Today was a reasonably early start in order to head down to the Caterham South showroom near Gatwick for 09:00. The seminar is the first official event providing an opportunity for the drivers to meet each other and the Caterham team. We started with coffee and a chance to mingle with the other drivers. I recognized some faces from the facebook group but it was great to actually talk to people. Different colored name tags were used for each for each of the grids (white and green) and you also sat down with your own group for the talks. This was a nice way of getting to know the other 27 drivers will be racing against for the year.
The morning started with introductions from the team, followed by a Q&A session on what was involved and how the year would be structured. After a quick coffee break, we headed back to talk through the ‘other aspects’ of racing. A whole bunch of previous Academy drivers had also kindly made the trip to provide their insights. With a full range of experience (from Academy through to 420r’s – 6 years down the line) this was a nice addition providing some ‘real-‘life’ views. We covered topics such as race insurance (is it worth it?), trailers, test days, car setups, bead seats and driver tuition. Caterham added the seminar based on previous feedback and it is certainly a useful addition to the program. I had heard some of the points before by speaking to Academy drivers previously but this was a great leveler allowing the whole grid to start with a similar amount of knowledge.
We then broke for a very tasty buffet. Caterham had also invited along VBOX Motorsport , Jon from Snappy Racers, and Dave from Demon Tweeks so the lunch break was a good time to browse. I already have a VBOX (they are great, get one), so didnt’t spend much time there. I spent the most time with Dave trying on gear. You can’t really buy helmets or suits without trying them so this was a great chance to confirm sizes. With helmets, I know from the motorbike that different manufacturers suit different head shapes. It is possible to have an Arai shaped head or in my case a Shoei shaped one. Unfortunately Shoei don’t make car helmets so I needed to find a new one. After trying on examples from Arai, Bell and Stilo it felt like an XL Stilo was the one to have.
After lunch there was a bit of a wrap-up of the Q&A sessions and then the self builders stayed on for a bonus session on the IVA process. A key feature of this talk was the timelines of the IVA process. Caterham want cars to be IVA’d and registered in time for the handling day in March. Counting back, this means the IVA needs to be booked by mid January to cater for the worst case scenario. It looks like us builders are going to have a busy Christmas! Fortunately Caterham provide a service to inspect, rectify any IVA issues and then put the car through the inspection. For me, this is a no-brainer as it feels like the IVA process has the potential to cause a whole lot of hassle.
We also got to look at a car Caterham are building. This was really helpful giving us the chance to see how things like wiring and hoses were routed. A key take-away was that you can’t really use too many tie-wraps. Anything that could rub, chafe or catch fire needs to be secured and protected. Hence it was recommended to tie-wrap every 3cm and you must use grommets whenever wires pass through the metal.
Overall a great day and one that has me even more keen for things to get going next year. Just the small matter of a car to build now!
Oh, I also found out my race number for the year – 42! Well racing is surely the answer to most things 🙂