Last weekend I competed in my first full race meeting. The event was the VRA (Veloce Racing Association) East Coast Challenge – an annual competition between Alfa drivers from Qld and NSW, and this year the event came to Winton Raceway to attract some Victorians along. The VRA organised to run the category within Winton’s ‘Super Truck Nationals’ which had an interesting mix of truck racing, improved production, BMW E30s and aussie racing cars amongst other things. The Alfas made a strong field with 29 cars on the track.
Being my first ‘proper’ race meeting with a grid start and promising some close action, I was unbelievably nervous. It didn’t help that I hadn’t driven the race car since last October, and we’d been playing with lots of changes in the lead up to this event. I felt a lot better after practice, remembered my way around the circuit and the car felt fantastic – the work we’d done to lose some weight makes a huge difference to handling and it’s much quicker too.
I qualified 19th, which made me feel great and I felt like I actually belonged in the field – there were a lot of very quick cars there and I’d thought that the Sud would be way too slow. I didn’t expect to be up the front, but also didn’t want to be down the back.
Leading up to my first race start was pretty nerve-wracking – but once I got up onto the grid I wasn’t so afraid. But then I must have been day-dreaming as I missed the light going out and everyone got away well before me. I fell in behind Angelo from Victoria in his Alfetta and had a great fun time trying to get around him. Racing for position is something that doesn’t come naturally to me – I’ve done years of sprinting and 6-hours where you are fighting for clean track, not position. I also wanted to have a clean first race, so I didn’t push too hard to get past Angelo.
The remaining three races were lots of fun. I dropped back a couple of positions at the start of each race, so I really need to do some practice doing grid starts. In each race I found someone to dice with and it was an enormous buzz if I did manage to get past. In some cases because the Sud has poor straight line speed, we would swap positions a couple of times in a race. Loads of fun.
So now I’ve done racing, and I can’t wait to get an opportunity to do it again. Will definitely be keen to go and visit the VRA chaps on their home turf, maybe next year?