Eh? What's Going On Then?After a decade of bike racing I've had enough. I love it, but my body doesn't. Here's the tally:
Retirement had loomed a couple of times. After I won the Bemsee 250 championship in 2000, I tried to move up to the national MRO series. I found I couldn't manage the longer national races, largely down to the state of my much-abused knees. I'd be in agony after 15 laps. So I though about retiring, but instead bought a more commodious Aprilia 1000 - the thumping twin being a big change from a lightweight two-stroke. It took me a long while to get used to it, and I contemplated retiring again a couple of times. But I was just getting the hang of it when I crashed at Brands and knew it was all over.
It took me a year to get fit after that one - basically until they took the pin out of my leg. I contemplated taking up all sorts of alternative hobbies - paragliding came near the top of "things to try".
One thing that sparked my interest was the series "A Racing Car Is Born" on Discovery Home and Leasure. Mark Evans builds a Westfield, then races it in the Westfield Championship. I looked into it, but it appeared that far from the "car for the road and to race", if you want to be competitive your car is never going to be road legal.
A better option appeared to be the Caterham Academy. The car cost rather more than the Westy (about fifteen grand) but the cost of the car included the race series with a hillclimb, three sprints, and four circuit races - as well as extras like support from Caterham at the meetings, your racing licence and a practice day.
Sadly the idea of me spending all winter in the garage building a car was vetoed by my wife - not surprising as our second child was about to be born. And in fact I wouldn't have been fit enough anyway.
So instead, as a "retirement present" to myself - and because imports were ridiculously cheap at the time due to the weak Euro - I ordered a brand new Subaru WRX. This re-kindled a strong interest in all things car-related.
Soon after the Subaru arrived, I was chatting to my brother - a long term Caterham devotee - by email, and dropped in the throw-away line "don't suppose you fancy building another Caterham?"
"I could do that EASILY", came the reply, and it kind-of all spiralled from there.
The car arrived at the end of November, and by Christmas it was pretty much done. I went up there once in the middle to help fit the engine, and again when it was time to do the finishing touches and take it away.
To be continued...