Donington 26-27/07/2014 (North Glos)

What a blistering weekend – on several levels. With temperatures that wouldn’t have seemed out of place on an expensive holiday to the Med, we managed a lot of track time and a lot learned.

Saturday’s free practice was tentative as it was my first time racing at Donington and Simon’s first time there on an F2. On lap 3 the fault light came on (the one we’d seen at Mallory but couldn’t diagnose as the code blinked off too soon) so we whizzed into the pits and were able to identify it as a broken wire feeding the secondary injectors. The FSRA British F2 timed qualifying was superb, with 8 laps completed and a 6sec improvement in lap time. Qualifying position: 28/29.


(c) Richard Glover PhotoBikes

(c) Richard Glover PhotoBikes

Club qualifying race was next, where we’d been gridded 5th. A superb start and Simon was chasing hard when a momentary distraction of another sidecar going into the gravel at Coppice meant we followed… and beached ourselves. The marshals did a great job of digging us out after the race but with gravel in the brakes and half a ton in the undertray, quite a bit of cleaning was needed. It did give us a chance to track down an intermittant water leak and fix it though.

Our next race was the 10-lap FSRA British F2 race. A long way back from the lights but Simon had a fantastic start and we were holding our own and did our best to stay with the back of the pack. We had another wild-card team behind us too. Unfortunately we were lapped by the winner moments before the finish line so only completed 9 of the 10 laps, but took another 0.6sec off to 1:24.2 and finished 19/20.

Jenny Triker Wells 6

(c) Jenny Triker Wells

There seemed to be quite a delay before the club race but eventually we were called, and gridded on row 8. Again Simon made a fantastic start and proceeded to munch his way up the field, having a cracking battle with John Saunders (with novice passenger, son James, on the side). With outfits to chase and increased confidence we kept John at bay and crossed the line 8/14 with another improved lap time – this time 1:22.28!

We were both really pleased with the handling and the lap times and ended the day on a high. Sunday was one of those days of racing where it just felt so good to be out on circuit with friends and having a right ding-dong battle. Another hot day but with a slight breeze to make everything a little more bearable. Simon & the wonderful Andy Martin had a quick fettle with the brakes first thing in the morning, changing to super-expensive-whizzy brake fluid, but elected to sit out what we thought would be a very short warm-up session. As it happened it was a reasonable number of laps, and we could have used the track time to get the brake fluid level just right, but hey ho.

John Mushet 1

(c) John Mushet

The club Qualifying race had us gridded in 5th again with a 7-lap sprint ahead of us. A good start – Simon does enjoy aggressive starts – and we were in the thick of it and battling hard. A few overly-deep moves into corners meant we were swapping places with others the whole way round, but no trip into the gravel and a battle with 37  (Morphet/Halliburton) before we crossed the line 9/14, just ahead of them. The last three laps had been appalling – both Simon and I found ourselves exhausted, with nascent arm pump, dehydrated and fighting the bike. The cause? The front brakes were binding on where the teeny reservoirs couldn’t quite accommodate the new brake fluid after the change. Our best lap time reflected the problem, managing only a 1:24.68, slower than some behind us and only Simon’s late braking and wide outfit keeping them at bay.

We’ve known for a while we need to change to larger brake reservoirs, and a few ml of fluid removed fixed the brake issue – but for the two of us it was several litres of fluid to be added! A quick trip over to see superstar taping and massage saint Sue Hunt, then it was a short break before the start of the British F2 FSRA race. Our target was to complete all 10 laps without being lapped ourselves.

Glyn's Photos 1

(c) Glyn’s Photos

We were gridded back on row 15 after Saturday’s result, and Simon made the most of every inch of the tarmac when the lights went out. It’s safe to say that whilst Simon was on the circuit for the whole run down the start straight, I wasn’t! We made a dash all the way down the outside to Redgates with me over the grass, and stayed with the pack ahead of us comfortably for the next few laps. We could both feel that the tyres were on their last legs, with me needing to use my full body-weight to help steer round Redgates by throwing my leg off the back of the bike to spin us. Huge fun, but not something I’d want to do at every circuit We found the *perfect* line round Coppice – just once – so we knew how that could flow when we got it right, then 3 laps from the end we saw Tony Thirkell ahead, obviously having some difficulty. Simon chased hard, passing then nearly running too deep at Craner Curves and allowing Tony back through, but we managed to squeeze back past again and hold him off to the line. I kept checking behind me, but no sign of the race winners, and we took the chequered flag 23/24 with a best lap of 1:23.14. So great to see Sean Reeves and Mark Wilkes take the win again – congratulations both.

We both felt much better than we had after the club qualifying race, with just the worn tyres being our only real hindrance. Our last race was the penultimate one of the day, being gridded on the 5th row. I can’t actually remember every lap, because it was such close racing. We found that sweet line around Coppice a few more times, but with such little grip and steering it was a case of trying to run a wide outfit to keep others behind us, and make up for lack of grip by going deep into the braking zones. John Saunders evaded us today, taking around 4sec off his lap time to pull a long way ahead. We stayed with Morphet for a while, but were all being tripped up by a relatively slow F1 which baulked a number of good corner moves. For a long time we kept the Morgan brothers behind us, but they slipped past on the last lap, leaving us finishing 8/9 but absolutely beaming. The racing had been so close that it was impossible to be downcast about the end result. Our best lap was a 1:23.10, so although we didn’t get back into the 1:22s, we’d really consolidated our improvement over the weekend and made huge strides on understanding and feeling the bike.

(c) Jenny Triker Wells

(c) Jenny Triker Wells

I’d like to say thank you to everyone who was around and supported us over the weekend: Sean & Mark for their company (and paddling pool!), Roisin and Paul for looking after us, the boys for running errands, Andy Martin for being Mechanic Extraordinaire, all our fellow racers for such a great time on track, and all our friends and supporters who popped by over the weekend (especially David, Andy, Alan, Nick and Nancy).

We’re now in a waiting period: while we put in an entry for the Bemsee Brands GP race on 8/9/10 August, we don’t yet know if we have a grid space. We’ll let you know as soon as we do – if we don’t make that weekend our next outing isn’t until September. Which gives us time to save up for new slick tyres.

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Getting started in sidecars

With thanks to Sally Bly of the FSRA (Formula Sidecar Racing Association), this article is reproduced from their 2nd Newsletter of 2014.

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6th July 2014 – Mallory Park (EMRA)

We lucked out on the weather yesterday at Mallory and it was lovely to see so many spectators when the alternatives were to watch F1 (too many wheels), Le Tour (too few wheels) or tennis.

We spent qualifying bedding in our new brake pads but as the braking wasn’t feeling quite right Simon pulled in after only a few laps. We still qualified 8th from 12, but a lap time quite a way off where we’d like to be. A great start to race 1 saw us past a few outfits from the line, but going into Edwinas I thought Simon was being *extremely* confident with the lateness of the braking… except we had no brakes so went straight through the chicane instead.

The commentator announced we were in the sin bin with a 5 second penalty as we’d made places when rejoining <oops>, although Simon let them all through within half a lap. However with confidence knocked in the brakes, when a warning light came on shortly afterwards we pulled to the side of the circuit. Much frustration all round, but we thought we knew what was up with the brakes. We scrubbed down the brake discs and pads and fettled the brake fluid level in the break, then relaxed in the sunshine.

For race 2 we were further back down the grid, but again Simon achieved a blistering start and as we went through Edwinas on lap 1 we’d made it up to 7th place. A little overexuberance at the hairpin scotched our challenge as we gently pirouetted through 360deg, but we recovered quickly. We spent the next few laps chasing down the outfit ahead of us. In the process Simon achieved another personal best: a 1:00.629sec lap. Still not under the minute, which is the ultimate goal, but getting closer every outing.

We crossed the line in 6th overall, 5th in class. So, not quite as much track time as we would have liked, but a very useful day on circuit and has set us up well for Donington at the end of July. We’re wild-carding with the British F2s there as well as doing the club races, so it promises to be a busy weekend.

Photographs courtesy of Dominic Bedford, John Lockett (who captured the spin on camera!) and Kev Boitoult.

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03/07/14 – Solihull Observer coverage

Coverage of our Darley Moor weekend in the Solihull Observer, with thanks to Sid Diggins for the photo credit:

“Smith and Garnish get PB at Darley


By Adrian Murphy Wednesday 02 July 2014 Updated: 02/07 18:21


Latest News

SIDECAR: SIMON Smith returned to racing last weekend with a triumphant personal best at Darley Moor in Derbyshire.

Simon had a six-week lay-off while passenger Anne Garnish competed at the Isle Of Man TT, but returned in style with a full weekend of racing and taxi-rides. It was an opportunity for Simon to say thank you to local Solihull firms and supporters, with sponsor The Bathroom Centre renewing their contract and Solihull fan Andy Edwards having his first taste of passengering an F2 sidecar in the taxi rides.

During Saturday qualifying a broken wire caused the team to retire early, leaving them at the back of the grid for the main race. Smith made the most of the wet conditions to blast through the field from 17th to mid-field before a flat tyre caused a spin and then retirement on lap 3. In the second race Simon repeated his aggressive start and they recorded a personal best lap time as they crossed the line in 8th place.

In the lunchbreak Simon, along with a dozen other drivers, offered supporters and fans the opportunity to try passengering with a three-lap blast around the circuit. Over 60 people had a high-speed ‘taxi ride’, each donating to charities “Help For Heroes” and the ACU Benevolent Fund and raising over £1,200 in the process. Participant Andy Edwards, who started supporting the team after reading about them in the Solihull Observer, said afterwards: “I am buzzing! This is the best experience I’ve had on wheels or wings, absolutely loved it.” He’s hoping to repeat his taxi ride again later in the year.

Sunday’s racing was dry, allowing the team to consolidate their Saturday improvement, qualifying 9th on the grid and finishing the two races in 8th and 6th respectively. Their next outing is at Mallory Park where Simon is hoping for a new personal best lap.

Read more: Smith and Garnish get PB at Darley | Solihull Observer

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Darley Moor (DMMCRC) 28-29/06/14

We had a thoroughly enjoyable weekend at Darley Moor, although the weather did its best to keep us on our toes! It’s a circuit which Simon knows and enjoys, so we were hopeful of some good lap times.

A couple of broken wires in the loom affected us in Saturday qualifying, meaning that we ended up in 17th and dead last on the grid. The fastest 17 F2s were in the first race, with the ‘non-qualifiers’ in the second race with the F1 bikes. As Simon joked at the time, he did his best to make us front of the pack for the non-qualifiers, but didn’t quite manage it ;)

From the very back of the grid – which is an awfully long way back from the lights, Simon fought his way up through the field with some aggressive manoeuvring at the chicane. We ere up to around 8th before retiring on lap 3. Our front tyre had lost all pressure, which at the time we thought was a puncture to the nearly-new wet tyre, but turned out to be a loss of seal around the bolts holding the rims together. Easier to fix than needing a new tyre!

With the weather slowly drying, Simon again gave us a good, aggressive and fast start, chasing down other teams and passing a few. We crossed the line in a fantastic 8th place in – and a personal best lap time of 1:07.22. During the lunchtime, Dean Banks had worked with Darley Moor to organise taxi rides for members of the public, each of whom made a £20 donation to charity. Many of the sidecar drivers took part, offering a selection of F1 and F2 machines, along with Phil Jones’ BEARS outfit. Over 60 people took part, each getting three laps o the circuit. We were delighted to have both friends and TT supporters on the side with Simon, and I was roped in to give a briefing to the aspirant passengers; none of them fell out, which I take to mean I did an OK job. In total £1260 was raised to be split between Help For Heroes and the ACU Benevolent Fund – what a cracking result!

Sunday’s racing was equally close: with the weather now pretty much dry, and despite brake issues in qualifying we managed 9th. The front brakes were locking on again, which could only ave been caused by changing the brake bias as that was the only modification since Saturday. In the two races we had fantastic battles with other outfits to finish 8th in race 1 (which would have been 7th or higher if jump start penalties had been enforced on a number of other teams who were a little excitable before the lights), and a brilliant 6th in race 2. That was even more impressive because race 2 was on a flag start, which is never as clear-cut as a lights start.

The sidecar is handling beautifully now and we’re looking forward to more track time so we can really start to move up the field. The British F2 championship at Donington will be our big test, but our next outing is on Sunday at Mallory Park.

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New sponsor: Mark Rose Accountancy

We are delighted to announce that for the remainder of the season we are being supported  by a new sponsor: Mark Rose Accountancy, based near Spalding in Lincolnshire. The company, which specialises in accountancy for agricultural clients, has a history of motorsport sponsorship as well as a family history of both sidecar and solo racing.

If you would like to contact Mark for professional accountancy advice, he can be contacted via: Mark Rose Accountancy, The Spread, Sutton Crosses, Long Sutton, Spalding. Lincolnshire. PE12 9AU. Tel 01406 364487.

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14/06/14: Herts & Essex News

Thanks to Herts & Essex News for coverage of Sidecar race B – photo by the talented Richard Glover of

Richard Glover

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12/06/14: Solihull Observer

20140612 Solihull Observer

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05/06/14: Stortford Observer

Big thanks for the ongoing support of Herts & Essex Newspapers, for this piece in the Bishop’s Stortford Observer.

20140605 Stortford Observer

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Friday 30th May: TT practice lap start

With thanks to Simon Smith for sharing this.

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