Now, most people would go out and buy their first car when they turn 17, say an old micra for 500 quid and call it a day. However. I am not most people, so when i turned 15 my Father and i set out to compete in the NSCC sprints and hillclimb championship. There are many restrictions on car, displacement, and even tyres in motorsport before you have your license, there was but a singular class i could compete in, SB, standard production road cars under 1400cc.
So we began the hunt for a car to use, a Saxo VTR maybe? or something british, like an MG ZR, but no, using our brains (or lack there of) we decided to go around hunting for the highest power to weight ratio for that class that we could find. Eventually, we discovered these forgotten nuggets called the Fiat Panda 100HP, with its little 1368cc 16v and its short lightweight chassis, we had found our perfect machine.
Once we had found our chosen specimen, we got straight on with getting the poor little bugger ready for its years of track abuse to come. We got straight on to doing everything we could, within the allowed rules, Bucket seat, the most aggressive pads we could get our mits on, and changing out the tired rear bump stops, for some stiffer ones, from a fiat coupe turbo. Once we had carried out these remedial works, we set to loading it up onto a trailer, ready for its first test day at blyton park. I didnt know it just yet, but i would one day call this place my home grounds.
The day of my first ever track experience, it was a cold morning, sometime in september, i was just 16 at the time, i had no idea what the M6 was or more importantly, how to drive very well. We got the car on track, and after a morning of hard training, the front tyres were completely cooked. During the lunch break, much panic ensued as we went on our voyage to gainsborough to find some tyres in the weird and wonderful size that fiat chose to equip the little bugger with. After a few short hours passed, once again the Panda returned to the track, now with crap chinese tyres and all, eventually the heavens opened and god threw his wrath of wet weather at the poor little fiat. Against all odds the little bastard pulled through and ran like a trooper all day, not to mention in one day i had gone to never having driven, to a driver that could hold their own on a trackday.
A few weeks later, i had entered my first event, a double header at blyton park. However, i only knew the layout on the sunday, i had no idea what i was doing on the saturday layout, so the nerves set in and i was worried, i had faith in the car but what about me? saturday morning came and after passing scruitinering, i was the first car to take to the track, three other cars in SA lined up behind me, a trio of MGs. After some close fighting all day, trading times throughout, against all odds i had won my first event in it. I was positively ecstatic. I had manged to win an event, against other experienced sprint drivers and before i could even drive on the road no less. I managed to rack up 9 class victories in that car, only coming second in one event in its entire career in sprinting, a proper little rocketship!
Now once i passed my test and got out on the open road, i set out to modify it with the goals of making it more fun and a little bit faster. I began by getting a Ragazzon group N catback fitted by Italia tec near derby (top blokes) i then decided i wanted more power (and noise) so i fitted a gravity performance 4-2-1 decat manifold for the car. Having to fit it on my back in the university carpark was not ideal, after fitting it i decided the noise was unbearable, so i set about making it quieter, while keeping the fun pops and crackles it brought with it.
Once becoming more of a regular at drive-r meets, i set after getting notafab resonated section for the centre to calm it down a bit. after fitting it (just after the clutch decided to die) it gave the exhaust its beautiful and unique sound that is the same to this day, although more mods are in the pipeline (hopefully)