Usually Serious

17 years.  76,000 miles.  Probably 5,000 of those on track.  The head gasket had to go in the end.  It’s a K Series.  That’s what they do.

And so it was, that I set off in the Elise from High Wycombe on a sunny Tuesday evening, and noticed the temperature blinking 102 at me before I’d got to the M40.

If any of you were reading nearly 3 years ago, you may remember my rosy view of my last breakdown.  That day I fondly observed how, in terms of breakdowns, it was really rather painless and surprisingly convenient.  Again, luck and the sunshine were shining on me in equal measure.

Let’s count the bonuses.

  • The sun was shining and the roof was stowed.
  • I noticed the high temperature *before* reaching the M40, so I was able to cruise gently into the Frankie & Benny car park and not get in anyone’s way and (hopefully) before it did any proper damage to the engine.
  • Speaking of Frankie & Benny, I’d had lunch there earlier, for the first time ever, so I was still full and could while away a few hours without even thinking of eating my own arm.
  • Usually I have Tuesday Night Plans, but because of the lunch I didn’t this week, so I had nothing to cancel.
  • I had plenty of charge on the phone, so even though it took 20 minutes to get through to Green Flag, I had no battery anxiety.
  • I had the laptop with me, so I was able to watch a film in the car while I waited.
  • Even though the truck couldn’t get into the car park because of the low barrier, the car park was downhill so I could roll the Lotus out to the truck.
  • It turns out the traffic on the roads at rush hour was AWFUL, but I missed all of that because I was sitting in the sunshine watching a film.
  • I was due at Donington the next day.  Bloody glad it happened the day it did rather than at the track.
  • I don’t have Home Start on my policy, so if it had happened at home, I wouldn’t have been covered for recovery.

So apart from the fact that the head gasket failed, which, let’s face it, was wildly overdue to happen anyway, it all ended up pretty damn well.  I call that a result.

Lotus Elise on recovery truck

Spa – the pics and the videos

So I never really told you about the Spa trip.  See, what happened is, while I was at Javelin’s winter double-header at Oulton & Anglesey, they announced a March trip to Spa Francorchamps.  £400 for 2 days!  What’s not to like?  So I booked it, with fellow Mooers Mike and Mike.

Shortly after that, I was talked into buying Bookatrack Platinum Membership for 2015 (which was about as difficult as talking Eamonn Holmes into a Chelsea bun).  Platinum Membership means I get to go to all their events, and they *also* had a March event at Spa.  So that meant I had 2 days with Javelin, 2 days off, then another 2 days with Bookatrack.  Ah well.  As problems go, I’ve had worse.

Now this post is going to go in a direction you weren’t expecting.  Earlier readers may recollect how I’ve been battling depression.  The half of you that have felt the effects of depression will be metaphorically right here beside me, while the other half will be waiting for me to stop banging on about it and get over it.  Well, you second half, you’ll be bored for a short while.  Scroll down because there are some sexy cars down there.  But up here we’re going to deal with it.

This is a signature moment of depression coming up, right here.  I’m at Spa Francorchamps, arguably the best racetrack in the world, with two of my favourite people in the world, two great track cars, perfect conditions and an empty track.  I mean, seriously, on the second day there were 36 cars booked on.  That’s unheard of!  Unless you can throw some boobs into the equation, it’s hard to imagine how a day could be any better than today.  And yet, here I am, just wanting to pack up and go home.  I can’t engage with anything.  It’s just happening around me.  I’m going out on track basically because it would be weird if I didn’t.  But I’m not getting it.  I’m not feeling it.  I’m doing the same things I always do but inside I just feel like a bag of crap and I want it all to end.

That – right there – that’s depression.  I can’t explain it any better than that.

So I do what I always do – I ride it out.  I function, I go through the motions, and the day ends.  I have a drink at the end of the day and have a little chat about what was going on.  It makes me feel a bit better.

The next day, I wake up and I know instantly I’m a lot better.  I start to gel with the Porsche a little, though it still feels like a bus and it still isn’t boosting properly.  Then I have a go in the Teg and it jump-starts something inside me.  THIS is what it’s all about.  Holy crap, that’s a good car.  The video footage shows afterwards that I’m doing the same lap times in both cars, despite the Porsche having double the chevaux pulling it up Kemmel.  That’s how good the Teg is.

In the end I’m really quite relieved when the Porsche’s brake pad warning light comes on, so I have a good excuse to send it home with Mike, so I can keep the Teg for the Bookatrack days.  I’m just not getting the Porsche thing.  It doesn’t feel like a Keeper.

Twin turbos! Only one fitted with a "stealth" number plate though.

Porsche through Eau Rouge



La Source



Yay! Spa!



Special staircase for mincing guests only



Lovely Elan heads out. Yes, it did break down. I don't care - I still love it.



Only one thing to do if your race car breaks down...



Moo. Spa. Spa. Moo.



Mike. Spa. Spa. Mike.



Pity the weather was so shit.



Some cars are born shiny. Others have shininess thrust upon them.



And some people just can't be arsed cleaning their cars. Hint: me.



Mike's Z4M suffered dreadful brake-overheating. Bah.


Right, photographic interlude done.

Oh wait, not quite.  I had a couple of days to kill after the Mikes went home, and it happened to coincide with the eclipse.  So then this happened:




I thought that was pretty cool.

Then before I knew it, Bookatrack were in town and I was out to play at the track again.  This time the weather started a bit shitty…



Ah, but we don’t let stuff like that get us down!  There was exotica to gawp at.  We had the 2 new hypercars to get all dribbly over – the LaFerrari and Porsche 918 Spyder!


and they were soon burning up the track with the rest of us!

LaFerrari at La Source



Porsche 918 blasts past up to Eau Rouge

I love this photo. It makes me look like a hero. I was not a hero. See video 2 for details.




And then, because l had my mojo back, I spent the days pounding round the track instead of taking photos.  And these videos show what happened!

Day 1 highlights, including LaFerrari, Porsche 918 and lots of wetness and fogginess:


Day 2 highlights, including my spin and me being a chimp: