Monday, December 12, 2011

More Carrera Video...

This isn't us but its rather good. It has some in car from the Mini crash and you even see a flash of the Jag around 20:50... Enjoy

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

More enthusiasm than talent..

Thrown together from bits of phone footage and the in-car camera our crude first video. I’m sure there will be a really cool professional attempt but for now this will have to do. It already seems a long time ago… The Bell should be open? Fancy a pint?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Better late than never, apparently. (From Top Shelf)

Hi All,

I didn't know what to expect which was probably just as well because I really would never have expected to be tear a@#!ing up the Mexican equivalent of the Himalayas in a Red Suburban full of baggage, tools (not just the ones in the back either) and spares for a MkII Jag, Welsh Rappers 'Goldie Looking Chain' blaring. Bad German accents, Tip Tops, I say and Ding Dongs still ringing in my ears. Pipes being pointed all over the place.

Welcome to Team 304 support crew:

Fearlessly lead by Mr Nick (or St Nick, the local ladies thought it was Christmas when he was around)
Ably supported by El Guapo, Jim the Gent and yours truly, ( from here to be known as the 'Dirty third of a dozen'(DTD). Please don't attempt to pronounce after drinking).
Management consisted of Team owner and Co- Piloto Richard Upton, a through gentleman and possible the most resourceful man I have ever meet. Fraser Stevenson Piloto and Mr unflappable.

Typical car briefing, whilst waiting in a beautiful 16th century Spanish town square, crowded with locals, inflatable arches erected for end of stage presentation, Richard would text Jim the gent what attention was required for the Bell.
A short time later Police sirens would be heard as they escorted the competitors into town, normally in groups from 1 to 10 cars. About mid field the Bell would appear. Nick would be trying to steer them toward a park amongst the crowd and other cars.
Kids, teens and whole families would come up to take pictures with the car and Piloto's and crew. Rich and F were a crowd favourite's with the kids, they would put them in the car or on their shoulders so friends or family could get pictures of them behind the wheel of Jag 304 or with the famous crew.

Nick was a favourite with the young ladies as he was putting them in the car for photos shots with their friends. Darrell would be busy taking score's of photo's and keen to pick up on any attention from the ladies that Nick may have missed.
Jim and I would get busy arranging beers for crew and believe it or not we'd be competing with Richard who seemed to have a rather unworldly ability to summon waiter's complete with trays of beer in almost any setting.

Amongst these festivities Fraser would have a quite word to Mr Nick about how the car was running. Mr Nick would subtlety have a poke about, Richard would turn up and ask what do we need to make this happen.
And on a few occasions some quite random things had to happen.

El Guapo had to meet a strange Red hatted man at an Airport freshly flown down from Mexico city with brake rotors, disc pads suitable for a MkII Jag etc, from a Mr Whan in Mexico city. He was under strict instructions that the Red hatted man had return to Mecico City on the same plane.

A mechanical workshop was sourced in Oxacaca complete with mechanics prepared to work late into the night.

I was sent on a treasure hunt across Queretaro where after being lost with a non-English speaking cab driver, unable to track down a Mr David and crew, after a few icy cold Sol beers as I was unwilling to return to the DTD empty handed a note from Mr David was handed to me by a Holiday Inn receptionist. On the note were directions to a beautiful Jag 150 in an underground car park nearby on top of which I would find a box containing a complete new distributor suitable for Jag 304.

After 8 hard days of racing (pre-qual was counted as day 1 apparently) it was over and it was Jim's fortieth so we had a few drinks, I was quite surprised how close as a group Jag 304 Team had become and how proud we all were of how Fraser, Richard, crew and the Bell performed. Not bad for a group gathered together from all around the world and after a few drinks was all over the place.

All the Best

Tea stain Tony
Two bottles Tony
No phone Tony
Plus a few more.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Bit More Video - Apparently

Here we are. Home. Washing machine full of clothes, family’s happy, jet-lagged and not a cheese and ham sandwich in sight. I think we all made it home OK? I know 'Two bottles' Tony could have done without the Quantas strike and loosing his phone. R made it home for Halloween so the Gent must have got home safely as well? Nick landed DXB this morning. D had the shortest flight so were all good...

I'm Just trying to make sense of the hard drive of images and video (it's not happening today) and these came to the surface. Mil Cumbres (thousand hills), 15 mins of madness which I'm sure we will treasure.

Mil Cumbres from Turnpin Lane on Vimeo.

The next is rather more sedate. It’s more sedate because we just didn’t like the look of it, watch the video and you will see why.

Untitled from Turnpin Lane on Vimeo.

With both videos you don’t get any real idea of the gradients. Going uphill you just felt so sorry for the old girl as she was thrashed to within an inch of her life trying to get the best from her very long gearbox. Going downhill slowing her down was always at the forefront of your mind as you had the hit the pedal twice before you got any brakes and by the end of the stage there simply wasn’t any brakes left. Sounds like a nightmare but it was predictable and in the end quite good fun… "apparently"


Sunday, October 30, 2011

great trip.

I can't really put it into words. If I could do this every day- I would. We all worked hard, the first few days getting all of our roles and responsibilities down- 2nd few days of wrenching and driving and trying to literally beat the pack to the service stations with a set of directions that had started out in Spanish, and loosely transited into English with no highway numbers or street names something like "head out of town following signs for Mexico for 85 Kilometers" we are in flipping Mexico after all what kind of direction is that?

Packing and repacking a Suburban 3 times a day with all the tools, and about 3bags each. Eating Ham 
and Cheese sandwiches purchased from the hotel the night before. Just complete running and gunning I would do it every day but only with this crew.

F- An amazing driver, R- craziest co-pilot on the planet. Mr. Nick ability to diagnose problems on the Jag was nothing short of spectacular, Gent had us laughing throughout the day, and Top Shelf had us laughing into the late morning.

In short, I am sad to head home and looking forward to the next race. 2013 is the next goal- though I am hoping to convince everyone to the Pikes Peak next year as a trial run on the Blue Bells new setup.

finally I get to post.

It looks like we have a 3 pipe problem….
These are not the words you want to hear at the end of the day, F would always pull in with a shopping list of problems to fix, fortunately we have had humor and some very bad German and Mexican accents, and of course The Gents pipe pointing skills to keep us going, its amazing how having a few pipes around can solve any problem.

To get her to the finish line, we replaced:
1x Ignition coil, 2x Distributors (thank you to David Hinton at team Predator for the loan of a new dizzy), fuel pump, fuel filter, alternator, fan belt, battery, 7x spark plugs, 1x ht lead, 1 distributor cap, cam cover gaskets, timing chain cover gasket, earth lead, steering column top bush, steering wheel, window nets, 2x tyres, heater control valve, 1 carb re build, 3 sets of brake pads, 2 front 1 rear,11 liters of engine oil (most of which is now on the roads of Mexico), 9 liters of coolant and a fair bit of my blood.

The Jag has held up remarkably well,(well done Derek and the Watjag team) as has the service team, Top Shelf Tony, El Guapo, Jim the Gent, and of course myself, the man in the white overalls, unfortunately, the same cannot be said for our hired support car, the first Surburban had to be replaced after 16 hours of driving, with lots of problems including brake failure, the second car looks like it spent the first few years of its life on the streets of Baghdad, but the nice people at Chevrolet Guanajuato, fixed us up and didn’t charge us either… Spirit of La Carrera. The car problem hasn’t been helped by the remarkable driving skills of El Guapo, now knows as smasher Novak, hitting 6 curb stones, then backing into a taxi in one afternoon.

ODD555 is now slowly wearing away; the old girl has worn bushes and joints, and oil seeping from the engine and rear diff. She is in constant need of gentle fettling and attention, but every morning we spend a few hours together and share a bottle of water as the sun comes up, I check her over, nip up her nuts, and she fires up and runs like a dream, living to fight another day.

I had never imagined this would be so tough, and in the first few days thought that we were never going to make it through, battling with constant breakdowns and rough running problems, then I look to other teams running huge support teams, and they are virtually re building their cars every night, with transmitions, brake calipers and even engines, then I look to our old girl, and she is still looking good and driving fairly well, all be it with a few 'modifications' we have made along the way, this really has been a journey laced with blood sweat and tears.

Some Links for you

Here are a few links to our fellow racers you might like to take a look at

Chip and Adrian in the very fast Mustang, Sarah and Johnny in the very smoky Porsche.

The nice chaps at LPC Racing. Err and Tequila from these boys...


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Clips and Pictures

Who's the bloke on the right?
Having fun at the Bull Ring....

Just arrived in Leon after a mind numbing trip in the big Chevy on our way to Mexico City. We dropped the boys at the airport this morning and said our good-byes. Here are a few pictures and a couple of clips to be going on with...

Early morning somewhere. Lips suffered...

Waiting, we did a lot of waiting. In here are the wonderful British contingent Johnny, Adrian and Sarah. We shared some laughs... I think? Should mention Johnny's book on the race available from all good books shops..

Ding Dong the Bell finishes La Carrera 2011

Its Friday afternoon in Zacatecas an incredibly beautiful old Spanish mining town. To be honest I have felt better. We are all exhausted. No one has had more than a few hours hours sleep for the last week and everyone has been surviving on ham and cheese sandwiches and the occasional beer. We have had a good couple of days with the old girl getting the better of a few Prosche 911's and some big American V8's. We are kicking ourselves about the penalty's we picked up earlier in the week as we would have been better placed with the good solid times we have been putting in, that would be endurance racing then wouldn't it? We had the after race party last night in a bull ring complete with fireworks, singing and vast amounts of drink. We celebrated finishing, we celebrated our safe arrival and we celebrated with friends new and old... The race is over and against quite substantial odds team 304 pulled it off. We made it, and more than that we did it with some style and a lot of laughs. I am extremely proud of being a part of team 304. We have done what some teams with big trucks, mechanics and massive resources couldn’t do, we have raced the Carrera and finished it.

Thank you Richard for keeping so cool called calling so well, every time. I don't know how you do it.

Good work with the spanners lads and sorry…

In conclusion I would like to thank…

Richard, Faela, Roz, Nick, Tony, Darrell, Jim, Elizabeth, Matthew, Sue, DFS, CIE, Olive, Derek Watson and his boys, friends and family and everyone else who has made this possible.

2013 anyone?


Some Video....

Below is the penultimate stage of the 2011 La Carrera (I think, R will have to confirm this) the Bell was suffering with suspension, brake and engine issues after 7 days of abuse but she still pulled in excess of 130Mph. The video doesn’t do justice to the heart stopping sheer drops. As you can see we didn’t press our luck…

This is the infamous Mil Cumbres. We did a number of stages through there, is this is one of them. The changes from shade to bright sunshine are challenging, there are big camber changes and climbs and little room for error. We both loved it. The Jag was a crowd pleaser through the tight sections being sideways most of the time, the best road in the world? Probably.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Aguascaliantes: Across The Finish Line..

F an I finally crossed the finish line in this beautiful medieval town around 1830 last night. Mixed emotions: sad to not be competing in this adrenalin-fuelled Rally, pleased to have made it safe and looking forward to seeing our families. Made some great friends and were continuing to improve through the week. Our Jaguar was somewhat outpaced by the 911´s in Historica ´B´ and we were hit by one and a bit day´s car trouble but we competed well against some world class teams. The resultados and times therein can be seen on La Carrera Pan American website: 74th from a field of 114 with 36 minutes of time -absentee penalties . I have buckled the Co Driver footplate with the pressure of my feet compelling the car away from cliff edges yesterday at La Bufa so today walk as light as a butteerfly having floated close to my edge.


Will post pics and film later today.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Last stretch

everyone is up and getting ready. The Bell has been hammered on this trip, but I think she has enough left in her to get to the finish. Everyday a new challenge for both the drivers and the suport crew. I have a ton of picutres and videos to edit down in size so I can get the up for everyone to see.

The support truck has had more problems then the race car- and it smells like 4guys have been living in it for a week. We have 2 support stops today, and then finish line try and beat the boys to so we can get some clips of them coming across.

Zacatecas, should be a lot of fun. No more working 'til midnight, and up at 6 for the boys.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Gentle note-

Every time F and R get back from a days racing the immortal words of Mr Bridger from the Italian Job, spring to mind ‘are those the ones that broke my car!’ but with blood, sweat and beers (thanks to Top Shelf) we seem to be able to put it back together again before the next day’s racing,(by we- I mean Mr Nick of course) but F seems determined to keep us busy by destroying the car from the inside out, and after seeing the footage of the speed sections I now know why we have been so busy. I know which car I’d rather be in, even if Darrell (El Guapo) is driving but hey, I’m sure the kerbs and taxi drivers of Aguascalientes will recover from his visit.

We keep ourselves amused on the long night under the bonnet (hood I’ve been informed our American cousins call it) by communicating with each other in outrageous German accents which can be a little awkward as we always seem to be surrounded by them in our service areas we also have an inflatable spitfire hanging from the back of the van. I would like to think they are doing the same to us but as yet have seen no inflatable Fokker’s.

So we carry on and all going well ‘ze vaw vill not be over for us’ until we reach Zacatecus.

The Gent.

F's Update

The last couple of days have been a blur driving I don’t know how many KM’s, no idea how many speed stages. We have climbed thousands of meters through beautiful country. We have come on so much, we are now getting there. The last couple of days we have been fast, safe and together. Richard and I are ‘dancing’ and the Jag has been an unlikely Carrera success although I think our service team would disagree.. I have so much to tell but I’m a little burnt now so I’ll tell you about this afternoon when we did a speed section on a NASCAR banked oval circuit. Madness. This is something to it for sure and the Jag was quite a weapon but at 100 MPH round an oval? I won’t be queuing to do it again. Let hope the video worked. This race is amazing. We have made it through to day 6. Just one more day to go and the big finish.


Day Six: Co Pilote Has No Voice

Six days of calls in 36 odd speed sections, marinated in fuel and oil mist
in our 47 year old Jaguar has rendered my voice so husky I sound like Marlon
Brando. Which is appropriate given the horns of the lady sound ‘The Godfather’
sound track. Somewhat tiring after 2600 kilometres but there you go…Today we
left the stunning caves and castles of Guanajuato to head to Aguascaliantes.
450 km and no fewer than 9 speed sections. Straight into Delores Hidalgo: a
6.55km blast through the dusty plains. Lots of ravines and edges..spooky.

We were a good team today, all worked our socks off: impeccable time
card, no fines, never late; everything spot on. We have been fighting all week
since the drama of a troubled car on day one but are cutting our way through
the pack [which includes Jocham Mass- the ex F1 driver]. Some of the cars
[different classes prevail] have 600Bhp and way the same as ours. Rockets.
Called the turns well, F drove beautifully [other than a brief second on the
edge [my edge- naturally] so we were on the money.

Last speed section after 300km of transito at 150km/ph was on
Aguascaliantes Nascar racetrack: an oval bowl. I do not recommend being a
passenger in a car in such an event. Gravitational pull and concrete walls
change one’s mood quite quickly. Finished it, held our own with a Mustang and
an Alfa and screamed into town with police escort and absolutely no regard for
any laws whatsoever. Only in Mexico.


The Road from Morelia to Guanajuato

Day Five: The Road from Moreilia to Guanajuato
Another punishing day but then again every day is a tough day on La Carrera. We started the day reversing the speed sections of Mil Cumbres. Every day has 6-9 speed sections adding up to around 110km. In between these we are in 'transito' of c 350-400km per day. The Rally allows just enough time for petrol stops and a sneeze to get to the next speed section if one travels at 150km per hour. We have Route maps detailing every 150 metres for every day and I live on these and the trip metre. It is a full on endurance event for everyone: driver, co pilote and crew. We are absolutely bushed.
A speed section is something else and the times determine the placing. However if you get lost or are a second early anywhere or more than a minute late then the team incurs heavy time penalties.
In addition you fill in your time card and must work the mental arithmetic of 60 minute plus/ minus extremely quickly. A mistake is another heavy fine. Feels like a tax return.
When you reach each time control for a speed section you must have your harnesses so tight you cannot breath, nets up [to stop arm being lost in a roll], Hans devices on [to stop head smashing on dash/ neck brake]; helmet on, fire suit and gloves on, intercom on, transponder checked and the right time on your card. 100% adrenalin courses every corner of one's compressed body. Driver and co driver work together in a rythym of calls and curves , distracted only by the sight of crashed cars here and there. Today, on the Mil Cumbres two Studebakers [american vintage supercars] left to join the forest and a mini was in such a mess that Fraser and I were silent for twenty minutes. Our plan was and is to stay on the road.
These roads are something else though.
Our day ended in Guanjuato. One of the most amazing 16th Century Towns you must visit one day. Without doubt. Look it up. Unbelievable. 100 odd race cars roared into the heart of the place to uniquely Mexican fanfare.
Passed out...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

finaly a clip....

We (support team) have spent the last week wrenching on the Bell day after day- It all seems to be bits  that F seems to has beat to shit in only a few short 10-20 minute sections. None of us can understand how he and Rich can beat up the car so badly.

This clip puts it all in perspective I guess. The boys are driving hard-
The car is running about as good as the team- finally.

1/3 of the team is ready to run it next year.
1/6 of us is ready to move here
100% of use are having a blast.
¬el guapo.
 PS- thanks Monkey Boy.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Ding Dong: Move closer to the front of Class, Bell..

Queretero, Day 4 of 7
Breakfast overlooking a champagne pink sky as far as the eye can see. Queretero is a huge sprawling city with an amazing historic centre. Typical of what we have enjoyed through Mexico. The people are amazing, the streets dusty and beautiful . La Carrera circus rolls on through, every start and finish a cacophony of roaring engines, blowpipes, screaming kids and pumping bass from the ever-present public address system. Visually incredible too with early or late sunkight piercing through gaps in thick mulberry trees. The locals seem to love La Carrera, c 3million of them [apparently] crowding the squares and streets. It seems like more..
Off the Morelia today- a short day however one populated with the famous Mil Cumbres speed section [s]: twisting ravines through forest. My eyes and lips are red/ burnt from oil/fuel that mists through the car. Got to the edge of my nerves c 3.12pm yesterday [every day is lived to the absolute second], as we screamed downhill with some panache as a team. We were up there with the best in class, which was nice. I am thinking of returning to a low 'C ' student today , so will encorage Fraser to adopt a 'Miss- Daisy- goes- to- the- Tea- Shop 'driving style.
Apparently. Ding Dong the Bell is about to chime.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Night falls and the cars apart, again

Just been up to the car park on the Crown Plaza Queretaro where were staying to find Nick, D and Jim with the bonnet off the car in the air and the engine in pieces. The front grille has been modified to flow more air and they are fixing (the many) oil leaks. Tea stain Tony is off down at the Holiday Inn looking for Dave who has promised us a new distributor. He cant find him at the moment so he's waiting for him in the bar.. sounds like a plan doesn't it? Its 8:30 PM now and the boys have got at least 2/3 hours work ahead providing they can find the parts. They haven't eaten and the race start is 08:00 tomorrow morning. I know Nick was working on the car a little after 5AM today. Doesn't sound much like fun does it?


The highs and lows of day 3

After some TLC 304 left Puebla for a massive transit to the first stage. Navigation was hard work and I was again amazed by R's navigational abilities all the cars turned right ; Richard knw they are wrong, straight on was his call, a tough call to make. He was right. Arrived at the first stage in time and we did OK. It was fast zeros and ones and to be honest I didn't like it. Zero means virtually flat out and one means back off a little. I don't expect us to be quick. This was my fault, just didn't like it, too fast, didnt have my head in it. Second stage [Minerel De Chico] was totally different, very tight, very complex undulating through a forest. I loved it, the Jag loved it and I think R loved it too. You will have to ask him to be sure. Off to lunchtime service and a visit from Juan Manuel from Casta Motorsport and his delightful family. Juan sent us some disks for the car (he's raced the Carrera before) and dropped by. We're grateful he did because he made some adjustments to the Jag for the high altitude were at and she was far happier. After service we headed to the first speed section La Culata!!!! It all came together here and I have a feeling we were quick. As I type I'm trying to upload the in car video of the stage. We cant edit the video here as D's mac has died so you'll get the whole thing so start from about 4.5 Mins in. Today really was - Fantastic stuff. We worked as a team together today. Enjoyed it. A lot... Nick and the boys have got the service together but they dont seem to be getting much sleep....

Did I mention on the next stage the Jag overheated, I got anitfreeze in my face we had smoke inside the car and we limped home for another refit and missed the rest of the day but lets not talk about that shall we?


Dai Three Puebla- Queretaro

What a difference a day makes..

Amazing day yesterday following successful rebuild of the
car in Oxacaca, screaming through cactus filled valleys, falling into Tehuacan
where a Fiesta consumed the race. We moved through the pack carefully, having
been stapled to the back by mechanical issues and ended the day 65th
from 114. Short nights sleep, two hours of prep very earl this am in the books
and off we head to some wild speed sections today: caution is the name of today
with many cars falling by day by day. s