Recently I popped over to Thruxton Race Circuit for a track day organised by Gold Track. It’s a circuit I have driven several times before, but on this occasion I was not driving as my sports car is too noisy for Thruxton and my current road car is too boring.
The reason for my visit is that Melindi Scott, who runs Gold Track, has become a good friend over the years and I was visiting to see her as it’s been a while since we last got together.
It was a lovely sunny day, so I drove over in my noisy sports car and arrived late morning. I figured there was no point arriving too early as I knew Melindi would be busy with driver check in, briefings, etc.
The trip down was uneventful, being mostly motorway and A-roads, and I soon arrived at the circuit and parked up. I made my way up to Race Control and sure enough it was a quiet time and Melindi wasn’t busy.
It had been my intention to talk with Melindi for a while, wander around the pits, maybe take a few photos. However, we ended up talking for hours about all sorts of things, which was lovely. Obviously we were frequently interrupted by the running of the track day but I made sure that I didn’t get in the way, and helped when I could. And took the occasional selfie too. 🙂
There were several nice cars there, and some really nice track cars such as a small Fiesta with roll cage and polycarbonate windows (complete with ventilation holes) that was going extremely well. There was also a white Renault Megane that was going extremely well indeed and which had the driver’s name BURNS on it in big letters, which I thought was “Exxxxxcellent”.
There was also a DeLorean there. An actual DeLorean DMC-12 (the car made famous by the Back to the Future films). We were all rather bemused that such a car would be taken on track, and I suggested that it might be a good idea if he didn’t reach 88mph on the straights. Melindi thought that was amusing enough to put out over the radio that the DeLorean should be limited to 87mph. 😀
We also had an awkward situation where one of the Ginetta race cars which were there en-masse carved up a driver in a dangerous fashion, breaking Gold Track’s rules of only passing to the left, on a straight, and with the consent of the driver in front. Since this was not a first offence they were black flagged and forced to return to the pits. The young driver’s dad came over to complain and “have it out” with the organisers, saying how his 16 year-old daughter who was the driver was going to be the next big thing in racing, how dare they, what do they know about driving, etc., etc. Unfortunately for him, the person he carved up was co-organiser, professional racing driver, and British GT Champion Calum Lockie, who told him that was all very well, but this was a track day with clear rules, which had been broken several times, and the Terms & Conditions were clear on what was allowed, and that you could be asked to leave without refund, and that was what was happening. Since the dad wouldn’t back down, he was eventually banned from all future Gold Track days. As I observed afterwards: “This is a track day. If you want to do shit like that then go on a race test day”. I’ve seen this happen several times over the years, with race teams using track days as cheap test days, and drivers applying aggressive bullying race driving techniques to people who won’t leap out of their way. In fairness, the red mist often comes down on these competitive drivers and they forget where they are. But track days are all about fun and personal development – they are not race test days and shouldn’t be treated as such. Race teams that attend have to accept that the rules of a track day are very different to a test day and abide by them.
At one point I thought it might be fun to pop down and get my car noise tested, just for interest. I wandered down and found a marshal and asked, and he put out a radio call: “There is a young lady here who would like a noise test on her car please”. The guy who does the noise tests responded that he was on his way, and whilst we waited the marshal remarked that I didn’t have a chance of passing the strict 90dB noise limit and I laughed and said that I knew, but just wanted to see anyway.
The man who does the noise testing arrived with his sound meter, and we did the test. My car tested at a rather noisy 109 dB. I’m slightly dubious about that as I have had this car out on track days where the limit is 105dB and been within the limit. But it was all just a bit of a giggle and everyone treated it as such.
Returning up to Race Control, beaming like a Cheshire Cat, I was greeted by a laughing Melindi who had heard the radio call and greeted me with “Young lady!”. We had a good chuckle about that.
The afternoon wore on, and we were joined by an older chap and chatted for a while, about all sorts of things especially cars. I wish I could remember all the details – this is the problem with writing a blog post several weeks after the event – but I do remember at one point I made some mention of the fact that as I have got older I have found myself caring less and less about what other people think of me, or of seeking their approval, and he commended me on this and agreed wholeheartedly.
At one point he remarked how great it was to see a lady with such a rare and visceral choice in sports car, although it was an unusual choice for a lady. I replied that I know at least one other lady owner of such a car and, due to her links to the factory, she actually owns a unique prototype. He thought this was rather wonderful.
After he’d left, I turned to Melindi and asked “Was he just humouring me, or did I really pass?”
“He’s not the kind of person to humour people”, Melindi replied, “So I would say that you did, which isn’t surprising as you look very natural.”
“But surely my voice must have given it away?”
“Not really. You don’t have an especially deep voice, and I did notice you lightening the pitch”, she said.
“Hmmm. I hadn’t noticed myself doing that, but I guess I was. I certainly wasn’t doing it consciously.”
Melindi then went on to suggest that maybe being in girl mode subconsciously triggered it.
Certainly I find that wearing heels encourages me to walk in a more feminine way, without having to think about it, so perhaps the same is true of my voice. Perhaps all the time (and money) I spent on Voice Coaching paid off after all.
The day was drawing to a close, so Melindi and I walked down to the pits to take a selfie. I wanted to have something in the background that was clearly identifiable as Thruxton Circuit, so we chose the marshal post at the finish line and got photobombed by Dave who was manning it, which we thought was hilarious. 😀
I quietly slipped away after that, well as quietly as I could in my car, and headed home.
It was a really nice day and I am so glad that I went.