Welcome to Part 2 of my 2021 round-up! I apologise that it's had to be split into parts like this, but hope that you enjoy reading it all the same.
Back to European Travel
Summer was right around the corner and so was my next fly-away! I won't lie to you - I was incredibly scared of even going to the airport in the morning. I don't normally get very anxious or nervous about anything, but I'm pretty sure I had a panic attack just before getting picked up by my brother, who I must thank actually, for the amount of times he was at my house before 4am to take me to Manchester Airport. Thanks Matt.
It turns out that I had no reason to worry. I'd learned my lesson from Nogaro and got everything prepared as needed. I got into Italy fine and had a very enjoyable time with Clio Cup Europe, commentating on two fantastic races, and starting to reach out and communicate with drivers to see what it was all like from their point of view.
Misano and the surrounding area is absolutely gorgeous - definitely somewhere I will be going on holiday when I get chance. It was around 30 degrees all weekend and I loved it.
Working from Home
I was at home the following weekend commentating remotely on the FIA European Truck Racing Championship's opening four races from the Hungaroring (somewhere I still really want to go!). It was an amazing introduction to how bonkers the vehicles, drivers, teams and racing is! I fell in love instantly with what I was seeing and have been truly converted to a lover of pretty much all things truck!
The following weekend was going to be a special one - Clio Cup Europe had made some changes to their calendar and were now supporting the French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard. Unfortunately I wasn't able to get out there safely due to COVID restrictions, but had organised for Alpha Live to do the broadcasting with commentary from yours truly being done remotely with their help from Whilton Mill.
It may not mean much to most people, but from my perspective it was pretty surreal commentating over live motorsport that featured Formula 1's amazing graphics package... and the racing was immense!
Into the Second Half
For the first time in about thirteen weeks, I had a weekend off at the end of June, but seven days later I was down to Thruxton for a BARC meeting to start the second half of my year - again, fantastic racing was had all round from a multitude of club championships in conditions that couldn't make their mind up!
The following weekend I travelled up to Scotland to remotely commentate on, and stream, the Clio Cup Europe race meeting from the Hungaroring (my internet at home wasn't reliable enough and I'd been meaning to go see my friend in Scotland for ages, so two birds one stone and all that...). We had a fantastic time and the racing was awesome too - only real shame was that England lost to Italy in the final of the Euros that weekend.
What was set to be my biggest (financially) weekend of the year was then called off. The FIA ETRC was set to race in Germany at the Nurburgring but horrendous flooding which affected a lot of the country - and Belgium - meant that the meeting was cancelled. The teams however put in a mammoth effort using all of their trucks and possible supplies to help those in dire need during the disaster, and really showed the true spirit of #OneTruckFamily.
Towards the end of July I endured the hottest weather I've ever experienced. Flying out to the legendary Imola to cover Clio Cup Europe was a real "pinch me" moment, but when the thermometer in my rented Fiat 500 told me it was 38 degrees celsius, I didn't quite know what to think.
It was ridiculously hot all weekend (not that I was complaining) and it was at this point that I really started to click and socialise properly with a number of teams and drivers, using social media to great effect and speaking to them face-to-face about their weekends. It made a real difference to my commentaries going forward.
With every positive though, comes a negative. An Italian air traffic control strike meant that my flight home on the Monday had been cancelled. I got very stressed and upset about the situation as it seemed there was no easy way of getting home. I'll openly admit that I was not easy to deal with at the time due to my panicked state, so owe a lot to David and the organisers at Renault for their patience with me while I tried to overcome the whole thing.
Eventually, I'd booked a flight home on Sunday evening, however it would be landing at London Stansted rather than Manchester. This is where my legendary brother - who had slept through his alarms when he was supposed to take me to the airport the Friday prior - came all the way to get me, driving straight home and not getting in until nearly 3am. Absolute trooper.
A weekend off followed Imola, but I was still at a race track. I enjoyed a laughter-filled weekend at Oulton Park watching the British Touring Car Championship with my best friends and celebrated my 5-year anniversary with Bef. It was one of the best weekends of the year.
After that I covered the SRO Esports 24 Hours of Spa from home, visited Snetterton for a Classic Sports Car Club meeting, did a stint in "The Beckett's Box" at Silverstone with the brilliant Ian Titchmarsh over at Woodcote, enjoyed another great European Truck meeting (albeit remotely) from Autodrom Most in Czechia, then paid my first ever visit to Cadwell Park, commentating on the amazing CTCRC (Classic Touring Car Racing Club). Before the weekend had ended, I sat in a (still functioning) ex-Jason Plato Supertouring Vectra BTCC car - another bucket list item ticked!
Next up, I was doing something that I was amazed I hadn't done already, considering the list of circuits I'd visited by now - I commentated at my local. Oulton Park.
I was covering the 750 Motor Club race meeting from the box down at Knickerbrook with Ian Sowman in the main box on the start finish straight, and what a laugh it was. The racing was plenty of fun and the view I had was awesome. I'll admit, it's a very basic commentary box down there (as my friend Jack Oliphant pointed out a few weeks later on Instagram) and there were a number of audio gremlins, but that didn't detract from the enjoyment I had of being on the tannoy at my local, at last. My mum, step-dad, brother, girlfriend and son even came out to enjoy it with me.
That's it for Part 2 - we're at the half-way point now, so come back for Part 3 tomorrow where you'll find me headed for Austria!