On Wednesday 13th July the Green power Club attended the North East Heat at the Croft Motor Circuit near Darlington. We have attended this heat many times over the years and our drivers always enjoy the circuits’ flowing turns, especially the chicane. The weather was forecast to be fine but as we arrived at 8.15am the wind was already quite strong which affects our light weight, low-powered cars enormously.
We were delighted to be greeted at ‘scrutineering’ by ex-RGS student and stalwart Greenpower Club member Jonathan Owens, now a Greenpower volunteer. Any thoughts of a concessionary “fast-track” inspection soon evaporated as Jonathan went over our two cars with a fine-toothed comb. Thankfully both cars passed and we proceeded to the track for an hour’s practice. Our Junior team members had only driven the Electric Chair around the school grounds so it was especially important that they familiarised themselves with the car at full speed around the track. The Carbon Comet team was made up of our senior members, a number of whom had just graduated from the ‘Chair and had not had the opportunity to try all seven gears.
Both our cars started well in the first minute race and settled into a steady pace, the ‘Comet easily staying in the top seven cars. However, by the time we had changed to our third driver, just after the hour mark, both cars had begun to slow considerably and the drivers were reporting low battery voltage. We had expected to have problems with the very old batteries in the ‘Chair, but expected the more efficient ‘Comet to make the full 90 minutes with some conservative driving. After a few minutes in the pits the tired batteries had recovered sufficiently for each car to limp round the track to clock up another lap. After the first race we noticed that one of the ‘Comet’s two batteries was very hot and the plastic case had buckled indicating an internal problem, possibly with the lead plates.
Before the second race we carefully inspected the next set of batteries before fitting them to the cars. Again they had had a hard life but were showing a good voltage. Every one of our team members drove during the two races at the small expense of a couple of minutes in the pits. They all drove superbly and thanks to a whole team effort we eventually finished 7th in the Carbon Comet and 21st in the Electric Chair which is now the oldest Greenpower car in the country still competing at 14 years old. With just a few modifications to keep it race-worthy it is still essentially the same car. Built for only £100 you’d have to call that good value!
Other than the strong winds we experienced, the weather was kind to us. Our more experienced drivers cleverly utilised the tailwind to coast along sections of the circuit to conserve a little battery power. We returned to RGS around 6.30pm satisfied with our day’s racing and new batteries added to our Christmas wish list.