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Daytona 100 - 9 Feb 99 - Milton Keynes

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An account of the performance of the artfully named "Team 1", which would have been a better name if the other teams hadn't been called "Team 2", "Team 3" ... "Team 11". This was an impromptu Daytona 100 at the outdoor circuit in Milton Keynes, on 9th February 1999.

There were meant to be four drivers. The captain, Malcolm Baldwin, dropped out, due to 'flu, another failed to arrive, so it was Tanya Stiles and Gil Williamson to drive a 100 minute enduro.

Tanya's friend, Stuart, acted as team manager, as it's hard for a 2-man team to communicate properly. And very good at it he was, too! He knew the track and the local rules and so on.

The evening was parky, to say the least, and both drivers suffered badly from frost-bitten fingers. Gil was warming his hands on the exhaust while rushing down the back straight! Gil took the first stint - we'd qualified 5th out of 11. On the first lap, he braked to avoid a pile-up, and the brake jammed on! So, by the time he'd freed the caliper Team 1 was in 11th place at the start of the second lap. Terrified to use the brake in case it jammed on again, he kept reminding himself of Fangio's comment when he lost his brakes, but won at Nurburgring: "Who needs brakes? They only slow you down." Ho, ho.

When the left-hand engine came off its mountings, Gil had clawed his way back to 2nd place, using all his street-fighting tricks, and leaving a few casualties in his wake, but avoiding black flags.

Team 1 were 7th by the time they'd screwed the engine back on. We got them to free the brake at the same time, and the laps went quicker from then on.

Team 1 were 4th or 5th at half-way, then we refuelled, and Tanya took over. After one lap, she was back in the pits with a busted clutch. They gave up on our original kart and gave us a new one, and Tanya rejoined in 6th or 7th place.

Tanya is a seriously good driver. In the new kart, she was flying. Her best lap was 3 seconds better than Gil's and she pulled us back into 4th place where we finished... standing in the grass beside the podium. To Tanya's credit also, she was unhappy with the kart even during practice, and we'd have done well to change it then and there.

All in all, a learning experience. We might well have come 2nd if the kart had behaved. We couldn't have beaten the winners - a pair of seven stone adolescents who lapped several seconds quicker than anyone else!

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