Christmas Musings From the Frozen North (Though Somewhere South of Croft.)
Steven Griffin talks us through his automotive plans in his unique way.
My truck was parked outside my barn all ready for an early morning run down to Cadwell. That was 27th November, I haven’t seen the truck since. I rent a nice workshop/barn from a local farmer, it is a wonderful spot high on the Wolds of East Yorkshire. On a good day I can see the glass glinting on York Minster in one direction and the flashing of Flamborough Head lighthouse in the other. This quintessential Englishness is fine until we are greeted by an arctic jet stream and some moist air. The resulting snow has meant that my workshop is as inaccessible as the Pope’s porn collection. The track day at Cadwell was cancelled and I have been offered another one today at Oulton.Park. The Daily Mail screaming something about the worst snow for a hundred years means that there will be no track activity for me again in 2010.
A pity that, I have recently bought a Sierra Cosworth. I had been hatching a cunning plan to buy an old 1.6 GL three door and a tired Sapphire Cosworth and get them to mate. You know how it is. As soon as people learn that you are looking for something then the ‘phone rings. A local Ford specialist pointed me in the direction of someone who had already joined the two cars and had run out of money. So my Cossie is born. An RS 500 replica with all the right bits, enormous intercooler, AP brakes, cage, big injectors etc. It even came with a set of Steve Soper DTM decals. Turning a track day car into a racer has taken some time but it has been fun. It looks fast anyway. I have got to the bit when I don’t want to spend anymore money until I know it goes and stops in the manner that I hope for. The car seems huge sitting next to my Van Diemen and my friend Roger Donnan’s Cossle. We now have only Ford engines in our workshop, a highly tuned Zetec in the Crossle, an 1800 on carbs Zetec in the F4 and the turbo in the RS500 rep. When I was in the states once I saw a girl wearing a tight tee shirt proclaiming that Fords didn’t get older they just got faster. At least I think it’s what it said, I didn’t want to stare.
The Formula Ireland now has a full compliment of wheels, the errant specimen that went flyabout at Croft is now back on the car. The guys at Medina did a nice job. I am reassured that this wheel will stay on the car. Losing a wheel in a first gear corner in bad enough, parting with it in a fast corner could possibly be the last thing that one does…
The damaged undertray is repaired and ready to go back on. For reasons I do not comprehend our friendly eligibility scrutineer was convinced that my car was running too low and the rear wing was too high. The former I can understand but the latter has perplexed me. The car has been in mono under different ownership for years and has never troubled the tape measure. So I am fabricating some wing mounts to move it down and while I’m at it I’ll move it back a bit as well. Somewhere from my A level physics I think torque is something to do with force and distance.
The other problem with the car is its reluctance to pull cleanly out of left hand corners. I have had all the advice from assorted beard stroking individuals over the last year. The chicane at Spa, the hairpin at Croft, the foot of Cadweel’s mountain, the Esses at Snetterton are all a nightmare. The engine takes so long to pick up if I had a radio I would have time to tune it to Classic FM and listen to Beethoven’s 9th before the thing decides to get going. Fine turning right and fine in a straight line but no left turns. Sooner or later a fellow competitor is going to drive into me. The next ‘fix’, if there ever will be one, is to fit a new fuel pump. The current one is for the injection model and has two pressure reducers, it looks a bit Heath Robinson. Again we will have to wait and see. So plenty to do in the workshop when I eventually get there to play.
In the road car department my AMG Mercedes CLK is still a total pleasure to own. If it were an opera Diva it would be Montserrat Caballe’s lungs in Angela Gheorghiu’s body. Now I am all distracted, I saw Giorgou in Boheme at the Met a couple of years ago and I’m still in love… Where was I? Oh yes the bonkers Benz. The traction control lights seem to be on a lot and the rear tyres don’t last long but 375 bhp and 25 mpg along with four seats and a boot make for compelling ownership. Even my wife thinks it is sensible car. Jane is the woman who always suggests that I ‘drive carefully’ when I race. She has a Chrysler Crossfire which is only an SLK in a tart’s dress but a nice bit of kit and very good value second hand. Neither car has exactly excelled in the snow though. We have a teenage son who is about to take his test, £3,800 the cheapest insurance quote for a 1.2 Corsa! The insurance companies just don’t want youngsters do they? I have found the solution though. I have leased a Citroen C1. The lease company are happy for any aged driver as long as you don’t mind a £500 excess. £160 a month all in, car, tax, servicing, tyres, insurance, everything. As guru NanuBrundle would say ‘it’s a no brainer’.
So another year ends, I am older but sadly none the wiser. So what have
I learned in 2010?
Steve, nipping down the shops (or perhaps it might be a DTM Mercedes CLK)
Angela Gheorghiu, Roumanian opera singer. Click Angela to see her singing Mimi's song from Boheme. (see, this site doesn't just do rock&roll).
Guru NanuBrundle, yesterday
Whilst the US can no longer put a man in space, the North can. If Wallace can't reproduce his rocket, I'm sure Avit could knock you one up.