25th February 2014

First GRDC driver training day – Donington

A day of highs, lows and intimidation. Have I bitten off more than I can chew?

By gredwood In Race Prep

Early start at Donington race track for the first driver training session. Ginetta brought three cars. Two Ginetta G40R cars and a diesel Ford Focus (one of the office pool cars). My first drive out in the Ginetta was tough. I’ve never been on a race track – and felt hugely intimidated by the whole affair. The instructor didn’t quite believe that I had zero experience – until we got on the track and it was all too clear. It was tough – so much to take in, the cars were very different to what I was used to. After my first session, I was assessing my options – I really thought, for the first time in my life, I’d bitten off more than I could chew. The instructor said I needed a lot of instruction.

This was hard. Really hard. This type of driving felt alien to me. Why did I think I could do it? Could I resign, just keep the car?

One of the Ginetta folk, pulled me aside for a chat. He told me to get back in the car and promised it would get better. It was a very good pep talk.

I next went out in the Ford Focus. Initially I was a bit annoyed – I hadn’t signed up to drive a pool car around a circuit! Anyway – it was a stroke of genius. The car was quiet and handled in a more familiar manner. I could hear the instructor and the pace was limited. I learnt about racing lines and made the tyres on the little Focus scream. Session 2 was a success.

I next went out in a Ginetta for a final session and felt much better. The instructor noted this. But I had a long way to go.

Greg, one of the other GRDC drivers had a spin into some gravel. So we got to see some of the reality of motorsport. Removing gravel took some time and involved a Henry vacuum cleaner and brush.Gravel being removed

I collected my racing uniform from Nicky Grist, a really nice bloke that absolutely knew his stuff. I had no idea how famous he was until I got home. I was just blown away with the amount of time he spent with me to make sure I was happy with my helmet and clothing choices. I just needed to buy some Nomex underwear and I’d be ready for racing.

I think the excitement of having the race suit, helmet, gloves and shoes distracted me from the fact that the day had been really hard. A day that reminded me that we all have to start somewhere. After that day, I became more tolerant and supportive of people in the office who were learning the skills I’ve taken for granted for so long.

Ginetta race suit

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