We Got Ourselves a Convoy!
After discovering Donington Park’s “Convoy in the Park” meeting purely by accident, I decided it would be a great experience to marshal it and to expand my knowledge of marshalling to dealing with these beats. As well as the trucks, there would also be a very strong support package featuring Legends, Formula Fords, Mighty Minis, CNC Heads, Clios, MG’s, and Pickup trucks. A great weekend was ahead!
My friend, David Hutchinson, a trainee marshal who had done a few meetings at Oulton Park, joined me in the journey to Donington and between us we had no marsahalling experience of the circuit before. Therefore, we followed everyone else in parking on the Melbourne Loop part of the circuit, which was not being used for the meeting, and walked around to sign on.
I was allocated to post 12, Schwantz Curve, for the racing, and had to figure out where that was and how to get there! Thankfully before that, I had a chance to chat with some familiar faces from Oulton Park, and get an idea about truck racing and marshalling at Donington. There was then a briefing given to all marshals, though it was hard to hear what was being said at times over the noise of aeroplanes taking off from the nearby East Midlands Airport.
Post 12 offered a good view of the cars coming down the Craner Curves, round the Old Hairpin and Starkey’s Bridge, and then up to McLean’s. The first session of Saturday was qualifying for the trucks, and for safety reasons we didn’t stand trackside. Instead we stood with the spectators at the top of a bank. Seeing the trucks for the first time was incredible; 14,000cc engines pumping out over 1000 horsepower with a top speed limited to 100mph. The sight of a racing truck flying round the Old Hairpin sideways with another truck inches away beside it is one which will stay with me for a long time!
Legends were the first racing action though and they always produce good close racing, with ‘bump drafting’ a common practice. One of the cars had an engine failure as it passed us, which involved a very spectacular oil fire! As it spun off on its own oil, a few of the other cars followed suit and our post was called to help with the dressing of the oil post race, as well as picking up pieces of engine.
Races came thick and fast, although the truck races were the highlight; how they managed to go three wide into McLean’s and all come out the other side is beyond me! It does not always go to plan however. A major incident at Hollywood saw a truck hit and destroy three concrete slabs meaning we had an hour’s delay. When racing resumed, the weather had taken a turn for the worse. Blue skies and sunshine had made way for torrential rain and strong winds. Cue the rush for waterproofs. This did show the importance of being properly equipped, as I managed to stay dry and warm; made all the more important as the delay saw us finishing racing at 8pm.
Legends qualifying kicked off Sunday, followed by the first action of the weekend from the pickup trucks. After this, it was a full day of racing! Although a fairly quiet day we did get our hands on one car in the Formula Ford race. The car ran wide onto the grass and with it bouncing around, violently it ripped the radiator off the car, which luckily missed the drivers head! After the race we went out to retrieve the pieces of Formula Ford, one of which was the camera that was on the roll hoop that had got knocked off when the radiator hit it. To my surprise the camera was still recording, tough little thing! A brief but heavy rain shower was the only action for the day as it passed once, before the wind returned it.
The highlight of the weekend had to be the truck racing; spectacular, loud, close racing, made for an unforgettable sight. I’ll definitely be back again in the future!
If you want to try any kind of marshalling, I would encourage you to find your nearest taster day by following the link here, you never know what it could lead to you seeing or doing!