First up was the Sporting Car Club of Norfolk mixed surface autotest, held at, but not on, the Snetterton race circuit one glorious Thursday evening in June. Unusually, SCCON autotests require a passenger buy my usual rally navigator, Rob, pulled out at the last minute. This left my fiancée Hayley to heroically fill the breach.
Hayley is not really a motorsport type of person. Or an old car type of person. She doesn’t much care for trying to give directions to a driver. She is definitely not a going fast person. But she is brilliant at supporting me and, to be honest, hadn’t really understood what was about to happen.
I hadn’t deliberately misled Hayley – her confusion was a result of an interesting point of language. As I pointed out later, I had said “we won’t be going very fast” by which I meant we wouldn’t reach a high speed, which we didn’t. It is fair to say that the first run came as a bit of a shock to exactly half the people in the car.
As we screeched away from the line and the back of the car drifted around the first cone (the Midget does this well) the route papers Hayley was holding flew into the air and she used some words she doesn’t use very often.
When the tyre smoke cleared from the stop-astride finish line I looked across to see Hayley noticeably pale and quiet. The next day her arm ached from clinging onto the rollcage.
Brilliantly we then watched one of our competitors do a test while his passenger ate a pasty and Hayley started to calm down. By the end she was giving instructions – “slalom all the way down then one-eighty” and finishing them with “Darling”. Which Rob never does.
There were about twenty competitors, mostly “double driven” cars where two drivers take it in turn to have a run. There was an enormous variation in cars from an ancient creaking Fiesta to a Lotus seven and a brand new Fiat 500 which I suspect may have been a garage’s demonstrator. Some cars were rally prepared so we were surprised and chuffed to finish third overall.