News in (more or less) descending time order.

Video from Brand Hatch

We really must update the racing news in the next few weeks. We came runner up in the Britcar championship 2008 (by just a single point!) and are having an absolute blast in the GT Cup series in 2009. Our 996 GT3 is a class 3 (out of 4) car which means we are right in the thick of the action and with 40 car grids it really is action all the way. Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Viper, Aston Martin, BMW and TVR are amongst the marques represented so you could say we are the filling in a supercar sandwich. Never a dull moment and some extremely close racing.

A little bit of in-car action from the A1GP round at Brands Hatch. (click on the photo)

Auto Express Christmas special

If you were sitting down for your Christmas poo with a copy of the Auto Express Christmas bumper edition you`d have seen our lovely velvet red 993 coupe featured in their, "The Greatest 911" feature. Set at Porsche`s new driver training centre in the grounds of Silverstone circuit the article looked at the 2.4E, the 2.7RS, a 930 turbo, our 993 Carrera, a 996 GT3 and the current model 997 Carrera. 

It was an interesting flick through 40 years of Porsche 911 production and the 993 was singled out as the car which probably saved the company. Had it failed to win the hearts of buyers at the time there wouldn`t have been any money left to carry the company forward. Luckily it proved a winner, if a little costly to produce. The 996 which followed addressed production costs and went on to generate huge profits along with the Boxster. 

In the end the GT3 version of the 996 was deemed to be best value, the 2.7 most desirable (presumably they weren`t paying for one out of their own wages), the 930 turbo most inventive (a bit of a bugger to drive and you need to be creative in taming  the beast ?), and the 997 the best drive. All good fun and the cream on their top edition of the year.

Variety club Brands Hatch - variety at work

We get a load of people who say they would love to do our job. There are days when you`d give it up for a penny. There are other days when we have to pinch ourselves and wouldn`t swap for the world. July 3rd was one of those days. We`ve already done a bit of work with the variety club on their "variety at work" program where kids come to see you at work. On this occasion We took them to Brands Hatch for a day out in our "other" office, the GT3 race car. Our goal has always been to take kids out in the car who would never normally get the opportunity through their lack of mobility or other special needs. What a great day - by the end we`d lost count of the number of laps we`d done and everyone was exhausted but it was great fun. The expressions of happiness in their faces was worth every minute of the preparation and perspiration, even being beaten to a pulp on the Nintendo Wii by a 14 year old - my handset must have been faulty!

We didn`t arrange the Brands Hatch day on our own. We had lots of help and want to thank the following people with all our hearts and wish them much love. In no particular order. Motor Sport Vision (they own Brands Hatch), Aaron Scott (a racing driver and a thoroughly good bloke), Craig Wilkins (A big softy and one of our drivers), Steve Winter (the man behind Jaz in Wembley who keep our GT3 cup car running), Steve Bell (our other "works" driver), Peter Hignet (the man behind ABG who keep Craig's GT3 race car running), Ice Valley Water (the people who stopped us from getting thirsty on the day), Dunlop Tyres (the people who make the black sticky bits on the wheels - Dunlop drivers care !), all the staff at Brand Hatch (who looked after us and let us take everyone on a grand tour of the race control centre), Barry Denmead from Wilden services (the man who introduced us to the variety club), Sue and all the Variety club Barkers who came along on the day. Finally a massive big up for Michaela Greene (who took all the photos).

Back to school

As part of the run up to our Brands Hatch trackday for the variety club we paid a visit the Arbour Vale school in Farnham Royal near Slough. This is where the kids who were coming along on the day were chosen from and it gave us not only a chance to meet our passengers and assess any changes we were going to have to make to the cars, but also gave the rest of the school a chance to see the race car along with it`s road going cousin. Questions flew thick and fast, people sat in the cars, tried on the helmets for size ad generally got a feel for what it was like in a Porsche race car.

It was a welcome break for all the guys, some of whom had just returned from a Duke of Edinburgh awards camping expedition. Our lasting memory was not only of some larger than life characters but of also how polite and well mannered the pupils were. The other thing that struck us was the friendship that clearly flowed through the place and the strong bonds between pupils and teacher / carers. 

It`s a baby boy !

Finally the waiting`s over. Tom & Jennie are the proud parents of Freddie John Harris. We thought he was going to be a monster with predictions topping into double figures, in the end he weighed in at a healthy 8lbs 9oz. The young fellow certainly has an appetite to the point that you don`t want to get your fingers to close in case you lose one, prize marrows don`t grow this quickly!  Nelson, the family cat seems to be taking things in his stride (an animal who`s unique looks are those that only a mother could truly see through!). Thankfully Freddie is a far more handsome fellow. Tom assures us that even at this early stage we may be looking at a future world champion sporting hero. Remember you read it first here.

Congratulations have been coming in from customers far and wide - both Tom and Jennie thank you all dearly for your kind words.

How many miles per gallon do you get out of one of those?

We often get asked how many miles per gallon a particular car does, none more so now the price of petrol has surpassed that of both frankincense and myrrh. The other day we had to sneak up to Norwich and grabbed a hundred thousand mile 1999 996 model 911 Tiptronic coupe that was handy at the time. A quick trip to Esso`s emporium on the Oxford Road for a tank-full of unleaded, a bag of Maltesers and a can of pop later we zero`d the trip computer and set off on our merry way. At times we were topping 34 mpg and by the time we pulled off the A11, went down the minor roads and arrived at our destination we`d achieved an average of 32.6 miles per gallon for the journey. That`s over 400 miles on a single re-fill (we actually had 430 miles showing on the trip computer). Of course if you drive like your pants are on fire then the man from Esso will be filling your drinks cabinet with his finest cut glass effect goblets that bit quicker but it does show you what`s possible. The trees can breath a sigh of relief.

Website traffic

Have you people nothing better to do with your time !  In the past year we`ve welcomed around 800,000 individual daily visitors to our humble little corner of the internet. Between you around 2.2 million pages were viewed. Had they been A4 sized pages laid end to end that would have been 650,000 km of paper, 16 times round the world !  4.00am is the quietest time with viewing peaks at around 1.00pm and 9.00pm. The stock page is our most visited section of the site. Most significant of all is that Tuvalu has made it onto the list of countries that registered enough traffic to get a mention on our stats counter. Being totally honest we`d never heard of Tuvalu so we did a bit of homework and it turns out to be the 4th smallest country in the world behind the Vatican, Monaco and Nauru, located in the Pacific Ocean mid way between Hawaii and Australia. So there you have it, people of Tuvalu we welcome you !

Britcar night race 10 November 2007

A little foray into the Britcar championship and a warm up for 2008 when we will be back competing there again. The Morris / Firman pairing is back in business! I must eat a load of carrots because I always seem to do well in night races, either that or you can`t see what you`re going to hit if you fall off. Pete started the ball rolling and did his usual demon start but it soon became apparent that we were slightly outgunned in the performance stakes with cars either pulling away slightly or catching up slowly from behind. He did a good job though and handed the car over in a very strong position. I ended up 3rd in class with the Top Cats Marcos a few seconds behind. I managed to find enough time to maintain a steady gap and even chip away at the Ruhan / Scott Ferrari 360 in front. Aaron Scott had pulled a good lead in the car so I wasn`t holding my breath. With less than 10 minutes of the race remaining someone put oil down at Graham Hill bend. It`s always alarming as the car moves sideways but this felt like gearbox oil which always seems to catch the slide quicker. I must of been a bit too cautious though because with 3 or 4 laps to go my mirrors were filled with two team Top Cats cars. The Tuscan shot past but that wasn`t a problem as it was a couple of laps down. The Marco now directly behind me was an issue as it wanted to take 3rd spot off me. The next 5 minutes were probably the hardest of my racing career thus far. Without boring you all with the detail I not only managed to hold off the Marcos by the skin of my teeth but the pair of us also caught and overtook the Ferrari 360 on the final lap to take 2nd & 3rd place respectively. To say I was happy as I crossed the line would be something of an understatement !

Alan Stammers

Long time friend of 911virgin Alan Stammers recently put pencil to paper and created this masterpiece of our 964 RS. Alan has been drawing vehicles for over 30 years and his signed limited edition prints of stars from the formula 1 arena have sold the world over. One of his signed prints recently made over £10,000 at auction. Definitely at the top of his game you can have your own car captured by Alan`s magic hand and assortment of pencils. Each image is almost photographically reproduced over a period of days, the end result being something you can cherish for ever. Possibly even commission Alan to capture your entire collection of cars.

Contact Alan via his website  Pencil Artistry by Alan Stammers (Make sure to tell him Henry sent you so he buys me a pint !)

European touring car championship Brands Hatch 22, 23 September 2007

After the pressure of the 24hour race where any small mistake can undo hours of hard work and let down a large team this was going to be a fun meeting. There was a massive field of cars right up to the circuit capacity and the Grand Prix layout at Brands is not used that often so it was a chance to put in a few laps. Saturday`s race fell on my birthday so I was definitely in the mood. I`d suffered a gearbox failure in qualifying meaning I was down the field on the grid but I was determined to play catch up. As the race settled down Colin Ingram`s GT3 was a little way ahead of me. Being a slightly newer car it has very good pull out of the corners but I was a man on a mission - and it was my birthday! I managed to catch up and we had a few laps of close racing but didn`t trade any paint. I pulled alongside on the run up to clearways but had to give him the corner as he had the inside line - not a problem, once you`ve got along side someone you`ve pretty much broken them so it was just a matter of time before I made the move stick. Going round Paddock Hill bend I`d just reached the compression at the bottom of the hill when there was an almighty bang and back of the car came round. I managed to hold the slide and make it round druids so as not to stop the race but I`d suffered a drive shaft failure which allows the rear wheel to part company with the car!

Saturday night was a fun evening with the BBQ working overtime, we weren`t out until the afternoon so a couple of beers wouldn`t do any harm. Obviously the drive shaft failure meant I was starting from the wrong end of the grid. I got a blinding start and as we went through Hawthorn towards Westfield I made my way through the field to the extent my next car on he list was the blue GT3 of Mr. Ingram - hadn`t we been here before! Unfortunately one of the club class cars had been damaged on the grid and the race was red flaggged. The re-start didn`t go as well with a stalled car in front of me. Not only that but the race was cut short because of the accident so time wasn`t on my side. A fun weekend none the less.

Silverstone 24 hour 2007

We`re almost feeling like 24 hour veterans these days with commentators mentioning our name along side some of the legendary 24 hour teams we compete against when discussing the race. Whilst it`s very flattering I don`t think we quite see ourselves as being up there just yet, that said but for some cruel twists of fate we`d have had some stellar results. What was 2007 to bring?

This year`s race featured a team from Top Gear magazine which added a little extra something. James May, AKA "captain slow", from the team is a former customer and we did offer him the use of the GT3 if the other presenters started taking the mick out of his lap times. Thankfully he declined. The run up to the race went very well indeed, the car was all good and we pretty much cruised our way through the mandatory qualifying periods. It always amazes me how hard some teams push their cars during the pre-race track work in the hope of gaining a couple of places on the grid which in reality makes little difference in a race of this length. As usual there were a few casualties along the way and night time qualifying in particular was a time to be alert and on the ball as cars were going off left right and centre as their drivers had their first taste of Silverstone at night.

We started the race from 20th on the grid, I did the first stint and settled down into a good rhythm. By hour 3 we were 7th overall behind the Paragon car, 2 of whom`s drivers were with us the previous year so there was some friendly rivalry. By hour 4 our fuel strategy had started to work and we were ahead of them in 5th place. Into the night and we moved up to 4th place. Things were looking very good. Then just before midnight one of the BMWs flipped over on the hanger straight. The safety car was deployed and when the race started back up some debris was picked up by the sticky tyres, thrown through the wheel arch liner and ripped open a metal clutch pipe causing a clutch failure. You couldn`t do it again if you tried!

The repair took 40 minutes or so but we mitigated our losses by carrying out our routine service stop at the same time, so in reality we only lost 30 minutes. It was still going to be an uphill struggle and a podium finish was out. We re-joined back down in 16th place. By 7.30am we`d clawed our way back into the top 10. Towards the end of the race we had a strange few laps trying to work out one of the other team`s fuel requirements to see if we could juggle a fuel stop to pinch 3rd in class but in the end it was 7th overall and 4th in class. A great result but tinged slightly by the fact we had a podium finish on the cards. Ah well, that`s racing! As a footnote to the race the Simply racing 964 RS had problems in the run up to the race with their engine leaking oil following a botched rebuild. We lent them the engine from our 964RS lightweight road car so they could compete and they ended up winning their class !

(Click on the images above for a large series of photos from the weekend). These stunning images are courtesy of New World Motorsport

Variety Club

We`re a lucky old bunch really, for times when you feel the world is conspiring against you it doesn`t do any harm to put things into perspective. We got involved with the variety club a little while ago and in 2007 supported them by donating an electric wheelchair. In a moment of wine induced enthusiasm we also started a project that gives kids who might not have been dealt the best hand in life the chance to experience a Porsche racing car from the inside as a passenger being driven round a race track. We are using both the GT3 race car and also a Mk1 GT3 road car that allows easier access as it only has a half roll cage rather than the more intrusive full competition item fitted to the race car. We had our first outing at Silverstone and it was fantastic. There was a large screen video game and some munchies to keep everyone occupied when they weren`t in the car, the Jaz boys lent a hand installing our guests into the race car & Barry Denmead from Wilden services, one of our race car sponsors and the man who introduced us to the Variety club at work programme was also there to lend a hand. The expressions of joy I got from the kids over the in-car headset was humbling. An activity I take for granted was a once in a lifetime opportunity for these guys. One of the best afternoons I had in 2007 and something we hope to build on in 2008.

Click here for details on the variety at work programme

Brands Hatch 11,12 August 2007

This was the 2007 running of the Bill Taylor memorial 1 hour race and as such a race I look forward to every year. A few old faces normally come out from the woodwork to attend and it`s a fun event. This year was going to be a cruel race for me. Everything went well up to and including the pit stop. Back out onto the track and it was in the bag as far as a class win was concerned. Just a question of working through the slower traffic safely but I`m well used to that being aware that just because the cars have less power they are still on the limit of adhesion and need to take their racing lines. With 20 minutes or so remaining the clutch pedal stuck down after gear change. I hooked it back with my foot and it worked but the writing was on the wall and a couple of shifts later it remained on the floor for the duration. Up shifts were fine, but down shifts would eventually destroy the gearbox so I got the car into 4th gear and drove round the entire lap using just the one gear. Druids, a sharp right hander was a nightmare with the car driving it`s self on mid corner and with the back end light under braking it kept wanting to swap ends. Eventually it did and I was stranded across the track. A bit of quick thinking and I did a 3 point turn on the starter motor then got the car going again whilst in 1st gear. I`d lost time, and 1st place but managed to fend off the following cars to retain 2nd, a miracle given the single gear on a twisty Brands Hatch indy circuit !

Goodwood festival of Speed

Once again we were invited to attend the festival of speed on the Porsche Club GB`s stand. We took the race car and displayed it with doors off, bonnet & engine lid open talking people through the various fixtures and fittings. There was the usual stream of kids eager to sit in the hot seat and have mum or dad take their photo. Who knows we may have sown the seed for some Porsche drivers of the 2020`s !  We also fired up the engine on request which drew in a huge crowd onto the stand each time. We also showed the on board air jacking system working and removed wheels to show how quickly it could be done. Friday and Saturday were lovely, unfortunately the heavens opened on Sunday causing mayhem in the Sussex mud. Our 4 wheel drive tow trucks earned their keep pulling numerous exhibitors from both the site and the campsite. We also had our GT3 Mk1 road car displayed on the Kodak stand as you entered the show from the cricket pitch entrance.

Silverstone Classic 27,28,29 July 2007

One of the best run race meetings we`ve attended. Given the BRDC who hosted the show also own Silverstone you can understand why. Porsche was the featured marque for this year and as a result we were invited to compete. The meeting was held on the historic Grand Prix circuit which takes out the Abbey & Vale chicanes. A wonderful flowing circuit you never get the chance to drive it in a modern car - this was a real treat. Testing was a washout with standing water on the track and the car shifting sideways on the run down to Bridge. Visability was absolutely zero with the spray from the other cars. Not fun at all. Saturday's race went pretty much to plan, a bit of mayhem at the start when on of the GT3 RSR`s stalled on the line but otherwise just a case of keeping my nose clean and working my way through the traffic. 3rd in class was a good result.

Sunday`s race wasn`t quite as good. Contact between some cars at the start of the race took their toll with the Lewin racing GT2 left damaged at the side of the track throughout the race. Everything was going along nicely until one of the other GT3 cup cars suddenly appeared from nowhere and shot past on the hanger straight. I had no answer to it`s straight line speed put under braking and cornering could make up ground, particularly going into Bridge where I reeled the car in. After a few laps he missed a gear mid corner at Bridge but blocked the inside line going into Priory meaning I had to go the long way round on the outside. Bad car positioning on my part and not wanting to make contact I ended up putting the car into the gravel on the outside. Stupidly I tried to turn the car round and drive back onto the track but the car bogged down and I had to be snatched out costing a couple of laps. If I`d have used my brain I`d have simply carried on forwards until the national straight tarmac where I could have turned left and re-joined the race only losing a few seconds. I won`t make that mistake again and given the number of 24 hour races I`ve done there I should have known better !  Still, a great weekend, champagne in the BRDC clubhouse on Saturday night was lovely, especially as there was a race running into the night (and the rain!).

Spa Francorchamps 15,16,17 June 2007

How can you not love the Spa circuit, one of the top circuits in the world although slightly ruined by the new Bus Stop complex. It absolutely poured down just before the first race then almost instantly the sun started to beam down on the Ardennes mountainside and steam rose from the hot tarmac as we sat on the grid. It was all about tyres & I`d chosen to go out on slicks, all the other GT3`s were on wets. Initially it was a case of staying on the black stuff without loosing too much ground to the better shod cars. There was a fairly high rate of attrition with cars going off all over the place. In particular the BCR GT3 to a huge hit at the top of Eau Rouge bringing out the safety car. This didn`t help as I needed cars to go quickly and kick up some spray to help dry out the track. Eventually the safety car came in and almost immediately there was mayhem at La Source with cars everywhere. Luckily there was enough time to move them before we came round again and so no need for a safety car. Towards the end the circuit dried out enough for the slicks to start working and I managed to pull back a few places.

Sunday`s race was a dry affair and just what the doctor ordered to attack the circuit hard. One of the slower GT3 RSR`s got ahead of me at the start which was a problem. I was quicker round the corners and under braking but he pulled away on the straights. Unfortunately the other GT3 cup class cars were closing up behind as I was held up in the corners and so I was torn between looking in the mirror and looking in front to try and get past. A messy attempt at the Bus Stop saw sparks fly and eventually I got past at Rivage using Pouhon to make the move stick. From then it was just a case of pushing on and working through the slower club class traffic safely. As ever, a fun weekend in the other office!

5th Gear 911 Turbo

If you watch 5th gear on channel 5 then you know they give away a car at the end of the show. You know the sort of thing: 

What do you put in a petrol tank ?

A. Petrol    B. Christmas cake    C. Insulating foam

A quick phone call at £1 a pop and Bob`s your uncle. If you thought it was a fix then think again, we know because the programme makers bought a car off us to give away as a prize. A shiny red 911 Turbo and won for just £1. Something of a result in anyone`s book.

May 2007 Silverstone

A one hour single pit stop race - we do these in our sleep now. It doesn`t seem like yesterday when racing for a whole hour seemed a large mountain to climb! A bit of work during winter in the swimming pool, no really - you don`t get a body like this overnight (it takes decades of abuse), meant I was intrigued to see how I faired in the car. In the end a fairly uneventful race culminating in a 3rd in class. Certainly the winter`s hard work had paid off as I got out of the car at the end. There were people who looked like they`d just run a marathon!

Aren`t some women cruel !

The poor chap on the right looks a bit surprised and it`s not hard to see why. He woke up as usual feeling on top of the world, all be it a year older. He wife, being the lovely person she is had arranged for him to have a day`s use of a Porsche Boxster to make his day just that bit more special. They duly arrived, he got out of the car and in true "you`ve been framed" style the noble leader took his wife to one side (still in earshot of our birthday boy), to explain there had been a terrible mistake, the wrong sort of rain, a double booking - you know the sort of thing - and it wasn`t possible to let them have a Boxster. Never mind have a look round the yard. 

clearly a little disappointed the couple were given the grand tour at the end of which was a gleaming Boxster. Slowly the penny dropped as unbeknown to him his wife had secretly purchased a car as a birthday present. Not only could it be used on his birthday but every day thereafter! 

It`s not the first time this has happened but I think we get just as excited none the less.

Snetterton April 2007

Back on on of my old stomping grounds as a child I always enjoy the trip to Snetterton. I`ve even raced there at night so know the actual circuit very well. The only problem with it is that 2 long straights make it something of a power circuit and not being the most powerful car out there I often find all my hard work done under the bridge, through the bomb hole and round Corum is undone down the back straight. The start of the first race was exciting, as the pack of cars set off towards Riches we were door handle to door handle, obviously on cold tyres you need to find a balance between carrying enough speed and not spinning out. Unfortunately a couple of cars got the balance wrong at Sear, span and made contact. Luckily I`d seen the incident unfold & managed to avoid the carnage. A re-start was needed and the rest of the race was fairly straight forward finishing 2nd in class.

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