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Added: 02 Feb 2022 Category: Brian Racing
Swapping the Camera for the Steering Wheel - Season 7 - 2021
Another late start to the season as the country came out of another Covid lockdown meant it was May before we got a bit of practice in.
First stop was Tullyroan and with new shocks in (due to the change of rules, not a love for spending money) and a bit of guidance as to how much too early I was braking I managed to set a new personal best lap on a day that went fairly smoothly bar a bit of a miss that came into the car during practice.

The first meeting proper for the Superstox was Saturday 6th of June which seen us take care of some unfinished business from 2020 in the way of the NIOvalTV series. My miss returned in practice and with a few changes the car went well in heat one but I’d always the expectation it could lose power at any stage so I kept out of the way, a late stoppage probably cost me a few spots as I continued to stay out of the way but I got something like a 12th place finish and appeared to have cured my miss.
Heat two and the miss was back and I recorded my first of many DNF’s that were to follow, the final was the same story.

Ahead of the second meeting I took a trip up to Davy McCrory in DS Autos and got the car put on the rolling road and it ran faultlessly, which was cause for optimism, but he pointed out a cracked bolt in the inlet manifold which I changed for the next meeting a few days later at Aghadowey.

The 19th of June saw our first trip North of the season and probably my shortest days racing to date and hopefully the shortest I’ll have in the future. After a few laps of practice the car was missing again, so I pulled to the outside of the track to see if letting it cool and going again helped, which it did but only for a lap or two. Upon arrival on the infield it sounded dog rough and thinking I’d a fuel starvation issue I continued to over rev the engine. When I arrived in the pits it was to calls of “shut it off” with a general consensus that I’d done the big end bearings going by the sound of the engine, so having only completed a few laps it was back onto the trailer it went.

The upcoming Superstox meetings didn’t really play into my hands, the Supers were out the next two weekends, the first of which was the day before I went on holiday and the following was the week I was on holiday, it should have been a safe bet we’d not have run the same weekend as the Ipswich Spedeweekend, but it was cancelled and so DMC had a meeting in that space. The following meeting was the Summer Speedweekend and I chose to take photos at it. Meanwhile Gary Grattan had the engine out of the car and established that the death rattle coming from the engine was the flywheel bolts coming loose, thankfully less terminal than the big end bearing. While the car there extensive checks were done to find the miss and a new fuel line was run through it.

On the 24th of July and in the middle of a heatwave in NI it was time to get behind the wheel again, the car missed in practice and throughout the meeting. I got a reasonable start from the outside of the front row in heat one, but I lost power a few laps later and pulled off onto the grass. Heat two I came through from the second row to lead and was out on front when it gave up again, having pulled to the outside of turn one where I thought I was out of the way I found myself with front row tickets to Ryan Dilly clattering the wall and then into the back of me, albeit I was watching it in my mirror, even though I seen it coming I couldn’t move the car quick enough to get out of the way. Thankfully Ryan was unharmed in the incident but it did put an end to his night.
Final time was a rolling start again for the Moffett shield and I got into second from the second row of the whites, but again it was short lived as the car started missing just as yellow flags came out for Jordan Robinson who had rolled on the back straight, at the time I’d just lost second to James Stewart and on the restart I looked in my mirror, considered it wasn’t the best place to start with a spluttering motor and pulled out, I’d liked to have seen what happened when it had a few minutes during the stoppage to cool down, but in reality I doubted I’d have got more than a few laps, it didn’t seem worth the risk of being fired in on the restart.

My next outing was at Aghadowey on the 14th of August and it just began where the recent weeks had left off, the car went well for a few laps in practice then started spluttering and coughing. Now running out of parts left that could be changed, I changed the ignition module ahead of the first heat. With little confidence in the car at this stage, I kept out of the way in the opening heat but too my surprise the car kept going and I had a trouble free race, posting a 9th place finish while chasing handling issues and a very taily car. For the second heat I over adjusted my setup and went from, “very taily” to “doesn’t want to turn”, I finished outside the top 10, but it was still a finish without any engine issues.
For the final I half screwed back the changes I made for heat 2 which resulted in a car that was a bit happier with turning corners without feeling like it wanted to go into the wall backwards, another clean run got me a 9th place finish and the first time in quite some time I’d got three finishes.

Any hopes that things we’re turning a corner after three finishes at Aghadowey were quickly wiped out at Tullyroan on the 28th of August at the Neil Davison Memorial meeting when anything that could go wrong pretty much did. When I was loading the car up it had developed a neat little water feature where a water pipe looked to have touched a hot exhaust and now had a quarter inch hole burnt in it, this resulted in me running about Carrick trying to find a replacement water pipe and getting it on, all after the time I’d liked to have been on the trailer. With that little drama resolved I arrived later to Tullyroan than I wanted and in my rush to catch up decided I’d drive off the trailer and straight to scrutineering…… and ran out of petrol about half way down the pits, after adding petrol it went a lot easier through scrutineering. At this stage I’d lost track of time a little, but I knew we were out after the NInja Karts to practice, I seen Ninja Karts going to practice so I went and lined up. What I didn’t allow for was that those NInja Karts were new karts getting an extra practice and I sat lined up for practice for probably 20 minutes before it was actually time to be there. When it did come to time to practice the car wouldn’t start, I got a push onto the track and it still wouldn’t start, then just as I was about to pull out of the way it caught and I got some laps put in.
With heat 1 looming I decided it was time I sprung a leak myself and then I’d be ready to strap in, only to come back to the car to find it had a punctured back tyre, despite our best efforts we couldn’t get it changed in time to get out and missed heat 1. Heat 2 proved that it was just going to be one of those days, the car felt good at the start of the race before the handling went away and it didn’t want to turn, this turned out to be my second puncture of the day, this time the outside front, although it did stay up long enough to finish the race at least.
There was a mass start for the final and I was well down the grid, an action packed first bend took a number of cars out and I navigated my way through it and went on to have a drama free race and get a 10th place finish.

After a month with no racing at home for the Supers our next outing was the King of Aghadowey meeting on the 25th of September. It was a night of trial and error, or maybe more error and trial. Practice began with a spin onto the grass with a car that felt very taily coming off the bend. I over adjusted the outside rear shock for heat one and became just as ropey going into the corner and I finished outside the top ten. For heat two I over adjusted the same shock the other way and it was little better but I got a tenth. Just finishing in the heats had got me reasonably well up the grid for the final ahead of much faster cars who hadn’t finished both heats and I think I was something like 8th or 9th on the grid, I dropped down the order from the opening bend and ended up 13th in the King of Aghadowey Final.

A return to Tullyroan and a on the 24th of October brought about another afternoon of learning as the Supers were supported by Shamwreck. With a decent turnout of cars I think there was five white roofs in heat one and I started on pole and led away in the opening laps, up until there was a stoppage. During the stoppage I’d become a little concerned about what looked like a lot of water running down the side of the bell housing and I decided to pull out incase it was a sign of a bigger issue, it turned out that it wasn’t and the car was just boiling itself. With the car still not cool from heat one, heat two became quite a short affair when the car was missing round the first corner and I pulled off still concerned my water might not only be coming from the overflow boiling.
With the car finally cool for the final I started at the front before fading down the field and eventually picked up an 8th place finish after making some passes on the outside at a restart, it was probably the first time I’d sat on the grid at a restart looking to see where I could move forward rather than looking in my mirror.

There should have been a few weeks break before the Irish Championship at Aghadowey, but the meeting ended up postponed to the last Friday in November which meant we’d also be doing Tullyroan the following day, the first I’d have raced 2 days in a row since I raced Autograss. It turned out to be a wet and stormy night and the first time I’d raced that car in the wet. After slip sliding around in practice, much like everyone else it became apparent my best game plan was just to try and stay out of trouble and keep wheels on the car and hope a lot of others didn’t. I’m not sure where exactly I started, but it was well down, I kept out of trouble despite having a few moments where I couldn’t see a thing and I finished 13th and close to Conor and Paddy Murphy near the end, but as I got closer I could a face full of spray and then I couldn’t see again.
I started the revenge race on the inside of the 2nd row and took the lead across the line, but only into the first bend when I got pushed out wide, I dropped a few places on the first lap before getting out of shape going onto the back straight on the 2nd lap and bouncing off half the field before the wall eventually straightened me up, there isn’t a lot you can do when you’re broadside to the oncoming cars, luckily I only bent the bumper off the wall and was able to continue but now well down the pack. I think I picked up a few places on track, had a good race with Paddy Murphy for a few laps and with others spinning and crashing out I eventually got an eighth.

The last night’s racing of the year took place at Tullyroan on the 27th of November. Doing minimum prep from the night before quickly came to bite me up the arse when the steering didn’t feel right in practice, it quickly became apparent that the bolts between the boss and the steering wheel had come loose, in turn that quickly escalated as three bolts becoming two and one of those loosened with every turn of the wheel and eventually it too made a bid for freedom and fell off when I was just about to turn towards my trailer in the pits, at the point you’ve only one bolt between the steering wheel and the boss the steering wheel just spins around on it and the front wheels go where they want, which meant I had to abandon the car in the middle of the pits while I sourced bolts to hold the wheel together.
Despite practice being a bit of a disaster I got out at the front of the opening heat and had built up a healthy lead while everyone else seemed to be holding each other up, but once they sorted themselves out I was soon reeled in and dropped down the order, eventually finishing just outside the top ten.
Heat two was wetter and slippier and while I thought I was doing quite well early on I got spun while I was slipping down the pack and then I got clipped, I quickly recovered the car and charged off into turn one, but on a tight angle entering the bend the car went straight on and into the wall, convinced it was damage and not driver error that was where my second heat finished.
I looked over the car for the final and couldn’t see anything wrong with it at the time, but from the off it wasn’t handling at all, it pushed into the bend and didn’t want to turn, it was a struggle just to get it around the track and lap after lap I seemed to have to get slower and slower to get it to turn, I did get a finish, but it was a race and a meeting I was just glad to get over. To add insult to injury the car wouldn’t start when I got home, I’d to drag my wife out at midnight to help push it into the driveway, it’s a hateful task trying to turn a Superstox right and push it up a gradient.

Thanks as always to all those who help me out and keep me right during the season

A late start to the season meant a lot of looking at the car in the driveway

Finally practice day at Tullyroan (John Wolsey Photo)

First meeting of the season, spluttering around for most of the meeting (John Wolsey Photo)

(John Wolsey Photo)

Aghadowey in August (John Wolsey Photo)

(John Wolsey Photo)

Tullyroan the end of August, when I started the car to put it on the trailer and found I'd a water feature under the bonnet

A day of drama continued, coming back to the car to a puncture just before heat one, causing me to miss it.

Plenty of nights spent under spot lights with the later season

Tullyroan the end of October (JJ or JB photo)

(John Wolsey Photo)

Irish Championship time with the backdrop of Christmas decorations

One of the drier looking photos from Irish Championship night (Jonny Teggart Photo)

After bending the bumper at Aghadowey on the Friday night, Gary Grattan straightened it in the afternoon and I went and stuck it in the wall in heat two, bending it nearly back to how it started

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