FOSC Winter Invitation

Wakefield Park – 6-8 August 2010
The FOSC 5th birthday

Always a drama of sorts at a race meeting, fortunately this time only minor.

Following my 10 hour drive from Melbourne on Thursday and a wonderful Chinese banquet dinner with the meeting organisers on Friday morning I prepped the car for the untimed practise sessions. Drama unfolded when, despite numerous efforts and been tangled up in the back of the MG I could not open the boot! All was sorted in the end, shortly after the car passed the scrutineers close inspection.

The Festival of Sporting Cars Inc organisers have a unique introduction to their meetings on the Friday. For those who haven’t participated in a FOSC event before, or at the circuit they are required to complete a “Masters” session. Competitors are teamed up with a driver from the past who shares his experiences in racing lines, etc. The benefits of this are huge, particularly for such a novice driver like yours truly.

Ray Gulson was the brave candidate to be my ‘Master’ for the session, and after steering my car around for a couple of laps at 5 tenths (his words – more like 7 to my standards!) he handed it over to me for my turn. Well, the roughest start I’ve had – probably getting used to having a passenger while racing! – so I made a couple of mistakes. Quickly remedied this, however, and put in some very smooth driving with excellent instruction. I was called by Ray as being a very easy pupil to instruct – someone who actually followed the instructions!

Our session, however, was cut short, but in the true style of accommodating everyone FOSC allowed me to participate in the later Masters session, where coincidently I had Ray again. This time I hade to prove myself, as I had some personal seat time in another session in the meantime. We got about 10 or so laps in this session, getting faster each time, and fine tuning the spot at each corner for the car to be in for the ultimate exit.

Then I knew that I was very low on fuel – so much track time! So immediately after this session i took my helmet off and drove out of the circuit to a nearby service station closer to Goulburn. On arrival I realised I had left my fuel cap key at the track and could not open with my ignition key – so back to the track to grab the key. Needless to say I had only 5 litres of petrol remaining when I returned to the station to fill up.

No rest for the wicket as on return to the track I noticed cars in the regularity practise session where in dummy grid – straight to dummy grid, helmet up and within a minute or so of returning I was back on track! Another 8 laps later i had improved my track positioning along the straight, the braking point perfect into turn 2 and the coat-hanger, but found my limits of braking point at the final turn.

This experience led really well for the next session, which seemed to come around so quickly.I picked up the pace as each lap passed, now feeling really comfortable with the track, albeit made easier by only having 10 other cars on the track (and the two Mini Coopers that kept on beaching themselves in the sand). I was the last car out, but by the end of the first lap I had successfully passed a Fiat 850 Abarth and an Austin Healey 100/4. But unlike previous events not one car lapped me, but for the first time in my distinguished! Motor sport career I lapped a car – the Fiat. On the final lap, however, a Ford Mustang 289 passed me, having started four cars ahead of me.

Saturday morning was quite cold at -4 in Goulburn CBD and the phone showed -5 on arrival at the track. Regularity cars were on track first up, and with the leftovers of due on the track from the night’s frosty conditions the surface was somewhat slippery, and for me there were a few wiggly moments.

The times were then set, although during practice it felt like i didn’t get up the pace of the last session on Friday (probably something to do with the differing track conditions). My time was a 1:33 second lap.

The first event proved interesting with a couple of clear laps before the faster cars started coming through lapping me., which with the small windy circuit I yielded to most and slowed my pace. The lap time was fairly steady with the practice session.

Nibbling at my heels in this event was a very unorthodox car, a bog-standard 1 owner Ford Falcon, but driven by a highly experienced driver. The later event, however, again I slowed to let lapping cars through, but during this the Falcon caught up and overtook me into turn two. This move almost came unstuck for him with plenty of over and under steer on the outside of the corner, by his experience showed and continued. I, however, couldn’t find a way past during this due to how wide he made the car!

The tone was set for revenge on Sunday, I had to make sure I improved – take no prisoners!

Sunday morning arrived, not as cold as Saturday morning, but leaving Goulburn CBD for the short country road drive to Wakefield Park the fog soon set in, and in a big way. Our first event for the day was due to commence at 9:00am, but at 8:50am the fog was still very strong with the circuit not visible.

My car port neighbour for the weekend was Tony King. Tony was also running in the regularity event in his series 2 Mazda MX-5, a first time entrant at a FOSC meeting. Tony and I had just commenced a stroll to the circuit’s cafeteria when an announcement came over the PA for Regularity cars to form up on dummy grid. This was much to our astonishment as we thought racing would not commence until the fog had cleared. The organisers, however, wanted all the cars rady to hit the track when the fog cleared.

A long, cold wait ensued as we stodd patiently for over half an hour for the fog to lift to a satisfactory level for racing to commence. Once the fog had cleared to this level we were send out. I was somewhat cautious though, as my confidence levels want me to see not only the track, but the in-field as well, and at the commencement, and duration of the event this was pretty minimal. So I made the decision to pull into the pits at the end of the out lap. This was my first DNF in five years of regularity events – not a bad record. But a DNF not for mechanical problems, but for personal longevity!

The next session I had problems of a different sort. The first two laps I set my quickest timed laps of the weekend, getting down to a 1:27.5 lap. But on arrival at the fish hook on the third flying lap I broke, changed gear and commenced turning all at the usual points, but for some reason the car didn’t want to turn, so I ended up through the clay, grass and re-entered the track after the traffic had passed. The next lap the turning ability of the car didn’t improve due to much understeer. What I hadn’t done was change my tyre pressures down to accommodate the improving track temperature of the day.

On arrival back to the pits I confirmed that I had over-heated the tyres – which were tested at over 40 psi, normal track temp building to 34 psi.

For the final event i dropped the standing pressure to 30 on the front and 29 on the back – on return to the pits after a really satisfying session the pressure read at 35 psi.

The experiences of the weekend well justified the drive from Melbourne.

I haven’t touched on the racing events for the weekend, as there is so much to tell here too. Great battles and photo finishes for most of the fields, particularly the Marque Sports & Production cars, Group Sc production sports cars, and Group N historic touring cars (both fields).

The weather was (despite the first Sunday session) absolutely perfect. Blue skies and not much wind. The event was another pleasing result for the organisers at FOSC including Charles Jardine, Chris Payoe, Rob Jardine – and the fantastic scrutineers I had dinner with on the Thursday night, Brian Lawler (and wife Viv) and Ian Frost. I should also make mention of the commanding Lisa Tobin-Smith who did a stellar job co-ordinating the Masters sessions on Friday, of which I took part in both!

My motor sport venture for the remainder of 2010 continues with the Winton Festival of Speed the weekend following FOSC Wakefield Park on 13-15 August, then I’m happy to be returning to Wakefield Park for the HSRCA Spring historic meeting on 17-19 September.

By Charles Rogers, 8 August 2010

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