Irish Drift Championship Round 1: Mondello Park

Truth be told the Irish Drift Championship has always just sort of passed me by. Over the years Ireland has produced some awesome drivers; James Deane, Darren McNamara and Dean Kearney have all competed in Formula Drift having come from the IDC and in return several Formula Drift veterans such as Chris Forsberg have hopped over the pond to Ireland to compete in the IDC since it has grown such an amazing reputation.

The organisers of the IDC have also taken charge of the British Drift Championship and round 1 of that was quite simply one of the best organised events I have had the pleasure of watching in Europe so I had to see what all the fuss was about!

The track laid out for Round 1 at Mondello park was a super fast run with lots of transitions and outer clipping zones. It would push both the cars and drivers to their limits.

The only two overseas drivers competing were Essex’s own Steve ‘Baggsy’ Biagioni in his new twin turbo V6 powered PS13 and Australia’s Mitch Larner who had his 900hp V8 shipped over from Australia and built a PS13 around it the week before the competition!

The rest of the field were Irish and every single driver in the top 16 was driving a Nissan S-body of some variety. There were no Skylines, no Toyotas, no BMWs just Nissan S-bodies. It’s crazy how such a niche line up of cars when they were released became such a amazing platforms to build these mad drift cars on.

line up

Top 16

Jack Shanahan vs Chris Burnett

BDC Champion 17 year old Jack Shanahan would be piloting his West Lake Tyres/Shanahan car sales Nissan S14 against Chris Burnett in his S13.

Jack Shanahan vs Chris Burnett 2

Shanahan would be the first to lead and had a 250-300bhp power advantage over Burnett which allowed him to pull away with ease.   Burnett peddled his car hard to try to keep up but overcooked one corner, dropping his rear wheel into the dirt and pulling his rear bumper away from the car giving Shanahan the win.

Steve ‘Baggsy’ Biagioni vs Peden Nielsen

Sadly the first battle was cut short as Baggsy’s car shut off on track. He called 5 minutes to get the car fixed which he was able to do but the car certainly wasn’t right in the second run and Nielsen would head through to the top 8.

Shane O’Sullivan vs Paul Conlan

Shane would lead first and made a fantastic qualifying run. Conlan was on his door through the first half of the track but an over-rotation saw him lose ground and the battle.

Mark McBurney v Conor Shanahan

This battle I found a little confusing. McBurney had an amazing lead run and Shanahan held good proximity but lacked angle in places. I thought the advantage went to Burney in the first battle but the judges gave Shanahan the advantage. Apparently with the way they judge battles advantage can often go to the chase car.

Either way 13 year old Conor Shanahan won his spot in the great 8 easily with a great lead run that McBurney could not keep up with.

Tomas Kiely v Nigel Colfer

Another 17 year old, Tomas Kiely would go up against veteran drifter Nigel Colfer.

The first battle was a dead heat. Both drivers put down perfect runs and could not be separated. The only differing factor in the second run was that Colfer ran wide of the qualification line in one of the corners.

Anthony Galvin v Barry Leonard

A close first run with both drivers making small mistakes. Sadly Leonard’s car cuts out after the first run and despite the 5 minute rule being called he was unable to get it going again.

Mitch Larner v Gary Dunne

With 900hp Larner pulled away easily from Dunne in the first run and took a small advantage. The tables were turned in the second run though as Larner runs wide and goes off course. It was quite spectacular, Larner was able to hold his drift sliding around the outside of the corner with his rear wheels throwing up a huge cloud of dirt behind him.

Ryan Caldwell vs Brian Egan

Egan was trying to maintain a super close proximity throughout the course but got a little too close to Caldwell in one corner and punted him off line. Both maintained their drift (despite Egan’s front bumper being dragged along under the front wheels). The contact meant Caldwell had the clear advantage though and he put in a safe, conservative chase run to secure his victory.

Brian Egan vs Ryan Caldwell 2Brian Egan vs Ryan Caldwell

Top 8

  Jack Shanahan vs Peden Nielsen

Jack had an amazing lead run and would have taken the advantage over Nielsen straight away if Jack’s rear window hadn’t somehow managed to fall out and right into the path of Nielsen’s car!

With the first battle determined to be equal Jack knew he had to put the pressure on and really was able to plant his door on Peden’s door the whole way around the track scoring him the victory.

Conor Shanahan vs Paul Conlan

Determined to meet his brother in the final Conor Shanahan simply sailed through his battle against Conlan. Several car lengths separated the two when Shanahan was leading and none separated them when Shanahan was chasing.

Tomas Kiely vs Anthony Galvin

A mechanical issue that developed on the start line forced Kiely to skip the pace chicane voiding the battle and allowing him to return to the pits. Sadly the issue couldn’t be fixed and Kiely had to retire allowing Galvin through to the semi-final.

Gary Dunne vs Ryan Caldwell

A scrappy set of runs from both drivers unfortunately but but it would be Dunne who would take the victory as Caldwell dropped a wheel off track in both runs.


Jack Shanahan vs Conor Shanahan

The battle that quite frankly everyone wanted to see. The future of Irish drifting; Jack Shanahan and his younger brother Conor Shanahan going head to head. A combined age of 30 it’s crazy how well these two are doing for their age. Or for any age. I’m 7 years Jack’s senior and my last attempt at drifting saw me face first in a wall!

Jack Shanahan v Connor Shanahan

Quite frankly I wouldn’t have wanted to judge this one. I’ve been following drifting for about 8 years now and have seen some incredibly close battles and this was up there with the best of them. The judges saw difference though and awarded Jack the very slight advantage and the win.

Expect very big things from these two boys in the future!

Gary Dunne v Anthony Galvin

Galvin took the advantage in the first run after Dunne struggled to maintain proximity. That advantage was lost in the second run though after Galvin got a little two friendly with one of the clipping point cones. The judges could not decide a winner and we had the first and only one more time run of the day.

Galvin chose to take the chase position. The cars lined up but when the light turned green Galvin stayed where he was as he could not see the light turn green. The marshals called for a restart but Dunne did not know and carried on with the run. It’s a tricky situation as now Dunne has had a practise lap but tyres at this level of competition don’t last long. That extra lap would have had an effect on his grip.

Tensions were high all round as they left the line once more. Both put down impressive runs but it would be Anthony Galvin who would take his spot in the final!


Conor Shanahan vs Gary Dunne

So would we see both Shanahan brothers on the podium at the first round of the Irish Drift Championship? Yes, yes we would. Gary Dunne did nothing wrong but Conor Shanahan is just so fast and aggressive. Phenomenal driving all day from 13 year old Conor.


Anthony Galvin vs Jack Shanahan

It was clear that  both of these drivers were here for the victory. In the first run Galvin was chasing and did not give Shanahan an inch all the way around the track.

Shanahan would return the favour and poured the pressure onto Galvin who cracked and ran really shallow through clip 3. A close battle!

So, our podium consists of Jack Shanahan in 1st, Anthony Galvin in 2nd and Conor Shanahan in 3rd.

Photo credit to IDC

 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

Mindfulness, Meditation and How it Can Help You

It’s certainly no secret that modern life is a stressful thing. We all have deadlines at work or in our studies, drama within our social groups, appointments and meetings to get too not to mention any other internal issues or further stresses that may be placed upon us. Overtime, if not properly dealt with, that stress will build up and can cause various physiological and psychological issues. This is where mindfulness comes in.

Anyone that has ever been on a cognitive behavioural course for anger, depression and stress will have heard of the term mindfulness. For those of you that haven’t mindfulness is the process of being able to evaluate internal and external phenomenon at the present time. To take anger for example, as a person begins to feel angry thinking mindfully will allow them to break down the situation and allow themselves to calm down “Why might this person have done this?” “Does it really matter?” etc etc.

Sometimes it is worth taking the time to really sit back and contemplate all of your stresses and why they are causing you grief to allow you to think about how you are going to handle that situation.

So, the concept of mindfulness and it’s benefits are clear. How does furthering that state of contemplation to actual meditation help? Now, I’m not going to lie this was a requested post and I’ve actually yet to try meditation. Doing the research for this post has got me interested though! It’s proven benefits are outstanding!

From as little as 10 minutes of meditation a day for 30 days, scientists have found that it increases cortical thickness (grey matter) in the Prefrontal Cortex (the section of your brain that handles emotional regulation, planning and problem solving) and the Hippocampus (this part of the brain governs memory and learning). It can also decrease functionality in the Amygdala which is responsible for our fight or flight reactions. So meditation can increase memory, your ability to problem solve and reduce your stress levels.

So how does one meditate? One might think of hippies sitting cross legged on a soft matt in the “quarter lotus” position but it’s really not necessary. The key is the spine needs to be as straight as possible so you can sit on a chair, on the edge of your bed, on the floor whatever is best for you. The spine needs to be straight to combat sleepiness. Obviously if you just stop activity the body’s response is to go sleepy. That’s why you feel so lethargic when you are bored. Now your spine is straight you can set a timer on your phone so you aren’t worrying about the time and you close your eyes. Breath purposefully, calmly and deeply but don’t focus on breathing too much. Let it be natural.

Now here is the important bit. You want to clear your mind. Totally blank whatever train of thought is running by it. Now, the brain wants to be active so after a minute or two you are going to start thinking about something that is going on at work or in your personal life. You have to let these thoughts go. Manually think ‘naa it’s just a thought I don’t need to worry about that now’. Let these thoughts come and go but don’t move from this calm still position in your head. Just focus on the present and allow yourself to be calm.

That’s it! The timer goes off and you carry on with your day. There’s no rituals, no weird hippy stuff, no religion. It’s just a way to clear your mind and be totally involved in the present moment.

Thanks for reading, I hope you give meditation a go! I’m going to commit to it and see how it benefits me over time.  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, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bank Holiday Monday at Arena

I had the opportunity to pop up to Arena Essex for a couple of hours on the afternoon of bank holiday Monday to watch some oval racing. It was the perfect day to go as the classes of cars booked in for the days events really weren’t the sorts of things I would often talk about on this blog. It made a nice change!

Headlining the day were the micro bangers. Micro bangers are a great way of getting into the banger racing scene as the cars used have to have a maximum engine size of 1.4 litres and there are literally hundreds of thousands of small sub 1.4 cheap cars scattered across the UK.

The most common car on the field was the K11 Nissan Micra. A robust, reliable little car on the road of which millions were made. It makes sense that they are so prevalent in this class of racing.

K11 Micras

The Ford KA was also a popular choice. If you’ve ever wondered what a Ford KA looked like with it’s back end pushed up here you go!

KA back 1KA back 2

Car preparation didn’t seem overly extreme in comparison to the ‘unlimited’ class bangers I’ve covered before. The drivers doors are reinforced and smaller squares of metal bridge the gaps between the doors and the frame of the car permanently holding them closed.

K11 Micra door bars

Inside the cars are of course completely stripped. The roll cage is a fairly simple structure that protects the area around the ‘b’ pillar and the centre of the roof from caving in on the driver. These cages fascinate me as they are so different from what we see in other types of racing where the cage protects the whole of the passenger compartment. I suppose it means under heavy impact the car can crumple and take the brunt of the impact whereas a more traditional cage will try to limit that crumpling as much as possible.

K11 Micra cage

In terms of drive train and suspension they are totally standard cars. That means this Formula produces some close, fun racing to watch between similar cars and is a fairly affordable formula if you want to go banger racing.

micro bangers

Of course there were other Formulas in support to allow the bangers time to repair their cars. Here we have a chap with a very technical and precise tool to realign the body work on this Ford KA.

KA hammer

The first of these support Formulas were 2 litre Lightning Rods. These are a little more akin to what you will be used to seeing in this blog.

The cars used in the Lightning Rod class are Ford Sierras and BMW E36s with Ford’s 2.0 Pinto or 2.0 Zetec lump fitted. The Sierra was most definitely the more popular car.

Lightning RodsLightning Rod 3Lightning Rod 2

Yes, the negative camber on the left hand wheels is on purpose.

Lightning Rod 1

Although the cars are very similar the rule book is a little bit more open to head work on these engines than in the other Formula’s ran today. They are a quick quick class and remind me a lot of historic NASCAR when the cars were actually based on a production vehicle.

The other two supporting classes were both junior classes. The first of which is the Ninja Karts. These are for drivers aged 6-11 and are based on a MSA go-kart chassis.

ninja kart 1

They are AMAZING to watch!! They run in a anti-clockwise direction and because the cars are so small the track looks massive so they can really let the karts get up to speed!

karts on track 2karts on track

We need to make a grown up version of these like now please.

The final supporting class was ministox. Again this is another junior heat and is for kids aged 11-15.

ministox 1

I love the idea! sub 1 litre full contact stock cars for kids to learn their craft in and make their way up the 1.3s, 2 litre and even purpose built BriSCA purpose built machines.

Where on earth do you find cheap Mini shells to build into stock cars though? I know millions were built but they have become so collectable and seem to be fetching ridiculous money!

ministox 3

Still, it’s always nice to see Minis racing. I always enjoy seeing them be that in a circuit race, on a oval or rallying. I think they make superb little road cars as well. One is most certainly on my hit list of cars to own.

All in all it was a fun afternoon’s worth of racing. It’s nice to be able to cover some stuff that is a little bit different too! 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

Motegi Racing Super Drift Challenge: Friday Battles

Motegi Super Drift is a one of event at the Long Beach Grand Prix featuring two nights of drifting competition on the Formula Drift course (if you are unaware of the Formula Drift course at Long Beach you can read about it in my write up of FDLB here: ). Drivers will be competing under the lights for $12,500 per night which gives a possible grand prize of $25,000. Many of those competing also compete in Formula Drift Pro and Pro 2.

The following should be a top 16 but only 14 cars were in the first stage of competition Alex Heilbrunn getting a pass into the semi-finals.

Top 14

Kyle Mohan vs Nate Hamilton

First off we have Kyle Mohan in his super wide rotary powered Mazda MX5 battling one of the nicest guys in U.S professional drifting Nate Hamilton.

Hamilton would be the first to lead and put on a sterling ran. Mohan made a couple of small mistakes which gave the advantage to Hamilton.

Nate Hamilton v Kyle Mohan
Nate Hamilton’s S13

Unfortuantely the battle was decided by contact. Mohan used his handbrake to correct an early initiation which slowed him down too much and Hamilton ran into the back of him spinning both cars around. The judges deemed Mohan to be at fault and so Hamilton advances.

Matt Field vs Ryan Litteral

Mistakes from both drivers meant that this battle would go to a one more time. Litteral made a superb lead run but sadly spun on his chase handing Field the victory.

Matt Field v Ryan Litteral 2

Michael Essa vs Justin Pawlak

The first set of battles were clearly in Mike Essa’s favour but a mistake made by Essa at the end of the track meant that the judges decided to see them battle once more.

The two battles in the one more time were much closer. Both drivers made very clean passes but Justin Pawlak was more aggressive and took the victory.

Juha Rintanen vs Jeff Jones

Rintanen won this battle on his chase run as Jeff Jones entered too fast into second clip and had to make a big correction to stop himself from hitting the wall.

Dean Kearney vs Dan Burkett

Kearney put in a set of great runs. Burkett did well and put on a good show but sadly straightened at the final corner.

Dean Kearney v Dan Burkett 2Dean Kearney v Dan Burkett

Great 6

Nate Hamilton vs Matt Field

Hamilton had an amazing lead run until the last corner when he went really wide around the hair pin and clipping point which really threw Matt Field off. Field was able to score himself a victory with two clean and consistent runs.

Juha Rintanen vs Justin Pawlak

Justin Pawlak puts in a fantastic wall to wall first run with his carbon fibre Falken Ford Mustang. Rintanen did well to keep up but came in a little too hot on the final corner making slight contact with the Mustang and taking himself out of competition.

Forrest Wang vs Dean Kearney

  Forrest Wang had an amazing lead run and then simply planted his Get Nuts Lab liveried S14 on the door of Kearney’s Viper scoring him a clean win.

Top 4

Matt Field vs Justin Pawlak

Both drivers had good clean lead runs. Field had better proximity on the chase run and was a better mirror of Pawlak’s lead securing Matt Field the spot in the final.

Forrest Wang vs Alex Heilbrunn

Another close set of battles. Both drivers clearly wanted to take the spot in the final but by judges decision it would be Alex Heilbrunn who would go through.

Since there is no battle for third and fourth place the last spot on the podium would be determined by qualifying position. Forrest Wang qualified higher than Justin Pawlak and therefore takes third place.


Matt Field vs Alex Heilbrunn

As the drivers initiated into the first turn the two cars made fairly heavy contact causing both to spin to a stop. Matt Field uses his 5 minute rule to get the rear suspension on his car sorted out which had been damaged in the impact.

Once the car was sorted and they were lined back up the following battle was close. Matt Field managed to drive around the cars damage to put in a super clean final run scoring him the overall victory.

So in conclusion we have Matt Field in 1st place, Alex Heilbrunn in 2nd and Forrest Wang in 3rd.

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

How to: Replace a Brake Light Switch on a Mercedes W202

A common(ish) fault on W202 C-Classes and W210 E-Classes is the BAS/ASR light appearing on the dashboard. Mine has been coming on and off for a couple of weeks as and when it seems to want to.

There are a number of possible reasons for this but the cheapest and easiest to fix is a faulty brake light switch.

brake light switch 1

The brake light switch actually has two functions and two sets of wires coming away from it. One simply switches the brake lights on and off and the other runs off into the loom to tell the car if there is a fault and to turn the light on. The brake lights on the car work perfectly so I’m hoping that it is just a little fault in that second function.

brake light switch 2

To get to the brake light switch you will have to remove this panel from the the underside of the steering wheel. Most of the screws holding it on are fairly obvious but there are a couple that are hiding.

brake light switch 3

The first one is just behind the parking brake.

brake light switch 4

The second is just behind the bonnet release.

brake light switch 5

You will also have to remove this vent. To remove it turn the plastic screw 90 degrees and give it a pull.

brake light switch 6

With that out of the way the panel should drop down. I’m sure some of you can wiggle it out past the parking brake lever and bonnet release lever but it gave me enough room hanging there.

Behind that column is a bit of a spiders web of wires and stuff. Do you see the grey wire “202 290 07 85”? The brake light switch is just above the thing that that wire plugs into.

brake light switch 7

Literally right above it. You see the black box that the red and black wiring harness is going into? That’s what we need!

brake light switch 8

To remove it just grab hold of the box and turn it 90 degrees clockwise. It will pop out straight away.

brake light switch 9

Now we just have to remove the wires. It is easier to remove the large plug first. It has two wings on either side that need to be pushed in and then give it a good pull. The second will pull out easy enough. Don’t worry about which way around they go as they can only fit one way.

The old and the new!

brake light switch 10

Putting it back together is literally the reversal of removal. Now all there is to do is to start the car, make sure your brake lights are working and make sure the light on the dashboard has gone out!

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

Formula Drift 2017: Long Beach #FormulaDeane

I’ve been a fan of Formula Drift since 2008 and even ventured across the pond to watch a round in Atlanta in 2012. There really isn’t much hype for FD on this side of the Atlantic though. I suppose people tend to focus on the series that are most local to them and so here the majority of people talk about the British Drift Championship, Drift Allstars, King of Europe and the Irish Drift Championship. However, that changed when it was announced that Piotr Wiecek and James Deane would be taking two Worthouse liveried 2JZ S15s over to compete in.

James Deane is a bit of a sensation here. He has been competing/dominating and judging numerous competitions across Europe and the Middle East. For the past few years it has been a commonly held belief that if he got another shot at Formula Drift that he would do well so when it was announced that he was competing it sparked a new interest in the American series.

For the past 12 years the Formula Drift season has begun on corners 9, 10 and 11 of the street circuit used for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. The course is a brutal corridor flanked on either side by high concrete walls and no run offs, the only protection comes for the tyre walls put in place at the ends of the actual corners to dampen the impact of the circuit racing cars in the following weekend’s racing.

To begin with the cars leave the start line and head down the left hand side of the straight before initiating into a right hand 90 degree corner. The trick here seems to be to take the racing line, sweeping the front of the car against the apex of the corner to be thrown out towards the first of the concrete walls. This wall is called a touch and go, the closer you can get the rear of your car to that wall the higher the judges will mark you but it is not as vital as a regular clipping point.

One the cars have brushed that wall they will transition underneath a footbridge and swing the car around to the first outer clipping point which is at the end of a concrete wall. In times past Cal Club Flag Marshall Bil Baldwin would stand by that clipping point. The cars would literally pass inches from his face.

This brings us to outer clip two which is in the centre of a long sweeping left hand turn. Once the cars come out of this turn they swing back towards the wall on the other side to get the second rear touch and go and into the final hairpin turn with the Black Magic inner clipping point.

In qualifying the drivers get two runs and their top score counts. Our chap Deane did well qualifying second with a score of 96 out of a possible 100. Equal in points to Formula Drift veteran Ryan Tuerck and only one point behind Vaughn Gittin Jr. If you get a chance to watch FD this season be sure to check out Vaughn’s Mustang. The suspension is surprisingly soft; it squats and dives it’s way around the course.

Vaughn Gittin Jr

Deane’s high qualification meant he was able to bypass the first bracket of battles (top 32) as only 30 cars attended. His first battle would be against 2013 champion Michael Essa.

Deane v Essa

Since he was the higher qualifier Deane would lead first.  Deane would tag the first clipping point just after the bridge with the rear of his car pulling the rear bumper off and right hand rear light out. He had to make a small correction but was not deterred as he smoked his way through the rest of the course. Essa was planted on his door throughout the course but came in a little too strong into the final hairpin and had to spin to avoid contact with the chase car. It was this mistake that would be the ultimate decider in the battle and saw James through to the top 8.

The next battle would be against 2016 champion and Drift Alliance driver Chris Forsberg. Forsberg has been competing in FD since day 1 in 2004 and has grown with the series. He is also defending champion so will certainly not go easy on Deane.

Deane v Forsberg
*note the “Can u show this on stream pls?” Tweet at the bottom. Congratulations YourPhilippinoSalad your dreams have come true!*

Neither driver made any mistakes as such but Deane was clearly dominant. How chase run was simply wall to wall and exactly what the judges were looking for. Forsberg was able to keep up without issue but was certainly not as close to the walls. When the roles reversed Deane was able to mirror Forsberg’s line perfectly to take the victory.

The next battle would be in the semi-finals and against another Drift Alliance driver who has been there since nearly the beginning Ryan Tuerck.

Deane v Tuerck 2

Deane simply repeated his performance with Forsberg. A fantastic chase run hitting the line perfectly followed by a exact mirroring run.

The final would be between James Deane and Alex Heilbrunn. Heilbrunn is the U.S’s version of Danny Grundy. He has worked his way up through a Pro-Am program into Pro 2 and is now playing against the Pros. In my eyes Heilbrunn was one of the most consistent drivers of the weekend and thoroughly deserved his spot in the final.

Deane v Heilbrunn

The battle that ensued was one of those battles that from my perspective is just impossible to judge. Both ran fantastic lines on their lead runs, both had good proximity in the chase and both mirrored each other well.  I was surprised it didn’t go to a one more time but the judges found an advantage in Deane and so he took the win!

So in conclusion it was FD rookie James Deane who took the win with Alex Heilbrunn second and Ryan Tuerck third. A good start to the season for Deane but there are many new tracks ahead of him each with many battles to be fought.

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 2

5:58… 5:59… “6PM it’s time to go!” I declared launching myself out of the front doors at work! Nothing quite makes a shift go as slowly as knowing that you are going drifting that evening but I had made it through! One quick pit stop at the Burger King on the estate for some edible cardboard and I would finally be on my way up to Arena Essex (in person) for the first time this year!

By the time I had arrived I had missed the start of qualifying. For those of you that have never been to Arena Essex it is an oval track set into a gravel/soil bowl with catch fencing running around the length of the track. It’s an awesome venue from which to spectate any of the events that take place there as you are naturally quite a bit higher than the track and can see the full length of the oval. I find it a difficult place to get good photos though due to that catch fence (Note to self: I must ask about a media pass). Some photos come out passable though.


With the technical difficulties in mind and due to their only being a few cars on the centre of the track I thought I would pop down to the pits to see who else was about.

My first find was Team MAPT. Team MAPT are in my eyes the most professional team at King of the Ring. They not only can all drive well but they all have matching liveries, a line of merchandise and so forth. They bring a lot to King of the Ring and are great for the series. It was great to catch up with Paul and to finally meet a couple of the other team members like Mark Chapman.




Darrel Smith was also out to play with his E46 touring. It doesn’t normally sit like this. Darrel was currently jacking the rear up to change the tyres. I just couldn’t miss the opportunity to get a shot of the car.


James Fiddimore’s freshly cleaned drift car was sitting in the pits. Haven’t seen this car at Arena for a long time!


I then thought I’d have a little wander up to the gate and the ambulance to see if I could take some photos from around that area. Thankfully all the King of the Ring staff know me and said that I could if I didn’t stray too far ahead of the ambulance. Not having the catch fencing in the way made life so much easier (Note to self 2: Really must ask about a media pass)

Under the sunset Arena can look pretty dramatic. Check Johnny Smith’s E36 kicking up the water!


Martin Cheeseman was certainly not afraid of using his new car in anger! Run that wall!


The little Panda in his window was looking surprisingly calm and collected considering just how close he had come to that armco.


Chris Taylor’s car was also look great! It’s always nice to see something Jap at Arena.


For the first time in ages I also took a proper look around the show and shine area. This is typically just in front of main club house/cafe/shops area overlooking the track but now extended to behind that building in a car park near the ambulance/practise day entrance.

All the show cars were there to compete for Autoglym prizes. Now, I know a lot of my readers are into classic Mercs and everyone knows how awesome Autoglym stuff is. I want to see some of you London based chaps turn up in your classics! Once it’s painted and if I can get the day off of work my W202 Designo will certainly be entered!

Mazda’s FD3S RX7 is such a timeless car. Over 20 years old and still looks futuristic.


There were a couple of other young timer classics on show including this E30 BMW and a Nissan Sunny.


This photo was taken a little later, as you can tell from the lighting, but this Mk2 Mondeo ST stood out to me. In was a really clean and original example! If the owner keeps it in that condition I can see it being a good investment for him/her!


The Proper Droppers sound off competition was also in attendance. Audio isn’t really something I’ve covered at all in this blog so I will try to do a little feature on that next round. A little audio project could produce some good DIY threads. E36 drift car with a sub? #weightreductionbro

I digress though, with qualifying all done this little huddle of people would suggest that top 32 is about to be announced.


“Hear ye! Hear ye!” called medieval town crier Baggsy from his plinth of concrete. “Qualifying in third placeth is Squire Darrel Smith of the parish of Hockley upon his white German steed”


You can tell we’ve gone back to 1194 as I appear to have taken this picture with a potato. Anyway, back to 2017 and we are heading to our top 16.

(Note: There was a top 32 but if I include that this post would be insanely long! Darrel broke a drive shaft pulling away from the line and there were a few close battles. Most of the regulars made it through)

Top 16

Martin Cheeseman vs Rhys Gamble

Two regulars at King of he Ring, Mr Martin Cheeseman has reshelled his compact into the bright orange Garage Pandas saloon pictured a little way above us. Unfortunately the new car took a bit of a bump as Cheeseman slid nose first into the wall exiting the first corner. The impact was enough to knock the car out of action and give Gamble an easy win. Ron Rasburn from Essex Transit Specialists quickly moves the damaged car off track with his trusty Transit recovery truck so we can carry on with the battles.

Johnny Smith vs Joe Smith

Johnny Smith is one of my favourite chase drivers to watch at King of the Ring. He is super aggressive and always manages to maintain a great proximity to the lead car. His battle against Joe Smith was no exception. Joe also put in a good chase run but Johnny certainly held the advantage.

Dan Tyler vs Brett Beland

Brett’s regular drift car is a 500hp Nissan Laurel which is a fair bit different to the little E36 saloon he was driving at KOTR. He has taken the Laurel around Arena on multiple occasions which shows he is either braver or a lot richer than I am but with the tiny distances the drivers get to within one another in competition and the very narrow distances between the front clips and that solid armco it makes sense to leave the Laurel at home for competition and bring something that has more readily available lights, panels, radiators and shells.

His opponent Dan Tyler was super familiar with his car however and it showed when the two did battle. An easy win for Dan but with a bit more seat time I’m sure Brett will master the little E36.

Jamie Cheeseman vs Alistair Sutton

2016 KOTR Champion Alistair Sutton ran rings around Jamie Cheeseman. Sutton’s car is incredibly quick and he is a good driver. Catching him is going to take something quite spectacular!

Mark Chapman vs Chris Taylor

Chris would lead first and Mark really hammered his E36 in order to keep up with the Skyline engined Nissan S-Body.  Unfortunately he went a little too hard and spun. Chris played the tactical game when the roles swapped and put in a safe, conservative chase run scoring him the win and a spot in the top 8.

Jon Hudd vs Peter Spinks

MAPT Motorsport’s Jon Hudd scored a victory over Peter Spinks in the Skid Row liveried car. Nothing overly dramatic, Hudd held the slightly better proximity in his chase run.

Paul Parnell vs Matthew Ladds

The first battle was fairly conventional. Ladds ran a good line and Parnell mirrored him nicely. In his lead run however Parnell ran a fair way astray from the qualifying line giving Ladds the advantage and the overall win. Maybe one for Paul to watch on the livestream footage.

Bradley Cousins vs Nerijus Voliukevicius

Two of the best looking cars on the grid in my opinion. Bradley Cousin’s wide arched E36 and Nerijus’ black and yellow R33 Skyline. With the prices of late 80’s and early 90’s rear wheel drive Japanese cars skyrocketing it’s nice to see chaps like Nerijus and Chris bringing them out to play at events like this. Even the most horrid, rustiest of shells are being brought up by national level comp drivers and people building street cars (hopefully some concourse restorations too. They were cool from the factory and are deserving of classic car status in my opinion).

Nerijus seemed to be struggling with an engine issue that meant the Nissan couldn’t seem to use the full extent of it’s power giving Bradley a huge lead in his first run. An experienced chase driver, Bradley also had no trouble staying on the door of the slower wounded car.

Top 8

Rhys Gamble vs Johnny Smith

Both had a clean first run but in the chase run Rhys made very slight contact with Johnny causing a spin. It was very gentle and it was difficult to tell whether it was Johnny who span of his own accord or if Rhys made contact and knocked him off line. Rhys let Johnny continue his lead run and at the end said it was him that made contact. It’s a good bit of sportsmanship to be honest like that when it was fairly unclear whether he had made contact or not. Fair play to Rhys. It’s stuff like that that makes KOTR such a great competition.

Alistair Sutton and Dan Tyler

Dan Tyler and Alistair Sutton are two of the best drivers at King of the Ring and quite frankly this could have been a battle for the final.  Both had awesome runs and it’s not one I would have liked to have judged. The judges gave Alistair the win though as he was slightly more aggressive on both runs.

Jon Hudd vs Chris Taylor

Jon gave a chase run but Chris really stepped up the game and planted his S13 on the E36’s door the entire way around the track giving Chris the win.

Bradley Cousins vs Matthew Ladds

As per usual Bradley put in an amazing chase run and then had the clear speed advantage over Matthew  who was having to sacrifice getting close to the clips in order to keep up.


Johnny Smith vs Alistair Sutton

Johnny Smith appeared to be suffering from engine issues and the car was not properly getting power down. This gave Alistair Sutton an easy pass into the final.

Bradley Cousins vs Chris Taylor

The first set of battles were simply too close to call and we had one of the first one more times of the evening. The pressure got to Bradley though who unfortunately spun and took himself out of the competition.


Johnny Smith vs Bradley Cousins

Johnny Smith was the first to lead and Bradley Cousins would give chase. Mr Cousins was absolutely on Johnny’s door and Johnny simply could not reciprocate the proximity.


Alistair Sutton vs Chris Taylor

As one would expect from two top rate drivers this battle was insanely close! Again, not one I would have liked to have judged and even having watched it a couple of times not one I can say “Ah that’s the differing factor”. The judges found a difference though and we have our winner!

So, Mr Alistair Sutton took first place along with his £300. Chris Topher took second and £200 and Bradley Cousins took third place and £100. All three prize winners also got to take home a set of brand new Westlake Tyres in any size they liked! An awesome prize from KOTR’s new sponsor.


A big thank you for reading and a pat on the back from me if you got this far haha! I would like to say a big thank you to all of the King of the Ring staff for making this happen from Ron, Dal, Jodie and Simon on the ground to Mark Lappage and the commentary team and Steve and Adam and Terry for organising such a wonderful event and of course for Arena Essex for having us. You are all doing an amazing job and I’m proud to see the progress that drifting in Essex is making.

If you would like to please subscribe to this blog or please follow me at one of the following locations to get blog posts as they come in. Many thanks!

Twitter: @Garage_RFrancis
Instagram: @motorsport4mentalhealth


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Contentment in Recovery.

I don’t know about you guys but when I first started this recovery thing back in 2013 I had a set of goals in my head that I wanted to achieve before I could say I was recovered. These goals weren’t a set of numbers; target weight per say or target calories but a list of things I wanted to find the confidence to be able to do or in some cases do again.

Most of my problems and subsequent goals were food related. I’m not good at eating new foods, foods not prepared by someone I know, not eating at a set time and I used to fear people judging me whilst I eat which meant social eating was well out of the question.

To some extent I’ve hit those goals. I’m happy to go to a fast food restaurant on my way to or from a motorsport event. I can also eat in a crowded area and don’t feel judged. The quality of food I set out to try isn’t there though. I’m still mostly eating rubbish. I can also eat in a crowded area if the other people are busy doing there own thing. I still get uneasy if people look at me which will make going out to dinner with friends or taking that pretty girl out to dinner an impossible task.

The problem I have is that I’ve progressed so far into my goals that I can do the things I want to do. I’ve battled back my problems with food enough for it to not hinder me going racing which is what is most important to me and eat enough to make the heavier aspects of my job not a problem. The social aspect of eating is still a far away goal which I seem to have no strive to achieve. I’ve become content with my recovery and am no longer pushing my boundaries.

Can we really call such contentment recovery though? At the end of the day I’m still not doing things that other normal people can do without thinking about and my diet certainly isn’t as varied and balanced as a normal 20 something year old’s should be.

Does anyone ever feel the same? In any area of life? That although they have not achieved the goals they set out for, they have come far enough and no longer feel the need to push the boundary. How does one overcome such a block?

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, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

BDC Rockingham Pro Competition

I’ve been following BDC since 2008 now. Every year it has gotten better and better. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to make it out to round 1 due to other commitments (work) but there was a huge buzz about the event on the internet so I had to check out the live stream.

Now, from a spectators point of view, BDC this year has just done the most amazing job! The live stream is top quality and having the stream on Facebook means that those of us who were doing other things on the day can go back and watch the action. Having the judges able to explain their decisions to the audience takes out a lot of confusion and the commentary is top notch! The level of cars and driving has once again taken a huge step. There were battles in the top 16 which could have easily been finals. Fantastic showmanship from everyone involved.

The track at Rockingham is an unusual shape but one that works well for close proximity drifting. The cars leave the line nose to tail and the lead car has to go through a chicane to set the pace entering on the straight section leading into the first corner which is a long sweeping 180 degree left hand bend. After the left hand bend the drivers instantly transition into a slightly tighter right handed 180 degree corner and the final corner is a really long 270 degree left hand sweeper which brings us over the line.

Top 16

Simon Perry v Julie Robinson

An unusual facing between Simon Perry in the very advanced, heavily modified R35 GTR and Julie Robinson in her somewhat more basic R32 Skyline.

The power difference between the two cars I would say was the deciding factor in this heat. Julie made no serious mistakes but was unable to match the proximity that Simon was able to provide in his chase run.

Mike Walton v Conor Shanahan

Mike Walton has worked his way up into Pro by taking 2nd in Pro-Am. He was theoretically in a comfortable position against young Conor Shanahan who was driving a S14a borrowed from Johno Hare after his own car was taking by his big brother Jack Shanahan.

Conor didn’t let the new car phase him though. He would chase first and made minor contact with Walton’s car in the last corner giving Walton the advantage. Unfortunately in the second run Walton dropped two wheels off track and sent a cone flying which saw him eliminated from the competition.

Richard Grindrod v Oliver Evans

Oliver Evans, the winner of the Pro-Am class would now begin to eliminate a line of giants in UK drifting. First on the agenda was Richard Grindrod. Richard is a Driftworks sponsored driver in a Chevy LS powered E36 BMW. He was clearly on the back foot against Evans though who dominated both rounds of the battle.

Grindrod v Evans

Jack Shanahan v Tomas Kiely

Jack Shanahan and Tomas Kiely have been driving against each other since they were 10 years old. The two know each other very well and had brought fairly similar cars. The battles the pair produced were some of the most incredible battles I have not only seen in UK drifting but in international drifting too.

The judges could not decide on a winner of the first two runs and I can’t say I can blame them. The pair were absolutely door on door the whole way around the track and then were also door or door all the way around the track in their deciding runs. Really not a battle I would have liked to have judged but somehow they made a decision and Jack Shanahan went through to the top 8.

Jack v Tomas 1Jack v Tomas 2Jack v Tomas 3
Matt Carter v Aurimas Vaskelis

What was promising to be an amazing battle was unfortunately cut short as Vaskelis had to pull off the track with a mechanical issue giving Carter an easy victory.
Martin Richards v Jo Fletcher

Both had an amazing pair of runs but Jo tapped the wall with the back of his car and was sucked in to a crash forcing Richards to spin. Thankfully Richard’s car was unscathed and Fletcher’s car looks as if it only took minor damage.

Huxley v Grundy

I didn’t know who to cheer for in this battle as Danny Grundy is a local driver to me and has worked his way up from King of the Ring which is amazing but I really, really, really love the little ’70’s Celica that belongs to Huxley.

Grundy v Huxley

The first run which saw Mr Grundy give chase was a dead tie. The judges couldn’t give an advantage either way. The nerves then set in for Danny who missed the starting chicane voiding the run. They drove back round to the start and set off once more. This time Huxley was able to take the advantage and the win after a couple of small mistakes from Grundy.

Grundy v Huxley 2

Wesley Keating v Matt Stevenson

The first set of battles were dead even so we went to one more run. Of the two Stevenson was definitely the more aggressive. He had more angle and seemed to have a little more flair. The judges kept their level judging heads though and stated that Stevenson did over rotate and did drop a tyre off track at clipping point 4. This is why I’m not a judge.

Top 8

Simon Perry v Conor Shanahan

The battle between these two was another incredibly close one that I just wouldn’t want to call. Perry had the better chase run though which put him through to the semi final.

Perry v Shanahan

Oliver Evans v Jack Shanahan

The next giant to be taken out by Oliver Evans was 2016 champion Jack Shanahan. The major deciding factor was a little contact caused by a mistake Shanahan made on his chase run. An incredibly close battle but the underdog takes it and goes through to the semi final.

Matt Carter v Martin Richards

Two 1.5JZ powered R32 Skylines built by two teams that have rivalled each other in the UK for many years. Matt Carter in the Japspeed prepared car and Martin Richards in the Driftworks prepared car.

Carter had the advantage in both battles and took the win. Richards did well but Carter was just amazing that day.

Wesley Keating v Marc Huxley

This battle was sadly cut short as Keating pulled off track with a mechanical issue. He was still smiling though which is what it’s all about.

Top 4

Simon Perry v Oliver Evans

Can BDC veteran Simon Perry and his R35 GTR stop Oliver Evans? Nope! Evans puts down a fantastic chase run and takes the victory and a well earned spot in the final.

Matt Carter v Marc Huxley

The SR20DET powered TA20 Celica would face the mighty 1.5JZGTE Japspeed prepared R32 Skyline. Huxley did well to keep up in the Celica but Carter is an awesome chase driver and is not put off by the power variation at all allowing him to take the win.


Marc Huxley v Simon Perry

In all my years I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more unequal pairing. A 1970’s Celica against a R35 GTR.

Perry v Huxley 3

Both drivers put down spectacular runs but it was Huxley that came out on top. It’s amazing that Huxley can get that little car so far into the competition against much more modern chassis’ with more aftermarket support and double the power. Drifting is really a wonderful thing.


Oliver Evans v Matt Carter

Oliver Evans, the man who dominated Pro-Am has just worked his way into the final of Pro against Matt Carter, an experienced driver in a serious machine. It was a close battle, both drivers gave it their all and more. One small mistake would separate the winner and loser though. One tiny correction. It was Evans that made that correction. Matt Carter would take the crown.

Carter v Evans 2Carter v Evans

So our final results are:

4th- Simon Perry
3rd- Marc Huxley
2nd- Oliver Evans
1st- Matt Carter

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

BDC Rockingham: Drift Games

The British Drift Championship has undergone a huge transformation this year and one of the changes has been the introduction of Drift Games.

Drift Games is a set of fan decided challenges that the drivers can partake in. The challenges include 360 entry where the cars have to spin 360 degrees on initiation, drift limbo where the cars have to drift through a gap that gets smaller and smaller every run, freestyle drift where the drivers just get to go nuts and put on a show for the crowd and many more.

The game the fans voted for at Rockingham was backwards entry. In this game drivers would have to throw their car into the corner as backwards as humanly possible then maintain their drift around the corner to win.

The course set up for this was somewhat akin to a horseshoe. The drivers would come off of the start line up a stretch of straight track and the initiate into a long left hand turn. In the actual competition this corner would then transition into a right hand 90 degree bend but the drivers could cut throttle at that point and cruise back to the start finish line.

Many came to tackle the challenge but few succeeded. I would imagine that in the car going nearly flat out into a corner backwards is quite a daunting experience haha! The run off’s weren’t particularly massive at Rockingham so a mistake could be very costly!

Local (to me) driver and crowd favourite Danny Grundy found out just how daunting this challenge could be. He was super aggressive on entry and managed to get the car past the magic 90 degrees mark but was carrying far too much speed and nearly under-steered into the wall! Lightning fast reaction managed to keep that orange S14 out of trouble though and he was able to kick the back back out and spin the car to a stop in a big cloud of smoke.


The Japspeed chaps; Paul Smith, Shane Lynch and Matt Carter also had a good go. Matt Carter managed to get the best angle on his first run but came off the track which landed him a low score.


Paul Smith had what would have been an awesome qualifying run but the initiation was just under 90 degrees.


Shane Lynch in the sharpie art 370Z also went in with huge angle but the car snapped back around and he very nearly under-steered into the tyre wall.


Man of the moment though was Marc Huxley in his old school Celica. He put down two amazing runs which scored him two 26’s out of possible 30’s. You can see from this screen grab just how huge the angle of his initiations were.


Great, great fun! I’ve yet to fully catch up with the rest of the competition from Rockingham but BDC this year is going to be amazing! The quality of the live stream is superb, from what I have watched there has been no particularly long down times and it just feels like a truly professionally run championship. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the season!

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