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The end of an Era

Seven years is a long time to race one car. I purchased EGN 70X back in 1999 to covert into a Group One Touring car for the Classic Touring Car Racing Clubs pre-1983 championship and my first race was at Silverstone in March 2000. I still have great memories of that year, if nothing else I managed a trip to Spa in September that required 10 signatures on my licence to upgrade to a National A and that meant 10 finishes. I dont think the Golf ever managed that feat again. Racing in 2000 was relaxed and great fun, the Golf had a bullet proof 1800cc engine and the group One grids were varied and competitive.

For 2001 Id decided to convert the car to 1600 and therefore compete properly in class D, this was also a great year and many battles followed with Rick Kerrys Escort and Andrew Guys Talbot Sunbeam. But then at the end of the year, the next lap after breaking a lap record for the first time, the engine let go. That started a period of about 2 years where mechanical gremlins (largely due to my own mechanical incompetence) set in and I spent more on engines and gearboxes than race entries. It was around this time that my driving was at its peak and if the car behaved it was also going very well but the car rarely behaved. Matters werent helped by a massive shunt at Mallory in 2002 that meant a complete reshell was required.

Working in Asia in 2004 meant a short break from motorsport. My return to racing that year consisted of 200 metres in front of the Top Gear cameras as the Golfs new top spec engine complete with forged pistons melted into scrap metal. By this time my patience was wearing thin, I had a reasonable year in 2005 but by now people like Don Hughes and Chris Bray had raised the class D bar beyond my reach and I was fighting for lower class positions. Another massive shunt at the same corner at Mallory in 2006 didnt help and the protracted repairs caused yet more hassle and wasted time/money. With hindsight the second Mallory crash would have been a good time to break the car and call it a day, I spent more than I got back between then and when I sold the car last month.

The rest of 2006 was a struggle as I got the car reliable again and more gremlins in 2007 meant only two race starts and zero finishes, the first meaning a complete cylinder head rebuilt at four figure cost. Frustratingly by now the Golf was going quicker than ever with a wild cam, 170+ BHP and perfectly set up Leda suspension. It was stored over the winter and by spring 2008 Id just lost interest. Id had 7 years of driving the roads in diesel saloon cars and old 4X4s just to have a tow bar available, my garage was full of Golf junk and the trailer was taking up valuable space too.

In the end I think I just about gave the car away - my return was a single figure percentage on what Id spent. So far I have no regrets about the empty garage, race suit packed in the loft and free weekends. The whole thing has been a fantastic experience and when I get more time (and money) Ill be back but next time in a series with no class structure, rear wheel drive and something reliable. In the meantime Ill try and get trackside whenever possible and remember the good old days stood by the edge of the circuit at a marshals post overlooking a stricken VW, waiting for the chequered flag to come out so I could work out what the latest breakdown was going to cost.