This is the first of which will hopefully be a regular Q&A feature with with a variety of autograss stars. To start off with we get some words of wisdom from Simon Farrar, the star in a Chevy V8 engined Nissan Micra. In part 1, we look at Simon’s racing.
Introducing Simon Farrar
Years racing in autograss 10 years on and off since I was 14
1st autograss car was…. A Class 1 Mini
Proudest moment in autograss was….finishing 3rd in my first year racing class 3 BAS 2016
Most embarrassing moment in autograss was…. running out of fuel whilst leading in CGTRO grand final after lapping most of the field in my class 10. Also, rolling same class 10 at start of following year and getting told off by the marshals for just racing in my socks. I had made the pedal area a little tight for my size 11 feet during my modifications!
On a scale of one 1-10, what is your mechanical nous like (1 being I just drive, 10 being I do everything) Around a five. I know how to change oil and plugs once a year.
On a scale of one 1-10 how would you rate yourself as racing driver (1 being rookie, 10 being best in class) Probably a four. I’m all right foot and no brain!
What racing driver (outside of autograss) gets you jumping around like a true fan? Daniel Ricciardo, talented young driver and the only person who braved the rain for us poor fans during testing two years ago. Mad like me. Oh and any rally driver, balls of steel those blokes!
On track with Simon
What inspired you to race in autograss? Playing in a scrapyard as a 10 year old kid and then helping to build my Dad’s MK1 Escort class 3 back in ’86 when he returned to the sport. Loved the racing on the old showground track and got to help (and drive) the wrecker truck.
Thinking back to that first meeting, did anything over overawe you, surprise you or could you just not stop smiling? The first few meetings were amazing, I had never seen so many race cars and the noise of the old Rover V8’s in class 7 back then was awesome for a young lad to hear. The surprise was how many times my Dad could roll that class 3 Escort in one meeting! We soon had to stiffen the suspension up.
Knowing what you know now, would you do anything differently on that first day? Write to NASA and get them to bring forward the date at when 12 year olds could start in Juniors!!
Lots of people when talking about NASCAR think going around in circles is easy and an oval is an oval. How does a Blyton differ from a Caenby Corner to a York etc.? It is quite surprising how no track is the same, whether it is down to size, surface or the type of corner each track has. Even the changes in track conditions throughout the days racing will differ between tracks. Some polish within a few races others will stay loose all meeting (my preferred tracks).
Do you alter anything in your driving or the car from track to track? Yes, I often put on clean underwear! To be honest I think I over played with the car last year. If the small changes that have been made over winter are right then I will only need to make very simple changes for opposing condition/tracks this year. The more simple you can keep the car, the easier it is for me to understand.
As a Lincolnshire lad you are lucky to have several clubs nearby. What made you choose Yorkshire Dales this year? Two reasons. Firstly I am on holiday on Scunthorpe’s qualifier meeting which wasn’t best planned and secondly and it now may help to break my duck when it comes to qualifying. I seem to lose all confidence in myself and the car at qualifying, it may have something to do with the magnetic barriers so I’m hopeful that YD’s barriers are rubber this year.
You can’t really go testing. What things do you do during the season to refine the car, refine your driving or bed new parts in? We (usually) get the one test meeting at Scunthorpe at the beginning of the year which will help with some set up of the car. Following on from that then we use some of the smaller and quieter club meetings to try anything new out. We hope to have everything right and ready for the big meetings of the year
Blyton normally has a testing day at the beginning of the season. What can you hope to achieve on such a day? First and foremost is feeling the car again, it’s surprising actually how long it takes me to get used to driving the car again after a break. Getting as many laps in as possible and then making a few minor tweaks and hoping any winter alterations have worked in your favour.
You get even less time to practice racing in the rain/mud. How do you find racing in the rain/mud with 480bhp and what was the first time like? The first time out in the Micra was at a damp track as it happens, (which was) exhilarating and embarrassing. She worked straight out of the box, all that power and noise and flames. I couldn’t stop smiling, my face hurt. The car was flying and I loved it, even started show boating a little by running sideways out of the bend and as far down the straight as I could. Only I overdid it a little over the finish line and flipped her round into the barrier and one hell of a muddy puddle at Scunthorpe. Oops. Smashed my Dad’s wheels, and started the damage that was to knacker my LSD plates up. All on video for my embarrassment to be seen obviously!
Due to my impatience and heavy right foot I am actually a pretty awful driver in the wet. Border Counties was an amazing track for me but I just made a right hash of it in BAS 2017 and pretty much through any chance of top 4 trophy away.
Class 3 has produced a fair amount of variety on the grid recently, you get to race against your Dad and your driving style is usually pretty sideways. Many plus points but how would you sell it?
Firstly I have to say thanks to Chris Allanson and his stubbornness to not listen to people and just do what he does best, make things work. When he decided he was going to build a class 3 Chevy after taking my Dad’s Swift out I just knew I had to have one, so he built them side by side. Since that first season we have changed people’s perceptions of class 3. The class had become a bit stale with cars following each other and very little of the sideways action that it used to have years ago. The noise, the flames and the old skool sideways driving put a bit of excitement back in the class. Winning was a huge bonus for me but driving that car is exciting win or lose.
Now people are wanting to watch class 3 racing again, it has become very competitive, fast and the drivers are all friendly with some great rivalries out there. I think I have counted probably 15 V8 class 3’s that will be lining up this year along with many new cars and some re-vamped and improved old cars. This is going to be a very exciting and close so I can’t wait to get stuck in the middle of it all.
Racing with my Dad has been fun but with him having a new Micra V8 this season as well I can see some very enjoyable racing for us ahead and maybe I might even let him beat me occasionally. His driving style is a little more brain led than my right foot led style so I’m interested to see how this fairs with similar cars.
Your V8 Nissan Micra has sported many different liveries. What is the idea behind this? I like to be the centre of attention, strange for someone so shy as a rule. The new livery this year is much more reserved.
What is your aim for 2018? Blue sky thinking?? Lift the nationals trophy on the stunning Tenby track, beat Mr Gould enough times to also take the BAS 3 crown and learn how to drive on a polished track (although it involves slowing down and I struggle with that). Seriously as nice as it would be to win a major title, my main aim is to go and have drinks with some great friends in the bar, race against them in some bloody fast, furious and clean races, go home with a massive smile on my face and repeat most weekends of the season. The social side of our sport is as enjoyable as the racing and it’s great to be a part of.
Coming later this week we will find out Simon’s advice for rookie drivers and what he would do if was in charge.