Preparation

 

The car had been comprehensively stuffed at Mallory Park so it was a mammoth effort to try and get it ready for Brands. We managed to get it back from the repair shop on the Saturday morning before the Brands weekend, however the task before us was daunting. The car had no bonnet, bumper, lights, etc. The engine wasn’t fully fitted and none of the wiring or water hoses had been fitted. Furthermore some clutch parts had gone missing, some of the wiring was damaged and the car hadn’t been run at all to test it since the 100MPH crash.

 

My mate Steve (who happened to be racing the car first in Pre-93 on the Saturday) helped massively during the week as all the work was tackled and by Friday evening we had a car that would start and drive.

 

Unfortunately that’s when we discovered two killer blows; the N/S front shock absorber had totally failed (it clicked as the car was jacked up and down and made all kinds of weird noises) and worse still the front of the car was definitely not straight, it looked like it was crabbing terribly down the road. We had a choice – race at Brands or call the whole thing off? Well – we’d spent a great deal of money and time trying to get there and driving with a broken shock is not unheard of so we decided to give it a go.

 

Qualifying – Pre 93

 

Steve Barber was racing the car in pre-93. I think we were as nervous as each other as we waited in the collection area, the car had been difficult enough to keep on the public roads around the work shop never mind a race track. However Steve went out and did remarkably well, setting a 64 sec lap before the gear linkage dropped off (the circlip had been left off during re-assembly). Re-attached the linkage in the pit lane but it lasted as far as Paddock Hill bend where Steve’s session came to a premature end.

 

The Golf returning to the Paddock under its own power

 

 

Race – Pre 93

 

We were both still nervous. It was wet – which might have been a good thing or bad thing with a broken shock. Anyway – the car held together and took the start – and Steve did OK! Not only was the SD1 of Tim Scott Andrews kept at bay, a couple of the RWD BMWs were also passed for good measure. A red flag split the race in two but at the restart Steve continued his good work and finished in 24th place – an astounding achievement considering the state of the car!

 

Qualifying – Group One

 

Now it was my turn to be nervous. I hadn’t driven the car in anger so had to take the first few laps easy to see what effect the broken strut was having. Jesus – how strange, the car generally dived to the passenger side entering bends and swung to the driver’s side under braking. Most of the corners weren’t too bad but the left hander at Surtees for some reason was almost impossible; several times I ended up skipping across the grass and losing more time. Slowly I got used to the car and the bizarre handling and eventually managed a 61.7 lap – only a second or so off my previous best!

 

Race – Group One

 

I’d qualified near the back and with the car not being straight and having broken suspension I can’t say I was in the best frame of mind before the race. However when the f***ing thing failed to start as I turned the engine over to get to the collection area (which we’d left until the last minute given our grid position) I just couldn’t believe it. The fuel pump had failed. I had a spare but we had minutes to fit it.

 

I struggled under the car and unbolted the failed unit, desperately hurrying to get the new one on. Steve finished the job as I got cleaned up but I’d put the bloody terminals on the wrong way round, the car still wouldn’t start! Steve fixed this but more time passed, as the Golf fired up the grid was all lined up for the green flag lap. I drove through the paddock as quick as I dare but then had to drive the whole length of the section behind the pit lane to get in the right direction to start the race. By the time I’d done this and obeyed the speed limit up the pit lane itself, I could see the lead cars entering Clearways. Rather than join the race in front of the quick guys and get in their way, I made the choice to sit and wait and join at the back of the pack, one lap down.

 

The next 10 laps or so were probably the most pointless laps I have even driven around a race track. I managed to catch and unlap a Renault 5 (so I was only 1 lap down on him!) but then the leaders started to catch up and I spent most of the rest of the race just keeping out of the way. What a total farce.

 

So – the car needs to back to the body shop to be straightened properly. And it needs the shock absorber fixing properly with another four wheel alignment to get everything right again. Until all that is sorted 100% there will be no races for the Golf.