National Street Car Challenge (UK)

2012 Round 4 and 5 report

NSCC Rounds 4 & 5, June 3rd - 4th

Gawd bless Her Majesty, whose Jubilee celebrations enabled York to have a Sunday-Monday double-header with another day off to get over it.

It didn't start very well, however, with bad weather leading up to the event, and by Saturday evening we had a small handful of the usual suspects sitting around getting cold. Even James, who had elected to BEGIN removing his transmission at 4.30pm that afternoon, managed to arrive by 1am Sunday morning. Overnight, though, there was rain. This was just a practice for an extended period of rain that started at dawn and carried on all damn day. Many other racers had packed up and gone home, and at 3.30pm the management finally admitted that the day was a write-off and called the meeting. This meant that instead of sitting in tents scratching ourselves and twiddling our thumbs waiting for racing to start, we could scratch and twiddle waiting for the cruise instead.

During the day, however, we saw the welcome return of two faces to the fold. First was Ian Armitage, who had brought along points-leader John Peace's Mustang while John sunned himself in Malta – the bastard – though Ian had enough sense to shove off home early on. The other was Ian Walley, with the long-awaited return of the Professor Pat Pending MkII Cortina. This car had been fully rebuilt, ditching the multiple-forced-induction V6 4WD powerplant in favour of a Ford V8 with a single turbo the size of a dustbin, rear-wheel drive and monster big treads at the back. It was damn good to see Ian again, and he appears to have not changed a bit.

Having booked the table at the Barnes Wallis for 6.30, we brought the cruise forward to 5pm just to give everyone somewhere dry and warm to scratch and twiddle, and headed out early. Upon arrival at the pub, we noticed that one of James's big Mickeys looked particularly soft, and found a nice little gash across one of the blocks of tread. After we'd finished filling our faces and coming up with ever-more ludicrous solutions to James's puncture (“silicone”, “soldering iron” and “mole grips” were some of the suggestions) we headed back to the track, James having to stop three times during the 10-mile drive to pump the tyre back up.

Back at the track, after asking around for tubes, James found that Jamie Hughes had some puncture repair mushrooms if we could get the tyre bead off the rim. What followed was fascinating hot-rod stuff – James and Jamie, with the wheel on the end of Jamie's box trailer, using a ratchet strap, a bottle jack, a wheelbrace, a rubber hammer and a bottle of hand soap, managed to get one side of the tyre off the rim and effect the repair! Being framed in the back of Jamie's box trailer, it was like watching the telly – they had a rapt audience for the duration - and everyone celebrated with some beer.

Monday started badly, too, with showers of rain from dawn onwards, though by mid-morning the showers were getting sufficiently far apart that everyone was getting race-ready. There were nine cars in NSCC, and in qualifying it was Ian Walley who set the pace with an easy 11.8 at 123mph on a track that was suffering from groundwater seeping up through the cracks. Next was Derek Beck in the trick TVR, a 12.29 at 103mph just sneaking ahead of James on 12.37 at 111mph. Ian Armitage snagged fourth with a 14.3 from the Fox, ahead of Steve Gilmour's Pinto-powered MkI Cortina with a 14.7. Dave Smith's crusty Fox took sixth with a 15.002 (bastard – where was that in Super Stock, with his 15.0 dial-in?), then a big jump to Mark Presland's crossflow Prefect on 18.4, Scott's Pop on 19.5 and Rich Swaine's Viva on 26.0.

After that, with most competitors racing in one other class as well, the usual slick organisation started going a bit pear-shaped but still continued apace. In round one, Ian took the bye with a not-dicking-about 11.96 at 121, while Steve Gilmour's clean 'Tina outed Dave's filthy Fox. Derek's TVR managed to cover the quarter in less than half the time it took opponent Rich Swaine, 12.2 to 25.3, while James's 13.5 was plenty to see off Scott's 19.1. Ian Armitage was busting to beat John to a 13-second ticket, but it wouldn't be today, the Fox managing 14.2 against Mark's 18.6.

Into the Quarters, and Derek was not wasting any time running his bye in 11.92 seconds while Ian W dispatched Steve Gilmour's Cortina 11.95 to 14.6. Suddenly, Derek was posting the quickest times, but at a price – it seems a nitrous backfire had blown much of his intake tract apart at the seams. James, meanwhile, took out Ian A 13.4 to 14.3.

The Semis would prove to be extremely dramatic. James's Cortina had developed electronic maladies in Sportsman ET, and was sounding distinctly sick, and while heading up the fire-up lane, Ian's Cortina started dropping water. Being the consummate sportsman, Derek agreed to wait a while to give opponent Ian a chance to fix his water leak – good on you, Derek, that's what NSCC is all about. A few minutes and a bottle of K-Seal later, he was back, and Ian ran 11.9 at 123mph to Derk's slowing 12.4 at 102 – another burp for the TVR. James, meanwhile, just staged the sick 'Tina and broke the beams for his bye.

And so, with the weather improving by the minute, James and Ian lined up for the all-MkII final. James's car was still poorly, but the radiator on Ian's car suddenly gave up on the line, resulting in him being pushed back from stage leaving James to splutter and pop a 15.9 to take the round win.

It was a round of bad weather, good sportsmanship, bad luck and yet still, somehow, a good time. Ian's DNF in the final was caused by nothing more serious than the sharp end of a cable-tie, and a great deal of mirth was caused at packing-up time as whenever James shut the boot on his Cortina, the engine would splutter and nearly die before springing back to life. Hmm, gremlins with a sense of humour. Hopefully, everyone will be back and raring to go by the next round on July 8th.

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