How to Change the Serpentine Belt on a Mercedes M112 V6 engine

A part of your cars major service package is the replacement of the serpentine/auxiliary/drive belt. It looks like a fairly daunting task but is actually pretty simple. This blog post will (hopefully) explain how to change the belt on any Mercedes with a M112 V6. This particular car is a W202 C240 Sport.

Over time these belts can crack and fail and since they power your alternator, aircon, water pump and power steering it is best to replace them every so often. My car has done over 130,000 miles and the belt is looking a little bit sorry for itself. It’s had a bit of oil leak on the belt too which has softened it so I think it would be a good idea for us to change it!

pre fix

First thing to do is to draw the route of the belt. Some people might have awesome memories and the fact that the belt has a smooth side and a grooved side which collates to the smooth and grooved pulleys makes the route fairly self explanatory, but I wasn’t going to take any risks!


The belt is held in place by this automatic tensioner. There are three variations of tensioner for this engine. I believe that this is the first design. You will need a breaker bar or a long ratchet with a 8mm torx socket to move it.


Once your torx socket is on there turn the ratchet counter clockwise and you will feel the tensioner move up. Once it is up you will be able to work the belt off of it. Online a lot of people have said that you can put a nail or drift through a little hole on the back of the tensioner. I couldn’t find it though so I had to struggle without! If you can let me know where that is I would be most appreciative! This is probably super easy on the W210 as you have more room between the engine block and fan shroud.

Now the belt is off you can see the wear a little bit better.

old belt

Whilst the belt is off it’s also worth checking that the bearings inside all the pulleys spin freely but don’t move from side to side. The common ones to be a problem on this engine is the tensioner itself and the little idler pulley which is the highest of the pulleys. If they move about at all swap them out!


Also could be a good idea to make sure both belts are the same length. To do that simply stretch them out. There are a couple of variations of belt for the engine as some cars don’t have air conditioning which is driven by the belt.


The new belt simply goes on the way the old one came off! As I said earlier I couldn’t find a hole to put something in to hold the tensioner up but I managed to bring my breaker bar around a hook at the front of the block (which I assume holds the plastic engine cover on) It is tight so patience is required putting the new belt on haha!

new belt

Now all that is left to do is turn it on and make sure there are no squeaks or whines! Congratulations! You have changed your serpentine belt!

Thanks for reading if you would like to see more of these posts make sure to follow this blog or follow me on the following social media platforms

Twitter: @Garage_RFrancis
Instagram: @motorsport4mentalhealth


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Don’t Know What I’m Doing!

May 2017 is actually set to be the best month, in terms of traffic, for this blog so far yet for the past two weeks I can’t really say I’ve been inspired to write about anything on here or, honestly, really done anything that has really been worth writing about. So I’m sitting here, at my desk at 8:30 in the morning in my PJs, scrolling through Google looking at articles titled “1397 Blog Post Ideas” etc finding myself being drawn deeper and deeper into this creative block until I decided enough was enough and I was just going to write about whatever sprang to mind.

So, welcome! I’m glad you have decided to join me on this unplanned journey. Tell me about yourself in the comments, what are your hobbies? What are your goals in life and your biggest fears? Let’s not beat around the bush!

My hobbies as you well know are cars. Road cars, racing cars and model cars. I have articles in the works for all three. I need to replace the serpentine belt on my Mercedes which I will do a how to guide on. I have Masters at Brands Hatch which is always fun and I might pop up to Arena Essex on Monday to watch the PRI bangers and stock cars, so lots of racing content coming up! Model cars, I’m working on a 1/24 model of a pre-war Mercedes 500K, that’s just going to be a stand alone blog though, and I have been ‘evolving’ my little lean bodied Porsche slot car. Modifications have been made but it’s no where near ready for another blog post yet haha!

In terms of the mental health aspect of this blog I haven’t really been doing very well. I had a bit of a slip nearly two weeks ago and just haven’t really been myself since. At the moment I have the attention span of a goldfish and the motivation of a sloth. It’s actually taken me an hour to write this much of this blog post as I keep getting distracted by just about everything. I know I often get times where I easily lose concentration and so I’m not going to worry. When more stuff happens that I can write about upon this blog then I’m sure I will write about it!

I suppose the good thing is I’ve been thinking about this blog a lot everyday. I’m always turning over ideas in my head about how I can improve this website and the brand. I’m starting to get some decent money together now so hopefully some of these ideas will come into life soon!

Many thanks for reading. I’m sorry this post is a bit short and abstract but I felt so guilty about not putting anything out for over a week now. I hope you are all well!

Posted in mental health, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Way Back Wednesday: D1RC Winter Series

I was sorting through my ‘liked’ pages on Facebook and came across Radical Muppets Photography owned by Bradley Giles and Zoe Ramsey (facebook link here: ). They’ve been inactive for quite some time but used to shoot the RC drifting championship D1RC. I thought I would show you some of their work.

D1RC was about for a number of years but sadly collapsed due to internal politics. I was lucky enough to be able to be a part of that scene for the past two years at their indoor winter series.

The events were held at the community hall in South Woodham Ferrers. The track covered most of the available space. There was a small pitting area at the far end of the hall from where this photo was taken and the photo was taken from atop the stage from which the drivers would do their thing.


The track itself is Prima GT carpet which is used by a lot of touring car guys. The red and white barriers were hand formed and painted by members of the committee that owned D1RC and were tapered at the sides so if the cars hit them they would ride up onto them rather than just sitting them which could damage the cars.

These photos were all from 2013 which was the second and final year of the winter series. At the time my little company Garage-R also sold shells and RC accessories. Loads of guys from D1RC were kind enough to support my business.

Dan R30Rob Pannell GT86

A lot of the shells in use also came from Garage-R. I used to distribute D-Like and ABC Hobbies shells amongst others. RC drifters tend to change shells up quite a bit, some stayed about for a good long time though!  Matt Fellow’s Red Bull liveried D-Like S14 springs to mind. 4 years later and many many drift days later the poor old thing was finally scrapped. I think there was more shoo goo and hot glue in that shell than polycarbonate.

MAtthew Fellows S14a

Garage-R’s logo at the time was the rasta red, gold and green. In retrospect that probably made me look like a massive druggy, especially being a skinny white guy, I never have smoked or will ever smoke weed but I liked the colours and the music!

My shell for the season was this D-Like S13. It did well and even got featured in a RC magazine with it’s Christmas decorations!

Rich 200sx 3Rich 200sxrich 200sx christmas

Dale Andrews also took a bit of inspiration from the Rasta colours with his KGC10 Skyline.

Dale Andrews Hako 2Dale Andrews Hako

Plenty of bigger businesses had interest in D1RC too. David Shaw-Matthews from Radshape RC used to make the long trip down from Birmingham with lovely BRZ. A Tamiya TA05-VDF sat beneath it. A wicked bit of kit that sadly was not in production for very long.

Peter Gray and David MAtthews

The car sitting net to David’s is Peter Gray’s S14. Peter is (still I believe) a Yokomo sponsored driver. Pete and his team would fly out to Japan each year to compete at the world championships.

From even further north was Simon Landgrebe with his HPI sponsored PS13 bodied TCFD. Simon works for Wheelspin Models and made their presence known at D1RC.

Simon PS13

Simon and David weren’t the only ones to venture from far away though. We had several competitors to come from afar including Daniel Robinson who’s R30 Skyline is pictured above and Andy Baynes/Slideshow Bob.

Slideshow Bob

Of course all the shops and competitors would not be there without the series’ organisers. The face of D1RC was a chap called John Turner. I won’t say too much about him or I will get moaned at on Facebook. He always drove pink and blue cars.

John Turner AlfaJohn Turner S15

To my knowledge the biggest contributor to D1RC in terms of advertisement was Andy Brunton. Andy is still an ambassador to the sport to this day. There isn’t really a scene local to Essex any more but he is still travelling to compete and practise.

Andy Drifter JZX100

Steve Gravett was always the shell man. He’s a fantastic modeller and has created some stunning shells including this Hakosuka Skyline and S14.

Steve Gravett Hakosuka 2Steve Gravett HakosukaSteve Gravett S14 2Steve Gravett S14

Last but not least of the event committee was Mr Radical Muppet himself Bradley Giles.

Bradley Giles S13

It’s a shame that D1RC went under. There were a good bunch of people there and some good times were had. Unfortunately the hobby was progressing and and the way in which that event was run was not which caused rifts. It’s a shame that D1RC as an organisation no longer exists but it made way for other venues and ideas that have really helped push the boundaries of the hobby and brought many new people into the scene.

In my opinion the biggest development inside the hobby since the collapse of D1RC has been rear wheel drive. D1 saw the rise CS but rear wheel drive was only in it’s experimental stages here. Since then (in the UK) it was developed at Soul RC and brought to Rayleigh RC and has been perfected since at tracks such as Slide Dynamics. It was never really something that I got the opportunity to really play around with. One day I would like to give the rear wheel drive thing a go but I think developing my full size drifting ability first is more important haha!

Thanks for reading if you would like to see more of these posts make sure to follow this blog or follow me on the following social media platforms

Twitter: @Garage_RFrancis
Instagram: @motorsport4mentalhealth

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I was Unaware it’s Mental Health Awareness Week

So this week (8th-14th May 2017) was Mental Health Awareness Week and I was absolutely unaware of that until this morning!

Obviously, being unaware, I have no blog post ideas lined up but I didn’t think I should let this week go by without my acknowledgement so I thought I would take the opportunity to have a chat about mental health awareness.

When you think of mental health you often think about the more clinical side of the topic; diagnosis’, the DSM, doctors, etc etc. It’s a topic that most people will look at from an external viewpoint but much like physical health, everyone has a mental health too.

I think what I’m trying to say is that everyone goes through positive and negative periods in their life and experiences different emotions. It would be a boring place if we didn’t! Everybody deals with those emotions differently at different times; sometimes they just come and go as part of the flow of life but sometimes we can get caught up on certain emotions and events and it can interrupt our flow. When that happens, don’t be afraid to say something. Sometimes stuff just sucks and it’s for sure better to understand that and tell a friend or family member about it rather than just bottling it up. That’s when problems start to emerge.

The majority of my audience are male, which is understandable considering I talk about cars on here 99% of the time, and we tend to see it as weakness to say “this sucks, help!” but that is ultimately why nearly twice as many males commit suicide. So if you got a problem tell someone! Or if need be message me on Facebook and I’ll put you straight!

Mindfulness is another topic I’ve skipped over briefly on this blog. Personal analysis of emotions and trying to understand and control what is going on in your own mind. It sounds daft but once you get the hang of it it is amazing! I must do some more posts about mindfulness as I think it can help everyone!

That’s all I’ve got for today I’m afraid! Thanks for reading if you would like to see more of these posts make sure to follow this blog or follow me on the following social media platforms

Twitter: @Garage_RFrancis
Instagram: @motorsport4mentalhealth

Posted in mental health | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Betta & Classic Porsche 917/30

Most of my slot car projects on this blog seem to be resin bodied scale models or restorations of older Scalextric cars. That’s ok but it really isn’t pushing my modelling ability or bringing any new content to the blog. So I thought it was time for a change!

Betta and Classic are a company that have been producing model car bodies since 1956. They make a huge range of shells in a number of materials in both 1:32 and 1:24 scale. One of the materials that particularly caught my eye is lexan.

Those of you that have been following this blog for a while will know that I am no stranger to lexan as 1:10 RC shells are made out of the stuff. It is incredibly light, I have a small stash of paint for it, the appropriate tools for cutting it out and it is very, very, very cheap! Perfect for a quick project!

The shell I picked for this project was the Porsche 917/30. For a bit of context the 917/30 was a Can-Am car of the early 1970s and was powered by a 5.4 litre flat 12 which, in qualification tune, could produce 1580hp. That’s a crazy figure in itself but the car only weighed 850kg which gave it a power to weight ratio of 1965hp per tonne!


A fair few people on the internet told me to stay away from lexan shells, comparing them to “plastic bags” and such. In the world of RC manufacturers can get a lot of detail into the shells yet I was uncertain that anyone would be able to pack such detail onto such a small lexan form. Betta and Classic have excelled themselves though! This Porsche has all the correct panel lines and air vents etc! Amazing really, especially considering how thin the poly-carbonate they use is compared to the RC shells. They are literally paper thin and totally weightless!

Of course, a shell like this deserves a quick chassis. Betta and Classic themselves do make a floor pan compatible to these lexan shells as does Richard Mack. I’m not 100% in my ability to mount a shell to one of those though, I’m sure a with a little easy fabrication it would be fine but for the minute I thought I would take the easy option and get one of these Slot.It HRS 2 chassis’ with the pre added side mounts.


If you are unfamiliar with these they are a great chassis! They come as a ready to run package with an adjustable wheel base, side shell mounts and a possible choice of three different motor mounting: inline mabuchi (typical to most slot cars), “side winder” mabuchi (transverse mount as seen in Fly cars) and boxer side winder. I opted for the boxer side winder simply because I’ve never had one. A lot of people really like the boxer motors though.

First things first, we will need to cut out the shell! To do this you will need a set of angled scissors (these are from Core RC but nail scissors do the job just as well) and a sharp modelling knife.


Use the scissors to cut around the shell and cut the arches out. The curve on the scissors will help you achieve a good looking, smooth arch as opposed to using straight scissors which will give you box arches haha! The cut lines for the arches are already on the shell which make this super easy!


This car is open topped and so the cockpit will need to be cut out so the abs plastic driver and seats can be fitted. To do this I scored the edge of the cockpit with the modelling knife until I could easily push it through and follow my score lines around. This can be  abit time consuming as even though the plastic is very thin it will take a few scores to weaken it enough.


Now for the fun bit! Paint!

I’m not going to lie, I did order three of these shells just in case anything went wrong and sure enough, it did. The shells have a kind of semi translucent film over them to protect the outside of the shell from over spray, as you paint them from the inside, much akin to an RC shell. So I did two light coats of orange but the paint hadn’t reached into all the crevices of this shell leaving big clear patches. I only noticed after taking the film off so tried to mask the outside with tape to get a couple more layers in. The layers covered much better but when I tried to remove the masking tape the lexan is so thin it tore haha! Lucky I got spares so I can make the mistakes and tell you guys to do multiple layers!

This is the second attempt I believe, as you can see it’s hard to see how well it is covered with the film still in place.


Once the film is removed it’s fine though.


The little driver is much easier to paint! I used my regular mix of Halfords rattle can (gloss black in this instance) and Vallejo brush paint.


To fit it to the body I just poke it into the hole (oo-er) we made earlier and hot glue it into place. If you haven’t got a hot glue gun you need to purchase one immediately, they are so handy!


Now to fit the body! Basically the little rails that you see on the side of the chassis have to be stuck onto the side of the body shell.


To do this I used double sided velcro pads. These are basically double sided tape on one side and velcro on the other, so they can be stuck and unstuck as many times as needed without loosing stickiness. Double sided velcro can be found all over the place!



Final thing to do is to add a livery. I normally get my water slide decals from Pendleslot Racing but they were out of Jaegermeister sets so I found a cheap set on eBay.

The printing is absolutely fine and looks really well detailed but gosh it did not want to stick to the lexan! It just wanted to curl up at the edges once it was dry! Thankfully a re-wet some Humbrol decal fix seems to have them held in place ok!


Just a side note; I did swap out the factory fitted front tyres for some Slot.It zero grips. They are super low profile so I was able to get arch clearance at the front.


It’s not perfect but it’s a fun little build! I’m going to do some more Betta and Classic shells for sure! I might have to give one of their chassis’ a go too! I’ve not driven the car yet but I will let you know how that goes as I have something special to do with it.

Thanks for reading if you would like to see Betta and Classic’s full range of shells click here;

If you enjoyed and would like to read more of these posts make sure to follow this blog or follow me on the following social media platforms

Twitter: @Garage_RFrancis
Instagram: @motorsport4mentalhealth

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Install Mercedes W202 Side Skirts

So the side skirts of my W202 had been removed prior to my ownership because the previous owner had been doing some rust repair (surprise surprise). For some reason I’d worked it up in my head that putting them on was going to be really difficult but it turns out to be really easy! So, I thought I would walk you through installing the drivers side side skirt.

Here is the offending side skirt.


Note the little square holes on the bottom of the skirt? These ones:


They line up with these little round holes underneath your door sill.


Firstly open both doors about half one and then ‘dry fit’ the skirt. There are little white plastic clips at the far rear and front of the skirt that push into the body work and then close the doors as they will hold the skirt in place.


Now these are called expanding clips. There is a male part that pushes into the female part. Don’t put them together yet but make sure you have 6 of each for each side.


On the female bits you will note that one side has a round lip and the other a square lip. These collate to the round hole on the door sill and the square hole in the skirt. It basically sits between the two. To get it in there put your hand in the gap between the skirt and the chassis and push it in.

Worry about getting it in place on the skirt than the sill at the moment as when you push the skirt back up the clip should just slot into place. Then push the male bit in, it should click twice and then that section of the skirt will be secure! Repeat six times and you have the bottom secure.

Now for these little chaps.


Peel back the top of the skirt and you will see little dimples. That dimple pushes into the grrove on this clip just above my thumb and the two little hooks underneath it clip into place in a groove in the skirt just ahead of them. Push them on like so and then put the psuh in clip into the little hole in the top of the door sill and press down until it clips into place.


You now have one secure side skirt!


See! Nice and straight forward! I hope this will be of help if you got a car without side skirts or, like me, you thought they would be more difficult than they are!

Thanks for reading if you would like to see more of these posts make sure to follow this blog or follow me on the following social media platforms

Twitter: @Garage_RFrancis
Instagram: @motorsport4mentalhealth

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

King of the Ring 2017 Round 3

For the first time in a while I had a Saturday off of work which meant I could head down to King of the Ring fairly early to get a good look around all of the different attractions and catch up with some people and hopefully bring you a report of King of the Ring that is a little bit different.

First off lets talk about the Proper Droppers sound of competition. Car audio is never really something I’ve covered on this blog and, truth be told, outside of talking about head units at work, it is never really something I’ve particularly had much to do with. The Proper Droppers host a sound off competition at King of the Ring so I thought I would take a wander up to the top pits to see what all the noise was about and what this scene is like.

A sound off competition, to my limited knowledge, goes like this: The cars drive up to this booth where an SPL tester which measure the depth and frequency of bass is put into the car, the stereo system is then turned right up and a peak (loudest) and average score is taken. The loudest wins!


It sounds fairly straight forward but there is a lot of science, money and time that goes into these builds! A lot of the systems are loud enough to flex the body panels of the cars surrounding them! Whilst I don’t know a huge amount about the systems themselves this one needed four Yuasa HSB110s to power it. These are one of the most powerful non AGM batteries Halfords sell and four of them works out to just shy of £600.


So that’s £600 for the batteries then add the cost of that huge amp, subwoofers, door speakers, wiring, sound insulation etc and you have a system that is worth three or four times the Mk5 Escort it’s sitting in.


A lot of the cars that were competing looked fairly stock from the outside which surprised me. I suppose the focus of the builds is the audio system though so it makes sense. Take this ML class Mercedes for instance, looks completely stock from the outside but peek in through the rear windows…


That’s not to say there weren’t some really well presented cars present though. This Astra had some serious time spent on it!


Lambo style doors are always a talking point. I think it’s dependant on the car. This pulls them off pretty well.


This little Fiat and Fiesta van were pretty cool too! The little Fiat Seicento and it’s predecessor Cinquecento have the potential to be fun little cars. If you get the opportunity Google ‘Class 7 Autograss Cinquecento’ they are super cool!


The I.T guy also requested a couple of shots of his Vectra, he was really nice and helpful so it’s my pleasure to feature a couple!


They are kind of tucked away in the top pits at King of the Ring but they well worth walking over for a snoop, especially if you’ve not really had much to do with audio. They are all super friendly guys and gals and are happy to answer any questions you have.

Back towards the main track and clubhouse is the Autoglym Show and Shine.

If you’ve been following this blog for a while you will know that I am a fan of classic cars and a bit of a purist. Therefore a lot of the shows I cover here are concourse events which focus on the preservation of originality of classic vehicles rather than the presentation of modification yet whilst there are modified vehicles on the show and shine at King of the Ring I wouldn’t be against showing one of my cars there.

The reason I say this is that it’s quite an open show. As you will see from the photos below there is a wide variety of cars presented, most shows are just for Jap/German/British/American cars or judge on vehicle originality or the style of modification it’s just about presentation and wowing the judges and in my opinion if a car can bring a smile to someone’s face then it is doing it’s job well!

I’ll take you on a little tour of the show and shine area which basically wraps around the clubhouse. At the side of the clubhouse facing the track are the ‘top 10’ cars. Closest to the gate was Martyn Gile’s Zestino Tyres liveried Nissan S14a. Martyn and his car were here to support Belinda Challis and the rest of the Drifther team with their stand.


Note judge Kris Morris sending me a subtle hand signal.

Another car in livery was parked next to Martyn’s Nissan. This Bentley Continental was sporting a ‘Big Baller Rally’ livery. I’d like to do one of these rallies but expensive cars, exotic places and scantly clad young ladies are just a part of my daily routine. I feel the magic would be lost on me.


Next along was resident DJ Luke Paul’s Mazda RX8. Those wheels are really cool!


Sitting next to Luke’s car was this super clean S14a! I believe those wheels are off of Queen Boudica’s chariot so they are probably worth quite a lot! Joking aside about the spikes I actually fell in love with this car. It’s nice to see someone doing something unique with an S-chassis.

Next up is this Mk5 Cortina estate. This is more my kind of thing, cool old car with period correct mods. I know they were fairly shunned at the time but I think these Mk4 and 5 Cortinas and the Mk1 and 2 Granadas have aged really well and are such cool cars!


Parked next to that was another cool Ford! A 1968 Mustang, again with period correct modification. I like the original look air cleaner.


Then on the end and in complete contrast to the Mustang, was Mr Matthew Fellow’s R32 Skyline GTR. (bum shot because people were standing in front of it)


The rest of the show and shine was on the other side of the clubhouse. Stupid side note but I want to call the trackside of the clubhouse the front and the other side the back even though the main entrance is on the side that’s not facing the track so that side should be the front and the trackside should be the back. Help!

Ryan Osborne of Essex Rotary had parked his Mazda RX8 on it’s own in a prime spot for a little photoshoot.


Then three chaps in mint green cars parked in the spot in front of him. I didn’t mind though, the W202 Merc was cool!


There was also an earlier W201 190e! The AMG boot lid with lip is a nice touch.


You may have spotted the Austin Sprite sitting next to it. These look so good as race cars!


Behind the 190 and the Sprite were a group of Mk7 Fiestas.


A really nice bone stock GT86. My favourite modern road car actually.


Plus an Audi A3. If you’ve met me in real life you will know that I am not a fan of the Audi owner, this guy seemed to be a part of a really cool club filled with nice chatty people though so I hope he is the same. I didn’t see anyone in a badly fitting suit running around red faced calling everyone a w***er so I assume he is not a stereotypical Audi driver.


Nice car too, Rotiform make some pretty cool wheels. Hi Aiden at the back! Didn’t see you at the time!

On the other side of the car park was a little line up of Imprezas and an Evo. I’m sorry guys but I’m team Impreza. I like flat configuration engines in both Subarus and Porsches.


Through the gates of the clubhouse car park and into the public entrance there are a few other cars lined up. The only two of note for me was this really clean Evo…


…and the winner of the Autoglym show and shine, this Nissan S13.


It was nice to see such a varied turnout on the show and shine and it’s been nice to actually give it the feature it deserves on this blog.

The main event was of course the drifting. Normally I would write you a run by run report of the battles but my notes were so sketchy it’s probably best that I don’t embarrass myself by trying. This should give us a little more time to focus on the awesome people and cars that make this event the success it is.

All the regulars were in attendance including the chaps from MAPT Motorsport. These guys work well as a unit; they drive well together and all have their roles within the team. Paul Parnell is the social media chap then Mark and a couple of the others are mechanics, they have a sign writer and merchandise person too. It works well and they set a standard of professionalism amongst the teams that frequent King of the Ring.

Mark Chapman

Jon Hudd

Alex Chapman

Tom Frewin-Clark

Jamie Stanton 

You may have noticed Paul Parnell’s red and black E46 missing from this line up. He was about and drifting but was out of action at the time that I was taking photos in the pits with a broken steering knuckle. Thankfully he was able to get that fixed in time for qualifying.

Darrel Smith of Team Overdrawn was also doing his thing with his touring E46. Washing it as the dirt is extra weight.


As per usual Darrel and his car were on point all evening. He qualified first and made it through to the top 16. Darrel’s a top bloke and has been at Arena for ages. He also used to do a lot of judging at Rayleigh RC when that was on the go. It’s always cool for people to support their local scene.

Team Twisted were also present. Tom Yate’s M3 powered E36 coupe. This thing sounds savage but was defeated by Alex Chapman who was driving a slower car. That’s the beauty of the unpredictability of drifting.


Along with brother Robbie Yates in the mighty Touring.


I’m not sure who Alice is but this little purple compact belongs to Anthony Feery. This car was literally thrown together for the event as his regular car isn’t working. Shows the dedication these guys have to their craft.


Garage Pandas. I didn’t get a good pic of it at the time but that little hard topped yellow MX5 is turbo’d and belongs too Steven Elliot. It sounded and went really well but was unfortunately knocked out of its first battle by the unstoppable Darrel Smith!

This is Martin Cheeseman’s E36 saloon. I was gutted that he scrapped the compact but this is a really good looking car too! I think it’s the first time I’ve really been able to get a proper look around it. Love the wheels! DSC_0019DSC_0020

My favourite cars were this Volvo 240 Estate. We’ve seen it at Arena many times before but I had assumed it had gone to the big Arena in the sky! Glad to see it still out and about!


Plus Richie Gilbey’s Mercedes W202 230k. I’ve been plenty of W202s on Arena but none with the shortened super charger pulleys which give them this really strange whine. The car went really well though!


I also got to catch up with Richie’s brother Marc who was involved in a bad car accident just over a month ago. It was really nice to see him out and about and able to stand on his own two feet! He’s such a nice guy and I wish him the speediest of recoveries.

Merc 1

Richie was also driving with his Dad’s old stock car racing number which is a nice touch. He wasn’t the only one out there honouring his parents. Johnny Smith was running a big Cancer ribbon on the bonnet of his car in order of his Dad who died of the illness. My Mum thankfully managed to get through her cancer but I know how tough it is, not only for the sufferer but for their friends and family who have to watch them go through that ordeal.

Adam and Steve once again created an amazing event with a great atmosphere. Judges Kris Morris and Danny Grundy have been great judges for the series, there hasn’t really been any times I can think of that they’ve made a call I haven’t agreed with, especially having looked back over it on the livestream.  Ron, Darrel, Jodie and Simon from Essex Transit Specialists all did a great job keeping everything organised on track. Jodie actually has her car up for sale at the moment. A 2.8 converted E36 compact with lock mods and coilovers. A beast of a car for £1000!


Thanks for reading if you would like to see more of these posts make sure to follow this blog or follow me on the following social media platforms

Twitter: @Garage_RFrancis
Instagram: @motorsport4mentalhealth

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Formula Drift Round 2: Orlando Speed World

Orlando Speedworld is a motorsport complex in Bithlo, Orange County in Florida. They have a drag strip, a small oval track with a sort of figure 8 section on the inside of it and a dirt course for bikes. By the looks of it from Google maps some grassroots drift events are also held there in a flat, open area.

Formula Drift would make use of the oval track. The course laid out is fast and wide with some interesting gradient changes. A different challenge to that offered by Long Beach but a challenge none the less!

The cars would start on the back straight of the oval and initiate into the first corner; a long sweeping right hand turn that makes use of the tracks banking. they would then drop from the banking onto the infield, navigating the harsh bump from the back tracked to the flat, where they would continue the right turn into one of the straight sections of the figure of 8 that slices across the inside of the oval. Once onto that straight they transition into a long left hand that runs in the shadow of the banked oval. There are two rear clipping points here so the banking is in effect being judged as a wall.

The top 5 qualifiers would get a by run through the top 32 into the top 16. These drivers were Michael Essa in the Essa Autosport BMW E36 in 5th.


James Deane in the Worthouse Nissan S15 in 4th


Ryan Tuerck in the Gumout Toyota GT86 in 3rd


Fredric Aasbo in the Rockstar Toyota Corolla iM in 2nd


Dai Yoshihara in the Turn 14 Subaru BRZ in 1st.

Top 16

Nate Hamilton vs Dai Yoshihara

This is the first time Nate Hamilton has made it through the top 32 in his tie in pro. He drew an unfortunate battle against 2010 Formula Drift champion and veteran drifter Dai Yoshihara. Nate pushed hard but made a couple of errors in his chase run and Dai was able to maintain a better proximity in his chase run.

Hamilton vs Yoshihara

Dean Kearney vs Piotr Wiecek

Piotr absolutely stuck his Worthouse S15 to the door of the Oracle Lighting Viper and really put the pressure onto Dean. Coming through the left hand turn the pressure got too much and Dean spun. Piotr was following so closely that he slammed head first into the Viper! The judges put the fault to Dean and gave Piotr some time to get his car sorted out.

Piotr then went out and got his car caught on the wall on the outside of the first corner, dragging his car back to straight and throwing him totally off course. His advantage from the first run was now nullified and the judges had to make them go one more time.

Piotr unfortunately took damage to his car which could not be fixed in the allocated time so Dean went through to the great 8.

Wiecek vs Kearney

James Deane vs Jhonnattan Castro

The first set of runs were both spectacular and the judges unanimously decided that the battle should go to one more time.

If you watch any part of Formula Drift Orlando you have to watch the one more time run between these two. Castro’s chase run of Deane was simply run of the century. Literally centimetres separated the two cars! Deane did his best to return and his chase run would have normally won him the battle but Castro’s run was just out of this world

Deane vs Castro 1Deane vs Castro 2Deane vs Castro 3Deane vs Castro 4Deane vs Castro 5

Michael Essa vs Kristaps Bluss

A fair fight as both are driving 900hp BMW E46s, this was a difficult battle to judge in my eyes as well. Both had very aggressive lead runs and both were unable to maintain a particularly close proximity in their chase runs. I think Kristaps made a few minor corrections in his chase run which meant Michael Essa took the place in the great 8.

Fredric Aasbo vs Matt Field

Sadly a battle cut short. Matt Field debeaded a tyre at the end of the first run and had too retire, giving Aasbo an easy victory.

Cameron Moore vs Alec Hohnadell 

Truth be told, both had fairly scrappy runs. Cameron spun in the first battle though which gave Alec the immediate advantage and then in the second battle Cameron was unable to keep up with Alec.

Ryan Tuerck vs Chris Forsberg

Both of these guys have been in Formula Drift since the early days, both are a part of Drift Alliance and both have cars prepared by Nameless Performance. This was a battle between two giants and did not disappoint. The judges unanimously said that Ryan Tuerck took the win which is fair. Tuerck had the better proximity and Forsberg did have to make a couple of corrections throughout the battle.

Tuerck vs Forsberg

Kyle Mohan vs Vaughn Gittin Jr

Vaughn Gittin Jr took his Mustang to the great 8 with a safe run following a spin from Kyle Mohan.

Great 8

Dai Yoshihara vs Dean Kearney

Both had amazing runs but Dai was the more aggressive of the two and the judges unanimously gave him the victory.

Michael Essa vs Jhonnattan Castro

Another great set of runs. The only real differing factor was Castro went a little wide through the left hand corner in his chase run and took one of his wheels off course. Gutting as his top 16 run was just outstanding.

Fredric Aasbo vs Alec Hohnadell

Alec Hohnadell made a couple of big corrections in his chase run which gave Aasbo the advantage and ultimately the win.

Vaughn Gittin Jr vs Ryan Tuerck

Ryan Tuerck would once again have to face on of his Drift Alliance brothers and another veteran of the sport; Vaughn Gittin Jr. The first set of battles were super close and two of three judges decided to run the battles one more time.

The first battle of the second set was just as close. Vaughn was all over Tuerck throughout the track and when they changed places it looked as if Tuerck would strike back just as hard! Unfortunately in the last corner Ryan pulled off with mechanical failure giving Vaughn the win!

Final Four

Dai Yoshihara vs Mike Essa

Yoshihara gave two great runs but Essa was more aggressive in his lead run and was able to mirror Yoshihara’s actions better in chase.

Since Ryan Tuerck suffered mechanical failure Yoshihara automatically takes third place and Essa goes through to the final.

Yoshihara vs Essa

Fredric Aasbo vs Vaughn Gittin Jr

Aasbo just simply dominated this battle. There is no other way to describe it, he pulled away from Gittin in the lead position and then was pretty much sitting inside Gittin’s RTR Mustang in the chase run. Superb performance from Aasbo

Gittin vs Aasbo


Fredric Aasbo vs Michael Essa

This wasn’t as clear cut as the battle between Aasbo and Gittin. Essa certainly fought back hard and it wasn’t clear which one would come out on top. It was Aasbo who took the victory though! It’s incredible that Papadakis Racing have been able to put together such an amazing drift car out of such an obscure shell and it’s also amazing that Fredric has been able to bond with it so quickly!

Aasbo vs Essa

So in conclusion Dai Yoshihara came third, Michael Essa second and your Formula Drift Orlando winner is Fredric Aasbo!

Thanks for reading if you would like to see more of these posts make sure to follow this blog or follow me on the following social media platforms

Twitter: @Garage_RFrancis
Instagram: @motorsport4mentalhealth

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Billericay Soap Box Derby 2017

Following the success of the Billericay Soap Box Derby in 2016 which had 5000 attendees, the Rotary Club of Billericay decided unanimously to host another this year!

Soap Boxes, for those of you that don’t know, are basically gravity powered go-karts. At events such as the Red Bull Soap Box Derby and countless other local events across the United States where soap box racing seems to be most prevalent, contestants are judged on the speed of which they complete the course and the look of their kart. In Billericay we wanted to keep the emphasise on the fun side of the derby so teams were judged on their karts and the applause of the audience. There was also a judged pre-run performance which saw teams acting out little scenarios and even one team of horses and a Native American Indian dancing to The Sugarhill Gang’s Jump On It before pushing their wagon down the ramp!


The imagination brought to the event by the teams was once again amazing. There were a couple of similar karts but Only Fools and Horses is such a popular show in this part of the world I would be gutted if that little Robin Reliant didn’t get recreated!


There were a couple of other TV and film cameos including:

tv 1

Lightning McQueen.

tv 2

The DeLorean from Back to the Future.

TV 3

This is Billericay Rotary Club’s own entry based off of Thunderbird 1.

TV 4

My favourite, the rare cab from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air!

I was also pleasantly surprised to see how many people had replicated Nissan’s R33 Skyline! (boat joke)

R33 1R33 2

There were a few karts that were made to look like full size cars too! Here we have a replica of  the ‘South Eastern Vintage & Classic Vehicle Club’s Morris Minor van. More of that later!

full size 1

Here we have Carriann’s Nails replica of the company Smart Car. Sort of off topic but Smart Car’s are definitely a under-rated platform to build on, there are some people doing some crazy stuff with them out there and I hope they get more popular!

full size 2

Up next we have a little ice cream van. This isn’t supposed to be based on any particular type of van but the attention to detail around the windows and such makes it look so cool!

full size 3

Next up is the Soapicorn, based loosely off of Ken Block’s Hoonicorn. I know we’ve all seen the videos but I got to have a good look around the real one at places. Such an incredible piece of engineering! Anyway, I love the super wide arches on this soap box.

full size 4

Finally we have this incredible little replica of a VW camper van. It’s sitting on a gokart repair stand at the moment, it’s not really this high. The launch performance for this one was great; it wouldn’t start so they try to fix it and then push it down the hill haha! I can relate.

full size 5

As you can see the kart next to it looks like a camera lens. Basing the karts off of objects seemed to be the other big theme. Here we have a lawn mower complete with person pushing it.

objec 1

This entry was from Mayflower High School and was of one of their student planners. We used to have these ring bound ones at Billericay and they were horrible lol! We used to have our lesson plans in them and used them to write homework in. It brought back memories seeing this haha!

object 2

The last was a ‘snap off’ tool box. If a box that size was genuine snap on that would be worth more than every car I’ve owned in the past four years put together haha!

Object 3

There were a couple of other cool ones that I couldn’t really think of a category for so I’m just going to image dump them here:


Now before we get to the action on track let’s have a look around some of the other things at the event.

Of course there was lots to eat and drink and a picnic area for people. There was also a little classic car show courtesy of the South Eastern Vintage & Classic Vehicle Club. They had the full size version of their Morris Minor soap box on display.


A little Morris Traveller was also keeping it company.


This little Austin was also super cool. I’d love to own a pre-war car one day. Suicide doors should definitely make a come back!


Talking of pre-war. This Buick was stunning! It’s mad how large U.S market cars are in comparison to U.K market cars even in the 1920s and 30s. (Excluding things like Bentleys and Rolls Royces because they pre-war examples of those are huge!)


This one threw me a little bit. My knowledge of MG’s isn’t what it should be considering my Dad owns two of them. When I saw this I thought it was a V8 BGT because of the bonnet bulge but something in my head was just saying ‘that isn’t right’ after a quick bit of Googling it turns out that this one is the straight six powered MGC. Super rare car and a pleasure to see!


Sitting alongside the MGC is a Reliant Scimitar. A front engined, rear wheel drive shooting brake. I’m sold.


Toomey’s and Volvo also brought some new cars out that people could buy if they wanted.


The back area also had a large screen so you could watch the runs from the pits as the trackside got so crowded last year. This was a nice touch that I really wasn’t expecting!!


The track itself is a straight down hill run on rough tarmac flanked by trees. Inflatable barriers run down either side of the track and behind that were metal barriers behind which the crowd stood.

The cars would be launched off of a big wooden ramp and there were two smaller ramps the karts had the option to jump over as they went down the track.


It was great fun to watch! I couldn’t take too many photos on track as it was super busy, which is a good thing, I’d rather see people out supporting a local motorsport than be able to take good photos!


All in all I would like to congratulate the Billericay Rotary Club, the teams and the sponsors of the event on a really good fun today! Once again you all excelled yourselves and I’m looking forward to the next one in 2018!

Thanks for reading if you would like to see more of these posts make sure to follow this blog or follow me on the following social media platforms

Twitter: @Garage_RFrancis
Instagram: @motorsport4mentalhealth


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

British Drift Championship 2011: Donington Park

So I was having a look at some old SD cards I found in a clear out the other day and I found a tonne of photos from BDC Round 1 at Donington Park wayyy back in 2011.

To give you some context I was 17 and hadn’t yet passed my driving test so I had to take the train to drift events. To get to Donington you take the C2C to Liverpool Street then the tube to Kings Cross and one of those funky tilting high speed Virgin trains to Donington.

If you’ve not been to Donington by train it’s actually quite a nice ride. The Virgin trains are super comfy and quick and Donington’s train station is literally in the foot print of this big nuclear power plant. It’s not often that you get to be so close to these big water cooling towers!


Anyway, we aren’t hear to talk about nuclear reactors. I thought I would share with you the finds of some of my SD card so we could see how far the sport has changed in 6 short years. It’s great that a lot of the drivers here are still competing today!

First up is Danielle Murphy’s Green Monster. Danielle still competes with this car and won the Queen of Europe Ladies League in 2015 with it. It’s had many makeovers over the years but this is my favourite look it’s had. The camera didn’t really pick it up but the green had a glitter effect in it which really sparkled under the sun!


The series had a few female competitors that year. This is Julie Robinson’s venerable R32 Skyline four door that is still on the competition scene.


Of course Belinda Challis was present with the Castrol Skyline. Belinda went on the TV show Deal or No Deal some time after this and used some of her winnings to help transform this car. I’m not sure if it’s still about.


Kirsty Widdrington was there with the famous Syril who was not wearing such a bright shade of purple. I assume I took this because I liked the Team Twisted logo. That team is still going strong, we see that Yates’ a lot at King of the Ring.


Talking of King of the Ring peeps this was commentator Mark Lappage’s car back in the day. Pink and Silver, can you get anymore Essex?! Mark still competes in the BDC with Acorn Insurance.


Steve Biagioni was still driving the Japspeed Impreza at this point. This car has a lot of history; it’s a hawk eye Impreza converted to rear wheel drive and powered by a Toyota 2JZ straight six. It’s a radical build even by today’s standards and has had a few drivers. I think it’s most famous moment was when it was stolen from Santa Pod and everyone shared it on social media until it was eventually found. The BBC called it a rally car so the mainstream media not having a clue what they are talking about is nothing new.


The Impreza wasn’t the only radical build doing the circuit at this point. Paul Cheshire had just built his 2JZ powered V35 Skyline. A few of these had been done in the states but this was the first on this side of the pond. This was it’s first incarnation. Over the next few years this car would become an absolute animal!


I’m not sure if this was the year of if it was the following year but Mark Luney’s Supra would be the first drift car in the UK with over 1000bhp.


At the other end of the spectrum is this Mk1 Escort. If memory serves it was a fairly original chassis. I couldn’t tell you what the engine in it was off of the top of my head but I assume it would be a 2 litre Zetec or something along those lines. A lot less than 1000hp!


The only other really old school car present was Sid Crowfoot’s Laurel. The paint work on this car was amazing!



I hope you enjoyed that little look back at BDC from 2011. If you enjoyed and you would like to see more of these posts make sure to follow this blog or follow me on the following social media platforms

Twitter: @Garage_RFrancis
Instagram: @motorsport4mentalhealth

Thanks for reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment