It was inevitable that I'd end up writing about 2021, because let's face it, I've been in my element and had one of the best years of my 29 on this Earth. I'll admit, this is a really long one so I've had to split it into Parts, but I sincerely hope you read it and can enjoy the great moments I've had over the last 12 months.
Going into the year, I had positivity on my mind about continuing to rise up the ranks of commentary. Looking forward to another Season of covering the Creative Funding Solutions Sports 2000 Championships, and hopefully a bunch of UK club meetings, I thought I knew what I was in for.
No. Not one bit.
Around February time I got a call from David Addison - who had basically got my career off the ground in terms of real-world comms work - and he asked where I was planning on being for about 15 weekends of the year. I gave him the answers he wanted and was asked to leave it with him. This was very exciting, although despite spending the next hour looking at every motorsport calendar under the sun I couldn't find one that exactly matched the dates he'd mentioned...
Before I knew it, I had the question thrown to me "how do you fancy travelling Europe this year?" I was going to be covering Clio Cup Europe in 2021! Amazing!
It wasn't long before we'd discussed a wide range of UK-based club meetings too, as predicted. Things were looking good!
Clio Cup Europe - Nogaro
My very first race weekend of the year would be at Circuito Paul Armagnac, Nogaro, France. I was overly excited for it all and began preparing with all the documents I'd need as COVID was still a huge threat and testing was fairly new. This would bite me in the backside as I got turned away from the first flight of year - brilliant.
It turns out that I hadn't got the right type of COVID test to get into France - I needed a LAMP or PCR test. I went with the LAMP (it was £85) and got on the next flight to Charles de Gaulle, ahead of my second flight down to Pau. Only problem with this was that I now had to wait in Paris for 9 hours and organise somewhere to stay as all of the car rental companies at Pau would be closed by the time I'd landed.
I arrived at almost 11pm and stayed at the hotel across the road, aiming to go pick the car up in the morning. Little did I know, but Pau is such a small airport that it barely has 10 flights a day, and closes in the morning, then re-opens in the afternoon. Typically, I got there just after it had closed and had to wait outside in the rain for 4 hours. This wasn't very enjoyable, all of this.
Once I'd got my car, I then had to find somewhere to get a test so I could fly home... but the specific labs had all closed at noon... and it was Saturday... on a bank holiday weekend...
Safe to say the odds were stacked against me, but a very helpful local pointed me in the direction of a Pharmacy, where I got a LAMP test for FREE! In the blink of an eye, fortunes had changed!
Anyway, I eventually travelled to the circuit and began my season commentating on motorsport - European motorsport as well! I was in baking hot sunshine watching GT racing in the afternoon ahead of the first Clio Cup Europe race of the season... and getting paid for the pleasure. Unbelievable.
Everything went smoothly over the weekend and on the way back home, but my confidence in air travel had taken a massive hit. I was a nervous wreck all the way home. I was hoping the whole year wasn't going to be like this.
COVID & European Travel Impacting Other Work
Straight off the bat, my European travel had bitten me in the backside in other ways - I wasn't able to travel to Donington Park the following weekend to commentate on the opening rounds of the Creative Funding Solutions Sports 2000 Championships. I did however watch the livestream - something the championship doesn't always get the chance to benefit from - and write a race report for what was a dramatic opener!
Getting Into The Flow
Before long it was May - I'd had a few weeks off commentating real-world racing and focused my time on a lot of sim racing broadcasts, which were coming my way thick and fast, throughout April!
I started the month covering two karting events - one at Rye House on the Saturday, then Daytona Milton Keynes on the Sunday. It was around this time that I bought myself a GoPro and started vlogging my ventures out into the motorsport world. The first one I ever did was made up of footage from this weekend.
I was back down South again the weekend after, commentating on the Sports 2000 Championships at Brands Hatch's wonderful Grand Prix circuit. That was a great weekend as ever and it was an absolute joy to see everyone again. They're all so lovely in that series.
A week later, I had the pleasure of working at Hay Fisher's studio alongside David Addison to commentate remotely on Clio Cup Europe as they travelled to Hockenheim in Germany. I still maintain now that Race 2 from that weekend was the most enjoyable race I have ever watched. I urge you to go and witness it for yourself. I also had the chance to commentate on the Fanatec GT2 European Series as well, which was great fun. To say I've commentated on Hans Joachim Stuck is also something bonkers to take away from this year...
...then it got even more nuts.
David had done the highlights for the FIA European Truck Racing Championship for a long time, and had been approached by the series and their production company about doing live broadcasts for 2021. He wasn't available on the dates needed, so put my name forward for the job. Hans-Jurgen (Age-Jay) at Wige Solutions and I hit it off instantly and a great partnership was born - I was now the English commentator the FIA European Truck Racing Championship!
It was my second year in the job and I'd got an FIA series to my name. I couldn't (and still can't) believe it!
Back on planet Earth, seven days after my Hay Fisher visit I was in the box at Mallory Park for the BRSCC - a fantastic little circuit that provided plenty of great club racing as ever. I also experienced the totally ridiculous MSA British Superkart Championship for the first time - those guys have more than a screw loose, but were incredibly entertaining. I even met Tiff Needell who was working with one of the drivers in the Caterhams.
To round out a crazy month, came a crazy weekend. I joined the always amazing Alan Hyde and incredibly knowledgeable Adam Weller on commentary duties for the 2021 Citroen C1 24 Hours of Silverstone - what a laugh we had! It was a great race throughout and I'd like to think the three of us did a superb job of entertaining everyone around the circuit, and those watching at home. That, and I met yet more heroes from my childhood - Patrick Watts and Matt Neal!
That's all for Part 1 - come back tomorrow for Part 2 where I start by flying to Italy!