Dan introduces & interviews the main lady behind Fueltopia, Becci. In this episode you will hear all about the beginnings of Formula G & the Barrel Sprint and what actually goes in to the running of these events. Check this episode out to hear about all of this & more behind the scenes insights.
Part of the one on one interview / introduction series of our Podcast where Dan is able to dive deeper into a particular topic with a single person.
This is one University Challenge without a buzzer or questions in sight and its safe to say a whole lot more excitement … This is Formula Student!
The event itself is a 3-day event, with University’s from all over the world heading to Silverstone to compete. When I say all over the world you had teams from Egypt to New Dehli and even as far as Melbourne, Australia!
Before they hit the track there is an extremely harsh scrutineering process consisting of 6 main elements: Chassis, safety, Tilt, Noise, Braking and Tech. To give you an idea only 48 teams passed final scrutineering, safe to say they are not messing around when it comes to making sure all the cars are on a level playing field.
Having all teams previously competed in the Acceleration, Skid Pan & Sprint events on Saturday. when Sunday came round it was all down to the Endurance Race. All Teams have to complete a 22km with a driver change at 11km, there is no refuelling allowed at any point. Teams are scored based on the time it has taken to complete the course with 2-second penalties being handed out for hitting cones or heading off track. Points are also scored for how much fuel if left after the race as finished, meaning you could be in first place but as soon as the penalties are added on you could find yourself anywhere in that table.
With only one team completing the course without hitting a single cone or heading off the track I would say that’s a pretty good effort from Coventry University. With Ain Shams University from Cario hitting the most cones at 44 and heading off track 7 times!
It’s not often you go to an event and the teams are cheering just for finishing a race! Having built the cars over the last year or so, just finishing was such an achievement for some of the teams and the pure excitement or relief I think it might have been a mixture of the two was electric.
Now let’s have a little look at the builds themselves, every single one is unique to the university with budgets ranging from £25,000 all the way up to £1.9 million.
Formula Student also celebrated its 20 year anniversary this weekend, for this special occasion they had the original winning team from 1998 rebuild their car and had it shipped over for the event. That being said it wasn’t just there to be looked at the whole team got stuck back and headed out to the track setting the fastest time of the morning, everyone there was just in ore to see how competitive the car still was even 20 years on.
Lastly, I would just like to say a massive thank you to iMechE for having me down on the day, if you would like any more information on them or the event check them out here.
There’s a conflict as old as time. Since that fateful day when ‘the man’ walked in front of the early motorcar to slow it down, there’s been tension between car enthusiasts and the establishment. Police vs Modified car meets;
Modified car groups;
All over the UK and beyond, in retail parks, industrial estates or any piece of land they can find, modified car meets are a regular occurrence. They’re predominantly frequented by young guys and girls who bring a range of cars from hardly modified, to heavily modified. Mostly they are low budget, hardly modified cars, usually with basic mods like aftermarket wheels and a remap, but they are united by a common bond, a kinship. They are an ancient tribe whose DNA is rooted in the birth of the automobile. These meets usually start off pretty sedately. They’re typically held in carparks without permission, without any kind of formal structure or organisation and without public liability insurance or any other form of legitimate arrangement.
I remember a time when enthusiasts stood shoulder to shoulder, admiring the variety and diversity of each others cars. It seems these days, guys and girls wonder around criticising other people’s cars for having the wrong wheels, the wrong paint, too much camber or a million other things. Through the haze of weed smoke you can watch them grazing in their little cliques.
As the evening progresses, things get messy. A rolling burnout, a car bouncing off the limiter, anti lag scaring the watching flock. Another car donuts in a crowd of people, while others drift around a roundabout at the entrance, you get the idea. If you’re lucky, there’s a second location later in the evening where you might catch some illegal street racing.
The atmosphere can be electric. Some of the cars are a credit to their owners, rare, unusual, often with large amounts of time and money invested in them. Often all on finance or Bank of mum and dad. So what’s the problem? The issue is, sooner or later, someone is going to get hurt or worse. Then what? The ‘organisers’ sure as shit won’t be the ones that stand in front of the parents and tell them that their their son or daughter got killed at a meet they arranged illegally, and allowed to get out of hand.
I’ve spoken to some of the meet organisers and asked why they don’t legitimise the meets, take them somewhere safe, organise them properly, maybe even make some money out of them. They’re just not that bothered and have a million excuses why not. It’s always someone else’s fault. They blame the council yet never meet with them to try and work it out, they criticise the members of the public who berate them and report their behaviour, but I expect the main issue is that it takes effort and hard work to organise a proper event. An illegal meet takes little more than a few posts on Facebook, which actually is testament to their following and draw that these meets have and the desire the community have to express themselves.
I tried to broker a relationship between a local race circuit and a local modified car group to try to get them off the streets. The concept was that they could hold regular meets in safety, and even have a competitive element thrown in.
The circuit already has a similar type of event set up. They had reservations and were concerned about this particular modified car group’s reputation and the effect that an association with the group might have on the circuit.
The circuit simply didn’t have capacity to accomodate stand alone events in the group’s name but did suggest the group could join in with their own events and have a stand. At the time the group felt that was beneath them and wanted an exclusive event. I saw recently that they have decided to join in, so I hope it goes well for them.
One group have even been banned from holding meets in their home county so have simply moved their meets to the next county. Because the police haven’t shut them down over there yet, they consider that an endorsement which puts them above the law. It isn’t.
Sadly, i fear It’s only a matter of time. It will come to an end one way or another. When the police eventually stop these illegal meets, and they will, what then? What’s left for them? Look at professional events like Edition38, RetroRides Gathering and Players to see what can be achieved. The main difference between these illegal meets and events like the ones I’ve mentioned is simple; these are organised events and are managed by professional people.
The police in the UK get a hard time. They are under funded and underappreciated. There are probably lots of you screaming at this right now, each of you with a story to tell about a mates brothers uncle who was pulled over for nothing apart from no tax and insurance, or a friend’s auntie’s uncle who was harrased for no reason apart from having no mot and no tread on his tyres. “Haven’t they got some real crimes to solve?!” The roads policing team are good people, trying to do the best they can with what they have.
What about the Police drivers? Let’s look at police driving. Often criticised and in this age of camera phones, everyone tries to trip them up. First there is basic, which allows the police person to drive a police car but not use blue lights, unless stopping a compliant car or closing a road. They can’t break any traffic laws either. After basic there is standard response (SR). This requires a 3 week course which then allows them to drive an Astra or similar on blues. After 12 months at this level, they can add the pursuit (P) element. This allows them to initiate a pursuit until traffic come along. That then becomes an SRP skill (Standard Response and Pursuit). The next stage is an advanced course which is a further 4 weeks driver training, usually in a BMW, and a further week course for pursuit on top of that, usually carried out together. After all of this, there is also a 4 day TPAC course (Tactical Pursuit And Containment). Only traffic and firearms have those skills.
The roads policing team aren’t against meets, the guys I’ve met are petrol heads themselves, often having grown up in the car scene. All they want is for people to enjoy their passion without tearing the place up and without anyone getting hurt or worse. The roads policing guys I’ve spoken to have engaged with some of the modified meet organisers to try to support them in organising safe and legitimate meets but so far, it’s been one sided and has come to nothing. Hopefully things will change before someone gets hurt.
Dan, Paps & special guests Kraigy & Phil from team Monkey Drift UK talk everything Formula G. All the details are spilled on their cars & their experiences taking part in this exciting up & coming race series.
You will hear first hand what it has taken for Kraigy & Phil to be involved with the series, what has been their favourite experience? who would they most like to go up against & beat? & the all important question of whether the hugs in the paddock are as good as they say they are? Have a listen to find out the answers to all of this & more.