Birger Knutsen, Mini Cooper S, Rudskogen 2009

At full chat...

Well, results-wise it was excellent, but this saturday was marred by a very poorly organized event.

To put things into perspective; someone came up with the grand scheme of running an entire race weekend on a saturday – for the National Cup races. With even more classes than usual. The motif was supposedly that people didn’t want to spend the entire weekend at the track. Well, boll****. There’s one reason: it’s too costly to run a two-day National Cup event. Track hire etc.

I’ve been against this from the start; it absolutely kills the social part of club racing, as you have to hit the ground running on saturday morning and keep off the hurdles all day long – with barely the time to say hello to a familiar face. If they manage to run the event on time, that is.And this is what didn’t happen at this race.

Note: I am full of respect for the volunteers laying their lives (more or less) on the line to make these events happen – and full of respect. So this is in no way a personal attack – just an objective, and from what I hear, general impression of the event.I think it was mainly a matter of overbooking, of a way too large a handful.

From the start; the “invitation” was done in a semi-hostile tone (full of CAPITALIZED, underlined and red DON’Ts. The first thing to notice was marshals smoking in pit lane. Something that was explicitly forbidden (for a good reason too…)

Arriving at the track at 0645 saturday morning, the place was simply put, overbooked (My race alone had 24 entries). I spent more than 30 minutes simply driving into the paddock to find a space. Which was shite. I was in the middle of the road – along with hundreds of other cars. No room for even a toolbox, and we had to keep moving our cars so that other classes could get to the track. The sorry/soggy people who had camped overnight had not gotten any power, which they had paid for.

Eventually, I drove my car to scrutineering, and entered the (unmarked) booth to enter, and pay the NOK 3000 fee. There were a few of my mates there, who tried to pay with plastic. No way. The orders were to drive off to the closest village, and find an ATM (this track is in the middle of nowhere – about 30mins from an ATM). Rigid. So, some people, eyes nearly rolling out of their heads, drove off like mad to get this done and still do the event. Some people simply opted out. Quote “If this is so bloody hard, I’ll spend my money elsewhere. Goodbye.”

Scrutineering, however, was smooth, and pleasant.

By the time we had managed to navigate our way up to the line-up area (what line-up area?), we got a nice 45 min wait, even though we were the 2nd class out. So already, the schedule was busted.

The track was semi-wet, semi well-oiled & sanded. Hillarious. I’ve had more of a racing feeling driving a shopping trolley at our local supermarket. Us poor uns on CR65s had a torrid time, but at least we were tightly matched.
The drivers meeting was a laugh – held during motorbike practise, so nobody heard anything (No PA system, there was one speaker working somewhere I was told – during the entire event).

For the first race, we had another splendid wait during line-up, and then when we were off to race, the starts went tits up. We use rolling starts, and this is for some reason, soooo difficult to get right. For once, the pace car held a steady pace, until the last bend. Then it sped up, and drivers being told to keep pace with it tried to do so. This was wrong. Start didn’t happen. Only after some hand signals by the organizers did we all manage to start in formation. On the other hand, some people have misunderstood the concept of trying to warm their tires. When the warm-up lap is more dangerous than the race itself, you start wondering :-)

Video – both races:

I got a decent start, and had a very interesting first corner. It all played out well in the dry race (but oily track), and with a totally kack gearbox I was concerned with completing the race. The rest of the race wasn’t too eventful, but I did manage to grab the class win by a good margin, and just managed to stay ahead of Tom Herskedal in his Period G Mini on it debut – which was very impressive indeed. Tom has converted from racing a Corvette – and runs a motor shop, so to see him quick in a fast car wasn’t too surprising!

“It was like oiled ice out there, wheelspin everywhere, and when some brake fluid was added to the groove things got just plain nuts.”

Race two almost didn’t happen. So much sillyness happened, and in the end it was delayed by nearly two hours. 5 people had retired with problems, some left in disgust from the delays. And it rained. Another cheeky start, and I was best pre 65 car, and kept it that way. It was like oiled ice out there, wheelspin everywhere, and when some brake fluid was added to the groove things got just plain nuts. Then, all of a sudden, the checkered flag was out – way too soon. Later I was told that this was because the organizers would get fined for running after 18.00 hours. So they cut our race short, and nobody else got to race their 2nd race! Hooray!

Anyway – another class win.

Well – Could have added a bible-thick list of comedy & errors from this race, but can’t be bothered. A sad end to a super season.

I think I ended up 2nd overall in our championship (damn that bolt at CSM), class winner national, class winner SHM. So happy. And the car survived! It’s going to get some serious pampering this winter!

Doc had a fantastic Q and race 1 – and is now truly racing. He surprised most of the field by doing so well, and had a super finish lined up, but suffered a puncture on the last lap. Still, he bagged a class 2nd, but didn’t get to do race 2. Watch for his essay from this race….

Pictures soon I hope, maybe video, but the races weren’t really that entertaining. Still, I could post the warm-up laps….