Formula Hot Laps - 160mph Passenger Rides May 26, 2010 11:13:28 GMT
Post by Catriona on May 26, 2010 11:13:28 GMT
by Mike Hogg
(Originally posted 6th July 2004)
Any visitors to Knockhill for the SMRC race day on June the 27th would have seen something new on track during the lunch break, and may have wondered what they were looking at. It was, in fact, a two seater open-wheel car taking a select few officials and marshals around the track on runs of various speeds with reigning Scottish Formula Ford Zetec champion Alan Kirkaldy behind the wheel. So what's the story behind that? Read on to find out about an exciting new concept which you can take part in.
The whole idea is the brainchild of Graham Brunton, who you will know as the boss of Graham Brunton Racing, Scottish Formula Ford Zetec champions in 2002 and 2003. Several track cars have been fitted with passenger seats at Knockhill in the past but never before has something so specialised been seen at the track.
Brunton calls the concept "Formula Hot Laps" and as he told ScottishClubRacing.co.uk last week, it took a lot of thought even to work out what car he would use for the scheme. "I looked at around 15 different variations of cars before opting for this. Things like Radicals, Westfields, modifying existing single seaters, sports cars, but I kept coming back to my original thoughts that I had when I first saw Rockingham's 2 seater 3 years ago at the Champ Car round."
Indeed, the car he is using was specially built by a company called Fabrication Techniques and is based on the two seater used at Rockingham Motor Speedway in Corby. Based on the dimensions of a Formula 3000 car, it has a space frame chassis, Pro Sport 3000 2.9 V6 Cosworth engine and a Hewland FTR 6 speed sequential box which is a step above the Rockingham car in that it has a paddle shift on the steering wheel rather than a standard stick shift. Capable of over 160 miles per hour, the car can go from 0-60 mph in four seconds so is the real deal when it comes to really showing the passenger just what sort of speeds a proper single-seat racing car can do.
So what was the reasoning behind the idea? Brunton explains further. "The concept is about giving someone a drivers eye view of the track at proper speed. I have always been involved with single seaters and from a business point of view it made so much sense as I am Knockhill's longest serving instructor." He also explains what sort of people are coming forward to try the idea. "Customers so far have been really varied, some wanting a flat out run but some people are quite happy to be driven round at a reasonable pace just for the experience, it's a matter of giving them what they want. I take the view that if you put someone in a position they don't want to be then they won't enjoy it. Incidentally the passenger has a panic button which tells the driver to slow down, but nobody has used it yet!"
Even though the car is only a few weeks old, the idea is catching on quickly. Just after the car had its run at Knockhill, Scotland's next big hope in the world of single seater racing, Ryan Sharp, hired the car for a corporate day to thank his sponsors. On the day, he managed a best time of 56.60 seconds with a passenger which compares extremely well with the times of Formula 3 cars at Knockhill! Ryan was very complimentary about the car and felt it was very similar to the car he races in the Formula Renault V6 Championship which supports the FIA GT and Touring Car Championships. Word of mouth is spreading, fliers are being printed and a new website is under construction at www.formulahotlaps.com - this could be a big thing.
So how do you get a go? We'll let Brunton explain how it works. "The car operates at all race school days and is also available for inclusion in corporate days/track days. On a race school day anyone can turn up and it costs £30 for 3 fast laps. It is also being sold as a gift voucher and this is proving very popular." Additionally, if you show up at Graham Brunton Racing's garage area during race weekends etc you will be made to feel very welcome and be allowed to get a good look at the car. The whole thing has been very well put together and with any luck, ScottishClubRacing.co.uk will be running a follow-up article in the near future outlining what it's like to actually be given a ride in the car!
To find out about anything to do with the car and to find out when it will be running at the track, contact Graham Brunton on (tel) 0131 666 1705 or (mobile) 0777 816 9512 and he will be happy to help.