That blew me away…
By Scott Bradley
Well that blew me away, I won the class! It’s been 72 hours since the final chapter of the Porsche Pirelli series in Taupo, and I am still in shock. I won – yep I won. The joke was that -we were racing to win chocolate fish, but I feel like I have won the entire Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. Which really is the beauty of the class – you don’t need to be driving a million-dollar car to get all the thrills, excitement, highs and lows that motorsport provides. Race four of the Series was at Pukekohe, an intimidating circuit even for the more experienced driver.
The practice run on Friday was in perfect dry conditions but come Saturday the weather gods delivered a downpour that tested everything we thought we knew from the day before, and there was very little traction off the race line. By the end of the meeting, I had won the round and my overall points had me in second place behind my arch racing rival Tony Houston. Race five was at Hampton Downs, in the rain and I don’t mean just a shower, I mean torrential rain…all day.
We used wet tyres for each race and coming over the start finish line in a wall of rain and spray was surreal. You could not see anything and the only way to stay on the track was to follow the brake lights in front of you. It was absolutely terrifying but exhilarating at the same time. The car moved around but in a predictable way which calmed my nerves. I could hear Cam from our wet weather training chanting in my ear ‘smooth, smooth, smooth’ as I slide around every corner.
The day was a blur and I have never been so exhausted driving home, but I had managed to take the most points from the day and was now leading the class. But, I was only ahead by a mere 12 points, enough for anyone to take the lead and I now had a target on my back. The next two weeks in the lead up to the final race day I was like a cat on a hot tin roof. A win was within my grasp and I was on an emotional roller coaster, vacillating from the exhilaration of potentially winning the class to the more likely scenario of blowing it all. To top it all off, we had promised our daughters a trip to Taupo to watch Daddy race, so I now had the added pressure imaging the disappointment in my families eyes if I didn’t win.
I had Michael Neville, who had won the series overall the year before, as my race radio support, but I totally choked at the Friday practice day. I was the slowest driver and my driving skills had badly regressed. I needed to switch off. Having my wife and daughters in Taupo became my secret weapon. Family dinner with a steak, glass of red and light-hearted chat about nails and shopping let me disengage and I slept like a baby. The next morning I was back and on the pace, qualifying in first position for race one and securing a race win that improved my overall points even further. Race two was tight.
I started in position one but early on I was passed by Tony Houston and Chris Taylor, giving me a front row seat watching the two of them battle it out. My strategy was to hold back and wait for one of the boys to make a mistake. It was not to be, I came in third and Tony’s points etched closer to mine. Race three, a 30 minute ‘enduro’ race which feels like 130 minutes.
If Tony secured a lead position I needed to cross the finish line fourth or better to win the class. Nerves got the better of me and I found myself in fifth place! Each Boxster has to complete one drive through pit stop at any time during the race and I got the radio call from Michael ‘box, box’. I pulled into the pit straight away and this allowed me to re-enter onto a clear track, put some speed into my laps and move me from fifth to third place. The last three laps of the race were challenging, trying to hold my position with Noel Simpson close behind trying to overtake me on every corner.
I finished third. As I crossed the finish line the reality of the win hit me, and emotions were high. I felt like I had beaten Lewis Hamilton to win F1, when in fact I had won Class F in the Porsche Pirelli series in a $9,000 Boxster with 255,000km on the clock. Later I found out that my points saw me finish third overall among all the classes in the Porsche Cup.
And that’s the beauty of the Boxster’s - it’s not about how much money you have spent on your car’s performance, it’s the thrill of the drive, the competition and comradery amongst the boys. It’s about how much you develop as a driver. I have had a lot of driver training this year (without doubt more than any other driver in the series) and achieved something I wanted to achieve, becoming a better driver and learning from the best.
So here I would like to take a moment to thank them. Luke, Caleb and Aiden from LM Automotive who repair and maintain our cars, keeping them reliable and on the track throughout the entire season. They are an outstanding team of great mechanics and have become even better mates. I cannot thank my driving instructors enough. Taking an inexperienced rookie and helping make a childhood dream of being a race car driver come true, helping me compete and win the series.
Cam McCormack from NZ driver training has had to suffer the most passenger miles with me in the car and I can’t wait to get more of his guidance as I develop in the future. Michael Neville for his confidence and belief that we could win the last race – I would have choked without your direct and clear instruction. Stu Owers, Mike Eady and Gene Rollinson have all helped over the season and your insight has been invaluable. I entered this series simply to drive fast, but have learnt new skills, made great friends and got more out of it than I ever imagined.