Appearance on the latest Sidepodchat

Late on Friday night saw the recording of the latest in the occasional ‘Sidepodchat’ series at, and I was one of the lucky people to appear. The concept is a short 10-minute show in which Christine and Mr C chat with a small panel of guests about a particular topic or theme. This week’s other guests included some of your other favourite bloggers like Gavin and Lukeh and SPC commenters Steven and Bassano

This Chat’s theme was the Renault F1 team and specifically the driver line-up for 2011. Who will join Kubica? What is the future of the team? It was fun, it always is! Keep an eye out for future editions, who knows you might even appear on one soon – anyone can.

Be sure to check it out here, at 12 minutes in length you have no excuse not to.

On Track – A Day of Firsts

As part of Sidepodcast’s ongoing On Track series in which members of the community describe their days exploring the race tracks of the world, I recently wrote of my experience at Thruxton circuit in 2001. I was fortunate enough to drive in road cars while sitting alongside race instructors and culminating in a run in a Formula Ford 1600 on Britain’s fastest road course circuit.

I’ve adapted my account from reports I’d written in the days following the run, which were originally posted to the F1NGers newsgroup. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed revisiting it. Sadly this has been my only time driving on a real track, I hope to return some day.

I’ve adapted my account from reports I’d written in the days following the run, which were originally posted to the F1NGers newsgroup.

2010 Belgian GP – Tuesday & Wednesday

Sincere apologies for the lack of promised blog posts. While I was away the wifi connection was seriously patchy, and we were all so busy throughout that there wasn’t much blogging time to be found. I then returned to work and had to catch up with boring post-holiday household activities, packing things away, washing and suchlike (not to mention sleep from the extensive walking and driving). The glamour of the Grand Prix!

Happily this is now done and I can now catch up on blog posts. With the state of my memory I’m going to forget something crucial but let’s see how things go.

Tuesday 24th

I was running around like a headless chicken in the morning, panicking that I’d packed enough of everything for the week away and that I hadn’t over-packed. Even though I’d never been I knew that with Spa being Spa you needed to bring enough that if your clothes in the day got drenched you could change into something else for the evening, and ideally you needed that for three days – but we couldn’t pack too much because of the space restrictions in the cars. I was also worried I’d forget something crucial, like the sat-nav or the camera. After fretting for a while I finally got going an hour late, thankfully I had a good run up to London, traffic was quite light with it being midweek in a school holiday so I made much better time than I expected and enough that I stopped for a coffee along the way.

The reasons for staying in London were two-fold. The main reason was to attend the Sidepodcast meetup in London, but it also had the nice side-effect of breaking up the long journey to Belgium. I was staying directly opposite a tube station, a half-hour ride from central London, nice and handy. I got to the pub at about 6pm.

It was a great night and surely the most-attended Sidepodcast event to date, there must have been 15-16 people at its height, probably approaching double the previous maximum. People seemed to be coming and going throughout, and we milled around and caught up with friends met before or got busy making new ones. Great chat with great people, and plenty of drinking! If you get the chance to go to any of the ‘Sidepodpubbing’ meetups in London (and hopefully elsewhere in future) you should do so, most of them are smaller affairs than this as it was a special pre-Spa one but don’t be put off because you’ll find some genuine friendly people at all of them.

Since we’re all regular SPC commenters who are mostly tech-savvy we’re also tweeters, so you could say it was an SPC ‘tweetup’ – the problem with this was the lack of any mobile or wifi signal at all at the venue. It wasn’t as ‘connected’ an event as it could have been. On the upside this meant we spent more time talking and less time looking at screens so it was a really nice social gathering, and it was really good to just hang out. I’d feared a lot of ‘dead time’ while people checked their technology and this was largely absent. It was also really good to meet some people I’d never met before, either because we’d not bumped into each other at other meetups or because they lived entire continents away.

You can see a photo here.

When the bar closed the meetup was officially over, though five of us weren’t ready to finish yet so we went on to a hotel bar for another few hours of drink and chat. I got the taxi back to my hotel at 3am and found the doors locked, I had to use my room card to enter through the car park! That’s how it should be of course, stay out so late nobody waits up. A brilliant night.

Wednesday 25th

The inevitable hangover. The pub meetup was originally supposed to be Wednesday night but was moved for a variety of reasons, one of them was so that there were no hangovers on the drive to Belgium on Thursday. It was a wise decision. I woke up late, struggled out of bed and on to the tube to Heathrow to meet a welcoming party for Gavin (a.k.a. RubberGoat) who was flying in after sadly having to miss the pub night.

Not having any plans for the rest of the day I latched on to a couple of others while a few chores and last-minute preps were done. In the early evening we found a really nice relaxed place to chat over a couple of pints, it was great to get caught up with Gavin again as it had been 18 months since we last (and first!) met despite knowing each other online for years. After food in a posh fish and chip shop our group of four headed back to Bassano’s for a final check of the next day’s plans.

This wasn’t to be a super-late night – the next day we were off to Belgium!

You can read the next instalment here.

Belgian Grand Prix – Audio

I had an utterly brilliant time in Belgium for the Grand Prix along with 10 fellow F1 fans loosely revolving around the community. There will be plenty of blog write-ups across many sites from several of us over the coming days and I’ll do my best to point you to them. In the meantime, you should listen to this.

On Sunday night we came together and recorded our thoughts into a 26-minute podcast which is now available at Sidepodcast.

Between the group of us we covered:

– the rain

– the circuit

– the bumping into people

– the locals

..and much more besides.


It really is a good listen and I think – I hope – we managed to capture our excitement at having attended the race, and having battled through the elements and won.

Hope you like it.


Apologies for those waiting for the TMR Game post, I’ve been too tired to catch up with it and will write it Thursday night. If you need to get an entry in beforehand please use last week’s post.

An Aside With Joe #16

Today the latest ‘An Aside With Joe’ podcast was released and amazingly they are up to no.16 already. It doesn’t seem long since the first one.

These chats with journalist and author Joe Saward are always very revealing and in this edition you can find out about:

  • making Grands Prix green;
  • a Grand Prix for electric cars;
  • Silverstone’s deal;
  • an update on the Motorsport Business Forum, not the Monaco one like much of the F1 media but the Orlando event (and the reasons why he went there);
  • hydroplanes – yes, really;

I’ve said it before and it is ever true – after listening to Joe speak for just under an hour you come away feeling a lot wiser about motorsport and you look at it through different eyes – plus you can impress your friends with the knowledge. Of course, your friends don’t care about motorsport and they still think Button is called Jason, hah, what do they know, nothing.

Thanks to Sidepodcast and especially to Joe for making the time to produce these, and particularly this episode which was an unexpected addition.

I know it is Christmas but you should make time for this one, LISTEN HERE.

Must Comment Monday

Eagle-eyed readers visiting the site will have noticed a red logo appeared in the sidebar a couple of weeks ago: Must Comment Monday. You may have seen it elsewhere too.

The idea is this:

– Visit several blogs on a Monday and if there are any new entries that day, you must leave a comment.
– If there are several entries on a blog you only need comment on one.
– If the blog requires a password it is exempt, although if you already have a login you may as well use it!
– Do try and say something interesting or constructive rather than something just to say you commented. The ‘first comment!’ phenomenon is to be discouraged.

Of course, us bloggers have to keep up our side of the deal too and keep posting blog entries as well as commenting elsewhere. Let’s not have our blogs sleep through the off-season! This is a great way to keep comments flowing and every blogger knows comments are everything, the lifeblood of a blog.

This is another initiative from those fine folk of Sidepodcast, who seem to be good at prompting people to blog. You can read more on MCM in this post.

One Year On

Eighteen Months Ago I Was Just a Fan.
When the 2008 season started I was just discovering blogs after years residing in a newsgroup community, and reading the news and rumours on the popular racing news websites such as and

This was the time of the death of Champ Car and the absorption into the IndyCar Series, I had been watching both in 2007 for the first time in about six years, and when they came together – while sad about CC going down – I was tremendously excited that they’d finally done it! The problem? I couldn’t find many other people who were excited with me within my existing racing circles – so I looked elsewhere for news and rumour and gossip about the merger. Who was moving over? Who wasn’t going to make it? I NEEDED to know.

The first places I found were MyNameIsIRL and Pressdog, very quickly followed by IsItMayYet? and Meesh’s blog which Pressdog has since dubbed “SHWIT!“.
If there were any F1 bloggers working as hard as this quartet I hadn’t discovered them by this stage, although in fairness my F1 needs were already catered for elsewhere.

In actual fact, some of the above began to start talking about F1 in the absence of Champ Car, because they wanted a second series to cover alongside IRL. It was interesting reading their experiences as they learned the ropes, coming from a completely different perspective to the one I’m so used to here in the UK. I found myself commenting on their posts with increasing regularity and length, usually about F1 or connecting an IRL thing to F1, because that’s what I knew. Sometimes I tried to explain something about F1 they didn’t know (and sometimes pretended not to know for comedic effect, which I’d missed!!) in return for their excellent posts educating me about the world and culture of IndyCar racing.

These bloggers also frequently post notes which they write during the races. I thought this was a fantastic idea but by mid-season I’d identified something – they were all commenting on the same feed! Not too much of a problem because they each have their own views… yet I couldn’t help but think the F1 coverage I was receiving was better than what was being described to me, and that I could offer a different take on IndyCar, perhaps describe a similar journey as above but with that series.

Over a period of a few weeks I gained the desire to write similar posts from the UK perspective and TV feed, because not only would it be different to the above but I also hadn’t seen anyone else approach the UK feed from that angle before. Not that I expected many readers, it was just a nice idea to have somewhere to keep a record of my thoughts.

I’m also interested in a broad range of motorsports and I’d hoped to be able to relate F1/IRL goings-on to what else was happening in racing. To be fair this only really came up trumps when Mike Conway moved to America and nobody there knew who he was, whereas I’d spent two years watching him in GP2.
That’s probably the highlight of the last year for me. In the preseason break I’d described him in more than one place as fast but erratic, looks odds-on for a really good finish before the magnets pull him into a wall, or a light knock just ends his race. I haven’t been able to pay as much attention as I would have liked, but I’m getting the impression this is how his 2009 has been so I’m pretty chuffed with the original assessment!

So by July ’08 all I needed was the guts to actually start it. In the first week of August I decided to bite the bullet, set up a blog and write an introduction.

One Year On
It seems to have been reasonably popular. I mentioned the site around a few places and was amazed to find people not only visiting, but returning! I was getting 10-15 regular readers every week after just a few months. It trailed off heavily over winter, I got the impression it was the same for everyone though, yet as soon as the F1 car launches started happening in early 2009 the number of readers actually rose above previous levels! I was stunned. This was helped in no small part by copious plugs from the bloggers I talked about above.

Then a friend from the F1 community I was on at the time suggested I check out Sidepodcast. Not only a podcast about F1 – bear in mind I’d never listened to a podcast in my life before – but also an interactive community with daily discussion about racing and everything else in life. I said hi. Was asked to plug the blog. Not only did readership jump again (!!!) but I found a really great group of people to hang out with, many of whom now have their own blogs. SPC were even kind enough to plug the blog on the show, more than once!

By the time the F1 season started in March I’d joined Twitter, connected with lots of other bloggers in comments or on Twitter, appeared on various Sidepodcast and PlanetIRL podcasts and I even got a mention on Midweek Motorsport!

These days I’m getting roughly 40 regular readers and I’m truly amazed to have as many as that, especially since the blog has been pretty quiet since the season started because I have been working on accountancy studies (which are thankfully over for the time being). I honestly expected to stay at just a small handful of readers, if that, because I’d started this as somewhere to keep a note of my thoughts.

I hope to continue this for the forseeable future, and in fact I’ve got a lot planned as I begin what I call the Big Massive Catch-Up to watch a lot of the racing I missed while studying. I’m in two minds over whether I’ll post much about that, right now I’m leaning towards very short updates on all but F1 and IndyCar. I’ll probably skip most of the news because this has never been a news site. I do plan to write notes on the IndyCar races but they won’t be as long or verbose as last year or like the other bloggers’ notes. I hope you stick with me!

So, there’s only one thing left to do:

For their regular links, comments, tweets and general encouragement, my thanks goes to:
Bill / Pressdog
Jeff / MyNameIsIRL
Meesh / SHWIT!
Christine & Mr.C / Sidepodcast (and everyone there!)
Dex / MidweekMotorsport @RLM
Kohl / PlanetIRL
Allen / FuriousWedge
Andy / TheSpeedGeek
Gavin / F1Numbers
Duncan / vee8
Everyone else in the sidebar and anyone who has linked me (I can’t list you all!!), and last and not least to all the other readers and commenters who have dropped by over the last 12 months.

Here’s to another year!