Paddock Life – BTCC, Thruxton

Coming into my fifth race weekend and my fifth different circuit, I was happy to have a little familiarity, returning to the BTCC for the second time. Seeing the paddock layout with the familiar names on made it easier for me to visualise how the finished article would look.

As usual, the Porsche hospitality unit was busy setting up when we arrived late on Wednesday evening at a cold, wet Thruxton circuit. Thursday morning proved to be a false dawn weather wise. I spent up until 8am in my T-shirt as we started to mark out the paddock but before long we were wearing our full range of winter gear as the heavens opened and the wind started howling.

Needles to say that trying to mark out a straight line with cones that kept blowing over made life very difficult indeed and mid way through the morning we admitted defeat and headed to the motor home to dry off and warm up. Eventually we got everything marked out, just in time before the trucks started to arrive.

The rest of Thursday and Friday  went off without a hitch (apart from the weather) and the result of which was a very smart looking paddock. This did lead us into a false sense of security however. Throughout Saturday, the wind picked up and by late evening we were starting to get concerned about the teams’ awnings blowing away. Several of the teams with less sturdy structures were in trouble, Including Tony Gilham. The Honda Civic driver/team owner, lost two out of three of his awnings during the night, forcing his team to squeeze into the cramped garages.

Our main concern of the night was the Pirtek hospitality unit. The wind had collapsed the front in and the wind was lifting the structure ten feet in the air. After one attempt to hold on to it when it lifted (and running for our lives), we spent the next hour battling against the elements to save the flapping awning with the Pirtek team. Eventually we had it hunkered down and, exhausted we hit the sack.

Race day was great fun, even the torrential rain couldn’t dampen my spirits. As usual with the BTCC event, we were responsible for the podium presentations. This was made slightly easier by the wind as it was far too dangerous to use the sponsors’ backdrop on the podium truck. The rain did stop briefly and just in time for the drivers parade lap. I was lucky enough to drive around with the drivers on the back of the truck as they waved to the fans and Marshals around the circuit. Everyone apart from the MG drivers, Jason Plato and Andy Neate. The pair were late and missed the bus! We found them thumbing a lift at the chicane, much to the amusement of the other drivers.

The highlight of my weekend was getting to meet the legend that is Murray Walker. The voice of British motorsport was visiting his local track and after doing an interview, I dived in to introduce myself and shake his hand. I told him that I spent more of my childhood listening to him than I did listening to my parents. After a quick photo with him it was back to work, but this time with an even bigger smile on my face.

I have the weekend off next week before two consecutive weeks down at Brands Hatch for BARC Dunlop championship, followed by DTM.

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