be a lot of red flags, sliding and catching going on, I need to find where the limit is in those conditions. I am just not doing enough testing compared with the others. I go out with a car that had not been spanner checked. A misunderstanding between mechanics hand-over…
As I was taking a fast corner, I heard a bang and a swerling noise. I knew I’d lossed at least my fan belt. I decided to complete my corner and take the short circuit layout called Fosters back to the pit lane. I never got that far, I span without knowing why and headed for the tyre wall. My bonnet damaged and plenty of fumes coming out from underneath it were not a good omen. Could my engine be on fire? I quickly got out and escaped behind the tyre wall to safety.
Unbeknown to me, my mechanic watched the incident unfold; I was loosing my pink coolant which caused me to spin as I drove on it in the turn. A bolt was missing from the alternator, the resulting pressure snapped the alternator bracket. The belt went off, the water pump stopped working, the pressurised coolant found it’s way out. On a straight it went under my car and did not affect my grip. My right rear tyre went on it as I turned…into the wall!
Another tragedy, another testing day gone and plenty of work to be completed quickly before the qualification tomorrow. The header tank was cut open and needed replacing. Unfortunately Ginetta nor any of the teams carried that part. We went to the circuit shop, looked at online shops, all header tanks are of different shapes and sizes, nothing like mine.
As we were running around like headless chickens, Ginetta was also trying to find a solution. Callum, the Ginetta parts man organised for someone to open the factory in Leeds. Nice gesture! But it dawned on me that there was no mention of any company manufacturer on the tank. It was a Ginetta part that started with G5; could it be a common part to other cars? YES! Ginetta actually carried them for another series. I was so happy to get my hands on it.
I came back all smiles but my mechanic was not enthusiastic. He found that the alternator bracket had been alterered. The standard part would not hold the alternator safely, I was back to square one with a bigger problem on my hands. Simon, the Ginetta production manager was very nice as usual, and we looked for a solution. I left it with the Ginetta team, Lee came to have a look, I went to the circuit parts shop. The manager actually found me a friendly welder who would come on Good Friday and open his workshop to solve my problem!
By 17:30 we had a working solution. By 19:00 we had all parts fitted. By 20:00 we had a running car. We just had to prep it: ride height, weight, toe, camber…Curtains at 21:30 again!
I feel the world is working against me. No I am not the only one, I remember seeing a competitor refitting a whole engine today. Another working under his bonnet and yet another not being able to go out. No I am definitely not the only one.
It was time to get back to the hotel and have a few drinks. I went for a reasonably early to bed that night. Unfortunately my room was adjacent to a snoring master who liked to sleep with his loud TV on. I think I got 3 hours cursing him and 3 hours sleep that night.
To donate, click: SOS Village children having fun.
Today I will tell you about Lesley’s first Marathon: the money raising Marathon prior to the real event in London later on this month.
We went to the West End where Paul Carroll, owner and main performer of MHT, invited us backstage to meet the team. We then took our VIP seats and enjoyed the show. A rollercoaster of emotions, laughter and energy that the public obviously enjoyed as they never stopped clapping – as if they were paid to cheer! Having already raised over €100,000 for MacMillan while on tour,
Paul talked beautifully about Lesley’s recent events and challenge. Lesley & our Amina (11 years old) stood by the doors at the end collecting what was an outpour of generosity.
As we were walking back to our hotel on the Strand, happy, laughing and ice cream in hand, we passed a man sleeping rough on the street. As I gave him a few pounds, he asked me what we were doing. Bemused I told him we were going back home; he shook his head and asked what we we doing with “the bucket”. I told him we were raising money for charity. Once he learned it was for MacMillan, he spontaneously offered to donate! He told me how his mother was helped in her hour of need and handed back one of the pounds I gave him with the instruction to put it in the bucket. My immediate reaction was to say no, I did not want to take his money… but who am i to deny him? What makes me the decider of what is right or wrong, who should give or not? So i accepted his kindness and shook his hand goodbye, palming some notes. We looked at one another, holding hands, not uttering a word as our eyes filled up. Two worlds crossing paths. A connection on a pure human basis was made. What a kind man, I found myself tears streaming down my face in front of my children around midnight at the Strand, thinking about fairness, kindness, luck and responsibility… while our valet brought our car around and the man got into his sleeping bag.
Thank you Stranger for this lesson of life.