Ash MillerDriver Columns

Living the Dream Leg two: Living History, a few laps at Snetterton, and criss crossing the country.

Share
Ash Miller takes on the UK
Ash Miller takes on the UK

Miles. The traditional form of English distance measurement. For someone used to kilometres, doing the conversion constantly while driving is a draining exercise.

Whatever way you look at though, 800 miles in 3 days, isn’t bad. Especially in a hire car that’s as tall as it is wide. And, if you look very closely under the bonnet, is powered by a bundle of small rodents on a mouse wheel. But that’s the course of the adventure – with appointments at destinations across the English mainland, I’ve been getting used to the UK’s road system pretty quickly.

After finding my way to Portsmouth from Rockingham (en route successfully draining the tank of it’s last remaining drop of fuel as I found a petrol station off the A3), I camped up at the Ibis with fellow Aussie and BMW club member Denis Weisz. Denis was embarking on a tour of Goodwood and surrounding historical areas before jetting off to Africa to safari for three weeks. Half your luck.

Sunday morning arrived and Goodwood was the next stop – up early to make sure we got there in time, and although traffic wasn’t the nicest, we made it in good time.

It’s easy to see why Goodwood is such a huge international event. Australian event organisers take note – Goodwood is an international benchmark. After paying for my ticket online a few days prior to the event, it took all of 30 seconds to find the gate, get out of the car and retrieve the ticket. Awesome.

Once in, the feeling is incredible – the spirit of the event is akin to the largest fancy dress party, and Goodwood’s Revival is officially known as such. Once through the gates, you’re transported back to the 1950’s and 60’s. The aura and colour of the crowd is addictive and spectacular, as post-war euphoria surges back, amid the sights and sounds of motorsport’s heyday.

Open wheelers, sports cars, and prototypes – several billion pounds worth of machinery were on display, and what’s more, not giving an inch on the track. Legend of the circuit, including Jim Clark’s title winning Lotus 25, Juan Manuel Fangio’s classic Mercedes, and Le Mans winning Ford GTs were all on the limit, driven by some of motorsport’s most recognisable names. The TT trophy race was littered with talent, including Kenny Brack, Martin Brundle, Eddie Cheever, Derek Bell, and Gerhard Berger. It was like standing amongst the pages of Motorsport magazine.

The weather was immaculate for much of the, but quickly turned for the worst, just after the largest display of Spitfire fighter planes to hit the sky since the war. The rain saturated clothing and ground only, however, as spirits remained higher than the Spitfire display. Heading back to Portsmouth, I was agape with just what I’d experienced. What an event.

Once back in Portsmouth with Denis, and having sampled the intense nightlife encasing the university-student drenched town, stayed another night before parting ways. Many thanks to Denis for the Goodwood suggestion and for allowing me to stay, it was very kind.
[mudslide:picasa,0,racerviewsphotos,5655145491911828193,512,center]
From there, another 4 hour trip ensued, this time north again, towards Snetterton via the A11. A couple of wrong turns later (scenic routes, we’ll call them), I arrived at Snetterton to catch up with Antony Whorton-Eales, standout star of the Clio Cup race at Rockingham. At 17, Ant has just won the Mini Challenge in the UK, and he offered to take me for some laps at Snetterton.

Having just had a major facelift, the new Snetteton is substantially longer, and the reprofiled track has some interesting corners. Purists, as always, think the old one was better. Old or new, the car was seriously quick; Ant showing of why he’s one of the front runners, and not a bad yardstick to size up to. He will be, after all, one of my Scuderia Vittoria team mates.

It’s easy to see why Goodwood is such a huge international event. Australian event organisers take note – Goodwood is an international benchmark. After paying for my ticket online a few days prior to the event, it took all of 30 seconds to find the gate, get out of the car and retrieve the ticket. Awesome.

From there, the Whorton-Eales family kindly offered to have me stay at their outer Lichfield residence. Another three hour trip across towards Birmingham, and we were there.

The following day I got my first lesson in being a mechanic – tagging along with Ant to college, I spent a morning as part of Ant’s motorsport engineering course, taking apart cars to the amusement of his mates. Working on Minis in the afternoon as part of Ant’s Race and Road business venture wrapped up an interesting day Birmingham way.

The next leg of the journey is another long haul, into the heart of London – appointments there deem the glittering UK capital to be my next destination. Only 6 days into the trip – with 10 still to go – and there’s not much of southern Britain that hasn’t been seen yet. Is it noteworthy to have already done a lap of the M25 circumnavigating London?

Whatever the case, I’ll be using it again, this time crossing into the heart of London.

What comes of the next few days, I can’t wait to find out.

Written by and (c) Ash Miller, September 2011

2 thoughts on “Living the Dream Leg two: Living History, a few laps at Snetterton, and criss crossing the country.

Comments are closed.