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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!

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Is going to a BTCC day/weekend worth it?

I know this probably seems like a stupid question but hear me out, there are pros and cons to going and staying at home. In my personal opinion, I do enjoy both and I think most people do as well so let’s break it down.

Being trackside allows you to be right in the midst of the action and excitement with the atmosphere. From going ‘oooh’ with everyone else when drivers collide to cheering and clapping when races have finished. There is nothing like that feeling of being there and experiencing it all live and roaming around the paddock and behind the garages seeing what goes on.

Weather: If you are last minute in planning then weather is probably going to be a big factor as you are unlikely to wake up on a Sunday morning, look at heavy rain and think, let’s go sit next to a track for 6 hours! Rain does spice up the races and make them much more interesting to see how drivers manage the tricky and changing conditions. The cold is something I think you acclimatise yourself to if you are a regular to race circuits. You know the chances are it is going to be cold, windy, rain or all three at some point and you will have prepared yourself for every situation. If there’s one piece of advice to give to newbies going trackside for first time, BE PREPARED.

Comfort: Okay so there is a clear winner here, you would rather sit on your sofa all day than a deck chair but it’s all part of the experience and a great bit of exercise! If you wear a fit bit just watch the steps go up and double your daily target! But comfy trainers are a massive help if you plan on going as they stop your feet from hurting, keep them warm and stop feet getting dirty.
Food: Clear winner here, food at home is free and you can cook during breaks or even get someone to cook you food! (or be naughty and have take away). However, it is nice watching a race next to the track eating chips or a naughty treat. Treats are a must track side, almost feels like you’ve earnt it because you’ve got up early and you have walked a lot. I do enjoy a waffle or churros from time to time.

Other things to note are obviously you get a chance to meet drivers whether that’s walking through the paddock or going to the autograph sessions. However, drivers are quite responsive on social media so it is a great place to send a good luck or well done message. A. lso, when you are trackside sometimes you may not be near a screen so you aren’t always aware of what’s going on but most tracks have an app you can download with the timetable and live timings, as well as the BTCC website. Being at home you do see more coverage on races and everything that goes on whereas sometimes at the track you can be quite confused, I know I have been.
Sometimes I wish I lived not far from all the tracks so I could go to every BTCC weekend but after being trackside for Brands Hatch and Donington it was quite nice watching Thruxton from my own home.

Let me know if you have a preference on watching from home or at the circuit!

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Jake Hill: Back on the BTCC track

Jake Hill made is return to BTCC this season after missing the second half of last year. One round in and the man from Kent has already proved to us why he belongs in this level of motorsport.

Hill had his first taste of a BTCC car back in 2013 making his debut at Croft after racing in Ginetta GT Super cup in 2011 and 2012 respectively: however, 2016 was the first time Hill was entering BTCC for his full season.  Since then he has participated in 86 races, scored 204 points and 2 podiums. You may not think 2 podiums is much to get excited about but there is more to Hill’s story than numbers.

Hill took his maiden podium position at Brands Hatch Indy circuit in 2018 when he was racing for Team Hard. The track was wet but drying and Jake and the team had a decision to make, that decision scored Hill his first podium position when he finished 2nd behind Power Maxed Racing’s Senna Proctor.

Despite the excellent start to the season, Hill announced in July 2018 before Snetterton that he had parted ways with Team Hard. Hill was hopeful he would return. It left many gutted fans (myself included). Fortunately, after working hard Hill is back in BTCC for 2019 racing for Trade Price Cars Racing in their Audi S3 Saloon car with ex F1 driver Mark Blundell for company.
Jake and his dad Simon are two of the most lovely, dedicated and hard working men I have had the pleasure of meeting and knowing. I was there when Hill was on for his first podium at Silverstone back in 2017 and then had a mechanical failure, and I was also there when Hill scored his first podium. There have been some big highs but also some heart-breaking lows.

Hill made his comeback well known at Brands this year by making the right choice and opting for slicks in the wet and tricky conditions, much like the year before. Hill started 15th and worked his way up to 2nd having some very good battles on his way through, especially with Laser Tools Racing’s Aiden Moffat. Hill nearly followed it up in race 2 but only managed 4th on the grid, but still an excellent result. Race 3 was when the bad luck hit as contact with Ash Sutton led to mechanical failure and retirement. Despite that there is so many positives to focus on going forward. Hill is quick and he deserves good results and I’m sure not only himself but the team, his friends, family and fans will be doing all they can to get the best results possible every race weekend and pick each other up when it doesn’t go the way they desire.

Hill is back where he rightfully deserves to be and from what I can see, he has come back, stronger physically and mentally and is ready for anything. Personally, I was so excited to see Hill back because he is fast and he is genuine. I really wish the best for himself and the team. I cannot say enough good things about Jake and his dad Simon. I have supported Jake since I met him in 2017 and himself and Simon have always been the most friendly and welcoming people. You can see their passion, dedication and hard work a mile off. That is the kind of driver I want to support on this rollercoaster of emotions we love and call motorsport.

Best wishes for the season Jake and Trace Price Cars Racing!