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their competitive spirit is evident well before even
one of the Formula Fords is fired up. Another
attendee, California-born Gene Stacey, has
flown in especially from the Gold Coast. The
51-year-old is toying with the idea of getting
into Formula Ford racing himself and wants
to check out the cars.
Of the others, Waroona farmer Kristian
Goodchild looks the most laidback but still
exudes an air of speed even sitting down
– must be the red racing suit he’s picked out.
All participants sign a waiver before starting
which outlines the inherent risks of racing – this
is, after all, not a flower arranging course.
Brett gets everyone’s attention with just one
sentence: “You are insured; the cars are not.” In
other words, bang up the car and you’ll be up
for a very big bill, buster.
Once kitted up, Brett and his Fastlane crew g o
through a dry run with each driver. Just getting
into the car is tricky (there’s a height and weight
limit for drivers); I’m no giant but once cocooned
in the Ford (you are virtually lying down) it is
initially quite claustrophobic. The clutch, brake and
accelerator – throttle, in racing parlance – are all in
the normal place but the gear lever is a little silver
switch to the driver’s right.
So far, so g ood... but then Brett introduces
a curve ball – ‘blipping’. Blipping is the art of
revving the throttle as you change g ears, ensuring
the revs match the road speed. Or something.
I regret to say blipping and I never meet.
The other eye-opener, to me at least, is the
role of braking in ‘g oing fast’. According to Brett,
braking correctly – and holding the right racing
line – is the real crux of racing.
Time to hit the road. It should all be pretty
foolproof – all around the 1.7km track are signs
saying when to brake and where to change g ear.
Brett will lead us out on a 10-lap ‘sighter’ to get the
racing line and some confidence.
Things come unstuck on corner one, where my
gear-changing skills evaporate. I completely stuff
up the co-ordination needed to depress the clutch
while running through the g ear changes and the
unholy graunching continues for another nine laps.
I’m amazed the gearbox doesn’t fall on to the track.
I vow to g et better. Next we’ll do another 10
practice laps before 10 laps of timed ‘qualifying’
for the finale. The first four drivers to head out
ROAR FUN Powering down the straight to the chequered
flag (above); (left) Scoop’s man-at-the-track Norman Burns
(far right) chats with ‘rival’ drivers.
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