SOMETHING FOR CHRISTMAS?
It's the time of year when people often say “what can I get you for Christmas?”. Now, whilst personally I can never have too many reams of 7 column accounts analysis paper or books on advanced spreadsheet techniques, there are a few gifts I can suggest which might be of more use to a real racer. My suggestions below might ensure that you get onto the grid when you wouldn't otherwise, which might make them a good investment.
If your rear light fails, whether due to electrical problems, old age or assault in a previous session by another car, you may not be allowed to start. Which would be a pity. So now might be a good time to re-check your light and consider either a replacement or a re-wire. Don't forget to check the switch. And since it's such an important safety item, why not carry a spare? It could be a cheaper one than your normal version- they seem to start around £20 -, or you could get together with some friends to share a spare. The requirements are “An LED rear fog light to ECE Regulation 7, an FIA homologated LED rear warning light, or an LED stop light to ECE Regulation 38 is mandatory and must be mounted in accordance with K5 of the 2011 MSA Yearbook”. For information, the FIA list can be found here. May be worth a call to Dermot?
Whatever you do, please make sure for your sake and your fellow racer's sake that it works.
Some noise judges are notoriously inflexible. It can often seem reasonable to be checked good and early so that if there's a problem you can do something – after all, in principle, if you have the car scrutineered and then add an extra silencer you should have it re-scrutineered. Which will mean your chances of reaching practice will be slightly less than Ann Widdecombe getting the lead in Birmingham Royal Ballet's Nutcracker. So can you have it checked early? Of course you can – in your dreams. In reality you can usually only be checked when it's too late to get it wrong. Much better to buy a cheap and cheerful noise meter. I own a £15 Silverline one which came from ebay and seems to be the same as many other cheap Chinese ones, just with a different badge. Whilst the MSA would spurn it, it's given readings which are pretty reliable in comparison with the official meters. The only snag is that noise checking on the drive annoys the neighbours.
And while talking about noise checks, don't make the mistake which I did. My gearbox is very noisy and I forgot to pop it into gear for the noise check, which quietens it down hugely. It wasn't helped by the noise judge sticking his probe up against a one inch diameter plastic pipe over the gearbox rather than against the big black pipe belching out noxious exhaust fumes attached to a huge aluminium silencer poking out of the sidepod, but then I've not been lucky with officials this year. Maybe the lesson is to have a Lovely Assistant with a huge sign pointing to the exhaust.
Not really anything to say here which hasn't already been said. At £800 for the “pro” versions, which I believe are the only ones you can get which have a recline angle of over 20 degrees, they're clearly a ripoff as they use a few quid's worth of Carbon and far less ironmongery than a £150 seatbelt set. But they're recommended by Steve Griffin, “the Mono Medic”, and as Geoff Fern said when you need them, there isn't an alternative.
Knickers, Belts and Hats
We had a bit of a kerfuffle at the beginning of last year when a few people had out of date overalls. It wouldn't be a bad idea to check out the dates on your belts and to check that your helmet is still ok for next year. The list from the MSA 2011 Blue Book is set out below and in the link- but please check yourself before relying on it. And if you're returning to racing after a gap, check the overalls. Also, if you're thinking of doing Spa (which is a must for every racer's CV) consider getting 8856-2000 compliant underwear and gloves, since Spa is red hot on labels. Even if you aren't doing Spa, clean underwear is good.
Happy Christmas and good luck with getting what you want from Santa.
Pictures thanks to Demon Tweeks, Oki printers and unknown.
Cheap & cheerful £20 rain light
£200 rain light
£15 noise meter