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Talking to Tim


307 Tim Warwick on the grid at the 29 March meeting

You may be in for a surprise when the BriSCA Formula One Stock Cars emerge from the pits for the first time this evening. Leading them round as pole-sitter for the annual White & Yellow Grade Series Final will be perennial grafter 307 Tim Warwick. That itself should not come as a shock, for the ever-popular Bedford-based racer usually goes well in the opening event of F1 meetings here at the Norfolk Arena, including taking a win in June last year. But his mount may cause the odd double-take around the terraces. Gone is the venerable machine that had served him for virtually a quarter of a century. In its place is an altogether more modern motor, albeit still a little long in the tooth. But do not fear, it will still look unique and be campaigned by the man himself in his own inimitable style.

Warwick explained: “The powers that be were looking to get my old car condemned because of its age and everything; and we had a few 'pink tickets' last year for bits falling off it. It would have been 25 years old this season. Although I never heard anything officially, the car was being discussed at Management Board meetings and I think [promoters] Steve Rees and Paul Butler sort of stepped in to make sure I could see the season out. Like I say, I never heard anything officially, but that's what was going on. I think the scrutineers and what have you were looking to get the thing banned.”

Thankfully, from appearing to have the end of his long career staring him full in the face, the story then took a much more positive turn for Warwick. His entertaining style and commitment inevitably led to consternation amongst his many supporters at the thought of the 307-machine and its driver being forced out of the sport they have graced for so long. They rallied round to make sure that eventuality never became a reality. Now their beneficiary is the proud owner of a car built by a former world champion.

“Some old boys from up north got wind of it,” said Warwick. “The first I knew of it was at the end of last season – I had a phone call saying that there were a few people trying to chip in. They were trying to raise £2000/£2500 to buy me a rolling chassis, and take the engine out the old car and drop it in. That was the plan. Well, it turned out that we've ended up with this old Pete Falding-built car which came at the right price but it included the engine.”

The hard graft then began, in order to learn about the car and prepare it for an off-season debut, which was effectively a glorified test session. After the simple nature of his former machine, there is much to learn about the mechanics of the new one, as well as ensuring that it too does not fall foul of the scrutineers.

Said Warwick: “We had a fair bit of work to do on it to get it ready for Coventry on Boxing Day because of the new regulations for floors and firewalls and stuff. We had a go in it on Boxing Day but the conditions weren't ideal so it probably didn't teach us a lot. Actually, we've just put it on a set of scales and found out that it was set up for tarmac, basically. It was all set up wrong, so we've just spent all morning playing around with it, trying to get it set for King's Lynn.

“This car's not 'new' new [although] it's not actually done a lot,” he continued. “I think Pete Falding built it in 1999 so it's still quite an old car, but it is on coil-overs and everything which is all new technology to me. I've learned a bit this morning, playing around with it. We've got it scaled up and hopefully we've got another eye-catching paint-job so you'll still know it's me out there! It's nothing like we had before but I think it'll stand out.”

Phew! I hear a collective sigh of relief from Warwick's legion of fans at that last statement. We should be seeing the new car, resplendent in its distinctive livery, regularly here at King's Lynn, as well as the sport's other shale venues. But keeping the show on the road will, as ever, have to be done within a tight budget.

“I'd say there's nobody doing it cheaper than us,” admitted Warwick. “Chrissy, my wife, before this came up with this car, she did say that the old car really had had it and I ought to look at getting a newer car. I said to her then that the trouble is, they're all going to be coil-overs and stuff and I said we can't afford to keep on top of it. And that's my only concern with this thing. Although it's been bought for us, I've still got to try and run it on next to nothing.

“All these cost-cutting measures are going to cost me money! I've got a friend who works for a rally firm. They get the tyres off the cars and then bin it and there's nothing wrong with it. So I had a supply of rally tyres that cost me nothing. But because it's rally tyres you can't race them – that might be something else that costs me money.  I've never really got too involved in what's going on [behind the scenes] – I just have to see how it affects me personally. I'm not saying just because it affects me personally it's bad for the sport; it might be good for the sport but bad for me – we'll have to wait and see. Time will tell.

“The other thing is, of course I haven't really got any spares yet. All the spares I've got were for the old car. So it's just really going to be a meeting to meeting kind of thing. I'm going to stick to shale and hopefully get to the King's Lynns and the Coventrys and Stoke – I like Stoke – and the odd Belle Vue, but that is a bit of a trek for us. Until I get used to it, there doesn't seem much point in dragging it all the way up to Belle Vue because it's a three and a half hour journey each way. So until I know what the car's going to do, I don't really want to drag it far. I'll just take it as it comes and just hope for the best, and hope I don't get too much damage.”

Tonight therefore represents the first meeting of 2014 for Warwick. And he'll start it on pole position for the Whites & Yellows Final. He is as modest as ever about his prospects.

“I probably would have rated my chances more in the old car because I knew what that was going to do,” he laughed. “It's going to be a bit of a journey into the unknown. Everyone else seems to have high expectations for me but we'll just have to wait and see. If I get around the first corner, that's a bonus. We'll go from there.

“I have won a few whites & yellows [races] round King's Lynn. What happened last year? I can't remember, I think I ended up about fifth or sixth last year [That was actually 2012 – Tim didn't finish last year's race]. I always seem to start [W&Y Series Finals] up near the front for whatever reason, I don't know why. I think I did win one [W&Y race] last year. I think I got a sixth in the final at Coventry on Boxing Day, driving basically a tarmac car, so now we've got it set to suit the shale a bit more, then hopefully I can start the race feeling a bit more confident.

“I'm not sure who's around me, to be honest. I know you've got one or two like the Scottish lad, Paul Ford, near the back and a few others like Geoff Nickolls, he always goes well round there. I've had one or two good races with Geoff round King's Lynn – he usually gets the better of me, but not always. Every time that we get a win is nice because obviously we're not the quickest car out there, so it's nice when things go our way.”

Looking back, Warwick described how he first switched from the safe side of the fence over 30 years ago, and has now been racing regularly for the last 25 or so.

“I've always been a fan, since I was a kid. I never really had any big ambitions to race – I'm not mechanically minded and didn't have the finance or aptitude or anything. But I had a go in a Wainman hire car back in 1980, I think it was, and it kind of went from there. I had a few goes in the Wainman cars and then had a bit of a break where I got back to watching. Then we bought our own car and that was it. So basically [I've been] a life-long fan of the sport.”

'Mr Entertainer' is looking forward to a few more years of racing and is very grateful for the support that has prevented his career coming to a premature end.

“Well I still enjoy it,” he said. “I know I can't carry on for much longer. I mean I'm not getting any younger, I'm not getting any more talented and I'm definitely not getting any richer...

“The offer came out of the blue. It is nice – I don't know whether it's me, I think it's more the car that had the fan club, the old car. I think now I've got something more modern, I'm going to lose my street cred! It's nice that people have rallied round and thought of us. I can't mention names because one or two of the people want to remain anonymous anyway [but] I would like to say a big public thank you to all the people that have chipped in to keep us on track. They know who they are and we have got one or two thanks on the car. It may have been that if this hadn't happened, that would have finished us. If the old car was condemned, apart from the option of going out in the Heritage meetings, that probably would have finished us. Hopefully we'll get another year or two on track before I hang up the helmet.”

Before that, he's looking forward to the start of another season here at the Norfolk Arena: “I always think that the gang at King's Lynn, they always make you welcome, it's always friendly – it's probably the nicest atmosphere around the tracks. You know, everyone seems pleased to see us and it's just a nice atmosphere and I like coming there, so hopefully I'll be able to enjoy King's Lynn for a few more years.”

And we all hope so too.

Mark Paulson


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img1From the pure adrenaline and Unlimited Power of the F1 Stock Cars to the destruction and crazy antics of the Bangers - you can see it all at the Norfolk Arena! With up to fifty cars in every race, action is guaranteed and here at the Norfolk Arena we encourage “full contact” where spinning and hitting other cars is all part of the racing!

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