Bemsee took to Norfolk last weekend for the second meeting of the season on the immense Snetterton 300 circuit. Following from Brands Hatch 3 weeks prior, 14 classes took to the circuit over 24 races a day in close-action club racing.
The week leading up to the meeting was thankfully short. I always book the Friday test day off work to attend the meeting for a full weekend, which gives a 4 days working week before a meeting to cram in that weeks tasks (except next week before Silverstone when we have a Bank Holiday on the Monday!). Monday was spent in London attending the Green Sky Thinking Event, before spending Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday concentrating on coursework for Loughborough. The weather forecast also changed multiple times over the week from sun to rain and back again. One thing you learn after a few meetings is the only weather report you can trust is the one you can see out the window. Most circuits are notorious for having different weather climates than the surrounding areas and Snetterton, built on an old RAF base, is no exception.
Heading up to Snetterton on the Thursday evening after work (and an uninspiring session at the gym with James) was an uneventful affair, with the sat-nav taking me along the M4, M25 then across the A505 before joining the A14 and A11. The only enjoyable portion was the new stretch of duel carriageway that by-passes Elvenden which wasn't completed the last time I traveled there. The by-pass, though quiet due to the time of night I was there, looked very good and I predict will save a lot of time for Snetterton visitors who used to get caught up in the traffic jam on that 9mile stretch.
Shaun and Caroline Knox - eager to eat dessert!
My accommodation for the weekend was at the old Corner House in Attleborough. We (Bemsee) first stayed there in 2005 and, other than 1 exception in 2010, have stayed there ever since for our Snetterton meetings. Part of the fun of Snetterton in recent years is the visit to Rob and Jules. When I first stayed there, they were new people to me so I spent all of my time in the bedroom keeping out of the way, but I remember clearly Rob coming in and giving me Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets on VHS to watch. It belonged to Vicki and Laura (Rob and Jules' daughters) but it was offered to me that night so I had something to do. Over the years, I slowly left the room and sat downstairs with everyone else, but usually kept a book handy. I re-read most of the Harry Potter books and most of my Doctor Who books at the dining table in the Corner House between 2006 and 2010.
Friday morning had a clear start to the day and, following a delicious full English, I began my circuit inspections ready for the Test Day. With the assistance of Eddie and Norma, the test day ran without a problem, offering riders the maximum amount of testing we could despite a bike blow up and oil spill delaying us somewhat to clear prior to lunch. Saturday started damp, having rained during the night and qualifying was at a slower pace than expected as a result but Sunday was dry and clear, again contradicting weather forecasts from as last as Thursday. The racing was as good as it can get, with few incidents and close battles in most of the classes.
The start gantry at Snetterton
Snetterton is, currently, my favourite circuit that I go to, despite it being so very far away (and, until the by-pass, difficult to get to with traffic!). It holds a lot of my 'firsts' in the motorsport world, which gives the circuit a valued place in my memories, despite the changes to the layout and to the race control building. In 2003, it was the first circuit I attended (with Bemsee) where I sat in the Stewards room lap scoring (an arbitrary job to keep me occupied at the time). While not the first circuit I went to (that title technically goes to Lydden in October 1991), it is the first I went to after the 1992 season (where I was too young to remember anything). Snetterton was the first circuit I marshalled at in 2007, running the Out Pit Box for an endurance event. The first that would be better not having occurred was my first fatal accident in March 2010, when Simon Exton was sadly taken following a start line incident. Later that year, the circuit would serve host to my first training to becoming a Clerk of the Course running the race control radio, running a Saturday afternoon of racing and practice for endurance racing. Two years later, in 2012, Snetterton would help me upgrade my CoC licence to B-Grade following an observed weekend at the circuit in the October, before becoming the circuit of my first snowed off meeting in March the following year.
When was the last time you did something for the first time?
The meeting at Snetterton was also a first in many ways, some so minute to be seen at the time and only available on reflection and while I fully intend to return in October this year for Bemsee's closing weekend, one must always be wary of how time plays tricks on us all...
You never know when it's going to be the last time