I’ve been following Nick Holmes for a while now, keeping a close eye on his progress with the Vauxhall Vectra he’s been building from the ground up for the past five years. At Silverstone, the dream came reality as he got out on track in the car for the first time.
I rocked up at the national paddock and followed the sounds of soft swearing to a car that wouldn’t start. Thankfully, Nick and his team were elbow deep in the car and working hard to get it ready for scrutineering. With the situation under control and not requiring the inexpert mechanical eye of a sponsorship coach, I went on a coffee run.
When I returned, wires were being stripped ready for connecting as a new earth to the chassis. The car burbled into life and continued to tick over, there were cheers all around.
I took a moment to appreciate the race car noises before the Vectra was hustled off to the scruitineers. It, of course, passed with flying colours. Two coffees later, it was time for qualifying on the damp national circuit.
I watched at Copse, the perfect place to catch Nick going completely sideways round the corner before planting his foot, straightening up and carrying along on his merry way. Proper touring car style.
Seeing him exit the car after qualifying with the whole team around him (most of whom are family), summed up exactly why I’m in this business. I love seeing people who are passionate about motorsport doing what they enjoy most. The energy levels were high despite the long wait until the first race that afternoon, and the consistently drizzly weather.
The lunchtime lull in activity was my chance to have some photos taken for the about page on this very site. Again, despite the weather, I like to think my excitement and enthusiasm for this kind of racing comes through in each and every image.
This was only enhanced by Nick’s unveiling of the car, complete with Racing Mentor logo proudly adorning the front.
The car flew through the first race of the weekend and Nick managed to avoid the first lap incident that saw a number of cars come off on the first corner.
Even though I couldn’t make the Sunday, I cheered the team on from afar. The car made it through the next two races.
Nick says: “Sunday had its dramas/ We found the front anti-roll bar had cracked on Sunday lunch time so it was a mad dash to get that welded up before race two. We managed that with Justin having his welder and power leant by Mark Fenney we then had the call to assembly and while in there, with 10 mins before release, the car decided to overheat. Water was pouring out the bottom, with steam out the top. It was a mad panic to get water in the car before the green flag. Luckily Steve Kite from Misty racing saw the drama unfolding and ran down to the car with a Marshal’s kettle and topped up the water. We got out on track by the skin of our teeth.
“The race started and there was more drama further up the field with plenty of crashing going on. We managed to avoid all that and came into the complex at speed. Going round the right-hander there was a bang and the front left of the car dropped down. This time the anti-roll bar had completely failed so I had to drive a wounded car for the remainder of the race.
“Otherwise I had some good battles with the ’05s and nearly beat a few but it wasn’t to be. But I shattered my 1.18 goal and managed a 1.14.1 lap time with a broken car so I’m mega chuffed with that.”
It might be my lack of engineering knowledge but I can’t help be impressed by a self-built race car making it through the first race weekend of the season without any testing.
Thank you to Team Holmes Motorsport for welcoming me, supporting Racing Mentor and for all their hospitality on the day.