Henry the Eighth

So the Head is off an waiting to go off to the engineering firm for valve cutting and skim. While I have the head bolts out I have decided to upgrade the lower oil rail that the head bolts bolt into using the re-developed one by Land Rover which is larger and less prone to any movement etc.

Normally unless its a Freelander I don’t bother but this engine gets a good workout so its worth doing for the sake of £50 and an evenings time. Its good opportunity to inspect the bottom end, clean the sump and oil pickup filter etc in the parts washer.



SilverStone Package

So based on the experience of Brands I need to find some pace on the other 160’s. Money is going to be the inhibiter here but there is a plan to get the car more competitive as the season progresses. Remember, I hadn’t seen a 160 car until Brands or driven mine so it was a great benchmark opportunity.

The plan before Silverstone:

  • Rebuild the head to make sure I am not losing valuable compression and make sure the VVC timing is correct. Uprate the oil rail, stretch bolts at the same time.
  • Locate the pesky coolant leak and remedy it.
  • Clarify what the Scrutineers want to do about the suspension, then if necessary put it back up.
  • Add some lightness as Colin Chapman would say.
  • Put on the side decals.

I would like to tackle the exhaust too but this will depend on funds and time.




Race Weekend at Brands Hatch

To say its been a steep learning curve is an understatement but fantastic none the less.

Up at 5:30am, off to the circuit to make sure I make the Novice drivers briefing. This is not long and fairly straight forward, I am worrying about getting the correct grid spot but not overly. Paul Bryson whom I am sharing a garage with and I then retreat to the garage until signing on at 9am which was well easy. The MGCC guys make you feel very relaxed about the process and I would say that anyone who wants to get into circuit racing should start with the MGCC because their manner and experience makes it extremely painless.

So scruitineers sheet and updated timetable in hand Paul and I retreat back to the garage. I top up the coolant again and put in the cross drilled bolts required for sealing and 9:45am its off to Scrutineering in the outer paddock. The car passes with no trouble, this is a massive milestone for me and Dad as neither of us have ever attempted a race car build before and we have gone straight through.

As I drive back to the inner paddock Dad, Kelly and Eddie are coming the other way, so I park up and wander back to get the MSA sticker applied to my helmet in Scrutineering and meet up with them. Qualifying takes place at 10:50am and another noise test takes place on the way. 88Db is the noise level at 5250RPM and while I am there the car is weighed with myself and gear at 1100Kg – 60Kg too heavy!

I qualify at 1:09 in last place a full 3 seconds down on the other 160 cars but I am happy as neither myself or the car are acquainted with racing or indeed each other yet. The race is not until 3:15pm and with delays due to other races going on and their spills etc I have a nice few hours off to relax (yeah right!)

So after getting called up to the assembly area its a good lick kiss from Mrs M and we are off and the nerves are really building now, but having had nearly an hour and a quarters track time now I am not worrying as much as I thought I would.

We follow the pace car line astern, warming the tyres and brakes, I am last so I get more room to warm the brakes that’s one plus!

Into the grid and the novice briefing emphasised knowing which side of the grid you are on is key, the Marshall puts me in the right box – easy! Then the 5 second board is up, red lights on then off and GO! I start well, in fact very well and over take a few cars then bottle it as I get caught in the traffic, defensive driving this weekend is the plan. The race flies by and I see one of the 160’s (Jonathan) in the wall just after Graham Hill Bend, I know I am third in class then LOL. Two laps before the end I go off again at Paddock in the same spot, the tyres really seem to go away from me at around two thirds into the time on track.

Then the chequered flag and back to the pits and what a buzz, takes me an hour for the adrenalin to calm down. The awards ceremony takes place and then we check the car and head home. Fastest lap is 1:07 so a marked improvement but the scrutineers question my 30mm lowering springs and it looks like they will have to go back up for Silverstone. My concern is the pace of the car, the other 160’s obviously have more pace.

A quick strip out of the rear wiper, rear trim, door and boot rubbers as well as door kick plates takes place and more will have to go before Silverstone.

Sunday is more chilled, a later arrival at the circuit after a long dog walk, and knowing what to expect just relaxes me, tweaking the boot pins post seal removal and removing the sound deadening from the bonnet passes the time. We race based on our second fastest quali time so I am last again. I adjust the tyre pressures to try and stop them going away from me later in the race, this goes on to really help.

Paul has had to pull out for personal reasons so I know I am third in class as long as I keep it on track, consistent if nothing else. I know the car is lacking pace so I just have to drive better, again I start well and this time have people behind me for a nearly a lap then they pass and I just push and push. 1:06 so an improvement once more but lots to do to the car before Silverstone.

Home on a massive high that Dad and Kelly seem to be on too which is great but I am shattered and already planning what to change, so much for a break to fix the other cars that are deteriorating fast as I am distracted by the race car.

Silverstone here we come….


First Test Session – Completed!!

Well we made it through the first race weekend and wow what a weekend I loved every minute.

Testing Friday afternoon was nerve racking, having never raced or even driven the car before it was a big test for me and the car (and my Dad!) We met up at Brands at lunchtime, unloaded the car put the race wheels and tyres on as well as the Timing Transponder into its bracket behind the wheels. 10 litres of fuel and a quick check over and then into the clobber for the first time.

For testing we were in the outer paddock so a drive up to those Trophy guys in the Garages, introductions all round and then the noise test. Passed easily with the OEM exhaust, then waited until 3:15pm for the off.

So green lights and go, the car seemed to pull OK, and the brakes warmed up nicely, careful not to speed in the pits then observe the blend line, then off. First lap taking it a little steady to warm the tyres, the rad tyres don’t take long to warm up but two laps I’d promised to do then away we went. All over the place, rapidly remembering the lines my ARDS instructor told, me then notice I have no gloves on – they are in the trailer still DOH!

So putting in lap after lap watching others all the time and getting out the way as soon as I can I start to find a rhythm. Then flying round Paddock I go sideways and off on to the grass (heart in mouth moment) but dipped the clutch straightened up and joined the track once more. A few more laps with a little more trepidation and its session complete – the fastest 30 minutes I have ever known.

Second session and I don’t spin and enjoy getting in the laps, learning the car and starting to slide through the bends on the road tyres. Then five minutes before the end (with gloves now on I add), the car feels a little gutless so I pull into the pits for a review.

In the garage (24) now its been vacated and knowing that I have it for the weekend, Dad and I investigate there is coolant all over the bulk head and in the passenger side of the car – we think is a perished hose to the expansion tank so trim it down. No sign of why I thought it was down on power – well see how it goes at the weekend.