2014 : How did we get here?!
By Andy Barnes
When you often look back in history you can learn a great deal – motorsport is no different. The prospect of fighting to be the winner, the champion and achieve what you set out to do can all be traced back to many others that have been there before and done. But what if you are doing something for the first time, never-done-before and no easy route to follow?
Well there begins the story of Time Attack as as you can see above, a more youthful me putting the very first Time Attack screen header on a car at Rockingham back in 2006 and starting this form of motorsport that grew from the tuners of Japan which went on to become a global sensation by those driven by performance and a new challenge. Of course in our little corner of the world motorsport is nothing new and as a nation in the UK we are widely regarded and accepted as the motorsport leaders of the world with pinnacle racing formulas, engineering, technology and a mass of clever people, so to create something new in an era which has 100 years of history, so to create something new, is it possible or has it all been done before??
It was new and it wasn’t racing -so what of Time Attack? For the uninitiated its seems pretty straight forward, cars racing around trying to do what many racing fold regard as ‘qualifying laps ‘ but all is not as it seems and for those closer to the sport it represent something vast, special and extremely challenging : ”Just how quick can I make my tuning car and prove it amongst the best there is? I dont want to race, I want to engineer my car.”
The key word in the last paragraph is ‘ tuning ‘. Time Attack is all about tuning cars, they don’t have to be road legal but in someway connect to the aftermarket – proving their engineered excellence in a controlled environment on a respected race track to show its worth. I once was given some great advice from a close friend in Japan who told me ‘ A racing car in simple terms is easy to make, it has one purpose – to race. To make, set-up and create a tuning car that can do all the things a race car can do, and more and for it to be used on the road using road car developed parts – that is extremely difficult – you need a car that is a race car on the weekend and a fast road car during the weekdays and there is a special art to create such a machine – very difficult ‘
So when we created the Time Attack Championship in 2006 [ it was known as the Time Attack Series back then ] it’s place and creation was to bring together the tuning expertise and might of the UK tuning industry and to give them somewhere to take their cars and push them hard – to prove the skill they possess and to demonstrate and influence their customers on Monday morning why they should be worthy of working on their car – this I had seen back in Japan on a cold damp morning at Tsukuba circuit where for years the Japanese tuning industry had been proving itself long before I had ever begun tuning cars. Later on I also sampled a famous Japanese Time Attack S2000 at Suzuka in Japan – the scene was setting.
After seeing what was going on at Tsukuba and crazing through Option magazines, trying to to understand them, on the long flight home my mind was racing – I was imagining this amazing sight of seeing cars flying over the straight at Brands Hatch and into Paddock Hill bend with me as a spectator on the outside corner – that was my vision of how it awesome it could be for others to see it as I fully intended to enter my tuning cars into some form of competition and be behind the wheel of a 1000 horsepower Nissan Skyline that I owed at the time – setting myself a new challenge outside of drag racing – Time Attack was the answer. While the Option mags offered only Japanese text, the universal language of time was clear to see – HKS ruled the world at Tsukuba running 55 second laps.
After considering how to make it happen and wishing it just ‘existed’ already someone else beat me to the idea – Glen and his friend James. They planned a one off event to feature drift and Time Attack cars in 2005 and I readily entered along with my brother – our Evo and Skyline. By the end of that event I found myself collecting the 2nd place trophy after being beaten by Gareth Lloyd [who still drives in Time Attack with SVA Imports to this day]. That event wasn’t particularly successful but it served as my inspiration to make Time Attack a full time reality in the UK and in 2006 Time Attack – as we now know it was born.
Over the years we have changed things, people have come and gone, cars have been immortalised, some forgotten and a stack of memories for all the people that have competed, spannered or watched but the nature of what we do and why we do it remains the same. To make it an understandable ‘product’ for the masses, we needed to make it kind of familiar for the UK fans to understand it so the first thing we did was to make it a Series of point scoring events – Championship like. Each team would fight to be the quickest but at the end of it a season long campaign would result in a big crown. In recent years we was also asked to join the MSA in the UK, the governing body of motorsports here as they could see that we offered something different, something new and they didn’t have anything in thier rules books for it – we had created something new.
Back in Japan particularly, Time Attack’s home is one circuit – Tsukuba. This means that the time achieved at that track speaks volumes and whomever can run time on a given set of tyres or drivetrain or even modification level is easy to understand – that is the ultimate essence of what Time Attack is – attack the course and set the time. Over the years we introduced, built up and localised Time Attack in the UK, the focus has recently become all about the champion and for good reason – its very difficult to be on that top step gathering the trophies. The events have been incredibly successful with handfuls of teams and people coming forward to the top step to rightly claim their trophy and industry credibility as champions, remembered forever. Back in 2007 a few of us even shipped our cars to Tsukuba to see what we could do, full of drama, late nights and lack of sleep we had a blast – coming home more determined than ever to do good things here in the UK.
Now in our 9th year, this year is all about moving the sport forwards once more and giving a series of events to form the white blank piece of paper for the teams and drivers to once again show their talents. When you consider the challenge of why we are all here and what we are doing, I feel a great sense of getting back to the basic logic of where it all began – sure the championships and trophies are utterly meaningful and well be contested to the highest level with plenty of drama but the real reason for competing, the real reason for building the tuning cars and putting in the hours is something quite simple and something I wish to push to the forefront of everyone’s minds this season and it is this :
Who can build the quickest cars?
2014 is set to become one of the most exciting for everyone involved and with Glen’s retirement from the Championship, me and Rob have took full and solid control of the future of Time Attack so its business as usual with a very positive twist. We want to ensure that no matter what class, car, drivetrain, power, aero, reliability or driver [AKA the organic upgrade] the fun between all the teams competing and the essence of why we are all here doing it remains intact. Time Attack is for everyone, whether you want to come along with a street car with some harnesses inside and have a go in Club Challenge or fancy going a bit further with a full build or go completely world class and make a monster – the goal is the same for everyone and everyone is welcome to join the party which is Time Attack.
Choose your starting point, pick your class, put your stickers on and come and see what your car can do – it really is that simple. If you are new and you are considering entry, have a chat with a current driver and you will quickly learn how much fun, how welcoming and life changing the essence of Time Attack is.
I hope the 2014 season will be enjoyable for everyone and wish all the teams the best of luck. If you are a fan of Time Attack, thank you for your support in the past – get out to the track this year, see the teams, smell the petrol and come and get involved, we all want you there.
Andy Barnes, March 2014