Category Archives: Reviews

Lotus F1 Team Filming Day At Brands Hatch

Today we all got involved at our home circuit Brands Hatch at the Lotus F1 team  filming day. The track was open to the general public, Ben is still here till Friday when he flies to Barcelona so it was a family affair, we took both our girls with us too!

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Brands Hatch to me is the home of the British Grand Prix so to have some bona fide F1 cars driving around it again was something I was not prepared to miss out on. It’s also a 10 minute drive from where we lived until 18 months ago and during the 7 years I spent in the Wrotham area it was pretty regular that weekends were spent at Brands. Since moving further out and having the baby I’ve hardly been, so it was a great excuse to all go for the day together for one of the final times till the European season is over in September.

We’d planned to meet up with a few people, our friend Mark who lives close by and Simon the editor in chief of ThePitCrewOnline and Nigel who we’ve met through twitter, great to have people to converse with inbetween car outings and great to meet up with likeminded people and maybe see a few faces recognisable from Twitter, and so onto the day…

We set up camp on the grassy bank opposite the pit garages so we could see the nose of the Lotus E23 sticking out of the garage waiting patiently to blast round the Indy circuit as the team and film crew worked together to set up the shots they needed. Then with the loud sound of the starter probe the car was fired up and a lap or two was completed with a custom made Mercedes ML500 AMG fitted with a roof top boom camera did its best to keep up and get those dynamic shots we come to expect from modern film making.  Although Romain Grosjean was driving the E23 was crawling round, playing with the ML like a lion with a mouse. It was a great demonstration of the power, speed and acceleration an F1 car is capable of. On normal roads a ML AMG would have the ability to disappear from view in seconds but against the E23 its speed was just enough to get the F1 car out of 2nd gear! Having completed several runs like that the car then went out with a fixed camera fitted to the top of the air box. This gave Romain a chance to drive a little faster but the E23 was not going flat out.

Lunch time called for the pit lane walkabout and the team laid out the E23 and a 1970’s Lotus 72 side by side for a photo opportunity with the complete Lotus F1 driver line up along side.

After lunch we were lucky enough to see the circuit from a different view as we were kindly invited to have a coffee in one of the hospitality suites. (To be covered in another post). Romain took a Lotus Europa round the circuit giving people a hot lap and then came a very special moment. The Lotus 72 was fired up and driven round. It was in 1986 that Brands Hatch last held a championship F1 race and seeing a car from that era driving around evoked the imagination and made me and many others wish we were there 40 years earlier watching a complete field of cars like that. A little later on both the E23 and the 72 went around together. This was another special moment and probably the only time i will see 2 different generations of Lotus F1 car together on track.

So to conclude, the day was a very unique and special opportunity and i would like to thank the Lotus F1 team and Brands Hatch for putting together the day. One day in my lifetime i may get to attend  an F1 race at Brands Hatch but for the time being this was a day that will keep me happy for many a year.

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Graham And Leigh Single Circuit Review

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Hello again friends, I know its been a little while since my last post, lots going on recently  but that’s for another post.

A little while ago Ben won a competition with Graham and Leigh through their twitter, this involved 56 circuit maps and naming all of them, actually there was 57 as the other 56 were in fact contained within the 57th circuit.

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Ben in the end was the only person to get all 57, yes his job at European circuits was a minor help, some of them were obscure with only a handful F1 tracks so really we had no more an advantage than anyone else.

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The prize was this amazing single circuit of Spa in Belgium, which i must say now before I even go into the piece itself is absolutely stunning! When i say that I truly mean it, the quality is out of this world and worth every single penny of their price tag.

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There is nothing on this piece that does not scream quality, craftsmanship & care, from the beautiful yet robust and thick frame to the  expertly and intricately carved track layout which sits floating above so is in 3D, its such a beautiful item that words fail me in searching for ones that can adequately describe this beautiful piece that would enhance any motorsport lovers wall.

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We have a friend that came round and saw it the other week, I passed it to him to take a closer look and he was blown away by it, he quite literally said ‘wow that’s amazing’ and then as I passed it and he saw how lovely a piece it is he said ‘oh wow!’ That’s really how stunning these pieces are, even writing this i feel like I’m failing to convey the beauty of it however much I try and also this is true of pictures, though I’ve tried my hardest to take pictures that can help show how magnificent it is.

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I will be completely honest in that when I first saw the prices I wondered if they weren’t a tad expensive but now being a proud owner I can hand on heart say they are worth more than they cost and evoke a need to own another, we will surely be adding to our Graham and Leigh collection again really soon!

Pre Season Chat With Ali Rushforth

 

As I’ve said from the beginning, I intend to pretty much diary my pit lane and paddock antics this season while Ben does his around Europe, its fast turning into a double edged sword as the 1st weekend in May comes ever closer as Ben leaves May 1st for Barcelona, the flip side is I am sure that I will meet a wide variety of new friendly faces, from differing walks of life and plenty of interesting conversations to be had.

As the MG Trophy Championship starts on May 2nd at Brands Hatch, I thought it would be a good time to catch up with Ali Rushforth and find out a bit more about what goes on in the final run up weeks to a season start.

I, for one am so overly excited for this so while I was at it I wanted to know how Quali work and the points system, hopefully I’m not alone in that I have more enjoyment when I understand more about a formula and as I have confessed previously the MG Trophy is a new one for me so i’ve shared this also as I know I’m not the only newbie this year!

 

Q) How’s the season’s preparation going?

A) Very well, there wasn’t a great deal that needed doing as maintaining the car is a constant process. There’s a few bits and pieces I’d like to change on the car to aid the evolution of it but these are niceties not necessities.

Q) How excited are you for the season ahead?

A) Very!! I think I’ve said before that I had considered a year off in order to concentrate on Lewis starting karting but after recent visits to race circuits to run other drivers, my enthusiasm has been reignited and now I can’t wait for the season to really kick off.

Q) How’s the car looking and more importantly sounding?

A) She is under-going a bit of a make over and even if I do say so myself, she looks amazing and will look even better when the final touches are added.

Q) Any chance of testing likely to happen?

A) Probably not although I may try and run the engine for a bit before round 1 following a top end rebuild.

Q) Apart from yourself and the car, what else have you got to get ready?

A) Finances, Logistics of getting everything/one there, Sponsor tickets, Food/Drink, Hospitality equipment, Personnel, Accommodation.

Q) I notice the car is a she, does she have a name?

A) Was originally Maria-Grace as to keep the initials MG, however I decided to follow what F1 Stock Car drivers do and name her after my wife, so its Becky.

Q) OK so I see there is a mountain of things to tick off the list before setting off for Brands Hatch , at what point can you get into the zone so to speak and think/concentrate on a good Quali for a great race win?

A) I’ll probably be in racing driver mode when I go to bed on the Friday evening following a cycle around the track.

Q) The BIG question….are you going to win the championship this year?

A) I’ll be giving it a damn good go again. This year however sees class C of the MG Trophy being the most competitive in it’s history with 20 cars in that class alone entered for Brands Hatch. The points system means that any driver in  any of the classes could become overall champion so we may find the classes with fewer drivers are able to score consistent points throughout the year. Rest assured though that I’ll be giving it 110% from the first green light of the year.

The MG Trophy Championship will be over 12 rounds :-

1 & 2 – May 2/3rd Brands Hatch Indy

3 & 4 – May 30th Donington

5 & 6 – June 20/21st Silverstone GP

7 & 8 – August 8th Castle Combe

9 & 10 September 12th Oulton Park

11 & 12- October 10/11th Snetterton

 

Qualification is done over 20 mins, the results of which the overall fastest lap gives you pole position for race 1 and the 2nd fastest lap time gives positions for race 2.

Points Awarding System :-

1 point – Fastest Lap in each class

1 point – Pole Position in each class

Race points are awards as follows – 1st (20), 2nd (17), 3rd (16), 4th (15), 5th (14), 6th (13), 7th (12), 8th (11), 9th (10), 10th (9), 11th (8), 12th (7), 13th (6), 14th (5), 15th (4), 16th (3), 17th (2) 18th and all other 1 point.

 

British GT’s Media Day 2015

 

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It was a sunny Wednesday morning and Life In The pitlane went off to Brands Hatch to walk their pit lane and admire all the fresh new British GT cars for the 2015 season.

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I admit GT’s is new to me however as a McLaren car fan as well as the F1 team, I am very aware of their stunning cars, this is probably the main reason, the idea of prestige cars careering around a track, I mean come on! and with 13 Aston Martins in the mix to say the least, it seems to be in the common man’s term posh cars racing!

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I had Leah Nicole with me, who likewise is no expert in this field even though we have spent many days at Brands Hatch, this has been to watch BTCC ,now ask me about that and i may actually have an answer.

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However what did happen while there was a rush of emotion that can only lead to one outcome, a whole new motorsport love affair, to see a McLaren 650s and an Aston Martin Vantage racing around  track, with the roar of a big V12 engine…..oh that sound!!!!

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lets not forget yes others were in attendance, BMW Z4 & Porsche,Mercedes Benz SLS AMG & Ferrari 458 Italia (not in attendance at the Media Day), Lotus Evora & Toyota GT86…..oh boy I suddenly have a lot more to do this year too…..alot more pit lane action for me!!!

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Q & A With MG Trophy Championship Driver Alastair Rushforth

wpe5655ab1_05Those of you who know me from Twitter will no doubt already be familiar with Ali Rushforth’s name. I can’t say enough about this guy, a genuinely decent family man with an amazingly supportive wife, great sense of humour who was awarded Most Entertaining Driver in 2012, so it can’t just be me who finds him funny & pretty good at driving a race car fast too. Get following Ali on Twitter and go and say Hi, he is  very interactive with fans and always up for a joke. I also have it on good authority he cooks a mean BBQ in his hospitality area trackside on a race weekend!! He karted with Anthony Davidson and the late Dan Wheldon and Jenson Button, who’s Dad built both Jenson’s and Ali’s kart engines so i thought it was about time we all got to know more about what makes him tick before the various Tin Tops seasons get underway……..

Q )If you could drive any car on any circuit, what would it be?

A) Aston Martin GTE at Spa… That car is a work of art & Spa is an awesome circuit with some world famous corners that require big balls as well as skill.

Q) What got you racing?

A) My dad used to rally & hill climb so I was in rally stages & race paddocks as soon as I was born.
A garage my uncle, who’s not really an uncle owned had a make-shift motoX track at the back for his son, so my parents got me a bike when I was 5 or 6. But I think they decided bikes were dangerous as they soon found out about karting & we went that direction instead.

Q) Who is faster JB or you?

A) In a triathlon, JB… In a car, me of course 😉

Q) What was it like racing against Dan Wheldon?

A) Danny (he was Danny when we were all 10 years old & always will be for me) was great, even as kids he was the most professional out of everyone (including JB, Davidson etc).
On track he was hard, but in the paddock playing football or with radio controlled cars he just liked to laugh.

Q) For someone who has never seen MGCC before,what/who should I be looking out for at brands hatch?

A) MGCC are unlike any other club in the country as they organise car events as well as race meetings. At an MGCC race weekend expect to see anything & everything with an MG badge, on track & in static displays.
Te club is run by members for members so everyone is an enthusiast of the famous marque… It’s like a big family atmosphere & everyone is approachable… You’d love it 🙂

Q) Do you still see yourself racing in 5-10 yrs time & where would you like to be by then?

A) Really hope so. In an ideal world where there was lots of money in my bank I’d love to have a go at BTCC or even British GT’s which has really caught my attention recently.

Q) Could you ever imagine doing anything outside of motorsport & what would that be?

A) I’ve grown up around Motorsport my entire life & I’ve now subjected my wife & kids to this so I really don’t think I’d be any good at anything else… I was an average footballer, half decent sprinter when I was younger, but my golf swing is rubbish.

Q) You have a wealth of motorsport experience, working, driving, running your own team, if you could pick 1 year out of all of that as a favourite, what year and what were you doing?

A) That’s tough… Maybe 2007,
It was my 1st year in MG Trophy having raced minis previously & at the start of the year, the car wasn’t mine. I didn’t touch the car in any way & we won the first 2 rounds. I missed Cadwell Park, yet we arrived at the final round still able to win the championship. I had engine failure in race 1 & a rival team offered to bring parts to repair it for race 2, however they forgot 1 part. I didn’t take part in race 2 & their driver won the championship so who knows of it was accidentally or on purpose the part was forgotten.

Q) I think most people now appreciate how hard it is for independent drivers,but what are the best things about being independent as opposed to a works driver?

A) I’m not sure really, I suppose you don’t have the pressure from the manufacturer to perform & act a certain way on social media, but that said I don’t swear on social media anyway as you never know who’s reading.

Q) What is the toughest part of being an independent driver?

A) Finding the money to go racing. True works drivers are employed by the manufacturer/team.

Q) If money was no object this season and all seats in all motorsport were available to you, what would you choose to drive?

A) BTCC with WSR or the 888 MG, or British GT’s in an Aston Martin.

Q) What other sports do you enjoy watching in your leisure time?

A) I’m big into athletics so get excited when the Olympics, Commonwealth or World championships are on. I also enjoy Speedway & go to watch at Swindon during the summer.

Q) You have just been given a one off race to arrange, with a bottomless bank account,any cars you want for any driver from any era, you are also competing, you can have 5 others,name them and the cars you want them in?

A) Birmingham Superprix with some 1990’s super tourer BTCC cars.

Driver wise I’d chose Steve Soper, Andy Rouse, Ayrton Senna, James Hunt & Jason Plato.

Q) Your son has not long been karting,what are your aspirations for him within motorsport?

A) More than anything I want him to have fun. There’s no agenda with it & certainly no pressure from me.
He’s started very late compared to a lot of kids in karting so for us, this is just some dad & lad time.
The fact he’s enjoying it as much as he is is very exciting to me.

Q) I am your fairy godmother for one wish to help make this year your best,what wish shall I grant?

A) Money to ensure I can do every round without worrying & also some rest days… I’ve not done any testing since 2010 so sometimes can be on a slight back foot when we arrive at race weekends.

 

For more information on Ali or to get involved and become a part of #TeamAli please visit www.AlastairRushforth.co.uk

Its not too late to see your business’ name on the car this year.

The MG Trophy Championship is televised on Motors TV with a viewership of over 1 million on top of those in attendance.

 

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© Sandra & Ben Hebbourn 2015

Ali Rushforth

Get To Know Ali
Born on 9th February 1979 in Huddersfield, this Yorkshireman now lives in Didcot, Oxfordshire with his lovely wife and 3 children, of which his son is following in Dad’s footsteps in Karting.

Ali is a highly experienced driver with 25 years under his belt, manages and runs his own team as well as is not only a driver but an instructor too.

Not only is Ali quick but he has a personality that shines through everything he does, his social media presence is fantastic, he engages with his fans and is ever the joker yet highly professional, great at being very approachable and a very popular driver and man within the paddock.

please check out his website at :


and if you own a business or know someone who may be interested in sponsorship then please take a look at the different ways to become involved and provide your business with TV exposure on Motors TV on top of the usual expectations of a partnership please do take a look at this years media presentation here:


F1 Logistics Part 2

Race Weekend Structure Pt 2 -Personnel

Hello again friends,
     as its been Ben filling you all in on things I know nothing about I shall let him get on with it.
In the previous post we spoke about the race weekend in terms of the paddock and how it is filled. In this post we will concentrate on the human side of things. 
All the people that make F1 happen for that weekend. How they get to the country, the hotel and to the circuit and what they do in the down time. 
As we know the first people to arrive in the paddock are the motorhome crews however the first people to arrive at any European destination are the truck drivers that have driven the motorhome. Some teams have a separate build crew who fly or drive vans to the circuit (Belgium and Germany are only 6 hrs away by car) but others double up those truck drivers as build crew. Most stay in a hotel but some don’t even leave the circuit as their hotel is their truck!
For those that fly the normal routine is to get a taxi from the airport or if there are some crew members that drove team vans they will pick them up and take them to the hotel.  90% of teams share rooms. You have your ‘roomie’ all season and between the two of you have your routine (this is subject of a whole new post). 
Another unique aspect of the motorhome crew is as a consequence of being the first to arrive there is no kitchen to cook anything so until that is up and running the crew have to feed themselves. So once you have put your bags in the hotel room it is a good idea to gather a vans worth of people and find the local supermarket to stock up on lunch. Some people like to save money by also buying their dinner there. There are all manor of cooking products that can be thrown into the back of a truck that can be set up in a hotel room. A Grill made by a boxer is a favourite or the most simple, a kettle. 
The next to arrive for the race weekend are the race team garage crew and the catering staff. They always fly and in some cases will drive straight from the airport and begin the garage build/food prep before checking into their hotels later that day. There is no need for these guys to go to a supermarket as the chefs will begin providing lunch and dinner if needed.

The chefs are other un-sung hero of the paddock as these guys not only provide food for the teams whenever they need it but also knock up high standard cuisine for VIP guests etc. During a race weekend team members will be provided with breakfast both cooked and cold, a range of sandwiches and wraps, salads and easy to heat snacks like jacket potatoes and a filling plus a hot meal on a friday (this is a big day and night of car prep as they are scrutinised ready for qualifying the next day) and some other nights if there is a lot of work to be done on the car for example. As well as this there will be a VIP lunch menu for the entire race weekend plus the possibility of VIP dinners. Oh and did i mention the drivers food which is very specify planned out by their respective trainer or nutritionist. 
These guys spend most of their time in the kitchen or asleep although they do find the time for a few relaxing drinks in the bar of an evening.
Next on the list are the mechanics and the engineers. There is no need for them to arrive until there is a car to work on. Once again they fly to all the destinations. In most case the engineers will turn left on the plane and fly 1st class. They will also in some cases stay in a different hotel.  
These members of the team will pick up hire cars at the airport and use them all week then return them when they fly home. Some teams use the same company when they can and have a ‘rep’ meet them to save on queuing at a desk and to make sure they find their cars. There can be up to 5 vehicles being hired at one time. 
As previously mentioned friday is the only day when the teams will have a dinner provided so the evening is spent finding somewhere to eat. The easiest thing to do is order room service but this can be expensive and a little boring so its off out to find a place to eat. Most of the races have been on the calendar for years so everybody has their favourite places to go. 
These evenings are the only chance that you get to go out and explore. It is a common misconception that when flying around the world these guys get to see a lot of different cultures and really suck up the atmosphere of a country. Most of the time you see the circuit, the route to the circuit and the hotel and the odd restaurant or bar. 
The only crews that get a chance to see more are the motorhome crews. These guys often work a shift pattern during the race weekend meaning not every crew member is needed. This gives those guys a day off and they use it to sightsee, explore and relax. These guys will have been away for a week longer than any other team member and will leave at least 3 days after the race. Some such as myself have a hobby they can do like riding my bicycle with others who share the same privilege and hobby. (Look out for pics during the season).
This is general diary of the lives of a F1 team member. As you have probably realised this is why it is important to have a love of motor sport and F1 because when your away working the majority of your time is spent doing exactly that F1

Ben

See you all again Saturday 🙂

Love Ben & Sandra

© Ben & Sandra Hebbourn 2015