Live motorsport hits differently to watching on TV. The BTCC was at Croft last weekend and I was there to see the live action. And it was a brilliant day. Three touring car races and a really good support program. I wrote a piece not longer after I started this blog about how I considered myself more a fan of the British Touring Car Championship than Formula One. But if you look through the catalogue of my pieces, I have written far more about Formula One than any other motorsport. And that is indicative of an ever-increasing interest in the sport. Now, a lot of that has actually come from playing the Codemasters F1 game. Nevertheless, the interest is very real. And as that interest in F1 grew, I stopped following touring cars as closely. I hadn’t actually been to a race day for quite a long time either so it was really good to be back trackside for a day’s motor racing. The touring cars obviously aren’t as quick as F1 cars, but they are plenty fast in person. The noise is also extraordinary. The race cars sound nothing like their road-legal counterparts. The pops from the exhausts sound more like machine gun fire than car engines.
I’m also glad that they did away with the success ballast of previous years. Under the previous rules and regulations, depending on how well you were doing the championship, they would literally put more weight in your car (up to 45 kilos). Now that the cars are all hybrids, they instead limit the amount of hybrid boost each driver is able to use per lap. It’s a system very similar to the ERS in F1 and it means that the cars aren’t hampered by that extra weight. The disadvantage is still maintained while allowing the teams to keep the base car in its best trim. And I like that a lot. Being trackside also gives a much greater appreciation for how fast these cars really are. One of the people I went to the event with noted how much faster the cars looked in person than on a TV screen. And because the cars racing are based off of ordinary road cars, they can actually race. Now, Croft is tight and there are not a lot of overtaking opportunities but it definitely can be done. You just have to pick your moment.
The support series were also really good to watch as well, as has been the case with the support package for the BTCC for years now. It also means that there is always something going on on track and you can quickly drop away from the track to the food trucks or the model and t-shirt sellers. It’s just such a good time where petrolheads can come and indulge their love of racing cars. Also, because Croft doesn’t have a lot of pit garages, most teams in the support races were working out the sort of gazebos you would see at a village fete. But what was brilliant was that you could freely walk through this area and see the drivers and teams getting prepped. We were also able to stand right next to the pit lane for a couple of races and walk through the area where all the BTCC teams were set up for the weekend with all their motorhomes and equipment etc. For anyone who is into motor racing, try and catch a BTCC meet if you can. It is honestly such an enjoyable day out, and let’s face it, it’s a damn sight cheaper than tickets to Silverstone for the British GP.