On Sunday I set off on an adventure to experience something new. I’ve taken part in numerous drift days, spectated many more and been to watch the occasional bit of conventional racing. Despite all of this, I’ve never been to check out a grassroots open pit lane track day.
Considering how frequently these are held across the UK (I wouldn’t mind betting that there’s one held pretty much every single day) and how popular they are, this seemed a bit naive of me. When the offer came up to head to Cadwell Park with my friend Mat who would be giving his cheap and cheerful P10 Primera its first circuit shakedown, I jumped at the chance to come along.
With the track being open on Monday, we headed down from Manchester to Lincolnshire on the Sunday afternoon to spend the night in some sort of log cabin. We were taking Mat’s car on the trailer and met up with Jimmy in his SR20VE powered P10 at a motorway services before continuing our journey.
We met up with Jord and his very serious E36 Saloon at another services before carrying on once more.
I spotted the latest issue of Fast Car magazine while we were there, in which I came across this photo of Sean‘s Rocket Bunny RX7 featuring 326POWER wheel nuts that we supplied to him a while back. I’m really looking forward to seeing the feature.
We eventually made it to the log cabin place (I honestly haven’t got a clue what it was called or where it was) and set about trying to arrange the plethora of cars and trailers outside.
Jamie and his ’96-spec DC2 joined us later on; I love the 15″ TE37s.
The following morning came around and I finally got chance to take a look at the circuit. I was really impressed with the location and the huge elevation changes on the track that was set in the middle of a little valley. I was keen to see how some of the relatively low powered NA cars would deal with the uphill sections.
While everyone was in the drivers briefing I had a wander around the pits to see what would be heading out on track. First up was this really clean P11 Primera saloon.
If you read my previous post about 90s BTCC cars, you’ll know why cars like this really appeal to me, despite not being turbocharged or RWD (like the majority of cars on this blog!).
Under the bonnet was an SR20VE setup which should be good for over 200bhp.
Jord’s very serious E36 Saloon that I mentioned earlier. I loved the super clean and functional approach.
The interior featured more of the same, with a comprehensive roll cage, digital dash and shifter setup, not to mention the super neat centre console.
Something that I wasn’t expecting to see was an R33 GTS-T but hey, here we are. This car was actually styled really well (a rarity for UK R33s!) but I didn’t get chance to see how it was going on track.
I noticed that the owner stayed off the circuit once the heavy rain began to fall. To be honest it was probably a wise decision, I can’t imagine it’d have been too much fun to drive a relatively powerful RWD Nissan in those conditions (insert joke connecting R33, boats and water here).
This Mk3 Supra was another surprise. The exterior was pretty much stock but the interior featured a fairly comprehensive roll cage.
Aside from the radiator giving up the ghost early on and having to be replaced (how fortunate that we had a spare with us!?), Mat’s P10 performed flawlessly all day.
Well, an exhaust hanger rubber fell off every now and then, and I suppose the brakes started fading quite badly after 10 minutes or so on track but, compared to drifting, it was all very drama free. Also, here’s a shameless plug for the STL mechanics gloves pictured above.
Jimmy’s P10 was similarly reliable and soldiered on throughout the day. Whereas Mat’s car only had basic breathing modifications and aftermarket shocks, Jimmy’s sported an SR20VE, a short final drive ratio with LSD and a set of coilovers. The difference was very noticeable, with the shorter gear ratios (the factory ones are way too long) bringing the VE’s power band into play much more nicely in the tighter sections.
All in all, it was a great day. We must have spent a good few hours solidly on track, with most of the guys each clocking over 100 miles fairly easily. To me, this seemed like such good value for money and, while I guess it lacked some of the drama and spectacle of drifting, the difference between a few hours in the seat at the race track versus a few minutes in the seat at the drift track during the course of an event was something I couldn’t stop thinking about.
I definitely want to try my hand at some track days in a cheap and cheerful car; it’d be a bit of a relief to be able to go to an event without worrying whether my turbo, diff, driveshafts and/or engine are going to explode.
As a result, I’ve decided to put my personal drifting on hold for a short while as I went and picked up my very own bargain track day toy the day after getting home from Cadwell Park (I’ll put up a post about that shortly).
Don’t worry, I’ll still be attending and filming/photographing as many upcoming drift events as possible, I just won’t be in the drivers seat for a short while.