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Formula 1? – NO 2CV! Nina & Ted Collier race these!!
Max Cashback
Gale force winds, torrential rain, the wilds of South Wales – an unlikely and unexpected place to meet someone else from Godmanchester. However there we are British Mini Champion, Mark Chandler sponsored by local chemist, Doris and Team Collier 2 CV racing team.

Who races a 2CV I hear you ask. Lots of people including us. It all started as a bit of a giggle but that wore off a long time ago. The men used to go to Le Mans for a bit of male bonding (that’s what they called it), the women called it a booze up. On their return they were all convinced they could be the next Le Mans champions – until they saw the cost.

Out of the blue we saw that there was a 24-hour race for 2CVs in Ireland. Let’s buy a car and go. A family team – father two sons and daughter. This was to be ‘one off’ – a bit of fun, nothing too serious. That is now five years ago and still the dream (or nightmare) lives on. The four intrepid would be Schumachers took their racing tests and passed. What next? The car had raced before so was (or so we thought) ready to race again but we need a mechanic. Our son in law owns a socket set, that’s a good start, so we bought him a Haynes manual to go with it. Off we go.

On arrival the ‘bit of fun’ became more serious. Officials and regulations were everywhere and also ambulances. At this point the fifth member of the family (wife/mum) began to think it was a very bad idea. There were 38 other racing teams all with three or four drivers who looked much more professional and determined to win at all costs, and our car with either husband, sons or daughter at their mercy. The 24 hours were hell for those watching (and frequently the one driving.) Would it keep going? Several cars had the nerve to hit us, we took alternative routes through gravel etc and the engine gave up on us but a sledgehammer, sticky tape, the Haynes manual and our mechanic got us through the 24 hours. We had made it – tired and very emotional and not last.

That is where the problem/addiction really started. Maybe if we took it a bit more seriously, we could do better. What happened to the ‘one off’? People we had met talked about testing. So during the winter we altered bits of the car and went off for testing and immediately blew up our only engine. We found a “man who could” and he built us another one just in time for another go in Ireland! Off we go again. This time we had a massive crash; luckily no one was hurt except the car, which the tow back driver offered to take to a scrap yard. With the aid of sticky tape, odd pieces of metal and ingenuity we rejoined the race in time to do the final 40 minutes in second gear and finish to a standing ovation.

That should have been the end of it but no; it will be third time lucky. Two new drivers joined the team. Son in law replaced daughter who had, sensibly, decided that hitting a corner at seventy with cars at each side of you was not her idea of fun and another experienced (or so we were told) driver had replaced the oldest member of the team who had driven his heart down a by-pass six months previously!

The start of the weekend was not promising. We are probably the only racing team to crash the car before it even reached the track – in fact as it left the docks the transporter, driven by our ‘experienced driver, hit a lorry! We managed to rebuild the car and qualified. Our ‘experienced’ driver decided to give everyone else a chance by driving with the hand brake on – not ideal. We finished – yes. Were we happy – no. Will we do it again – never.

A couple of months later – well maybe. Beer and wine does funny things to the brain! We know a couple of mechanics who would like to be involved, son in law has got the bug and would like to do the sprint races and then – Ireland again. The driver is going well in the Championship, the mechanics are enthusiastic and reliable, maybe this will be ‘our year’ Ireland is cancelled – this was the one-year we were organized with tickets and hotels. We’ll try Spa in Belgium and spread our wings across the channel. Biggest disaster yet, we spend practice day rebuilding an engine for it to last one lap of a two hour race. It has cost an arm and a leg to get car, 2 drivers, mechanics and supporters there for six minutes racing. This really has to be the end of 2CV racing for Team Collier.

Is It? No, of course not. The answer is to totally rebuild the car and build totally new engines! This winter has been spent doing just that. We have just returned from Oulton Park where, yet again, the race mad (or just mad) residents of Godmanchester met up. Our newly sprayed car in green and purple looks great, practice day ran true to form and blew up one of our new engines but to our great joy we finished 7th. Yet again, we ask ourselves, is this our year? Let’s hope so. Ireland, here we come and this year we’re really going for it.

Nina (with a lot of help from Tex) Collier.

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