15-16 February 2020
Doing the BMWDCM Sprint events the natural progression for me was to be competing in real races.
I have enjoyed watching motor racing on TV but never seemed realistic for me to take up car racing. However, I began to realise with the guidance of Bell Motorsport it might actually be possible to own and race my own car which was an extremely exciting prospect!
Graeme Bell sourced a good E30 BMW and made it ready for Club Sprint days. He also sourced and restored a lightweight, reasonably priced, trailer for me which is terrific.
What I didn’t realise is that in order to race the car it must be scrutineered by both the E30 Racing Club and by Motorsport Australia.
My roll cage is certified but Motorsport Australia now wants gussets welded onto the joints which were both difficult and time consuming to do. The E30 Racing Club also wanted work done.
The list of requirements was time consuming and Bell Motorsport (and my wallet) were under pressure to get the items (including racing apparel) resolved before Round 1 at Sandown.
I found this surprisingly stressful as I was now committed to getting on the track for Round 1 but I guess Graeme must be used to going through these dramas and it all worked out ok.
Friday, the day before Round 1, was the Observed Licence Test (OLT) and a really good day plus I got a racing licence.
Saturday morning got to the track and realised had left the crucial vehicle Logbook at home.
No time to drive home and faced with righteous Officials, my first day racing was looking tenuous. Race days are way more stringent than more user friendly sprint days! Thankfully, Jo Mawson again came to the rescue and helped sort out a solution so I could attend qualifying.
Qualifying in the wet was good, the windscreen didn’t fog up and the car handled well. After qualifying I realised my fastest lap time was 16 seconds slower than the fastest lap set by the lead car! 16 seconds in one lap is an eternity!
Race 1 - also in the wet, I decided I’d better push harder or my dream of racing would become less rosy. A good driving experience, albeit with Rookie errors, I was still 15 secs slower than the fastest lap. I know from yacht racing never give up no matter what so I stayed positive.
Sunday Race 2 in the dry, and I was determined to have more faith in the car and drive the fast corners quicker. More rookie errors and the humiliation of being lapped by the lead cars! The silver lining was this time “only” 10 seconds slower than the fastest lap by the front runner.
Race 3 and my goal was not to be lapped and not be last. Probably because the race was shorter, thankfully I was not lapped, and I was third last, not last (one car broke down). “Only” 9 seconds slower than the fastest lap this time but still disappointing and sobering to realise how much improvement I have to make before I am racing with the other cars.
But, everyone, including me, had just safely completed a memorable Round 1 as part of the BMW Drivers Cup so a good outcome for all.
More on the upside, the E30 Racing Club members are a really nice, high standard bunch and helpful. It was enjoyable as there were kids and families around and several friendly BMWDCM members included. Graeme, Jo and Chris were especially supportive and it underscored how much they like the motor racing scene and want to help new people like me be part of it and I look forward to future rounds.
Rod Martin | Member #29
BMW Drivers Club Melbourne