Traditional Penny Shoes For Golf ball
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Both Wendy and myself wanted to send out a massive thanks to everyone who came along to our Boys Toys Day yesterday, it was great seeing so many familiar faces as well as a lot of new people come along, it really was an epic day with a brilliant turnout of some amazing cars from all era’s, quite possibly the best yet over the 3 events we have held so far, also how lucky were we with the weather? I am sure God must be a petrolhead
Also I want to send out a massive thanks to Dom at Radical and Daz at UPE Motorsport for their support and help throughout the day, top job guys, and also a huge thanks again to the HFL Support team of the BBQ master’s Ross and Damian who we definitely couldn’t have coped without their help and also thanks to Sean and Sophie for helping run the Sim room which proved very popular indeed with most people finding it quite a challenge, I will post the 5 top times later in the week regarding the free hospitality.
So thanks again everyone and happy motoring throughout the summer, hope to see you all again for the Boys Toys Day 2019
Please find a few snaps below from the day, sorry if your cars is not here, I didn’t take too many pics as I was too buys gassing through the day
Some Competition for next year :)
Just a quick update regarding this Saturday’s Boys Toys Day, I guess the main thing is that the weather is looking good with cloud and sun and hitting a rather nice 72 degrees, so the perfect weather to take the car out for a spin, we've got a fair few Lotus's coming along but the more the merrier so please feel free to come along if you fancy a drive.
We’ll be spending all day Friday setting up, well saying that most of it will probably be trying to set a time on the Simulator even Wendy has been practicing at home and isn’t actually too bad for a first attempt, we will be putting the sim in our upstairs demo room in a full 5.4.1 Atmos setup, we have also ordered a large cork board so we can post everyones lap times on there, just like the Top Gear leaderboard with the top 5 times getting full hospitality at our Silverstone Radical SR1 Race on June 23rd, We’ll also have our Naim Room and Highend Room playing some music through the day with a small headphone system setup also in the headphone room, although to be fair I expect everyone to be outside enjoying the cars, weather and BBQ.
Watch Those Cattle Grids!
Radical are bringing along their bonkers RXC Road car for us to drool over and UPE Motorsport will be bringing my Radical SR1 + one of their racing Caterham’s to help try and tempt any motorsport fans on to the track.
A heads up if you are bringing along a really low car, when you turn into Millow Hall Farm don’t follow the signs to The Granary Building as that will take you over the cattle grids and speed bumps, go straight on and that will take you round the barns into the car park which is much easier.
So everything will be set for a fun and relaxed day, we’ve actually cleared out the local butchers of burgers and sausages so if you love your cars and music please feel free to join us between 10am - 4pm this Saturday.
Now I just need to find the time to get my car cleaned
Look forward to seeing everyone on Saturday.
I have no problem in saying that when it comes to speakers I have quite a soft spot for Wilson Audio speakers, it was only a couple of years ago that I heard my first pair of Wilsons but it was one of those moment in HiFi that I will never forget, very much like when I heard a pair of PMC BB5 XBD’s, it really changed what you think is possible from a speaker.
So when Wilson announce a new speaker then that is big news indeed, well being that the new TuneTot is Wilson’s smallest speaker perhaps big news is the wrong saying but I have no doubt that even though the TuneTot is on the smaller size it will give a much bigger performance than you would think possible, very much in the same way as the incredible Sabrina.
The idea of the TuneTot is to be able to give you that wonderful natural Wilson presentation for when space is a consideration and a floorstander speaker is just not possible, according to Wilson Audio the TuneTot has the same tonal characteristic’s as the mighty Wamm which really is saying something.
The UK price hasn’t been confirmed yet but looking at the US price I would say we’d be looking around the £10k mark, certainly not cheap but I am confident that this small speaker will perform like no other.
Just wanted to post a few pictures from last weekends race at Snetterton, a big thanks to Oliver Read, Radical’s Photographer for taking such awesome pictures
Looking back on my 2nd race weekend I would say I did OK but not great, made big gains on Friday in testing thanks to my coach Tom Gladdis where he helped me find over 5 seconds from where I started the day getting down to a 2 min 3 sec lap which I was pretty happy with bearing in mind I had never driven the Snetterton 300 layout before.
Race day was a bit of a mixed bag really, I think I was still on the sun bed on my holiday to be honest, qualified 10th for both races, we had some new guys join the grid for this weekend who had a lot of race experience so it was difficult to compete with them. We also reverted over to rolling starts for the first time which was a little nerve racking beforehand but actually went pretty smoothly.
The first race started off OK then around half way I kind of just settled into a pace and almost stopped pushing, not really sure what that was all about to be honest, then between races we had a big downpour which was starting to dry out before the race but conditions were very slippery and as I had never driven in the wet before I just wasn’t confident to push at the start, especially as cars were spinning off on the warm up laps so I went into self preservation mode and just wanted to get to the end in one piece, in the end half way through the race we had a safety car as someone spun off and got stuck in a dangerous place so it wasn’t much of a race but on the last lap I was just starting to feel the grip levels when the chequered flag came out, but good experience if nothing else.
The main objective was to finish both races which I did and I closed the gap to my fellow ‘Fangio’ Competitors but in all honesty I was hoping to be a little more competitive.
Silverstone next though on June 23rd, this is the one race I have been looking forward to the most so I am really hoping I can be more competitive there.
Please find below the video of my best lap from the weekend, as you can see the gearbox got stuck in 5th going into the last corner so I would imagine I lost a fair bit of time there but all in all I was pretty happy with the lap.
This is a real quick one to just say that we now have the new Spendor A4 and A7 on permanent demo, I only un-boxed them last night but I think it is fair to say that Spendor have been on a roll lately with the excellent D7 followed by the D9 so really keen to listen to these.
I decided to go with the premium satin white finish on the A4 which actually looks really smart and the black ash on the A7 which also works, the A4 is priced at £2195 for standard colours with the white coming in at £2415 and the A7 starts at £2995 with white costing £3295.
I will have them running in over the next few days so if you fancy a listen please feel free to pop in.
So now the dust has settled to this years Munich Highend Show, which looks to have been a great year, it’s time to look back at what exciting new products we have to look forward to for the rest of this year.
Hugo TT 2 DAC / Headphone Amp / Pre-Amp
For me two of the hottest products have got to be from Chord Electronics, the first being the Hugo TT 2, as a Hugo TT user at home I have been eagerly awaiting for the new Rob Watts FPGA chipset seen in the Hugo 2 and Qutest to make its way to a revised Hugo TT and here it is and it certainly doesn’t disappoint.
With revised casework it also offers a more powerful headphone side, 4 different filter settings, lower noise floor and has removed the internal battery as seen in the original TT.
It will be available around Autumn time priced at £3996 which bearing in mind the only DAC more powerful than Hugo TT 2 is Chord’s own DAVE then it is great value, we will have a Hugo TT 2 on demo asap and if you would like to get to the front of the queue for one once available then please feel free to get in touch to place your order, we would just need a 10% deposit and are happy to look at anything regarding trading in any other equipment.
Choral Etude Stereo Power Amplifier
So this is big news for Chord as it is the first time in nearly 30 years that they have developed a new analogue topology which heralds a new era for powerful, wide bandwidth, low noise and low distortion amplifiers that will no doubt filter into other Chord amplifier designs going forward.
This new amp is conservatively rated at 150 Watts Per Channel into 4 ohms in stereo mode or 300 WPC in bridged mono mode with the new design giving faster power delivery than existing Chord Electronics designs, offering ‘unrivalled dynamics, a life-like delivery of transient information, plus effortless control over loudspeaker drive units’ according to Chord.
It is designed to be part of Chord Choral range so is the perfect partner for DAVE + BLU II which when the 3 are stacked in Chord’s really cool Choral Stands makes an extremely high-end and stylish system that does’t take up loads of floorspace.
Bearing in mind how many DAVE customers there are out there I can see this being a very popular product for Chord to complete customers systems, it is due around Autumn and will be priced at £3900 making very attractively priced, needless to say we will have one on demo asap.
So I don’t know how many others watched the clock tick down on PMC’s website for the big reveal but I have to admit I wasn’t expecting what I saw, absolutely stunning design, in a nutshell this is the Flagship Fact Speaker that has been rumoured for many years now, apparently 5 years in development, they will cost £45,000 a pair and are named the Fact Fenestria, I really can’t wait to hear these, needless to say we will be having a Fenestia open day as soon as possible.
You can read more below on PMC’s website -
+ The brochure can be read below -
Apparently they stand at 1.7m tall, I am just glad we have now got bigger demo rooms, wouldn’t have liked to have got them up the stairs to our original demo room
Apparently PMC have called these ‘the speaker you will never hear’ as the 5 year development has all been about eliminating any distortion or colouration the speaker my induce so all you will hear is the music, I’m really pleased to see the PMC 75 mid range driver on them, as a MB2 owner for many years I know just how good this mid is.
They will be available from September onwards in the standard Fact finishes of Walnut, Graphite and Tiger Ebony.
This really is a statement speaker from PMC that really does move them into a different arena really as I know a lot of us have owned IB’s, MB’s and even BB’s at home but although these are tall they are much more domestic friendly and really take on the likes of Wilson Audio and the likes, I really can’t wait to have a listen, more info as we get it.
So here we go again, just a quick headsup for anyone that is following my Radical SR1 race adventures that the 2nd race weekend is with us already this coming Friday / Saturday at Snetterton, basically practicing on the Friday with Qualifying and 2 races on the Saturday. Snetterton looks a little more straightforward than Oulton Park in that it is flat and wide but it is actually a very fast circuit so the car will definitely be able to stretch its legs and I will get more practice at trying to get the hang of keeping the speed up in the fast corners which is my main weakness.
I feel much more prepared for this weekend now that I know the procedure of how a race day pans out + I have spent more time in the car so feel a bit more confident there. My main goal for this weekend is to be more competitive than at the first race at Oulton but also the main priority is to finish both races being that I only finished one at Oulton as I spun off in the 2nd race.
New Car Livery
So in-between races we have had the car’s livery designed in HiFi Lounge colours with our Sponsors put on the car, I actually haven’t seen it myself yet so this weekend will be it’s first showing, can’t wait to see it, we have a photoshoot planned for the following week so that we can announce our Sponsors officially and to get the story in the HiFi mags but at least the car will be more noticeable on track from now onwards.
Follow Our Progress with TSL Timing
We actually have quite a few friends coming along to support us for this event as well as taking advantage of the Radical hospitality package so look forward to seeing everyone on the Saturday, for those who can’t make it along but would still like to follow our progress there is a brilliant website called TSL Timing where you can follow qualifying and the race, please see link below -
So fingers crossed for a dry weekend so that I can hopefully get a better feel for how I fare up against the rest of the competition in the SR1 Cup.
For those who are coming along please see the event calendar below, looks like it will be a fun weekend of racing.
I am sure everyone has now heard the very say news that OPPO are leaving the domestic hardware market to concentrate on their mobile phone market which apparently is the biggest part of their business, I think this news has come as a shock to many, myself included, I have been using OPPO players long before setting up HiFi lounge so this news is certainly going to leave a big hole in the market for quality and affordable disc spinners and I think that I will always remember where I was when I heard the news very much like when I heard that Pioneer were pulling out the Plasma TV Market, an equally sad day, but the world continues
The good news is that we have just heard that OPPO have setup their European warehouse as promised, I understand that this is where all the remaining stock for the UDP-205 and 203 will be held so we can still supply at the moment, I have no idea how long this stock is going to last so if you want one of the last OPPO players then please feel free to get in touch asap so as to make sure you don’t miss out, I know I will be ordering a UDP-205 for myself.
Everyone knows that we are big enthusiasts of PMC Speakers so when we get notification that at the Munich Highend Show they will release ‘an extremely significant audio design’ we sit up and take notice.
The good news is that the Munich Show starts 10th May so we really haven’t got too much longer to wait, you can follow the link below where all will be revealed, with the words ‘Phenomenon’ and ‘Flagship’ being used I am expecting this to be something very special indeed, the only clue we have so far is the picture released above, anyone got any ideas? -
Below is a copy of the press release from PMC -
‘For over 25 years, the Emmy-winning design philosophy behind PMC’s loudspeakers has been to eradicate everything that isn’t music, such as unnatural resonance, distortion and noise. This has taken years of obsessive attention to detail at all stages of product design, from component selection and placement to construction, testing and - most of all - listening.
PMC loudspeakers are now found at all stages of music creation, used by the world’s leading composers, in the finest recording, mixing and mastering studios and in audiophile listening environments everywhere. Our intimate involvement at all levels of musical creativity means that we know what it is to capture all the emotion in a performance.
This accumulation of vast skill and knowledge has been applied to a flagship loudspeaker of ultimate transparency and clarity that will be unveiled at this years High End exhibition; Room F123. It will be a highly significant day for the audio world.’
Needless to say once we know more I will update our website, just wish I was going to Munich this year to find out first hand, not long to wait though.
All very exciting!
Radical posted highlights from our first race weekend at Oulton Park up on YouTube a couple of days ago if anyone would like a look, haven't bought myself to watch them yet but looks like great coverage, links to Race 1 and Race 2 below.
So as far as I am concerned when it comes to headphone news it doesn’t get any bigger than this as a Stax SR-009 user myself, as part of their 80th Anniversary year Stax have just announced their new Flagship Earspeaker, the Stax SR-009S based on the brilliant SR-009 but using a new lighter diaphragm and revised thinner chassis to help with any colouration this brings.
Personally I am hoping for the same amazing transparency of the SR-009 but with a little more bass weight like the brilliant SR-L700′s, early reports seem to indicate though that they are a slightly smoother and rounded version of the SR-009 whilst retailing the same level of space and air, very much like Sennheiser did with the HD800S compared to the HD800.
The SR-009′s will still stay in the range as they will offer a different presentation so Stax still feel they are a relevant alternative, just a different flavour if you like. Price is yet to be confirmed but is likely to be around £4000, needless to say I have ordered our demo pair so we should have them around summer time, apparently Stax are only making 100 pairs to start with for the whole world then will make them in small amounts each month so it looks like they are not going to be the easiest headphones to get hold of.
Personally I can see these being very popular indeed, especially when you think how many SR-009 users there are out there, partnered with a Trilogy H1 or Stax T8000 Energiser I can see the SR-009S soon becoming the reference for many headphone enthusiasts out there, for one I can’t wait to get my hands on them :)
For more information or to order a pair please feel free to give me a ring, more info below -
Well I must admit that I wasn’t planning on holding a Boys Toys event for this year but with what seems like an incredibly long winter and also what with my Radical exploits we have decided to do a bit more of a laid back BTD this year, nice and early in the season just as an excuse really for everyone to get their cars out and take them for a nice spin, I know I can’t wait to get out on the road again, we always have a great turnout of Lotus Cars at this event so be great if we can keep that tradition going 🙂
So to sum up this years BTD in a nutshell, basically we will be at the shop all day with the BBQ going for breakfast and lunch so feel free to come over anytime from 10am - 4pm in your pride and joy to spend a few hours with like minded car enthusiasts and we will have our showrooms open playing some of the best HiFi out there, it really doesn’t matter what car you have, if you love driving then please feel free to come over.
In Conjunction with Radical Cars and UPE Motorsport
I am sure most of you are aware that in a moment of madness I decided to sign up with Radical Cars earlier in the year to enter their SR1 Cup championship, if you haven’t heard about this then my progress can be followed from our motorsports page below -
I have to say it has been a daunting, scary and equally exciting and exhilarating ride so far so I am really pleased that Dom from Radical Cars will be bringing something special along for the day and also Darren from UPE Motorsport will be bringing my race car along and both will be on hand to answer any questions and to explain how going racing with Radical Cars and UPE is a very easy process, be great to have some of you guys joining me on the grid
Simulator Setup, Beat my time for Hospitality at our Silverstone Round!
So this is a bit of fun bit where ‘The Need For Speed’ part comes in, basically I will be bringing in my sim setup that I have been using to get as much practice as possible for the real thing and I have to say now that I can compare the 2 this does get really close, well other than not preparing you at all for the fear of cornering at high speed, but it has been a great help, I will set a time on Project Cars 2 in a Radical SR3 around the Silverstone National circuit as a benchmark and whoever sets the fastest time will win a HFL Racing fleece and the top 5 times we will give full hospitality with Radical for our Silverstone meeting on 23rd June and I have to say the food these guys put on is exceptionally good + you can spend all day in the paddock seeing how a race weekend all works.
So basically this year is just an excuse to take your car out for a spin, get some free grub, talk to fellow Petrolheads, have a go on a sim and listen to some great hifi, if you do fancy coming along could you please just fire a mail over to my e-mail address so we know how many to cater for, thanks -
Hope to see you on May 26th between 10am - 4pm, now we just need to pray for some sunshine.
For those you haven’t been here before please find our address below -
4 The Granary Buildings
Millow Hall Farm
Tel - 01767 448121
Here are a couple of pictures from last years event, thanks to Bibs for them -
Here are a couple of pictures of some of our showrooms where you can relax and enjoy some tunes -
Gorgeous day yesterday so time to get some of the cars out after a long winter tucked away, amazed that the Esprit started first time and reverse gear seems to be working a treat at the moment which was a real issue last year, really can't wait to get her running well this year.
Snetterton Testing Report, Starting to get to grips with the car!
Just thought I would post a quick blog as went out testing yesterday at Snetterton in the Radical in preparation for our next race weekend there on May 12th, we only run the 200 configuration where for the race weekend we will be running the longer 300 version but I just felt I needed more time in the car to try and help understand this downforce thing.
In end I got nearly 3 hours of running and doesn’t my body know it today, my arms are really aching as Snetterton is a very fast and physically demanding circuit, towards the end of the day I started making mistakes as that much time in the car really does drain you mentally when you are not used to it.
In the end it was a brilliant day and I learned so much and am now starting to feel at home in the car, after our first race weekend at Oulton Park a few weeks ago I felt that I should have done better really even though it was my first run in the car I knew I had more to give but Oulton is a pretty scary place and my hope was that Snetterton was flat and wide so that would give me more confidence.
To help push me on I had Tom Gladdis who has had a pretty esteemed racing career as my driver coach, he was just brilliant as he didn’t pressure me but just gave excellent advice which I did my best to follow, basically he went out and set a benchmark lap of 1min 17 and then I did my best lap of 1min 23 after my first session then looking at the data we could compare where I was loosing the time, basically as at Oulton it was all on the brakes and in the fast corners, technically my driving style was good it was just I needed to be braver and trust the aero but as the day went on I chipped away with Tom’s help and got down to a 1min 20 which I was really happy with, I think if I had strung every sector together I could have done a 1min 19 but by the end of the day I was frazzled
The car went straight from Snetterton to the graphics shop to get it all HiFi Lounge’d up, can’t wait to see it once done.
Anyway here is my best lap of the day, roll on the race weekend
Just back form another nice Best Of British HiFi install of Naim, PMC, Rega and Atlas Cables, please see below for what we installed, there is such great synergy between all these brands, it is no wonder that this combination is so popular.
Naim NAC-N 272 Streaming Preamplifier
Naim NAP 250 DR Power Amplifier
Naim Fraim Equipment Support System
PMC Twenty5.23 Speakers
Rega Planar 3 turntable With Fono MM and Neo PSU
Atlas Hyper 3.5 Speaker Cable
From this -
To This -
Can’t resist a picture of a Fender when I see one :)
To be fair it has been a while since I have done a headphone un-boxing, normally I leave this to Wendy, but in all honesty I haven’t been this excited about a new headphone for a very long time, this is 2 fold really, firstly MrSpeakers have really made a name for themselves in producing extremely good headphones and secondly as I am a big fan of Stax Electrostatic headphones so the fact that MrSpeakers have produced their own Electrostatic headphone has to make you sit up and take notice.
Stax are celebrating their 80th Anniversary this year and in reality no one has really rivalled them when it comes to Electrostatic Headphones, for whatever reason they have pretty much had the market to themselves so I am really keen to find out how MrSpeakers takes the challenge to Stax.
Firstly you have to be impressed with the quality of the packaging, basically the Voce come in their own Walnut presentation and storage case which is such a brilliant idea, also another neat touch which MrSpeakers use with their other headphones is the ability to put in ‘Tuning Filters’ in the ear cup to tailor the sound to your own personal taste, so this is a very flexible headphone.
They are also very light and comfortable and appear to be very well made. Now being an Electrostatic they need their own Energiser to drive them, MrSpeakers doesn’t produce this part but you can use them with many different Energiser’s on the market including any of the Stax range.
I have only un-boxed them 30 mins ago and will be running them in on our Trilogy H1 energiser but I couldn’t resist to have a quick listen, instantly it is a sound I know I will like, there is something about an Electrostatic headphone that is captivating, a spacious and airy sound that dynamic’s and Planar’s just can’t match, I will let them run in for a couple of days before making any concrete conclusions but at the moment I would say MrSpeakers really do seem to be a welcome addition to the Electrostatic market.
Abyss AB-1266 Phi Now On Demo
In other headphone news I am really pleased to say that we now have the new and improved Abyss AB-1266 Phi headphones on permanent demo, personally I would say that the AB-1266 are up their with the Stax SR-009 and Focal Utopia as the best headphones out there.
According to Abyss they say - ‘The new version AB-1266 Phi refines the sonic virtues of Abyss with greater transparency to the source, further improved low frequency impact and resolution, and vocals as alive as can be.’ And who am I to argue seriously though they are incredibly good.
So if you fancy coming in to try out either the Voce or Abyss just get in touch to book an appointment.
dCS / Audio Research / Martin Logan / Melco / Atlas / Quadraspire!
Just a quick blog with a really nice install we have just completed, it is actually a great story. We installed a very similar system just before Christmas and the customer’s Father went to stay over the Festive period and being a music lover and HiFi enthusiast all his life really enjoyed what he heard so he ordered the same system and this is his install.
Generally the install went very well other than a small network issue which was easily resolved and in the pictures you will see that the amp is on the bottom but due to it being a valve amp it run pretty hot which didn’t overly help the kit above so yesterday I swapped the rack around a little to put the amp on the top, other than that the system really did sing giving a lovely big open soundstage with separation that only a panel can give really.
Please see below for the system components -
Martin Logan Expression ESL 13A Loudspeaker
dCS Rossini Player
dCS Rossini Clock
Audio Research GS150 Power Amplifier
Melco N1A MK2 6TB HDD Player / Server
Quadraspire X REFERENCE HiFi Rack
Atlas Mavros Cables Throughout
Here are a few pictures -
Just recently I have started posting pictures from our installs on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, with the customer’s permission of course, and this has proved very popular so driving to work today I thought that I really should post these on our here also as I know not everyone lives on social media so here we go.
McIntosh / PMC / Naim / Michell / Atlas / Quadraspire!
This is a nice one to start with, basically this customer first saw McIntosh over 30 years ago and it has stayed with him ever since and he always promised himself one day he would own a McIntosh system, well yesterday was that day.
It was a really straight forward install that went very smoothly and at the end sounded absolutely brilliant as in all honesty you never quite know what to expect as every room is different but on this occasion the whole system really sung.
It basically comprised of the following components -
McIntosh MA5300 Integrated Amplifier
McIntosh MCD 350 CD/SACD Player
PMC Twenty5.23 Loudspeakers
Naim Uniti Core CD Ripper and Server
Michell Engineering TecnoDec with Dynavector 10x5 Cartridge
Quadraspire SVT Rack in Bamboo
All connected up with Atlas Hyper Cables -
So certainly not a cheap system but a system with great synergy non the less.
From This -
To This -
Sabrina’s Back in the our Naim Room!
This has nothing to do with yesterdays install but after a few weeks of trying different speakers in our Naim room it has been really good to get the Wilson Audio Sabrina’s back in there, they really do sing with Naim and in all honesty I would say these are one of my favourite speakers of all time, for their size they really are incredible so please feel free to come in for a listen anytime.
So I have just figured out how to edit video’s, in true apple fashion is is made very easy.
This is my best qualifying lap which I was very pleased with, especially as we were running on the wet tyres, to be fair though there is still a lot of time to be had as I really need to brake much later and carry more speed in the fast corners but for a 1st attempt I was very happy.
From Hero To Zero
This clip isn’t quite as good, I had just taken the lead in the Fangio Cup runnings but for some reason under acceleration from the chicane I just spun out, I had taken that corner the same lap after lap but maybe due to the colder weather and moisture in the air just touching the kerb was all it took, a lesson learnt definitely.
So that is the first race weekend done and dusted and what an experience it was, for me as I had spent so little time in the car the main thing was all about getting to the end of the day unscathed, which we just about did although I definitely had a few hairy moments, and to learn how a race weekend works, procedure, time tables etc and not to do anything silly.
Heading Out For 1st Qualifying Session
Firstly we were blessed with the weather, I had been watching forecasts all week and whichever you looked at we would get wet at some point but miraculously other than the odd drizzle we had a day of dry running. Qualifying was at 10.40am and was a 20 minute session where your quickest time set the grid for race 1 and your second quickest set the grid for race 2.
Now I had been watching YouTube video’s all week on how to drive a Radical SR1 round Oulton Park, so in my head I knew what to do I just had to actually go out and do it, in an ideal world I to achieve a time of 1min 51 seconds which was 5 seconds quicker than I went in testing the week before, so we all drove down to the holding area 20 mins before qualifying was due to start and I sat there running the lap through my head, just like a real racing driver :-)
The only fly in the ointment was that due to heavy rain the night before the track was damp so it was declared a wet session so qualifying would be run on wets, so out we went but in all honestly on the racing line the track was pretty much dry, you just had to be careful to not go onto the wet stuff.
I slowly built up my speed and had a good few clear laps and by the end I could really feel the car moving around under me as I pushed it, in the end I got to the point on a couple of corners where the tyres were at their limit and I had a few scary sideways moments but at the end I achieved a couple of laps in the low 1min 52’s which I was delighted with especially as we were on wet’s, so this meant I started race 1 in 6th and race 2 in 5th, out qualifying my more experienced team mate on both occasions, so after Qualy it really felt like job done, now it was just a matter of 2 races to go.
Post Qualy Interview
I must admit both races flew by and in all honesty I really don’t remember much as I was so focused on keeping it on the black stuff everything else was a blur, you don’t even notice anyone watching until the end and also my team were displaying my pit board every lap but I never noticed it once, Oulton Park really is a challenging circuit that grabs your attention with the quick corners as there really isn’t any run off before you hit the barrier so it is really difficult to balance speed with bravery.
So race 1 was at 1.30pm so you meet in the holding area 20 mins before the start in race order, get yourself strapped in and comfortable then follow the pace car onto the track for your lap to the grid, here it is about warming the tyres and bakes, then you take your grid position, not really sure what happened here but the marshall’s got myself and 5th mixed round so we had to swap positions after our green flag lap which followed next, again this is all about getting the car up to temperature, So now it is time for my first race start, the first mission here is not to stall.
Once we were all in grid position we waited for the 5 second board then everyone ups their revs to around 6000 RPM which is all very exciting then the lights go out and we are off, miraculously no one stalled and we were off racing. In all honesty my problem here is that once the lights go out you have to be at 100% straight away, no building up slowly but it did take me a couple of laps to get to where I should be so lost a couple of places.
In the Radical SR1 Cup there are three different championships, I’m never going to win the overall as some of the younger drivers are much quicker at the moment but there is also a Rookie Cup and the Fangio Cup for drivers over 45, needless to say the Fangio Cup is my focus at the moment, it is here that we had a good battle, for the whole race I kept one of my competitors behind me, he was quicker on some parts and I was quicker on others, but then my team mate took me only to spin on one of the quick left handers but he recovered then came at me again, this time he got me down the straight but then the next time I saw him he had spun and hit one of the barriers but overall in the race he was definitely quicker than me, in the end I came home as the winner of the Fangio class which meant a trip to the podium and a trophy from my first race which in my wildest dreams I never expected.
A 20 minute race really doesn’t sound long but I was so happy to see the chequered flag, these cars as so physical and mentally draining I really had enough by the end, I really don’t know how the F1 and LeMans drivers do it.
Really Happy with Race 1
Another Interview as Winner of the Fangio Class.
So we had a spot of lunch and waited for the 2nd race at 5.30pm, by this time the temperature had dropped noticeably and whilst sitting in the holding area it started to drizzle again, we had to wait longer as in the previous race someone had put it into the barriers and done some serious damage to the barrier so this had to be repaired first, but eventually we were on the grid revving the engines waiting for the red lights to go out.
Now this race didn’t go quite as well as the first, unfortunately the car in front of me stalled so I had no where to go so by the time I had drove around him I was pretty much last but I caught one of my fellow Fangio competitors and then ensued a great race where I finally threw it done the inside going into the chicane and took the place, I didn’t realise at the time but my team mate also stalled it on the grid so I was now the lead Fangio car but then it all went horribly wrong.
I really don’t know what happened but looking in the racing drivers book of excuses I think I was trying a little too hard on a cooler, damp track and going through one of the chicanes I floored it on the exit only to hit the inner kerb and the car instantly spun round and before I knew it I was on the grass and facing the wrong way, bugger, all that hard work lost, basically I just run out of talent.
So now I started to panic a little and for whatever reason I couldn’t get it into first gear so I tried to pull away in 2nd and then got it on the track only to stall it in everyones way, bugger again, so in the end I had to retire and just watched the rest of the race with the marshalls behind the barriers, once the race was over I jumped back in the car and drove it back, so in the end no damage was done, in reality I was very lucky as when I was driving back one of my competitors had binned in into the barriers on the last lap and had done some serious damage but luckily he was OK.
So in the end it was a very mixed weekend with a great Qualifying, a race one trophy then a spin and DNF for race 2 but overall I left the circuit with a big smile and an eagerness to get in the car again as I know there is still a lot of speed left in the car and myself.
Still Smiling after a rather eventful race 2!
A Big Thank You!
Firstly I just want to say a huge thanks to everyone who came to support us, some driving a long way to get to Oulton, it was brilliant to see so many friendly faces there and despite the cold weather everyone seemed to have a good time.
Also a big thanks to Simon and Darren and UPE Motorsport for doing a stirling job in giving me a brilliant car to race and also thanks to Radical for doing such a brilliant job of making everyone feel so welcome, there were 8 rookies but there is such great sense of comradeship in the paddock it is a brilliant place to spend the day.
Next Race meeting and hospitality.
So the next race isn’t until the 12th May at Snetterton but if anyone fancy’s coming along just let me know as we can get a limited number of passes and also if you want full hospitality please let me know in advance as I need to book it with Radical, basically it is £30 a head and you get breakfast and lunch on race day + drinks and nibbles through the day, I have to say the food was epic, if I had been given this in a restaurant I would have been happy so as you can imagine it is much better than any other race track food + you can spend the day in the paddock.
I am going to try and edit some video footage later for my qualifying and races so if I can figure it out I will upload it.
Roll on Snetterton but until then back to the day job of being a HiFi dealer :-)
Thanks for reading,
I thought I would just jot down a few thoughts from my first drive in the Radical SR1 at Oulton Park on Friday, I must say I was very relieved to finally get out in the car after our first 2 tests being cancelled due to snow and with my first race less than 1 week away.
So how did it go? well looking back a couple of days later I would say I was fairly happy although I need to go a fair bit faster but for my first drive in the car at a circuit I didn’t know and to be fair is a pretty scary track, then I was reasonably happy at the end of the day.
Blimey It’s Fast!
So as an overview of the day, basically it was a general test day so there was some seriously quick machinery there of all kinds, it was quite cool start to the day when sitting in the cafe on my own eating a sausage sandwich and Matt Neal walked in, the triple British Touring Car Champion, to get his breakfast, that actually bought it home a little that this was all about to get quite serious.
The day was broken down into 4 x 30 minute sessions, I had 2 drives in the morning and another 2 in the afternoon, below are my thoughts on how each session went.
So to say I was nervous would be a slight understatement as I had only driven 3 track days before and done some karting a few years ago but the guys as UPE Motorsport really helped me settle into the car and made me feel like there was no pressure and I need to get to feel the car first and to find my own limits.
So bearing in mind that the car had never been driven before in an ideal world we would have had someone who knows Radicals shake the car down but due to the test day cancellations this was never done so came down to me, so it was a case of going out for one lap then coming straight back in which I did and to me at least everything felt great, then I repeated the same but this time for 3 laps and then back in, again all seemed good so then I was free to go out until the end of the session and to start building my speed up but before I knew it the 30 mins was over and I was back in the pits but happy with my first drive.
So now it was time to start pushing the car a little, as the track was still damp we did session 1 and 2 on wets which still felt very quick indeed and to be fair I still wasn’t reaching the limits of the tyres or the car, it’s really hard to describe how fast and physical these cars are, I had been practicing on Project Cars on Xbox which is great for learning the circuit but has no real way of giving you the sensation of speed and how scary it can be, in the game I can take some corners easily flat but in real life this is a very different story.
So during this session I was reasonably happy with my progress and got down to a 1m 59 second lap time which apparently on wets was pretty respectable, one thing I did notice was that when going down the main straight I was noticing that my head was being pushed back due to doing over 100 mph without a wind screen and after a while my neck was really starting to hurt, so after a couple of trips into the pits the guys added extra padding to the headrest which ended up helping a lot, looks like I need to get down the gym to start working my neck out
So after a quick bite of lunch I was back in the car, this time on dry tyres so I was expecting to take quite a chunk of my time but in the end it ended up being a bit of a messy session with yellow flags then a red flag to stop the session and I was still concerned about my neck pain so I actually ended up going 2 secs slower, to say I was not impressed is a understatement so I went off, sat in the van and gave myself a telling off This was actually becoming a lot harder than I thought as the quick guys were doing 1 min 50′s so I was 10 secs of the pace which was quite shocking as it felt like I was going really fast, It’s much easier watching it on the TV that’s for sure.
So with this being the last session of the day and my last drive in the car before qualifying the following weekend for my first race I was determined to try harder and to find some time, in the end I got down to a 1 min 56 which made me a little happier as at least I improved and I got within 1 sec of my team mate who raced his Radical last year so he is a very good benchmark but there is still a lot more speed in the car, I just need to find it in myself to man up and to throw caution to the wind a little more.
I have spent all weekend watching quick laps round Oulton Park in Radical’s on You Tube and to be fair I am pretty happy with my lines and breaking but there are 3 really quick corners at Oulton and I am sure it is here that I am loosing most of my time as well as that I am lifting when approaching Druids which should be flat out so I am confident that when next back in the car for Qualifying I can find some more time.
Doing quick laps on your own is one thing though but once it comes to racing then I am sure that will be a totally different experience again.
1st Race This Weekend
So this Easter weekend I have qualifying on Saturday followed by 2 x 20 minute races, certainly going to be a fun weekend, I hope my body has recovered by then as my arms and neck are still aching a fair bit, I have ordered some brave pills from the chemist as I know that all the extra speed I need is in me not being such a wimp in the quick stuff, to be honest though I am gagging to get back in the car to see if I can find that missing time.
Watch this space and I will report back after the first race weekend and will hopefully be able to load up some race footage.