John Faux tries to dive up the inside of Ian Hulett.
Current or Historic ?
There are lots a racing cars available on the market . Anything from 125cc Go-carts to Ex-F1. Spridgets are just one group. Sure you can buy a Go-cart for a lot less than a Spridget. In 5 years the go-cart is hopelessly outdated, but not the Spridget ! Any "Current" race car will quickly be outdated. By their very nature "Historic" cars are old. Whilst they are still being developed, ( I'm sure Spridgets are quicker today than they were in the 60's) the level of developement is much slower & hence more affordable. There is nothing to stop you buying a competitive Spridget today & still be racing it competitively in 10 years.
Historic racing is for "Old Farts"
Sorry but I completely disagree. Obviously your view of what an "old Fart" is depends on which side of 30 you are. For the 2000 season most of the FISC drivers were however UNDER 40 years old. If you want a race series full of 20 year old youngsters, you have to expect that most of them are sponsored by their parents or real sponsors. These kind of people tend to care more about results than anything else ( almost to the total exclusion of everything else). I would also argue that most 20 year olds in a race car are hoping to make a career of it, to get noticed & snapped up by Eddy Jordan.
If however you are interested in older, maturer, more responsible drivers who look after their cars because they know what it costs in time & money to repair. But they still drive their cars to the limits & get annoyed when they let someone past, but never-the-less drink drink a beer with him after the race, then Historic racing is for you.
4 cars in 5 car lengths. This is normal for Spridget racing
Old = Slow
Not necessarily. My Spridget will out accelerate most road cars I have driven (0-60 mph in under 5 secs) & will on the straight at the Nordschleife using a 3.7 Diff reach 135 MPH ! . Anyway, speed is relative and anyone car drive fast in a straight line (I'm sure drag racers would disagree), It's going quickly through the bends that counts !. Don't forget we drive on 155 road tyres ( 5 inch wide wheels). This is the limiting factor for our cars in the bends. But since everybody is on the same tyres we're all on equal terms. Sure the cars use old technology( no turbos ,injection systems, carbon brake discs etc etc with us ), But this has the advantage that it is also cheaper and understandable ( does anyone understand modern electronic ignition & fuel injection systems ?). By the way, we have a power to weight ratio of about 1 BHP per 5.8 Kg. That's a lot.
Race car or modified road car ?
Given that most pure race cars can out-accelerate, out-brake & out-corner a modified roadcar, there would appear to be no competition. But again I disagree. I enjoy seeing and driving road cars on the limit. ( Well, OK over the limit in my case !). They are still very quick. It's safe ( I don't like the thought of "touching wheels" in a formula car) And spares are easy to find. ( When did you last find a formula ford gearbox in a scrapyard ?) Also, The "limits" of a modified road car are less than those of a race car. We are not professionals just amatuers out for fun. I'm not sure I'd want to get close to the limits of a race car. (especially when there are another 20 guys close to the limits around me)
Close, Clean & Competitive
I know a lot of Spridget drivers drive other race cars. a few examples are :- David Gathercole - Various ( semi-professional), Mick Mercer (MGF), Rob Biermann ( Opel), Dave Shannon ( Fully Modified Midget),Rupert Douglas-Pennant (Caterhams), Steve Waddington ( Sports 2000 ). These cars are all much quicker than Spridgets. But they all continue with their Spridgets. Why ? Because it's fun and great value for money.
Whilst on the subject of drivers, I'd like to see a few female drivers. I have 2 sisters & one of them is just as quick as me in a car. Due to financial restrictions she can't race, but where are the rest of you ?
Did you know that John Watson ( Irish Ex-F1 ), Jonathon Palmer ( UK Ex-F1 ), Rob Gravett ( BTCC ) & Dan Eaves ( 2000 Peogeot BTCC driver ) all started their racing careers in Spridgets ? Graham Hill also raced Spridgets in the 60's ( together with John Sprinzell) as did Stirling Moss...
Why a Spridget ?
Obviously If you have your heart set on racing a Reliant Robin or Marcos or..or... I'm not going to be able to talk you out of that. But if you have an open mind... A number of points spring to mind. They are cheap to buy, maintain & repair. Spares are easy to find. There are a number of established race series available for Spridgets. These race series are stable and likely to be around for many years to come. It is more fun racing against similar (Indentical?) cars (it is annoying watching a V8 engined car power away from you on the straights). The cars look great ( yes, I agree so does a Marcos!). Spridgets are surprisingly competitive. I have raced against V8 Morgans & TVR's who can't keep up with me through the bends or in the wet ( It sort of compensates for them just having powered past you when you can cheekily late brake & out slide them through the curves).
I don't think any other race car will give you a better "Fun per Euro" (or pound) factor.
A true story. I competed in a 9 hour race driving a Spridget ( Michael Harders) with 3 other drivers. The field included Mustangs, Porsches, Alfas, Sports 2000 ( including Lola, March & Tiga's) & others. We qualified in 16 from about 50 cars. The race was held at the Nurburgring in November & started at 09:00 with -1°C ( yes ICE on the track !). We did 6 laps behind a pace car & gritter !!! After 50 minutes of driving I had passed all the Porsches & was in 6th place !
The conditions suited the car & I am used to "Sliding" through the bends.
Then, the gearbox broke & we were out !
Both Michael Harder & Pieter Bakker have, since then, succesfully competed in this race using Spridgets
Friends on & off the track
A few Spridget facts
In one of the UK race series for Mixed MG'S ( MGA's MGB's & Spridgets race together) , The spridgets are usually quicker, despite the fact that they have less power. In fact they decided to penalise the Spridgets with extra weight penalties. Unfortunately it had the reverse effect & the following year they had more grip & were even quicker !!
Race series options
There are obviously a number of race series available to a Spridget race car owner. It's not really my place to advertise other race series, but suffice it to say I have never heard a bad word about any of the Spridget race series. Obviously I think the FISC series is the best, but not everyone agrees.
However what I have to mention is that discusions are currently underway between FISC & The Royal Purple Oil Austin Healey Club Race Championship 2001 (AHC). AHC is accepting FISC cars in the 2001 and subsequent season races, although no points can be earned for their current championship.
It's the pits !!
Yep ! The pits are great! Walk through the FISC paddock area during any race weekend & you'll find a wide range of activities, including guys washing their cars, repairing them, or just chatting away with other competitors with a drink in their hand. But look closer & you'll see a few things you may not see at other race series.
Most of us will lend a fellow competitor a "spare" part to get their car out for the next race. E.g.s in the 1999 & 2000 series included ( no lies here !) wheels & tyres, bonnets, wings, engines, gearboxes, brake disks, diffs, halfshafts + the usual petrol pumps, brake pads etc etc. Just don't expect any favours ON the track !!
If you have a "big" repair, you'll more than likely not be alone. Obviously if you want to be left alone that's not a problem. But just ask & you'll get help from most of the guys. I have never seen anyone change an engine on their own. Help is always to hand.
I guess at least 1/3rd of the competitors bring their wives and/or children with them. I have yet to see a "guest" who hasn't enjoyed themselves over the weekend. OK we can't control the weather, but we try with everything else & everybody has a good time. This proved by the fact that the "guests" come back regularly.
Pure fun !!!