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Wednesday, 18 September 2019

A Marshal's motivation: 'I wanted to give something back'

Welcome back to part 2 of my marshal series, so glad you all liked the first part!

One thing I found quite interesting when I was reading peoples stories was their motivation for joining in the first place. It wasn't always a case of wanting to get closer to the action (although that's a bonus) but to immerse themselves into something new to escape the stress and chaos of everyday life.

Most people did say their love of motorsport and desire to be involved is what motivated them to train to be a marshal which I can completely understand. As one marshal Joe explained to me his motivation for continuing is that 'its a hobby that I enjoy immensely' and that's his motivation now which has changed from when he initially started from his desire to become more involved and 'the ability to let both fans and drivers continue to do/see what they love' I felt this statement is so important and reminds us how important a marshal role really is. Without them at their posts on standby or waving the correct flag or cleaning a mess up etc, we wouldn't have what we do. They are a strong main pillar of motorsport and that's something to be celebrated. Michael told me something very similar as he said he wanted to 'give something back' and a couple of other people said that to. However he said it took him a while to stop thinking 'I shouldn't be this side of the fence' I can imagine it feels wrong after being a spectator for so long.

Thomas told me his uncle is into marshalling motorbikes and he thought 'ill give it a try but it doesn't look like a barrel of laughs' 6 years on and he is still wearing the orange! Thomas has got the experience under his belt as he has helped a few trainee marshal and marshalled at F1 British GP this year (see pic below Thomas sent me) which he called his 'most epic achievement' considering he broke his hip in February. Personally I think that is amazing, he had a goal, he was determined and he did it, he loves it that much he couldn't wait to get back. He said 'watching motor racing on tv is okay but being trackside and actually in the action is so much better' and quite a few people have said something similar as Lewis told me he gets 'an insane adrenaline rush everytime we need to go do something' I would love to have heart rate monitors on marshals during a race weekend, bet it would go through the roof! Nathan echo'd this as well as he told me 'i love the buzz and excitement of race day' I suppose you never know what is going to happen and when (we can all relate as motorsport is very exciting and unpredictable especially BTCC) but you always have to be on high alert.

Jamie actually told me he was 'drawn in by seeing the marshal's react' when responding to any incident. No better way than to find out for yourself I guess! It appears quite a bit of motivation has been from either seeing marshal work trackside or knowing someone that has done it and been inspired by them which I think is lovely as it is probably the best way to give people an idea of what they do. Someone told me when he's gone to circuits he's seen the marshal's and thought 'it looks good' but he's sadly got some personal issues going on at the moment and he'd found marshalling 'a really good distraction and help' as the other marshal have been really friendly and like a second family. I found this very touching as it is a good example of a way to enjoy yourself and take some time out of everyday life with support from your own special family.

Hope you all enjoyed part 2, thank you to everyone who has sent me pictures, they have all been saved for more posts! Let me know if this has motivated you to think about potentially being a marshal or doing a taster day!

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Marshal: Back to the start

Marshal’s can often go unnoticed and I feel really are the unsung heroes of the sport. I am so excited that this is the start of a 4 part series on my blog about marshal’s within motorsport. I just really want to tell their stories and hope I can do it justice. I cannot thank everyone enough who messaged me and told me their story and is happy for it to be shared.

I felt it was only right to begin from the start, how the marshals got into it and what advice they would give to newbies or anyone on the fence about joining. I can honestly say no one has a bad word about marshaling and they would all recommend it.
There appears to be different ways to get into it, but to make sure you know what you are getting into there are taster days you can do. It will give you an idea about what is involved and whether it is right for you. A marshal Andy told me it is a good way to start by doing a taster day at a track and closer to him and once you are a marshal to add more tracks gradually.

Nikki told me she found out about marshaling when she went to Autosport one day with a work colleague and they got chatting to the guy at the marshal stand. Before they knew it they signed up for a taster day then and there and have been hooked ever since. If you are ever unsure or have questions about what its like etc then a marshal stand is a good place to go. Whether that’s at Autosport international or stands at tracks (I normally see a stand when I go race weekends and not just for BTCC) there is always someone there to talk to and I am sure it would be good to hear peoples stories, watch their faces light up as they’re telling you and they can go in-depth and answered your questions based on their experience.

Joe advised me to visit British Motorsport Marshal Club (BMMC) website. I have checked it out myself and it looks very interesting and I am not even thinking about being a marshal! You can put your details in for a taster day and your main interest, either cars, rally or bikes. Then someone will be in touch with your nearest circuit and when is available to have a go. The website is full of information from memberships to training, more about being a marshal. It looks like everything you would want to know would be on that website. If you try the website and still have question’s then any BTCC group etc would have members that I am sure would be happy to help answer.

This is all just a smidge of what I have learnt and parts of stories I have been told. I hope you have enjoyed part 1 and are excited for what is yet to come!

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

VIP with BTC Racing at Snetterton!

Wow, I still cannot get over how incredible Sunday was doing VIP with BTC Racing with Charlie, Dan and Jay. I have only done VIP once before with another team and I didn’t know what to expect but I was so excited as I knew everyone would be nice and we would hopefully have a good result.

So, first of all you arrive, we camped so we walked from campsite however you can be picked up from the entrance and taken to hospitality on a buggy. I for one love the buggies, I find them so fun. We arrived at dead on 9 (Paul one of the team had said be there by 9) and we were greeted by the members of the team, given our badges, had a quick run through of the day and sat out our table taking it all in.

We all grabbed a drink from the refreshment fridge which you could help yourself to throughout the day. Shortly after it was time for breakfast, there was plenty of choice, yoghurt, fruit and a bun with bacon, cheese and sausage in, it all looked lovely! There was 8 tables in hospitalit unit so nice and small and everyone on our table was nice, we all enjoyed breakfast and chatted about who we liked and what race we were aiming to get on the grid for. One couple we met was Jim and Ally who you may know from CMB Artworks who are just as friendly as you would expect and Matt with his Seb his 6 year old son. Seb was so cute, he loved Chris Smiley so much and went up and hugged him and his face would light up when he saw him it was the sweetest thing. People at motorsport events are always nice but I think we had the luck of the draw with our table.

After breakfast we had our garage tour. It started off with standing outside back of garage with a member of the team showing us the tyres and talking us through it all and explaining it all. Then we entered the garage and saw the cars close up and personal. We stood infront of Smiley’s car and again they told us about the car, showed us underneath the bonnet and a look inside. The team were happy to answer any questions we had.

Next up was time to wait for the grid walk for race 1, how exciting! I love every chance I get to go on the grid watching everything unfold. The team getting ready, the driver sitting in the car prepping himself for what’s to come. The funniest part of getting on grid for race 1 is there is a height restriction and the marshall was holding a stick to make sure everyone was tall enough and I’m not going to lie it was a close call! Then it was time to head to the garage and watch the race. It wasn’t a bad race for the team but little did we know the best was yet to come.

After race 1 it was time to walk back to hospitality and wait for lunch. I cannot lie to you lunch was so nice. Beef, cabbage, potato and the nicest gravy, followed by a gorgeous dessert to top it all off. We then stuck around hospitality unit watching support races and race 2 of BTCC. Before we knew it it was time for the driver Q&A where ITV4 commentator David Addison grilled Smiley and Cook on how they were feeling, previous races and the final race which is what we were all looking forward to; All while eating an afternoon snack!

Smiley was pulled for pole for reverse grid so we intended on staying in hospitality to watch the race on the TV screen but Paul asked us if we wanted to go on the grid again and it was an offer we couldn’t refuse. The BTCC field is big so looking down from pole I felt was a bit daunting so imagine what the driver feels like on the first lap, I’d be looking straight the whole time with my foot down! We all got ourselves set up in the garage to watch and hope Smiley could hold on with the hards and that Cook would storm through using the softs. A TV camera was stood just outside of the garage to get the teams reactions so we all wanted to look at one screen and the guy that talked to us about tyres earlier on in the day gave me a wet tyre to stand on as a joke, made my view a whole lot better thanks man!

 I still find it surreal that we were going through just a fraction of the emotions the team did that day. The boys I had a fight on their hands and not just the drivers but the team as well got a result they work so hard for and deserve, a double podium! It was so heartwarming to see the team celebrate and how happy they are that their hard work and all the time and effort they put in was repaid that day. The podium was the same, full of energy and happiness and the adrenaline! I'm so happy I was front row for it too, got sprayed by a bit of champagne too thanks Smiley!

We then headed back via buggy through the traffic to collect our belongings from hospitality, still in this bubble of celebration. We had already had such a great day and that result really was icing on the cake. We cannot thank everyone enough for being so welcoming and lovely and treating us like we were family. Nothing was too much to ask, they all wanted you to have the best experience possible and I know myself, Charlie, Jay and Dan all did and we are eternally grateful.

Big shoutout to the whole team, Paul, Lindsay, Zoe, Debbie and my own personal security and chauffeur Stefan and the rest of the team! I am not sure when we will be back but don’t worry we will be! 

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

I'm ready for BTCC Snetterton!

Its that time again where we are half way through the BTCC season with five rounds to go!

Next up is Snetterton and a couple of years ago I did a blog post called ‘why I am so excited for Snetterton’ and nothing as changed. This year will be my fourth year in a row camping and it is now my tradition with my group of friends. Sadly, Becki and Hannah cant make it this year (were all doing brands instead) so it is up to me, Dan and Jay to have the best time for them.

Snetterton always brings the action. Drivers and teams come back refreshed and ready to either build on what they’ve done so far, or in Aiden Moffat’s example wipe the slate clean and start from scratch. Everyone has a new lease of life and determination to do better which always provides entertainment and on track action.

For me, Snetterton is just perfect, my other closest tracks are at the start and end of season so this race weekend in the summer after break is amazing. A few days away in what is normally good weather at one of my favourite places with some of my favourite people. Its not just my friend’s I camp with either, you get to know the people camping around you and that just brings a whole new feel to it, you can all have a laugh, borrow things if need be. One group we always camp near helped us try to temporarily fix one our tents when it broke in the wind last year. It is also nice to wonder around Friday afternoon round the track and paddock and see everyone setting up and how excited they are. People will always try and make time to stop and chat but a Friday is much more chilled so easier to either catch up with people or say hello.

The facilities at the campsite is what you would expect but it isn’t bad and they do provide live music Friday and Saturday night. It is just nice to not have to worry about going home or being stuck in traffic, you come and go from the tent as you like. Once track action is over you can wonder, go on the track, go back to the tent, grab a drink and start the BBQ. It just feels like the world and its time is your own, no rush what so ever.

I will recommend not only snetteron as a circuit but the camping too and I will time and time again. If you haven’t booked your tickets yet for BTCC even if its just the Sunday or weekend and youre not camping let me know. Also, do share your thoughts on camping and what you like about Snetterton!

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

BTCC 2020 Calendar

A couple of weeks ago every BTCC fan found out the calendar for 2020. Which means get booking hotels and getting long weekends planned and booked off work! However, if they expected it to be similar to this season, they would be right although there have been some noticeable changes. If you haven't seen it or want reminding what it looks like here it is:

Rounds                  Date                                 Venue/Circuit
1,2,3                       28/29 March                  Donington Park (National) 
4,5,6                       11/12 April                      Brands Hatch (Indy)         
7,8,9                       25/26 April                      Silverstone (National)       
10,11,12               16/17 May                       Thruxton
13,14,15               13/14 June                       Oulton Park (Island)      
16,17,18                25/26 July                        Snetterton (300)               
19,20,21                15/16 August                  Croft
22,23,24                 29/30 August                 Knockhill
25,26,27                 26/27 September          Silverstone (International)
28,29,30                 10/11 October               Brands Hatch (Grand Prix)

The first change I noticed straight away is that Brands Hatch will not be kick starting the season for the first time since 2011, instead Donington Park have the honours. The season even gets underway a week earlier than it did this year. Personally, I enjoy going to both tracks but I must admit I feel Donington is a better choice as you arrive at the paddock as soon as you access the track and I can imagine the atmosphere will be incredible as you can see the teams preparing and getting ready to do it all again for another year.

Next thing I realised was Silverstone appears twice, that really excited me! I enjoy Silverstone as a track and it always delivers in action. It will be interesting to watch them do the National and then the International. I am excited to see that added to the calendar and not just because it means its another race weekend I get to go to (but it is a bonus). If you can get to silverstone and have always umm'd and ahh'd about going I would highly recommend, you now have two opportunities. You can sit in the grandstands for no extra cost which was a bonus in 2017 when it stormed! 

Croft has moved to later in the season fro June to August after Snetteron. BTCC's broadcaster ITV4 have commitments to show footballs 2020 Euro and also Tour De France so it had to be re-worked slightly to make sure they could show all of the sports. Personally I don't mind as long as I can watch it on TV live and it shows they really value BTCC to make sure they were happy with this too.

Am I allowed to say I am excited for next season when the current is still ongoing? I am looking forward to seeing how Donington performs as a season opener and how drivers find the International circuit at Silverstone, which BTCC hasn't used since 2004. So for most of the current field they wont have done that layout in a BTCC car so everyone will be out of their comfort zones.

Tell me what you think, do you like the changes? Which races will you be going to? 

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

What is CMB Artworks?

CMB Artwork began as a hobby for Jim Bushell, he never thought things would ever turn out the way they have.

First we need to go back to the start, Jim has always had a soft spot for Art doing a BTEC in school and then going on to get a National Diploma in Media Arts. His first job was as a graphic designer at his local newspaper where he worked for 10 years before taking a year out to go back-packing around the world! Something I must say I am envious of. When Jim returned he studied mechanical and electrical engineering which took him down a different career path.

          It wasn’t until Jim picked up a pencil and started drawing again in 2014 that he realised how much he missed it. With his interest for motorsport and his passion for drawing, using BTCC’s as his muse was not a bad. After receiving amazing feedback from motorsport fans Jim said they ‘blew his mind’ and began painting and drawing from his shed. Soon after he was being asked for commissions by fans, sponsors and even some BTCC drivers!That is when CMB Artworks was born. CMB is a nod to his children as they are the first letter of each of their names.  

This isn’t just a part time job for Jim, he does it because he is passionate about it, he told me ‘to get money from something I love is humbling’ This is shown by the fact that Jim gives pieces away as prices for charity auctions and regularly does giveaways for his supports on his social media sites.
CMB Artworks previously sponsored Rory Collingbourne in Clio Cup (who he also did paintings for) and Keiran Gallagher in his VW.

 However, he currently sponsors Ralphie Reeves (if you haven’t heard of him you can read all about him on a previous blog post!), Lee Keeler in RX and most recently Motorsport 4 Mental Health. The last one is something Jim was keen to sponsor as it is something he has suffered with himself. It shows you don’t need to have money to sponsor people, as long as you have a good product like Jim does where he gives them artwork to sell or auction off, every little helps.

Jim normally uses his own pictures that he takes however I know first hand you can get your own used. Some of my friends surprised me with one of Jim’s paintings for my 21st birthday last year and it was using one of my best friend’s photo’s. The most popular choice is 16x20” canvas which is hand drawn, painted with acrylics and varnished. Jim does sell one he paints himself but takes requests so if someone wants a one of piece that is just theirs and no one else has, Jim is the man. You can also get A4 framed prints or A4 sketched drawing in artist pencils, don’t by Jim’s partner Ally. Their newest edition is fully hand made 16” wall clocks, again hand drawn, painted and varnished. They look amazing!  

CMB Artworks also has their own merchandise which consists of mugs, caps, car stickers and hoodies, they all normally appear in giveaways. I’m tempted to get a hoody! Jim and Ally’s plan is to over a few years expand the whole brand and the products they offer and maybe have a shop/gallery of their own. I really do believe they will succeed, their work is incredible.

They told me they want to offer the best original service and I truly believe they do that, it is so unique and for me knowing someone has thoroughly enjoyed and loved creating something to give to someone else really makes it that extra bit special. Like I said I have one piece and I recently just snapped up another and I cannot wait for it to arrive!

CMB Artwork provides the best service, quality and everything is done with passion. I do not have a bad word to say about Jim or the brand. His work is well worth a look at and if you like anything or want to enquire just give him a message, you won’t regret it! I will leave you with a quote from Jim and Ally which sums them up perfectly.

‘Massive thanks to all our loyal customers and supporters who we know make this work, nothing like the motorsport family. Jim and Ally x’

Facebook- CMB Artworks
Instagram- @cmbartworks

Thursday, 30 May 2019

Why remember the name Ralphie Reeves?

Ralphie Reeves is a 6 year old boy from Basingstoke with big dreams.

He got his first go in a go kart when he was 3 years old, 3 years later he is already making sure people know who he is.

This year he can be regularly found at BTCC weekends with Team HARD, why you ask? Because Ralphie is the youngest driver signed to the Stilp HARD Academy. I am so glad he is as well because I had the pleasure of meeting him and learning who he is at BTCC Media day and he is the sweetest boy.

His local karting club is Shenington, Banbury. He finished 2nd overall in the UK kart championship at Shenington competing against 6-8 year olds. The youngest in his group so far demonstrating that he has a lot of skill already and we need to keep our eyes out. When he finished 2nd he only ran 80% of the championship and was 4 throughout most of it, only turning 5 with 3 rounds to go. If that isn’t impressive enough he is matching the lap times of others and he is using a 2012 kart whereas everyone else is using 2019 chassis'. Imagine what he could do with a 2019 chassis!

Ralphie trains a lot at a place called izone. Which is in fact run by former BTCC and current WEC driver Andy Priaulx MBE. The trainers that mentor Ralphie there said he was very special. In-fact calling him ‘a young superstar of the future’ after his first experience at the izone!

However, money in motorsport is never far from anyone’s minds, especially a child’s parent. Ralphie’s father Russell told me he always tries to get Ralphie to a track when possible and wants him to achieve the best and believes Ralphie has the talent to deliver this. His fastest time at Shenington on a kart matches the top 5 times which are set by 13 year old's. There is clearly big things to come from the 6 year old! But without sponsors and the money coming in to the help the future maybe sadly limited.

One thing that does work in their favour is Ralphie has already got an ever growing following. You can find him on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. With lots of support comes exposure and when that is partnered with results from any races that will help draw in potential sponsors.

If you ask me Ralphie Reeves is a name and face you need to remember!