Sliding in their Shoes

When you’re learning to flag, or if you’re flagging at a post you’ve not done before, it can be helpful to go onto track and have a look from the drivers’ point of view. You look where their eye-line will be, where they’re focusing, how far they can see you from and so on.

If you ever get a chance to drive the track at speed, or passenger for a lap or two, you’ll really see the way a post can appear from nowhere over a crest and disappear just as quickly. Some posts are so far from the track that they only feature in your peripheral vision as you focus on your next reference point.

So after this weekend’s racing (750 Motor Club at Cadwell, where I was flagging on post 1 Sat and 5 on Sun) I got in the car to drive back to the paddock. The last race had been red-flagged after a car dropped oil round the circuit and caused an MGB to somersault over the barriers at Barn (everyone ok).

I was parked on the big hill inside the circuit. I love driving the track to post in the morning and back in the evening. What a privilege, and a little heel and toe makes it that bit magical.

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So I let the engine warm up a little, then trickled down the hill onto the circuit at the bottom of Mansfield, then revved it out a little under the spectator bridge. I touched the brakes gently at Mountain bottom, and lent my foot across to blip the gas down to the third. The front right wheel locked and the increased braking on the left stepped the car toward to the apex a little more vividly than I’d expected. Releasing the brakes and rolling through, I realised there was still oil down. I’d come in a bit under 60. What it must be like to hit oil at double that, I don’t want to imagine. But the next time I hang a stripy out I’ll understand a little better.

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