Category Archives: My Alloys

Electric Cars in Basingstoke

It was announced in September 2014 that Basingstoke Council would be installing the town’s first public charging point for electric cars sometime before the end of the year. Due to be located in the Central Car park on Red Lion Lane, the rapid charger will allow for owners of electric cars to pull in and get a quick re-charge of the batteries whilst out and about around town.

By: Adam Haranghy

So, does this new move mean that we’re on the verge of a wave of petrol-free vehicles emerging onto the streets of Basingstoke?

Well, in the short term it seems unlikely – if similar schemes in other cities and towns are anything to go by. An article in the Guardian in May 2014 reported that the charging point installed in Irlam, Manchester in 2013 had been used only once in twelve months. Those Basingstoke locals who are in possession of an electric car, it would seem, might not be faced with a long queue to get charged up then.

However, this might be a somewhat misleading factor.

Whilst it’s true that electric car ownership remains low, in fact the UK has one of the lowest numbers in Europe, one of the reasons for this low uptake has been the lack of charging points in public areas. Most electric cars on the market claim a range of 60-100 miles before requiring a re-charge, although once you factor in the use of heating / air conditioning or listening to the radio as you drive, this could be as low as 50 miles. Which means that many a journey can descend into fretfulness as the miles rack up.

With councils such as Basingstoke installing new charging points it could, stressing the word could, encourage more to look at the electric option; if only as an around town run-around car.

Indeed, while there are still only 100 public charging points across England and Wales those numbers are rising and accessibility getting greater; Fleet Service station on the M4, Membury Services on the M4 and the Popham Little Chef on the A303 also now having charging points in the region.

So maybe things are changing then?

Whilst the short term view would clearly be that electric cars remain few and far between, there is certainly growing evidence that maybe the longer term outlook will show that electric power will gain greater prevalence on the roads of our towns. With the UK Government offering grants for charging points to local authorities, such as the case in Basingstoke (75% paid for by the Government, 25% by Nissan) and with year on year figures showing an increase in electric car sales in the UK then the trend does seem to indicate that Britain is slowly buying into the idea that these types of vehicle have a viability.

Indeed, recent figures show that there are now over 10,000 electric cars on the road in the UK with sales which represents a huge increase in just a handful of years. And with major, high-end brands such as BMW showcasing their own electric cars with the kind of glossy marketing you’d expect from such a company then the strong likelihood is that these numbers will rise again in the coming months and years.

Electric cars have a certain niche in which they fit; their limited range meaning they will be short journey vehicles. However, for many this is exactly the kind of vehicle they require and there does tend to a zeal to the enthusiasm of many owners.

And, as technology improves the longevity of the batteries and with towns such as Basingstoke leading the way in terms of increased access to power, then maybe the future of city driving will yet feature strong representation from the electric brigade.

A Short History of Bristol Cars

For much of the post-war years of the twentieth century Bristol Cars was a name synonymous with the creation of luxury, hand-crafted and really rather exclusive automobiles in the UK. Cars created of exquisite detail and sleek, opulent design, aimed at the refined end of the motor enthusiast’s spectrum.

By: Tony Hisgett

However, with the dawn of a new century came a decline in the famous old manufacturer. It’s last newly designed car came out of the factory in 2003 and, by 2011 the company had slipped into receivership.

And yet the company lived on; purchased by Frazer-Nash and back on the new design trail with the September 2014 announcement that a new Bristol car, in keeping with its deluxe heritage, will be launched to market in 2015.

Now, while the company is London-based and conglomerate owned, if one is to delve back into its history and origins then you will find links to the city from which the brand owes its name.

Sir George White

To trace the origins of what would become Bristol Cars we can work back to the very beginning of the twentieth century and the entrepreneurial zeal of Sir George White.

Always involved in transportation of one form or another it was White who pioneered the introduction of electric tram systems to towns and cities beyond London. One such city was Bristol, with trams first appearing in the early 1900s and the creation of Bristol Tramways. White also introduced the first taxis to Bristol in the pre-WW1 years although, by this time his attention had turned towards the skies.

He founded the company that would become the Bristol Aeroplane Company (BAC) in 1910, setting up at factory in the Filton area of Bristol, a location that would become integral to the air industry in the UK and continues so to this day.

BAC would be the first UK company to introduce full industrialisation and mass production to the design and building of planes.

World War One was the first war that would have a theatre in the sky and, as such, demand for planes (excusing the pun) soared. Led by White, and his brother Samuel, BAC became a giant manufacturer, employing over 50,000 staff to meet the growing demand.

Post-War Downturn

However, come the end of WW1 in 1918 the demand fell dramatically and had, as you might imagine, a fairly dramatic effect on the business. Faced with this new economic landscape, the company looked to diversify and began to manufacture light automobiles alongside the planes.

With the outbreak of World War Two, the aircraft industry began to boom again. Nevertheless, the company, now run by White’s son Sir Stanley were keen not to be burned a second time come the inevitable post war downturn.

In 1941 Sir Stanley proposed a new division in the company which would focus its attention towards the design and production of cars come the end of war.

By 1945 the idea was fully fledged and work had been ongoing to find an established manufacturer with whom they could either work or take over. This process would eventually take them towards, in sports car producer Frazer-Nash who they took over that year; thus beginning a connection that would live on today.

The company existed within the framework of BAC for a further two years. However, divisions were forming in the organisation which led, in 1947 to the resale of Frazer-Nash. In the aftermath of these divisions and split came the formation of a new company; an independently operated manufacturer of quality designed cars who would carry in its name the legacy of its origins.

And Bristol Cars was born.

 

 

Karting and Race Simulators near Basingstoke

Go-karting has long since been a popular event for corporate days, team bonding or stag parties and if you live in and around the Basingstoke area then it’s an experience that all motor enthusiasts ought to give a whirl to at least once.

By: Ben Sutherland

However, in these days of increased virtual reality technology, did you know that, as an alternative, you can even get to experience the thrill of piloting a Formula One car in a virtual simulator?

Basingstoke Go-Karting Opportunities

Whether you like motor sport or not, it’s difficult not to get caught up in the adrenaline rush that hits you when you put on the crash helmet, take your seat in your kart and rev up on the start line, the waft of diesel in your nostrils and the shrill roar of the engines around you.

For those looking to give karting a go in and around the Basingstoke area there are a few venues you can visit.

Karting Nation and Absolutely Karting both offer venues in Basingstoke, providing a thrilling couple of hours behind the wheel for young and old alike.

The centres both offer relatively similar opportunities, catering for parties, corporate days, groups and stag parties.

The arenas / tracks are indoors so the fuel charged fun can take place regardless of weather and anyone over the age of 8 years old can get onto the track.

Each track offers a variety of different experiences and races with which you can enjoy. For kids there’s the chance to impress schoolmates with birthday party experiences. These include expert tuition on safe driving and a series of different races, all fully equipped in appropriate safety gear and karts to suit their age and size.

For the older participants who are feeling the need for speed then there’s a host of race types and driving day to suit the party or individual. There are those who might just want to roll up, suit up and hit the track, pitting their skills against other drivers in straight races (often including qualifiers and grid placements).

If you’re arranging a party, stag do or team bonding day then, of course there’s the chance to take on your mates in individual Grand Prix or perhaps team relays or Le Mans style races.

Whatever the format, go-karting remains a hugely popular activity for groups and individuals and a memorable day for the hidden adrenaline junkie within.

F1 Simulator

Now, for an exhilarating alternative to karting you might want to consider a hair-raising simulator experience at The Race Centre.

Just 40 minutes drive along the M3 from Basingtstoke the centre offers a unique and truly thrilling opportunity to all motor enthusiasts to get an idea of what it must be like to tear around the circuit in a Formula One car.
Individuals get to sit in their own F1 race pod, handling their own custom designed steering wheel and operating their own pedals. In addition you’re then immersed into a virtual race through the simulation screen which seems to envelope you.

With stunning audio to accompany, this is a chance to put your driving skills to the test in a completely immersive racing experience that motor enthusiasts are certain to love.
Like karting this is a great party or corporate opportunity with the centre catering to such events.
Are you a budding Lewis Hamilton or a plodding Sunday driver?

Local Drivers and Classic Racing at Castle Combe

Motor sport lovers living in the Bristol to Wiltshire region have long since been blessed by the year round entertainment at the Castle Combe racing circuit.

Either corporate or team-building events or one of the many family days the circuit provides opportunities for those who live in the area to either get onto the track or to get up close to some truly top quality high speed race action.

By: Graham West

Indeed, when it comes to racing then Castle Combe offers a vibrant and always exciting programme of events and series that can be followed throughout the year. Primarily this comes in the form of the Castle Combe Racing Club which plays host to a number of championships, in different car classes, which run on the circuit over the course of the year.

These championships are all held on the circuit, so no races at other venues, and provide local fans a chance to get trackside and follow the various drivers through the series of races to its season’s climax. Of course, these race championships also offer the chance for local motor sport enthusiasts the chance to actually get behind the wheel and onto the starting grid in real racing events.

Whether young, up and coming racing wannabes or more seasoned drivers looking for some local, high speed excitement, the series of events are made up of racers from across the west country, be it Somerset and Wiltshire, Bristol, Bath and Gloucestershire.

FF1600 Championship

Held over nine rounds throughout the year this Formula Ford class championship has been hugely popular with the West Country motor fans for more than forty years.

Offering a blend of fierce competition at the front of the large grid alongside a warm atmosphere of camaraderie among the racers and loyal followers the FF1600 at Castle Combe is one of the biggest and best events of its type anywhere in the country and always keenly supported by drivers, fans and sponsors alike. A chance for drivers from Bristol, Bath and beyond to pits their wits over 15 laps of the Castle Combe track it’s a championship which has frequently delivered exciting moments and tense battles in a bid for the podium.

Saloon’s Championship

Another hugely popular championship among fans, drivers and sponsors this offers the chance to see a pretty diverse array of cars all competing for places on the grid and indeed to get by the chequered flag first.

The championship is open to any car that’s classified as a 2-wheel drive saloon manufactured in the 21st Century, allowing plenty of scope for an eclectic range of vehicles all competing against each other.

The large grid size has always meant it can accommodate both the serious racers and teams (with some serious budgets!) with some turbo-charged race modified saloons occupying the front places whilst allowing space behind for the more modestly budgeted amateurs.

Another popular event locally with the grid full of drivers from the Bristol, Bath and surrounding areas.

GT & Sports Championship

New for 2014 is the GT & Sports Championship. Open to almost any type of saloon car, sports, GT or touring car the championship is split into 7 classes raced over 9 rounds (each round consisting of a 15 lap race) with the overall championship winner able to come from any of the classes.

With local drivers and teams filling the grid in anything from a Rover Tomcat to Sierra Cosworth the races have proved to be a thrilling mix of styles providing for some closely fought and exciting climaxes to the different races. And another excellent addition to the motor racing calendar for Bath, Bristol and the West Country fans to get behind.