Log Book

Marco CalovoloQuoting the famous “Blade Runner” movie, I would tell you some funny moments lived during my motorsport career, just to let you know what happen in the backstage… This is the first article but I have in my mind many many episodes: be sure, I will tell you more in the next weeks!

Italy, Super Touring Championship. Gear ratios over 250 km/h. Contact at the first corner, only a few elements of the right front rim remain in place. No way to stop the driver. At the end of the race: “It was vibrating so much that I struggled to see the track and the brake pedal went down…” Final position: 4th place, you would not believe…

Norisring, DTM, street circuit. New car. Qualification. I say: “The lap is short, tyres are up to temperature on the second lap. Warm up the tires in the first lap then go. Second lap is the good one.” Answer: “Okay, fine.” Position on the first warm up lap: pole position. Position on the second lap, the good one: on the roof, car destroyed. Then I move to the second car. It’s driven bya guy, never seen before, coming from the national touring races. The same guy of the broken rim. He’s a last-minute replacement. Briefing: half chicken and a liter of beer for each of us. It’s raining, then stops. I say: “Let’s start on slicks tyres.” He looks at me doubtfully, “Are you sure?” “No, but I know you can manage it.” When the clutch crumbles, the damned, he is leading the race, the second is one lap behind. I think: “This is a real talent.”  Later, he won a good number of championships, and still continues…

Helsinki, DTM/ITC, street circuit, very narrow but fast. Free practice in the morning, the car is heavily crashed. The chassis is like a corkscrew. Let’s start to fix it. Around midnight, from the forest, a van full of thugs is coming, friends of a rally legend who race in our team. They unload crates of beer, hydraulic cylinders and ship chains. Pull, push, spread apart. After 3 hours of disturbing crunches we tey to fit engine in: perfect! They reload their stuffs and drive back screaming to the forest. Let us bring the car to the pit-lane, the paddock tents are far away, we try to rebuild the car there in time for the race. I pull out a mechanic from under the car, asleep, exhausted. Cheering from the stadium behind us when the car moves. We go out on time, just in time. After 24 hours of no-stop working I ask on the radio, anxious: “How’s it going?” Answer: “It’s okay, but the steering wheel is a little down on one side…” After few laps he hit the wall, again. These are satisfactions too…

Hockenheim, DTM, another driver. Fuel tank capacity limited by regulation. We are leading the race but the fuel tank is almost empty. No chance to slow down (these drivers are quite stubborn!!). The engine is missing just crossed the chequered flag. Technical checks: the regulation states that at least 3 liters must be in. There aren’t, even if we squeeze it. The head of the german scrutineers commands: “Now let’s fill the tank and check the capacity.” Somebody up there loves us!!

Jyväskylä, Finland, 1000 Lakes Rally. “Rolled over but we are on the wheels now. Driving to the service.” Hectic work in the 45 minutes available. Only 4 mechanics and 2 drivers can work on the car. Nothing irreparable. Fenders, hood, shock absorbers and suspensions are flying everywhere. Ok, no delay at the time control. We are still in the race. Two hours later, on the same special stage: “We crashed hard again, heavy damages. We must stop here.” We recover what remains of the car, in the forest. If we repair it we can start for the last leg, with a penalty. Obviously, to retire the car is too easy for us. So, let’s try to fix it. Other parts of the body, windshield, doors, suspensions, shock absorbers are flying again, incredible work. Always 4 mechanics plus 2 drivers, even just to handle the tools. At one point, in the middle of the Dante’s scene in which the service turned, the author of the disaster really wants to say: “It ‘s better if I go to the hotel because I’m a little tired, I want to rest for tomorrow.” Sometimes, unconsciously, you are taking worse risks than rolling over at 150 km/h in the finnish forest…

Marco Calovolo