Whistlin' Jack Smith >> Blog >> Shady Lady
I always knew that the biggest challenge to racing would not be my race ability but the homework required to make sure the car is race worthy. This is my adventure to get an almost race ready car to being race ready.
When I bought the car I knew there would need to be a few little changes to suit me but I thought I would be on track quite quickly. Winter set in and working on the car became very difficult, no garage and nowhere to keep the car was tough originally but the knowledge I needed wasn’t there. In steps my dad who without him I wouldn’t be able to compete, he has the tools, the time and wants to share his wealth of knowledge. I’m gradually getting more tools, improving my skills and understanding the need for certain parts of the car but would be lost without him.
After leaving the car to sit in one side during the end of 2014 I was ready to commit my time to sorting the car once the New Year began, but the unexpected happened: the big sneeze. My dad sneezed and ruptured an ear membrane, this quickly became infected and after serious illness several years ago his body can’t fight infections very well. The medicine needed to be a higher dosage and he was admitted to hospital for several weeks as the situation worsened and surgery was needed with the infection developing through his body. Moving beyond this traumatic phase of my family’s life we are all still here, still fighting and not looking back.
The race car dream understandably took a back seat role (great pun!) with my dad out of action, it wasn’t just his guidance that had disappeared but also my enthusiasm. Project race car ended up being two months behind schedule but in the last few weeks we got back on track. Now the list of things carried out may seem pretty simplistic for those that has spent several years getting greasy in a workshop, for this newbie there was a more than I bargained for, these include: lowering seat with new mounting points, adding a new harness, placing new eyelets to match the harness safety specification, fabricating a new dash, repositioning the internal mirror, hacking off various bits of metals that seemed irrelevant, new brackets to hold the bumpers in place, welding the slashed door back together, checking/ changing brakes, cleaning the bearings, changing oil for many parts of the car, getting oil on drive,
remove the old sign writing, attempting to spray paint some bumpers and panels, straighten out some dents, covering the headlights with an old Microwave, bigger arches, set valve timing, replace sparking plugs, pursue potential sponsors and stress out over a damaged carburettor. Without the luxury of a garage these were all carried out in Britain’s finest weather conditions, that is another factor to slow us down but I know there are plenty of others that look after race cars in a similar fashion so I shouldn’t grumble.
The season opener at Stansted was never going to be achieved and I’m kind of glad I wasn’t ready as the venue became a mud bath after a deluge of rain. With transport purchased I thought I could be ready for the 13th April but a leaky carb wasn’t playing ball and the day before I knew I wouldn’t be racing. I was pretty grumpy at this point as my excitement had been pretty high but it’s all lessons in life.
The car is now several shades of white and with the number 50 being picked a race number it was nick-named ’50 shades of white’ before the ‘Shady Lady’ was coined. Does a race car really need a name, who cares, all that matters to me now is racing.
Text: Paul Ballard (14.04.15)|
Photo: Paul Ballard
Layout: Paul Ballard