World Series by Renault - 9-10/9/2006
My first meet in the onion was the World Series by Renault meet at Donnington Park over the weekend of th3 9-10 September 2006. If you don't know what the Word Series by Renault is - click the above picture link to find out ...
Various picture links from the weekend
This write-up is likely to take some time so here are some things I will write about as I go along ...
Renauly World Series - Official
Write-up on the Renaultsport
Fitting Tyres, including details about some wheel damage
Well this bit was fun.
I had ordered some Continental Sport Contact 2 tyres from Buckley Tyres a couple of days before and had arranged to take the afternoon off to have them fitted and prepare the car. Well the tyres were fitted by about 1:00 pm but I realised when I got home that they had scratched the centre of my wheels. I gave them a call and took the car back in to see John - the owner. He accepted liability straight away and sent me to a wheel refurb guy he knows called Damien. Damien reassured me he could make a mint job but would need to do all 4 wheels. We discussed this for a bit and I agreed to book the car in at a later date. Now all of this delay had put my preparation plans back a bit. By this time It was late afternoon on a very hot Friday afternoon so I decided to delay further car preparation and go for a bike ride to calm down and relax.
An hour later I was back and ready for a big job ...
I am not renowned for cleaning my cars often, even thought they are pretty much always black. On this occasion I thought I would make an effort and pressure washed the Vee on Friday night and use my Maguiers water magnet to dry it. Next job was waxing and polishing with Meguiers NXT wax. This wouldn't have been so bad if I hadn't have run out of daylight. Fortunately though my garage is well lit so I finished off the polishing in there along with the hoovering and application of Rain-x on the windows and lights - this is excellent stuff by the way for those that have never used it ! It basically applies a water repellent coating on the glass with means you practically don't need to user your window wipers when it rains ;-)
I had agreed to meet Karen-Lousie and Steve at junction 15 on the M6 at 7:00 am. I though this would be a tall order as I had to get up at about 5:15 am to make it. This wasn't too bad in the end and I managed to get out the house and fuelled up by about 6:05 am. The drive from Chester across country to the M6 and down to Stoke is a good one and, with little traffic on the road, was actually a lot of fun ;-) I managed to arrive at the designated place by exactly 7:00 am. Karen-Louise and Steve turned up about 10 minutes later. This was the first time I had met Steve and the second time for Karen-Louise, who I will now call KL. The convoy of 3 Vees was very novel as these cars are very rare. We were attracting quite some attention on our way.
We stopped once for fuel and drove steadily along the A50 apart from, in my case anyway, the roundabouts along the way. We picked up a Delorean along the way which we figured was heading to Donnington. We arrived at Donnington Park around 8:10 am and proceeded to make our way to the collectors parking area on the infield of the track. We picked up some freebies on the way which included Renault mini radios - of which I now have a collection !
May of the Renault Alpine members were already assembled and Kev in his Illiad blue Mk 2 was already there.
Saturday At Donnington, including lots of V6's
Winning A Prize, runner up in the 2000 onwards category
I had spent a while on Friday washing and polishing the Vee. Now for anoyone that knows me, this is unusual because I don't get off on having a really mint looking car all the time. I conceded years ago that you can't keep a black car clean all the time so why bother. Anyway, the Renault World Series was different. I have to say my black Vee looked good and was the only black one there. In all fairness though I didn't think mine looked the best as other owners had spent more time and made their cars look cleaner and Steve Murrs car looked amazing - particularly due to its striking clour - Acid Yellow.
I had spotted blokes walking around the various cars with clip boards in the afternoon and was incredibly surpised to find that these had been judges who had placed a ticket on my car. Now this wasn't a parking ticket or owt like that, it was a runners up notification for the 2000 onwards category. A few of us wondered what the first place car was and, a few hours later at the Gala evening, we discovered it was a 182 Clio in silver, or maybe a 172 - who knows, who cares - grrrrr.
My m8 Lincoln brought me down to earth the following Monday at work though, and I suppose he was right, when he said you could practically turn up to a show in a new car and win a price if you polished it. This still didn't deter from my pleasure at winning something, the prize being presented to me later on at the Gala evening.
Saturday At Thistle, including my swimming exhibition to wedding guests !
My Hotel arrangements were a little different to the other V6 owners. I had originally booked a room at the Millers Hotel the week before but didn't know then how many owners there would be. Then a room at the Thistle Hotel near the East Midlands Airport came up as a result of a tip-off from the Renault Alpine Forum - the organisers of the RWS weekend. I decided the cancel at the Millers and book the Thistle on Wednesday 6th September. This caused a bit of a laugh as the room was advertised as 3/4 bed, but the Hotel assured me it was a normal room - I was soon to find out. In anycase the Thistle Hotel is only 2 miles from Donnington Park and also boast leasure facilities including a pool and gymnasium.
The reason I explain all this is that I decided to leave early on Saturday afternoon at about 4:00 pm so that I could get back to the Hotel, go into the gymn and have a swim before getting ready for the Gala evening back at Donnington Park. This made sense as everyone else was going to be at the Millers so I thought I may as well use the facilities as consolation for being on my own.
Anyway I checked in easily as the Hotel wasn't too busy. I had the gymn to myself aswell as the pool, apart from a 10 minute timespan where a wedding part were gathering in the gardens outside which were adjacent to the ground floor swimming pool windows - I am not sure what they made of my swimming prowess but many were taking a good look through the windows !
After my workout and swim I managed to snatch a bit of a rest before getting ready for the Gala evening and enjoying a beer in the bar learning all about the installation of broadband equipment in BT exchanges from a Telecomms engineer stranded at the Hotel over the weekend. At around 7:30 pm I organised the Hotels courtesy minibus to take me and a few of the Renault Alpine owners upto the circuit for the Gala eveing. I tipped the driver a coupe of quid as I felt a bit guilty that this was all a bit too easy and convenient. I wondered how the other Vee owners were faring at the Millers ...
I arrived at the Gala eveing with a few RAOC member including Andrew and Chris. We walked up through the paddock area and past a marque containing the Renault F1 car we had seen earlier - well it looked like the same one. It seemed odd that technicians were working on it but I didn't think any more of that as we were ushered into the function room.
Saturdays Gala Evening, including the F1 engine playing 'god save the queen
The Gala evening was held in a large well lit function room. Forgive me as I didn't take my camera along so have no pitcures of the evening (maybe I can crib some from the RAOC site - shhh). Anyway it reminded me of a wedding reception with round tables decorated with white table cloths, water, wine and champagne glasses, wine bottles, knapkins etc. Around the edge of the room were large flat screen TV's and down both sides were buffet stations from where food was later served. A small stage area at the front had a large projection TV (or similar) behind it.
I was the first V6 owner to turn up, being the closest to Donnington I guess. I was able to bag a table in a central location. Shortly afterwards the others turned up including Mark and his son, Kev, Steve and his girlfried. Karen and Steve weren't able to make it and had stopped at the Millers. Unfortunately, or not depending on how you look at it, I was the only one who could drink. The others had to come in their Vees as they could not arrange a Taxi to bring them over from the Hotel. We all managed a glass of Champagne together before the procedings began.
David 'Kid' Jenson was the MC for the evening, having a long affiliation with Motorsport. He made an announcement that we should go outside to the F1 cars marque for something which we would find 'very exciting'. I realised at this point what was going to happen, as I had seen something similar on google video a couple of weeks before. We all gathered around the F1 car as the technicians beavered away. I had never been so close to an F1 car and it seemed much longer and narrower than I imagined aswell as looking heavier than it obviously was. Proportionately it clearly is actually nothing like a car - especially without wheels, as this was had none on.
Shortly after gathering and settling around the car, some tapping on the laptop keyboard and someone leaning into the F1 car and turning the steering wheel in full lock, the F1 engine started. It was revved up a few times very fast and I was amazed at how quickly the revs rise as the throttle is blipped. This continue for about 30 seconds until one of the technicians pressed a key on the laptop and the F1 engine started to play 'God Save The Queen' by virtue of modulation of the revs of the engine. This was obviosuly being done by the laptop computer but was very impressive and EXTEREMELY LOAD ! Despite being almost unbearable to listen to it was an amazing this to witness - even more so when the music ended and the engine went into its finale. This involved the engine revving incredibly highly and spitting perfect bunsen like flames out of the exhausts, almost like jet afterburners. This caused incredible popping until after a short while the engine was shut down to rapturous applause from all of us watching.
Gala Evening Proceedings, including the chocolate fountain
We composed ourselves and went back into the function room and sat back down as David Jenson and Stephen Dell drove the evening forward. We watched some videos of the years Renault World Series events and a Centenary video of Renault history. The Renaut F1 test driver, who had driven around the track earlier, also gave a short interview aswell as the Renault Sport UK MD.
After this a fantastic warm buffet was served which included (I think) lamb stroganoff, chicken curry, carrots, rice, potatoes and naan breads. I have to say the curry was an excellent meal. The hot meal was followed by a choice of sweets including sponge cakes, chees cake and a selection of cheeses and biscuits. In addition to the sweets mentioned was the huge chocolate fountain which seemed to be surrounded by women mostly. It all looked a bit sickly to me !
Once the eating, and further drinking for me, was over the evening continued with price givings. Each class effectively had a first prize and runner up. Each prize winner was asked to the stage for a photograph to be taken and the prize to be awarded. In each case first prize comprised of a glass trophy, an F1 model and a bag of Maguiers products. The runners up prizes were a Renault Centenary book and a set of F1 prints in the form of a Calendar. I of course had my picture taken as I claimed my runners up prize for the 2000 onwards class which, as I mentioned earlier, was won by another NON V6 Clio.
After the prize giving Barry 'Whizzo' Williams, who is a well known british racer - especially in Alpine circles, did a kind of after dinner speach about some of his carreer exploits. Mixed in with this were a few well positioned anecdotes and jokes which had us all in stitches. Once Barry had done his speach Stephen wrapped up with some thank yous for people involved in the event - we are all happy to applaud everyone for organising such a great weekend and evening ... And Sunday was yet to come ;-)
The eveing ended around 11:00 pm as people made their way backl to their respective places. The V6 crew headed back to the Millers Hotel and I managed to bag a lift back to the Hotel with Andrew and his wife Chris in Trevors Audi.
A great evening was over so I got my head down for some sleep, after all I had been up for nearly 20 hours at this stage - zzzzz.
Sunday At Donnington, including even more V6's
Pissed Up Blonde Girl
As we managed to make our way through the infield tunnel 3 girls came giggling passed our Vees. The blonde one stopped at Tims car and began a conversation with him. Well she was talking anyway, I wouldn't call it a conversation. She had obliviously been on the alcopops as she could hardly stand. That is perhaps why she had to lean on Tims car. Considering we were at an exclusively Renault event she was rattling on about how she loved German cars and hated French ones. Anyway I think Tim must have got fed up and she decided to run, or rather hobble, down to the circuit exit with her Vidal Sasoon hair blowing in the wind - tart !
Journey Back, exiting Donnington Park
Even though I knew the Kegworth area well, I had not driven around Donnington before. I was therefore unsure which way to go when I exited the circuit. I headed towards the M1 with Tim following. This meant a snails pace drive along the perimeter of the airport. I realised too late that I could have driven through the airport cargo area and cut out about 20 minutes of queuing - you live and learn. It took about 30 - 40 minutes to get onto the A50 from the circuit. I thought I was on the homeward stretch now with the familiar run along the A50, this time with plenty of attention from Clio owners who were making their way back from Donninton.
The roundabouts along the A50 are a brilliant way to break up the journey. Holding back to allow the traffic in front to get out of the way before blasting across the roundabouts with a bit of oversteer - nice. The journey to Stoke took the usual 40 minutes or so and I eventually made it onto the M6 but was immediately stuck in 3 lanes of solid traffic - just my luck that was. It was about 7:30 pm at this stage.
Journey Back, including the M6 fatal crash
It was still daylight when I hit the traffic on the M56. The Vee was getting a lot of attention as the traffic was very slow. At this stage I realised there had been an accident but not how bad or how far up the 10 mile stretch of motorway it was. I had been stuck on the M6 before for about 5 hours so knew what to expect as I knew I had 10 miles to go to the next junction and we were only crawling. I opened the windows and chugged along on the inside lane in my little supercar at about 4 miles an hour, well it was probably less.
I didn't listen to the radio just minded my own business chatting to quite a few people who I passed along the way. Nothing much more exciting than that for a couple of hours apart from requests to rev up the engine and a Muslim guy getting out of his car to pray and then having to run to catch the car up that he was in. A couple of other notable indicators of the seriousness of the accident which must have occurred were that there were NO cars coming down on the Southbound carriageway and the traffic was still at a slow pace over 1.5 hours after joining the motorway.
It was about 9:15 pm before I approached the accident which was clearly a bad one. A van was on it's side on the Southbound side and debris littered the Northbound side which had reduced to 2 lanes. On the Southbound side the traffic was 3 lanes solid and as I drove past the accident I realised that ALL the vehicles had turned their lights off and people were just out of their cars in groups probably talking and biding time. I have since learned that many abandoned their vehicles and walked to Keele services just down the motorway. The fact that 5 people died in the accident is sad and makes any feelings of annoyance for being stuck for so long pale into insignificance. Besides some of the Southbound drivers had been stuck at a standstill for over 5 hours.
I managed to get home by about 10:00 pm, probably later than some owners who had traveled from London and further south. Ah well I had a super weekend meeting many other Vee and Alpine members. This was definitely one of the best car-related weekends I have ever had and I certainly look forward to more RWS meeting in the UK and possibly abroad.
Of course some pictures will also follow ;-)
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