Grassroots Motorsport – “I got Family” - Written for CarWitter

by Lewis Warren on May 16, 2023

Grassroots Motorsport – “I got Family”

Written for CarWitter

Recently I received a text from a good mate of mine saying “Im heading over to Silverstone to spanner for an Enduro KA team, fancy coming along and being part of the family?”

For those who haven’t heard of Enduro KA, it’s what it says on the tin, Endurance Racing in Ford Ka’s, this particular race being 5 hours and consisting of 40+ cars. 5 hours isn’t exactly a weekend though I hear the picky reader say. Well that’s because this particular team also ran two cars within a clubman series, two fiestas in this case. Keeping it in the Ford family, and grassroots motorsport all the same.

I was to spend my weekend with the guys at NJM Racing, hanging around the pits, getting some action shots, and generally just being with a team as they do what they do, sharing in the highs and the lows associated.

This weekend had plenty of both. On Saturday the blue Mk4 Fiesta had an issue with a camshaft sensor and wouldn’t start, and here’s where the family spirit first shone through. Within around 15 minutes a sensor magically appeared, and even though Eurocarparts are quick, they’re not that quick.

What had occurred was one of the team had spotted a mk4 Fiesta in the paddock and wandered over to the owner who was there with another team, asked if they could borrow the sensor for the race, and in the true sense of sportsmanship returned with the sensor, which was promptly put in the car and off it went, back out onto the track. At the top levels of motorsport this would have been much less likely to happen, with every team fighting tooth and nail to have an advantage, with espionage even being involved (quite famously so, and caught out thanks to an F1 fan working in a photocopy shop).

The whole team stayed over at the track for the full weekend, some chucking a sleeping bag and pillows in the back of their estate cars, my friends bringing down their 70’s Merc Camper and sleeping in luxury by comparison. Saturday night was spent around the pits, BBQ on the go and a beer in hand, sharing stories, making jokes, and as would be expected, playing pranks on the apprentice.

A trial by fire that comes from a place of love and endearment. There’s a certain amount of bonding that happens from a small amount of harmless initiation, if you go through it like everyone else has had to, and keep your skin thick, you’ve earned the trust and respect of the team.

During the KA Enduro Race it was all hands on deck, with everyone capable of helping being involved, from the 16-year-old garage apprentice charged with moving tyres and keeping things tidy. Usually sweeping the gravel out the way from cars that had been over-exuberant and gone a little off-piste. Right up to Nick and Jamie, the guys running the show, constantly buzzing from pit wall to race truck, managing a hive of activity for the full 5 hours, these guys were working hard and getting stuck in wherever it was needed. One big family making sure things kept moving.

The camaraderie and passion these guys had was palpable. Each driver change was met with cheers and applause and every unexpected twist hit everyone. From the small things like a boot latch failing, to one car having to be recovered back to the pits. We we’re all emotionally invested.

At the end of two full days of running cars, fixing broken pieces, bending panels back into shape, and poking fun at each other wherever possible, everyone was shattered, but buzzing.

The racing became somewhat less of my focus by the end, it was engrossing to watch the team all working hard to keep these plucky little cars going, every up and down was felt by everyone, from the people working in the team, to the friends and families that had come to support and cheer on the drivers. It was, as I was told it would be, a family.