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The life and times of james Hart: his family, his music, life in Luton and his occasional escapes onto the internet.

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Monday, 5 May 2014

British Touring Car Championship - May 2014

Beth was kind enough to give me a most wonderful Christmas present - tickets to the qualification and race days of the British Touring Car Championship at Thruxton. It's just north-east of Salisbury, and less than 100 miles from home.

Map of Thruxton Race CircuitThe weather was glorious, and it was a really family friendly atmosphere. I arrived late in the morning on the Saturday, in time for some of the support races and the second free practice; there weren't too many people around on the first of the two days, and it was really great to be able to wander through the 'paddock' - the inner section of the track where all the teams gather to work on their cars.

I had tickets for the public grandstand, and I took a seat there on a couple of occasions over the weekend (not least to get out of the sun!) It's worth noting that there's allocated seating on the Sunday, and it was extremely full, which made for a very good atmosphere. The grandstand is opposite the back of the (extensive) grid, with a view along the final straight and the chicane to the right.

For much of the rest of the racing time, though, I found a position just by the start of the 'complex' - the second of the set of tighter bends on the fastest track in the UK. There is a bank leading from the start/finish line from which, certainly on race day, thousands of spectators watched the race. Where I was gave a great view of the straight coming out of 'Allard' (the first right-hander), into the Cob/Cambpell curves, where there was often a great deal of action, and then out into the distance into the outfield part of the track.

There were all kinds of races - Formula Ford (which are 'proper' racing cars, like Formula 1, but with a specific Ford engine), Renault Clio, Porsche Carrera and Ginetta Junior & Supercup - each event followed quite quickly after the other, so there was always something to watch on track.

The Sunday was a lot busier, both in the car park and in the circuit. Tickets are required for a 'paddock transfer' - access to the inner area - on the Sunday, but it's worthwhile because that's where all the TV interviews take place - I even made it (uniwttingly) into the back of the shot when the balls were being drawn for the last BTCC race of the day!

I would definitely recommend the atmosphere of the banking around the track - there was a big screen up as well, so that the TV action could be watched while the cars were out of sight (there was one at the grandstand as well). It's a fair walk to the 'Complex' but worth it, I think.

Oh, and I forgot to mention the last (informal!) race of the day: getting out of the car park! Be prepared to wait up to an hour to get to the main road. I guess this is par for the course for most big outdoor events, but - once I found the car (always worth making a note!) - at least it was somewhere comfortable to sit down.

My only other recommendations would be a fold-out chair (although they're a little precarious on the angled bank!) and, if possible, a pair of binoculars.

I really do hope to be able to go again - it was definitely an all-action weekend, especially with the trees at the back of Church keeping on eating vehicles... three touring cars went off at about the same place!

There's an audio journal of my experience here:

Bits I forgot to mention:
- coming up to where the cars were recorded, they slow down from about 120mph to less than 60mph.. in the last recording you can hear the screech of tyres. That happened a few times when the wheels locked up
- the trees ate the cars because they approached 'church' bend too quickly and just... well, kept going.

Below there are some pictures of the action - there are more in the gallery!

Gordon Sheddon on two wheels at the chicanePlato and Morgan at the chicane
Close-up Clio actionCollard and Neal have a 'moment' at Cambpell

Posted by james at 12:20 PM

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