So I wake up today for the first time in years not being the owner of a Red Fiat Panda. Yesterday Bob Ridge-Stearn bought RV09 in a deal which allows me first refusal if he wants to sell it. As he says in his blog, beambreaking.co.uk, if I had the sort of garages you find in some of the villages around here I would be keeping it. Another thing he points out had escaped me – when I first ran the Panda he had a Van-Diemen and now I’ve got a Van-Diemen he’s got the Panda. Oddly symmetric.
News of the RF84 has been a bit sparse here for a while. Whilst it was being finished off by Jo White it seemed a bit unfair to blog about the process, especially as at times it became somewhat challenging. The RF84, is, it must be said, a singular creature. There is so much to report on this subject, and for me, if not Jo, it has been an incredible process. In summing up the last few months I’m going to take a non-chronological approach, and in this blog simply talk about the first drives.
So the first time I drove the RF84 properly came a few weeks ago. Given the proximity of Bicester Heritage Centre’s track to both home and Jo’s workshop it seemed ideal. And its not too bad a track either. As has become usual for this project the main thing was dodging the heavy rain, and thank-fully we ran in a dryish spell. This was also the first time we’d mated the bodywork to the car, and to say I was pleased with how it looked would be an understatement. It’s supposed to be the ugliest formula ford ever, but I can’t see that. There are lots worse lookers than this!!
The first drive went very well, even though I had a small spin early on. It’s been a very long time since I drove a single seater, and this time it all seemed more immediate, more responsive; maybe 3 seasons hillclimbing has made me a better driver, or at least one with a better idea of how a car handles.
After the test I did the Abingdon Long Circuit Sprint. This isn’t exactly in the Prescott or Harewood mould, but it did offer a great opportunity to try the car somewhere with lots of run off and not much to crash into. As is usual when driving this car the weather went from light rain to heavy rain. On my last run I was warned that 5 and 7 might have some standing water. At one corner, I guess it must have been 7, I was met by what seemed to be a solid black wall.. evidently made of water and lots of small bits of tarmac, which in pretty short order joined me in the cockpit. Instantly I had a sensation of having a very wet neck.
I was never in the hunt for a decent time, but the car ran well and above all I had a great time. And it was great to have Jo along. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the season – I’m not running for a couple of weeks, but that’s a great opportunity to get the list of small problems put right..