After booking the Snetterton 300 track day last year and having had a number of upgrades fitted to the Griff over winter (brakes, plenum & baffled sump) I find my itching to get back on the track. As luck would have it some fellow TVR owners on Pistonheads forums had organised a day at Bedford Autodrome and even better they had negotiated a 10% group discount. The track was configured as the full 3.8 mile GT circuit.
Bedford Autodrome is built on the northern section of the former site of the Royal Aerospace Establishment, Bedford airbase and has been specifically designed to be driven by high performance road cars. The circuit has larger than usual run off areas and does not have sections of Armco safety barriers which would potentially damage a car seriously if it left the track, ideal for novices like me!
Upon arriving at the track I was directed to the noise testing area. The noise limit was 101dB, I had passed the test at Snetterton last year at 105dB without the need for the ACT bolt on silencers to be fitted. I thought I would be cheeky and try here without but with a result of 112.4 dB was massively over. I fitted the ACT cans and went for a re-test which was measured at 101.8dB, after a lot of pleading they very kindly passed the car but advised me if I triggered any of the drive-by meters I would receive a warning and then any further triggers would result in the car not being able to go back on track. Having then spoken to the other TVR owners the general consensus was that the static noise meter must have been reading over that day as many cars which had not been required to run with additional silencers normally at Bedford had been forced to do so. The drive by limit was set at 87dB which fortunately none of us exceeded.
I then had a bit of breakfast, the canteen was fantastic and I had a very tasty bacon and egg roll. I attended the breifing and picked up my hired track helmet. Next were the familiarisation laps which were useful but where the circuit was so long I had forgotten most of it by the time I have got back to the pits. Once the track had opened me and another TVR went out on track for a few slow laps to familiarise ourselves, the track was still wet from the earlier rain as was very slippery in places. Shortly afterwards I had a 30 minute tuition session booked, I always book these at track days as I always find them very useful.
The tuition session was given by Peugeot racing driver Bradley Philpot. I have had various tuition sessions in the past at various events and this was by far the best, Bradley managed to in the space of 30 minutes managed to teach me the circuit, the correct lines in the corners and massively improved by driving style. Most instructors I have been haven’t ever really got me to push the car and my abilities particularly hard, but Bradley really pushed me hard, so much so that I actually spun off in one corner, he probably didn’t realise how much of a ham fisted oaf I am but fortunately he didn’t seem to mind. I really learnt a lot from Bradley and it gave me much more confidence in the car and my own ability.
Bedford is a very fast circuit and I was able to get up an indicated 145MPH down the back straight before braking hard for the chicane. The new Alcon brake setup is absolutely superb did not fade even slightly lap after lap. The ACT twin throttle carbon fibre plenum was unbelievable on track, the instant throttle response enabled me to get straight back on the power quickly out of the corners. The new baffled sump was also doing a fantastic job, I noticed after 20minutes of hard cornering at Snetterton the lifters where clattering a bit. I am not sure whether this was a genuine issue or whether I was being paranoid. I was advised that a baffled sump may solve this by keeping the old near the pickup during cornering.
As usual I had my GoPro Hero HD2 running throughout the day to capture some of the action. Track day organisers are clamping down on cameras succoured with suction cups so I have just invested in a new mount which securely connects to the headrest so I was able to test it out on track for the first time.
Footage of the final session where I benefited from a pretty much empty track