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Gurston Down Final 2008 Meeting

September 14th was the final meeting at Gurston down for this season and it looked promising for a dry day. I had been trading places all season with a 5.0ltr TVR Griffith and was on the back foot for this meeting. To win the class for the season had to produce a time 8 tenths quicker than Steve (TVR driver) which on previous form was well within my grasp.

Strange gremlins had got into my brain during this season and I was struggling to find my previous form. I was running around 1 ½ seconds slower than my best and Steve was getting quicker.

My first practice run I had decided was going to be a quick time just to set the pace for the day, so instead of the usual, I tried a different approach into Hollow bend. I was happy with the result until I started to brake for the entry into Karousel and then my troubles started. On cold brakes and tyres (Dee normally runs in the first batch so she has warmed the car for me) I failed to scrub off as much speed as I normally would and on turning in the rear of the car decided it was bored with following the front all the time and overtook it. I came to a halt nearly at the top of the Karousel complex but facing back up to the start line.
Oh Bother I think I said.

The day continued with only a few hundredths of a second separating Steve and myself and as I sat on the line for my last run I told myself that this had to be an all out effort to produce my old times again. I had a green light and built up the revs to launch speed and let out the clutch. It felt a good start as usual and then I missed 2nd gear. Quickly trying to select 2nd again I managed to find 4th gear instead. That was it I thought ‘Game over’ there is no way to make up lost time in this sport.

Disappointed with myself for missing the gear change I threw the car at the hill determined to at least have a bit of fun and entered Karousel with the tyres protesting loudly. The top of Karousel was as wild as I could get it with the rear of the car snaking all the way up to ashes. Another massive sideways exit and we were heading hard and fast to the finish line.

I was out of the car in the top paddock as Steve arrived and went over to congratulate him on the win knowing that there was no way I had improved my first timed run. He would not believe it though and thought that I was still playing mind games with him. He had beaten me by 7 hundredths of a second.

I did not know at the time that the best was yet to come though. As Dee was taking the car up to the start for her last run, I told her to make it count and enjoy the run.
Watching her as she built up the revs I noticed the car creeping forwards and then she let out the clutch and was gone. I was willing her on as hard as I possibly could as I desperately wanted her to end the season on a high. 77mph in Hollow and 81 mph over the finish and a personal best time to finish the season. A good solid mid 42 second run. That run made me happier than any of the class wins that I have had over the years.

I can honestly say that this has been one of the most fun seasons that I have had in hill climbing and has been very reminisant of the magic late 90s when Pete Tyler, Bev Fawkes  and I were  traipsing around the country doing 17 rounds of hill climb and sprint meetings. The banter in the class has been great fun and although I have lost custody of the ‘Pink hat” for the winter, I have told Steve that he is not allowed to keep it in the downstairs loo along with his other trophies. It must take pride of place in his living room so that visitors will be able to see it and then he can explain why he has a Pink baseball cap with ‘Racing Babe’ on it.

I have many plans for the Z over the winter and really am looking forward to next season already.

A massive thank you has to go to Mark and Elaine at Tisbury Motors for supporting us this season. I am only sorry that I could not produce a class win for them in return but it was not meant to be.
Also big thanks to all who have supported both Dee and me over the years. The support shown to Dee has been most appreciated and has driven her to cast aside the doubts she had this season of her ability. I know I am biased but for me Dee is the class winner this season.