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Formula Woman - October.

Update: 4 October

The 912, aka 'Poppy' arrived at my door last Tuesday with one of Porsche Centre Hull's professional drivers doing the honours. As we waited for his driver to arrive to take him back to Hull, we had a long chat about Porsches in general and my 912 in particular. Having just spent an hour getting here, south of the Humber and delayed owing to a number of road works and diversions, he did let me know how impressed he was with the car, along with all the usual specialist questions about my ownership over the past 16 years!

After the driver and he had left, I took the opportunity to leap into the car, after a quick lunch, and have a test drive myself. A great difference from the previous experience...along one of my test routes just to find out how the car performed. She now pulls well and climbs the hills as I would expect. Now all I needed to do was to refuel and design and fit more wiring for internal lights so that my navigator can read his maps and plot the route 'in the dark'. Saturday's start will be in the evening - so straight into darkness.

Today off to TESCO to fill up and to find that there was no E5 available..only this new E10 petrol. As I use E5 with a supplment to protect all my rubbery bits from corrsion that was not a problem - but the total price was; but only because the tank was so low I was driving on fuel vapour! But all fluids are now installed ready for the weekend.

After lunch I took Poppy out again around some rough roads in the area to see how she responded - and surprised a lady walking three dogs,one of which was not on a lead and disppeared under my front; however, I did manage to stop so no harm done. And then into the garage to play around with bits of wire, fuses and connectors to ensure the map light works.. It does so all is well! (All that training on aircraft electrics has its advantages, although 12v DC is rather different from 440 volt, three phase supplies!). And now she's tucked up in bed!

WI Life staff are still waiting for a response from Cadwell - so a date may come soon. Unfortunately the Porsche Club Track Day was cancelled this morning, so we are back to square one and, hopefully, Cadwell Park. Life is never static....

Update: 11 October

I believe it was Robbie Burns who came up with that oft quoted saw about plans of mice and men often 'going aglay'...and my weekend plans certainly did, unfortunately.

Ric and I drove to Chesterfield on Saturday (9 October) all fired up for our first rally together for a number of years - and the last event of the '2021 Motorsport News Historic Road Rally Championship' All the first sessions went well. We completed the measured distance to calibrate our accurate Brantz Rally Tripmeter aginst the organizer's distance so we would have a sporting chance on the regularity sections which are timed to the second using average speeds over set distances. As I have set up my own local measured distance and calibrated the Brantz to that, I was hopeful that no more calibration need be done - and it wasn't. Nice and accurate. The next session was the noise test...road rally cars need to have a silence level slightly lower than the Road Traffic Act requires...and Poppy passed with flying colours. (Not bad for a rear engined Porsche!). And then off to the scrutineering bay for the required check of various bits of paperwork and safety settings - even to the carriage of a spill kit!

Once that was completed successfully we had a couple of hours wait before we could collect all the route information so Ric could get much of it plotted before we left the start venue. While Ric plotted the route and transferred all the infomation on to the relevant OS map, I cleaned the windscreen from the dust which had stuck itself to the glass and removed the spotlight covers. We were all ready for the 'off' and the hour's run to the start of the first nigh-time regularity section, all nicely arranged so that all the cars had to complete both regularities in the dark and the early, Masters category, runners, would not benefit from daylight running. As we left the start, I was handed a another sheet of paper on which were the details for the second regularity which had to be plotted whilst we were driving to the start of the first regularity!

The first 18.5 miles were fantastic driving, in the dark, along some pretty terrifying narrow and twisty roads - especially with my badly set up headlights. And then the Potti, our map magnifier blew a fuse (?) which did not help Ric's plotting. Seemed to be the foretaste of the disaster soon to follow! As we were about to leave Bamford (in the Peak District), the car suddenly and violently lurched to the left which meant I had to counter the lurch to keep us off the pavement on my side of the road. At the same time there was a loud bang and nasty graunching noises from the front. Originally a blow out was suspected, but on closer investigation it transpired that the ball joint at the bottom of the damper had started to separate! Hence no further driving and no more rally - just a recovery home.

My insurers (Lockton's) organized the Recovery Agent to collect the car, Ric and me to get us all home. All went well and I eventually arrived home just before midnight having dropped Ric off at a convenient spot to enable his wife to collect him without him having to come all the way to my home and me then having to drive him home...And then even more fun getting Poppy off the recovery truck's ramp...the front wheel became even more detached from the suspension arm! After another 40 minutes or so trying all sorts of methods of moving her, the driver removed the wheel, bound up the suspension to allow a litlle bit of careful steering to occur and then replaced the wheel! And slowly we manhandled the car into my layby! Success.

Today I arranged for her to be collected and taken to Rennspeed in Retford so Ben couold have a look at the problem and sort it out..Although arranged for a 1400 to 1500 collection, the recovery truck and driver did not arrive till nearly 1630, and then we had quite a job loading Poppy onto the ramp as the wheel came away again! The decision was taken to load the front wheels onto special skids which would allow the car to move more easily up the ramp - and eventually she was moved into the very well appointed covered truck, and there she will stay until tomorrow, safe at the recovery garage's yard before being taken to Retford tomorrow morning...Quite a performance, but at least she's on her way to the specialist who is well acquainted with Poppy having worked on her over the past 6 or 7 years. I now look forward to finding out what went wrong and getting her back all in one piece!

Update: 20 October

Not so much an update, more of a general musing and looking back now that the Motorsport News/HRCR Road Championship is now past history. Ric and I decided sometime last year that we would only attempt three fairly local events and one a bit further away. These were: North Yorkshire; Cotswolds Historic; Ilkley Jubilee; and the Dansport Historic. Ric discovered he was riding a bicycle from London to Lands End and back at the same time as the North Yorkshire so that was a non-starter. On to the Cotswold Historic- but Ric could not get his MSUK licence confirmed in time - non starter number two; all looked good for the Ilkley Jubilee - but the car had serious engine issues so we pulled out - non starter number three. All was well for the Dansport Historic which was run over the Peak District and, for the first time for a long time, started with an evening section. The car was well and all pre-start procedures completed successfully. Starter number one - at last. We were flagged off from the Peak Edge Hotel just after 1800 as Number 48. But 18.5 miles later, in a quiet Derbyshire village a wheel came off - non-finisher number one.

I suppose we could say that the whole of our rally season consisted of 18.5 miles and ended up rather like the New Christy Minstrels with three wheels on my wagon. Not exactly the season we were planning, but it has given us both food for thought - I need to sit down and redesign the spot light positioning and re-wire the map light and potti to make them both more convenient for the navigator. More wiring and another fuse box required. The car will be undergoing a bit of TLC courtesy of my local body specialist during the 'down' season.

In the meantime, I shall be 'speeding' round the Bedford Autodrome on 15 November in an e-Corsa as part of my Formula Woman adventure - and this also includes some media assessments under the glare of TV cameras and recording crew as well as some fitness tests...not looking forward to that, I'm too old to enjoy pressups and planks....A week later I shall be donning my orange 'growbag' to go marshalling at Cadwell Park on the North Humberside Stages at the Arrivals Control, with my good friend Fiona. Lots of changes are now involved in marshalling with some procedures carried out on line and not as much contact between marshals and crews. Something we all have to get used to - it's a new world out there!

In the meantime my 912 is still in Retford with Rennspeed although I understand that both ball joints have been replaced by Ben; my garden still needs my attention; and I have a mighty lot of ivy to remove from my never stops.

The story so far:

Last year I applied to become a Formula Woman - a competition to find a totally novice lady driver who would learn to drive a very fast car in the 2022 British GT series.

So where do I fit in since I applied?

Having given some thought to how I would focus my participation and therefore generate interest both in the local and the national media, I decided to concentrate on two themes: the WI promotion of 'Empowering Women' using my membership and contacts within the local WI membership and organisation; and as a member of 'Racing Pride' and Motorsport UK's LGBTQ+ sub-committee, highlight the latter's policy to attract LGBTQ+ people into all disciplines of motorsport.

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