Wow. Just wow. What a great weekend at Winton with the Bell Motorsport team for the Alfa 12 hour.
I could hardly sleep Wednesday night as Thursday was an early start to pick up a car trailer, load up the car and head up the Hume to Winton. Sorry to my neighbours for the 5am clunking and ratcheting the car into the trailer. Next time I’ll just drive the nearly race car to the track!
Car unloaded at Winton, a few quick laps and off to work Thursday arvo. Winton in their scheduling wisdom had a bike race on the track on the Friday before the 12 hour so Thursday was the test day. So now we share a race track with cyclists. Good grief.
Nominated times sorted, “Daz I reckon you’re quicker than that” says team manager Graeme Bell. “Nah, no way, it’s a 318i M10 with carpet and the pax seat still in. Even the radio and front speakers are still in, 2:02 is about right I reckon.”
This event is a regularity event where when you drive within 1 second of your nominated time but no faster, you get bonus laps. So I needed to hit 2:02.000 to 2:02.999 to get the bonus laps for our team.
Long story short, I hit it 16 times over the weekend but went faster 14 times (they deduct a lap) so gave the team a whole 2 laps bonus. I've got a bit to learn - at least it wasn’t negative though!
Out of 37 teams we finished 18th with Stuart Clarke, Walter Buehler and Rod Martin contributing brilliantly.
The exciting thing was to see our other team take out second. They were good, but we knew that anyway!
Of course, nothing happens without some amazing volunteers so thanks to Jo Mawson, Graeme Bell, Angelo & Sam Carideo, Jacqui Kertes, Simon de Lisle and Dan Forrest and Anton Bergman for the pit wall timing, food, drink and encouragement.
Hopefully I get to do this again and improve on 2019.
Darryl O'Neill | Member #52
BMW Drivers Club Melbourne
There are countless tasks involved in keeping two cars racing around a track for 12 hours. Fuel, tyre pressures, drinks, safety equipment, paperwork, driver briefings, scrutineering checks, monitoring lap times, using pit boards to pass on the lap times to the drivers, accommodation, car trailers, and running repairs to the cars, to name but a few. Jo and Graeme are gurus in bringing all of these elements together, but it still requires many hands to make it happen. So when I signed up as a helper for the BMWDCM teams at the Winton 12 Hour, I had no idea what tasks would be involved, but it was sure to be action packed.
My first task was to help with the signing in the 250-odd drivers following Saturday morning’s driver briefing. Licences were checked, signatures were obtained and then the drivers were given the wristbands needed to go racing for the day.
The track was very wet from the night before, but likely to dry out through the day. This caused much chin-scratching in the pits trying to figure out what to nominate as the target time for each driver.
I would never have guessed that the race start would see a few of us on the starting grid to do a push-start, but that’s how the race started for Team #2. With the racing underway, obtaining the lap times from the official timing screen was critical. So that we didn’t go cross-eyed from staring at the scrolling numbers, a few of us took turns at either watching for our cars to cross the finish line, reading the times from the screen and announcing the times on CB radio so that Anton could work his magic with the lap times board. As the afternoon rolled on, we got into a rhythm of tracking the lap times, with much excitement in the pits whenever a lap time resulted in bonus points.
Day two saw us pick up where we left off, and with bonus points rolling in frequently it was a great atmosphere in the our garage. With two teams operating out of the same garage, the big challenge was to not lose focus on the car still on track whenever there was a flurry of activity in the pits, such as when one car entered the pits and passed the baton over to the next car.
In the afternoon, I was assigned to be one of the pit lane marshalls. The goal of this task is to avoid any pit crew members getting run over by cars travelling down pit lane, and I am pleased to report that this was successful. I barely saw any of the BMWDCM cars during this time, as the well-oiled machine was busy scoring points rather than squandering time in the pits. On the other hand, it was quite amusing to see several other teams making frantic pit stops to change drivers in the final 10 minutes of a 12 hour race!
With a podium finish for one of the teams, the awards ceremony was the icing on the cake. I am very proud to have played a part and had a great time throughout the weekend.
Simon De Lisle | Member #430
BMW Drivers Club Melbourne