RoToR Racing


2013 was deemed to be a good year for the team. Two Rotors were used in competition and both picked up prizes.  The 30th "Rotor Racing" party was well supported and the booklet describing some of the teams exploits was well received. Where to next was the big question because there are no big Rotor dates this year. The team are getting on and all the travelling was catching up on those involved, so the decision was made to compete closer to home. This meant that the Rotor JT7 Sports 2000 was surplus to requirements as the S2000 championship involves lots of travelling and so was sold. Also gone are the S2 spares and the van and trailer. Another package of equipment was also moved on to make a bit of space in the workshop. Our initial thought was to use another Rotor JT7 ( despite the first car being designed and built in 1994) in sprints and hillclimbs but we passed on that when fate played its hand. We spotted a bike engine package for sale and decided to go for it. A quick measure suggested that it would fit in a JT7 chassis with a bit of fabricating but the Yellow JT7 that was used on the hills did really well but suffered from serious weight distribution problems. This was down to packaging 100kg of dead weight in the driving seat. This was cured on the S2000 car by offsetting the driver mass by placing the radiator, battery, extinguisher etc opposite the driver on the other side of the centre line. It worked well but on the hillclimb/sprint car we could never get it balanced. The upshot was that the team thought it would make sense if we addressed all the issues and built a new car. The decision was made to build a new chassis for 2014. It would incorporate all the ideas gathered during 2013 and would run in sports libre. As is the way with Rotor racing Graham did a quick sketch to show to the rest of the team before finding an old bit of foam block to build the shape of the bodywork.  Initial calculations suggested that it should work so more detailed drawings were done. 

This does not happen very often....................................

Our awards from the
Lowland Speed Championship.

Fate is a strange thing. Graham got a random email telling him what was happening in Scottish Motorsport in 2014. Among the items that caught his eye was the fact that the Scottish BMW Cup was going to stand alone races. Previously they were a class in the Scottish Sports and saloons and in amongst much faster machinery where, to be frank, they were nothing more than mobile chicanes.  The suggestion was that it had taken off and numbers were so high that the Scottish Motor Racing Club had decided to promote a series for those cars.  The cars are BMW E36 318ti Compacts and have been developed by the organisers of the series in England to a standard where costs are kept low but the fun factor is kept high. The whole ethos of the championship is about having fun and this did appeal to Graham and the team.
A quick look on the internet suggested that a standard car could be bought for not much money and that the conversion to race car was quick and easily done. The first car to appear in an ebay search was Dakar yellow in colour (the same as the teams old M3) and was in Scunthorpe. It was soon decided that the car was too expensive and too far away to be a realistic option. Later that week a message arrived from E Bay to say “suggested items for you” and there it was, another Dakar yellow 318ti. When Graham looked it up it was at a much lower price, had 2 hours to the auction ended and was located in Carnwath which is not that far away.  Graham put a bid in and left it at that. It was a Thursday night and the team had assembled at the workshop for the usual work party. The idea was mentioned in passing to those present and the suggestion was that it was a good idea andt would keep us racing while the new Rotor hillclimb car was built. The next morning it was discovered that Rotor Racing were the proud owners of a Dakar yellow compact. Grahams winning bid was £1 higher than the previous bid and so for not much money a donor car had been found.  With 5 weeks to the first round and a big birthday for Graham in the middle of the timescale it was all hands to the pumps. Initially the car did not look to bad but the teams experience with the E30 M3 suggested that all the rubber undercoating had to be removed to makes sure there was no corrosion. Everything was going well until the rubber coating was removed from the last corner and as it came off so did a large section of rusty steel. Not the end of the world and not bad for a 14 year old car. It was soon repaired and the team set about the rest of the strip and rebuild. There was no time to strip it to a bare shell so the team decided to work round the engine and box. All the suspension components were removed and refurbished. The mandatory parts were ordered and the other bits needed sourced.  Things were going well but time was short. Soon parts started arriving and the car was re-assembled. The rollcage was a bit difficult to fit and not the best of designs because it was mounted close to the drivers feet. It was a tight fit but went in after a bit of a struggle due to Safety Devices taking the easy option and supplying only a general fitting guide. The dash has to be cut and this would be easy if a template was supplied but again they failed to supply one. Bit by bit the car started to come together but time was against the team.
Picture Caption

New front strut with rebuilt brakes.

Rollcage fitted.

Things were looking doubtful on the second last thursday work night before the first race because the engine stopped running. The team knew it was an electrical fault and related to the removal of wires from the standard cars loom. A quick look on the internet saw the official BMW wiring trouble shooters guide being downloaded ( 400 odd pages) and a search started to see where we went wrong. It did not take long to realise everything is individually earthed and this seemed the obvious solution to our problem. Turned out that when the dash had been refitted a bunch of earths had not been reconnected to the earthing point.  With less than a week to go things were looking up. All the parts were delivered and it appeared a simple case of putting them on the car. As usual things took a lot longer than expected and it was great when extra help appeared. By the Friday before the April meeting one last push was required and the team decided to abandon plans to have a test the day before the cars first race. Not the best way to do things but it was important to all the team to support the Championship and be at the first round. On the morning of the race there were still 3 or 4 things needing done so Simon and Graham started early and managed to get things finished by 6.30am. The car was put on the trailer and they set of for rounds 1 and 2 of the Scottish Motor racing clubs BMW compact Cup.  The first meeting in the new car went well. Graham was not last and the car ran well. There were lots of things on the teams " to do " list but they would have to wait until after the event.                                                                                                           

After the April meeting the team sat down and worked through the list of things needing done on the Compact. It was not a long list and there were certain priorities but at least there was a bit of time before the next outing. Our main priority was setting up the car. With a fully adjustable suspension kit the team had "guessed" at settings but had not had enough time to check out the different ways the car could be adjusted. The car had been corner weighted just to see what it was showing but again there was no time to alter anything. After a full measurement session at the workshop some base settings were worked out and the team looked forward to a test day to try them out.                

The second meeting at Knockhill saw the team a bit better prepared. We even managed some testing on the Saturday.  The car was going well and the driver managed to get a few quick laps under his belt. Things were looking good but when Sunday came it all turned sour. There was no "competitive" qualifying laps because the mist had came down. Sadly when the BMWs went out for their familiarisation laps the track was clear but the moment we came in the weather closed in again. The grid positions were based on championship positions so Graham was near the back of the grid. Race one was very wet and full of incident. There were cars going off left right and centre but graham got a finish. In the second race the conditions seemed worse but the times told a different story. It was a great race for everyone. There were groups of cars dicing for position throughout the field. The only issue that Graham had was slowing too much for waved yellow flags ( as a former marshal Graham believes that drivers should drastically slow down rather than use a yellow flag incident as a method to make up ground ) and this allowed a couple of cars to catch up then pass him at the next corner after the green flag was show although one of the cars that passed promptly spun and the other was passed just after the finish line. It was another good outing for the team and driver.         

OULTON PARK 31/5/14.

The third round of the championship was at Oulton Park. Testing was available but it was felt that one night of Grahams snoring was enough for the team. In the end only Simon could go so the pair headed south at a leisurely pace on the Friday. Sadly this theme continued for qualifying and race one as the teams elderly driver thought he was out for a Sunday run.  Graham totally misread the pace and there was no one close to compare speed such was the size of the circuit. Things were worse because most of the other competitors were up to speed thanks to them testing on the Friday and when the results appeared Mr Millar was last, miles off the pace. There was a real dark cloud over the teams part of a rather sunny paddock for most of the day as Simon and Graham tried to work out why Graham was so slow. The truth is that practice makes perfect and it was only after 15 laps that things started to improve. The second race was better and  made up for a poor start to the meeting. On the snoring side of things Simon soon got up to speed and it is safe to say that Graham suffered another last place in that competition. When we got home we discovered a great selection of photographs by former FF1600 racer Alan Raine. Alan raced in the late 80s early 90s and very kindly has let us use his photographs.

Graham was not last all the time.

Knockhill 15/6/14.

After a poor Oulton Park thoughts turned to what went wrong. Put simply missing a test opportunity was a big mistake. It seemed a good idea at the time and fitted in with the availability of the help available but it was a silly mistake to make. 60 year old driver who thinks it will take a few laps to get up to speed, don't make me laugh. Grahams fastest lap at Oulton was his last one. Lesson learned. The car did not need much attention for the next round so we were hoping that a test before the race was feasible. By chance nothing that fitted in with our other commitments was available so we made do with a run the day before the meeting. As usual things were a little difficult weather wise. No two sessions we have had all year have been run in similar conditions. We had a dry session followed by a wet session. Good to get your eye in but not ideal to try different settings on the car. Using the truck for the first time meant we had a bit of comfort however we were too lazy to put up the awning. By the time we decided it would be a good idea it was pouring down. It was also the first time in years that Big Simon was missing from the fold and as a result the food budget was much reduced. The meeting was a good one for what was left of the Rotor team. Illness, 85th birthday parties, all played there part in seeing only one person, Gordon Main, being able to help out. Graham managed to quallify 13th in damp conditions and followed this up with a 12th place in the race. The second race was not so good. Difficulty getting the camera to switch on and being shown to the wrong grid position unsettled Graham.  He made a poor start and as a result lost a few places on the run to the first corner. Worse was to follow when Carol Brown, on a mission after starting from the back, failed to realise that an old man brakes a wee bit earlier than a young hotshoe and rammed Graham out of the way as they entered Duffus. When things settled down Graham got the finger out and managed to finish 15th. A good result bearing in mind all that had happened.

Knockhill 13/07/14.

A tough weekend.  We ran out of tyres and found ourselves on the backfoot. Our only set wore out on the wet saturday test and the new replacements were no use in the dry of the race. Things got rough out there and the car got a fair bit of damage. Graham was not best pleased because those inflicting the damage are both novices and should be keeping their noses clean rather than getting involved in bumping and boring. If you look at the link you will see that after the incident where the Cardowan car is hit for the third time things did not improve and the two that caused the damage ran off the track more than a few times. That is not good and if the organisers do not take action people will move away from the championship. I would love to know if the got an upgrading signature after this display.

Good idea to put the awning up.  Look at the sky. Typical.