When the phone call came asking us if we wanted to get involved in the Irish Festival Of Speed we jumped at the chance. Having visited the Goodwood Festival on a few occasions we could see the potential was there for an Irish version and wanted in!
We agreed on a small sponsorship deal and signed the two MicksGarage.com
Formula Sheane racing cars up to the sprint competition. We got in touch with current championship leader Kevin Sheane and he signed up too.Friday:
A small gang of MicksGarage
staff decided to head down to the event after work to provide a bit of moral support for our competitors, we'd all be staying an hour down the road in the lively seaside town of Kilkee. We arrived tired but thirsty on Friday night. I'd be competing the next day so a swift pint in Scotts and an early night was in order for me, the rest of the guys had different ideas though and thirsts were adequately quenched, then quenched again!
We weren't responsible for the bin - at least I don't think so!Saturday:
Ominous looking black clouds rolling in from the sea made the 5.30am start and hours drive to Limerick racecourse quite tense. Fingers crossed the rain that was inevitable would blow over quickly. After scrutiny, sign-on and the drivers briefing, the cars just needed tyre pressure checks and refueling before the first practice run.
lining up before the start
I'd driven the track a couple of weeks earlier on the press day so knew which way the turns went at least, but it felt a lot narrower now we were going at racing speeds! I was having trouble with the gearbox and couldn't get the car into 2nd at all, a big problem on a track that is all 2nd and 3rd gear.
The on-board footage from Deirdre Mckinley below gives quite a good impression of how narrow the track was in places:
We adjusted the gear linkage which sorted the problem and the first timed run was completed fairly tentatively as there were still damp patches of tarmac in places. Just before run 2 the heavens opened, but thankfully it didn't last long. We hung back for as long as we could get away with to let the track dry out as much as possible before going out again. It dried quickly and on run 3 everybody started to put the hammer down.
My view from the drivers seat
The organisers appeared to be having a few teething problems with the timing systems and although I knew my last run was my fastest by far I had no idea how I was doing compared to the competition. As I brought the car back into the paddock I could hear Leo Nulty over the tannoy sounding quite animated, I cut the engine and listened in........ "2nd in class and 5th place overall! a truly remarkable performance from Rob King in only his 2nd time in this car, punching well above his weight there!!...fantastic stuff!!"
Sadly after a mere 2 seconds of elation I quickly crashed back to earth realising something was clearly wrong with the timing system and I wasn't in-fact the driving god I was being made out to be.
Dave Parks driving the MicksGarage.com Formula Sheane
The timing error was soon rectified and as suspected I wasn't 5th fastest overall. However, my team mate Dave Parks in an identical car, was! Up until now we'd been taking a fairly laid back approach to the whole thing, after all, our race cars were up against much more powerful, specialist hillclimb climb cars with super sticky slicks and big wings - we didn't expect to be at the races at all.
But now, the mood changed, there was a noticeable buzz of excitement, not only were we holding our own we were 2nd in class behind Sylvie Mullins in a 700hp Judd F1 engined Gould!
Sylvie Mullins, the fastest man on track - Gould GR37 Judd V8
Big smiles from Dave Parks - & rightly so!
There was one more timed run left but the rain had started to fall again. I wasn't going to learn anything new or go any faster in these conditions so I decided to call it a day rather than risk damaging the car on the slippy track. We'd had a great days racing, Dave had done exceptionally well and Kevin Sheane and myself were quite closely tied a bit further down the time sheets. Now we knew what the cars were capable of it was all to play for tomorrow. Kevin and myself had some catching up to do!
After a very hectic schedule it was only now I realised, noticeable by their absence, were our 'moral support team' - the crew from MicksGarage. Where had they got to?
An hours drive back to kilkee and my question was answered. Left with some very sore heads from the previous nights 'thirst quenching' they decided a relaxing day fishing and a few hairs off the dog was much more appropriate than standing in a field watching noisy racing cars - they had a point.
Vinny & John. A miracle they didn't fall in!
More to follow tomorrow in part 2.......
Thanks to JayTee Photographic, Caora Dubha.com & Deirdre Mckinley for the photo's and videos.