Tins of Fox’s biscuits may have many uses, but never before has one been adapted to help a young army veteran finish a race in an old Citroen C1. But that’s exactly what happened at the 2016 Race of Remembrance, the annual race run by the Forces’ charity Mission Motorsport.
The car, which has been in every race since the event started in 2014, has been re-built, raced and maintained by many of the charity’s beneficiaries, service men and women whose physical and or mental health has been affected by military operations.
At the Race of Remembrance in 2016, Michael Courts (Mike) was driving the car. The car had been driving brilliantly for ten hours over the two day endurance race and there was only an hour or two to go: the pit crew were smug, there had been no technical hitches and only minor panel damage. They then saw the car come towards them, billowing smoke from behind as it crawled along at a walking pace. As the car noisily edged into the pit, a quick check revealed that there was a massive oil leak from the crank shaft seal and no oil left in the engine.
It looked like the race was over for Mike and the C1. The team pushed the car into the garage but after another look decided that they couldn’t give up, it just wasn’t in the spirit of the race. The team of engineers and volunteers hypothesized a ‘total loss lubrication system’ but were still concerned about contaminating the track.
A Fox’s Biscuit tin was emptied and holes punched in for cable ties to keep it in place under the leak. The engine was filled to the brim with oil, a shocked Mike clambered back into the car and the car was pushed to the pit exit. With a warning shout of “slowly! Maximum 1500rpm” the ingenious pit crew got the car back on to the race track. No speed records were broken but the car crossed the line, sounding like a washing machine full of nuts and bolts.
All this was a walk in the park for Mike who, during his seven years serving in the Black Watch, used up all of his nine lives and more. As a soldier he travelled to Kenya, Germany, Belfast, the Falklands and Afghanistan and escaped from three helicopter crashes, survived being blown up and narrowly escaped being shot countless times. In 2009, on his first tour of Afghanistan he encountered an IED strike. After a mental battle he deployed again in 2011 when he was injured on patrol. This injury ended his career with the military. Since then, as a beneficiary of Mission Motorsport, Mike has not only become a trackside hero for his endeavours with the Citroen C1 but has developed a new range of skills. He is now a qualified ARDS Instructor (racing driver instructor) and has recently started a new career with a local IFA/Mortgage Broker in Scotland.
If you want to help more people like Mike or just want to get involved in one of the UK’s most exciting races, please get in touch. There are a huge range of sponsorship opportunities and packages can be tailored according to your needs. Please contact Ben Williams on firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss further.