Social media has given people a proverbial soapbox on which to broadcast their dismay for a number of agendas. A large portion of the complaints in online automotive groups centre around events, or rather a lack of events that cater to sometimes very specific demands.
Events are a huge part of the automotive culture. Whether they are totally static shows or feature some element of driving, they allow us to draw inspiration for our own cars and meet with like-minded enthusiasts. For me personally, events where cars are in motion are far preferred.
So with that in mind, over the summer I set out to organise a sprint day for some friends with the tagline ‘Make your own fun’.
Here in the UK, we are fortunate with the relatively high number of motorsport facilities in relation to the size of the country, which makes it rather easy to find suitable venues for events like this. I’d consider it compensation for the miserable weather and salted roads we experience for six to eight months of the year.
Curborough Sprint Course was chosen for this little get-together as it met the right balance of facilities, cost and most importantly, availability. This small, figure of eight loop is built on what used to be part of the RAF Lichfield air base, with the first sprint event taking place here nearly 50 years ago.
Hiring the course for the day was relatively straightforward, starting with simply picking up the phone and calling the manager. Once a date was secured, out went a group message to get people onboard. When split between 20 people, the cost for a day’s hire was affordable. If you’re doing the organising, you definitely don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you lose money, so it’s important to take into account all of the costs when pricing things up.
Here in the UK, liability insurance is compulsory and also no-brainer for event organisers. While the risk of something happening is relatively low, if it does you will definitely need liability insurance. Thankfully, this is fairly straightforward and most circuits have recommendations for companies they deal with.
Why is it that when an alarm goes off for work it seems to be an eternal struggle to get out of bed, but when it’s car related you’re up before the alarm like a kid on Christmas morning? When the day of the event rolled round, the allure of crisp morning air, a tank full of fuel and a lack of traffic was enough for any petrolhead to realise there are two 5 o’clocks in the day.
Learning from a previous year, it was decided that a slightly shorter lap would be run in order to keep the pit lane queues in check. Once everyone had arrived and set themselves up, the required safety briefing and course walk followed before the track went live.
The runs weren’t formally timed; the main aim of the day was to keep it laid back and enjoyable.
For some, however, the fun came with chasing fast and consistent times. For others it was getting used to the limits of their cars in a safe environment. It was interesting to see how vastly different cars were very closely matched in some cases.
European readers will likely be familiar with the Renaultsport Meganes and Clios produced over various generations. These can often be seen at British track days giving far more expensive cars a run for their money.
The Renaultsport Megane F1 Team R27 pictured here was specced with Brembo brakes, stiffer suspension and decent handling from factory. The owner has made further improvements including a bump in power and a less restrictive intake and exhaust system.
It was Pete’s first outing in his Honda Civic EF-series hatchback, and he proved just how quick a well set up front-wheel drive hot hatch can be. Stripped out, powered by a B18C engine and running a Mugen plated limited slip differential and sticky tyres, proved to be an extremely effective combination.
While my Subaru isn’t really set up for any form of circuit use, other than some high oil temperatures it was huge fun. Seldom do you get to see and hear your own car being driven in a spirited manner, but a friend was happy to take on the task for me.
With any event I run, a variety of machinery is something I always strive for, and I’d say that was achieved on this particular day.
Everything from a 900cc Fiat Cinquecento with a whopping 39hp to a Porsche 930 Turbo were in attendance. While many of the cars were more road-biased in their setup, who’s to say which driver was having more fun? There’s definitely something to be said for being able to wring the neck of a lower powered car and reach the more attainable limits.
The cars and the track were at times secondary to the rare opportunity of having a bunch of mutual friends in the same place. I have to admit that organising events is partially a selfish endeavour, and being able to get friends together that I may have not seen for a considerable while is a definite perk. We all took some time during the day to stroll through the pits and look over the cars, chat about what had recently been done and future modifications, or offer help if cars were having issues.
Nick’s Mini is still one of my favourite builds to date. Jordan featured it back in 2018 when it was putting down around 250hp for its 600kg weight, but since then further work has the car running an estimated 300hp. Sadly, it proved too much on the day with an engine stabiliser mount breaking on the first run. It’s since been reinforced, ready for next time.
Equal in stature to the Mini is this Suzuki Cappuccino built by Lewis Noakes, which I’m saving the details of for a dedicated feature. Since doubling the power output to around 135hp the clutch started to slip, and despite dropping the boost pressure down, the damage was done so the car saw limited action on the day.
The best car is the one that runs, so with this in mind Lewis took his daily-driver BMW 5 Series Touring out for a lap.
Rob Richardson’s Toyota ‘KP1000′ is a car that some diehard Speedhunters readers will remember. It first appeared on the site 10 years ago and has continually been fettled with ever since, receiving curated upgrades. In between the sprint and now, Rob has made the difficult decision to sell it on, but I’ll be sharing a spotlight on this car soon, too.
Having sold my black AE86 coupe a while ago to buy more AE86s (I don’t have a problem, I swear) it was good to see it out being used.
A few other AE86s were present, including Speedhunters’ own Ryan Stewart in his blue coupe, on maximum attack all day.
A consideration for anyone organising an event is food, and track days certainly work up an appetite. I made a few enquiries with local takeaway establishments and Fradley Fryer was up to the task of sorting out a reasonably tricky order without issue.
If you have ever wondered what £200 buys you in fish ‘n’ chips and other British takeaway grub, the answer is a lot.
Two drivers were on the limit all day, Robbie in his F20C-powered AE86 and Jayson in his Lotus Exige. Both are extremely capable drivers in well set up cars .
This surely wins the tow rig/car combination on the day.
I will end with this little bit of advice for anyone who likes the idea of getting together with a group of friends and tracking your cars: You don’t have to hire out a venue yourself as I did; you could simply plan to attend an already organised event with some friends or even on your own. This would relieve a lot of the associated stresses such as payments, catering and insurance. It will still required a degree of effort – as anything truly worth doing does – but the reward of getting to hammer round a track with friends is pretty damn cool.