I am not really sure where to start with this entry, but I guess it all started when I went to get my fish and chips. After looking for another fish and chip shop (I had become dis-satisfied with my local one) I found one that suited my needs not too far away from where I live. It was a friendly family run business which is always nice to support too.
Over time I got to know the owners and we often had a chat every Friday when I was in the shop. Jane was the person running the shop on a Friday evening and it was also owned and run by her parents who ususally had the Friday evening off. Jane's daughter, Jodene also worked in the shop several nights a week afer finishing school for the day. Jodene is your average teenage girl and you would have thought that she would be spending her time hanging out with other girls and listening to music along with the other things young teenage girls get up to. But no, this was not quite the case. Jodene had a passion for racing go-karts. This was not just a fad. It turned out that she is away nearly every weekend at different go-karting venues to either race or practice. Well not only was Jodene racing go-karts but her mother, Jane had been in training to become an official track marshall. I would often ask how she was getting on. Well, a couple of months ago, I was more than pleased to hear that Jane had passed all her tests and was now an official race marshall which meant that she can take part marshalling many races although her main interest is in the go-kart races.
So how did they manage all this racing? Jodene's dad, Paul was the one responsible for getting them to the venues along with the go-karts and all the support equipment. So, now I find out that Jodene has a twin brother, Peter, who also goes along and races at the same meetings. Many of the race meetings are held quite some distance away which means that after shutting up the fish and chip shop late on a Friday night they head off for a weekend away, where they all camp at the race venue.
On my Friday visits to the shop I would always ask where she had been racing and how she had done. I had also been promising for some time that I would come along to one of the meetings to photograph the event and provide her with some good photographs. Well as time went on, I was never able to quite make any of the meetings because of my own weekend commitments. Jodene must have thought that I was never going to go.
Eventually the family decided to sell the fish and chip shop which meant that I did not get my usual contact with them on a Friday although Jodene has continued working in the shop 2 or 3 nights during the week. All of a sudden I found that I had a free Saturday so I contacted Jodene and found that she would be racing at Rissington that coming weekend. She assured me that it would be ok to go and importantly be able to take photographs.
So Saturday morning came and I loaded my car with my camera gear, some food and drink and made the two hour drive to Rissington. The site seemed to be full of camper vans, caravans, and transport vehicles. There were go-karts everywhere on stands and trolleys being readied to go on track. I couldn't find Jodene or her family so I went down to the track which was buzzing with life. I checked out some spots for photography and made some test shots of the go-karts as they flashed pass me. These go-karts go a lot faster than you may think and seeing them zip around corners like they are stuck to the road is thrilling.
After my initial excitement, and a couple of hundred frames already taken, I thought I better drag myself away from the track to try and find Jodene. As luck would have it, I bumped into her as I started walking around the site and she invited me to come back to the van and meet her father. Paul, whom I had not met met before was a friendly guy and we were soon in conversation getting to know each other. I was very much interested in hearing about his involement in the go-karting and he was keen to return the information. We then went across to Jodene's grandparents camper van where Ron and Billie offered me food and a cup of tea. They come to many of the race events too. I also met Peter who is Jodene's twin brother. Surprisingly he is very different from Jodene and I would never have guessed they were related, let alone twins. I did't see much of him as like most teenage lads he was socializing and kicking a ball around with his peers between sessions. So, the whole family were here with the exception of Jodene's mum, Jane. Apparently Jane was marshalling at another go-kart track the same weekend and so was not able to be with them.
Saturday was a practice day so I did not get to see any real racing. However these are real racers and they were still racing each other wheel-to-wheel testing out their opponents while practicing the circuit. This was Jodene's first visit to this circuit so it was important to get to know the track, it's corners, and overtake points. All this while trying to set a fast lap time. There are many different classes of go-kart and each of the classes had to go out on track at different times and intervals. Jodene competes in the Junior TKM class. She had several sessions on the track during the day. For each session the go-kart is wheeled to the start point on a trolley before being set down ready to start the engine and get out on track. At the end of each session the go-kart is reloaded onto the trolly and wheeled back to the camp area where it will be worked on and checked ready for the next session.
The day was a constant parade back and forth to the track. I went with Jodene to make photographs of her in the start area and then I had to run around to the other side of the track to get photographs of her and the go-karts in action. Each session only lasted about 5 minutes or so which meant that I had to be very quick to react and get the shots.
Back at the camp between sessions Paul was working on the go-kart making adjustments. Jodene would go and select another carburetor from a box of many and would ask her Dad to swap it on the go-kart. Jodene was not afraid to get her hands dirty either. She decided to clean off some of the rubber tyre marks on the side pod which are quite common due to inevitable contact on track. She was not so happy when she found that the cleaning fluid started to melt her painted nails. Getting the marks off the sticker with her name on was an important task though.
During these maintenance periods I got to speak to Paul some more. We discussed the expense of go-karting which is quite a sum. Both Jodene and Peter had go-karts which had to be maintained, new tyres which do not last long, transport, entry fees etc. Paul admitted that it was expensive but he wanted do what he could for his kids while he could. They grow up so fast and life just passes by if you do not make the most of it. Never mind the expense, he says. Live for today as you cannot make up for it later. He truly believes that the go-karting is a good life lesson for his children. They have made many friends in the karting world but they are reminded that once on track that all that friendship is put aside and it is everyone for themselves. Very much like life and business. If you want a good business it is ok to be friendly but you need to fight for yourself when you need to if you want to be successful. And it is worth remembering that not everyone you meet out there is going to be friendly when it matters. Just as we may find people friendly to our face but not behind our backs. All the experiences that they encounter at these race weekends, on and off the track is representative of life itself. Jodene uses some of her own money that she earns in the fish and chip shop to buy parts for her car. Her last purchase was a GoPro camera to record her racing from onboard as well as helping with new tyres. She is learning to manage her money and that it has to be earned. Paul tells me that he does not make them pay and indeed does not make them go racing. They have come to enjoy the racing life and Paul feels that it is a fantastic way to connect with his children. He is does not get concerened whether their performance is good or poor as long as they are are out there enjoying life.
It was so nice to share a day with Jodene and her family and to see them all together at this race event. I would like to thank them all for taking me under their wing for the day and allowing me to photograph Jodene. I wish Jodene every success in her racing and hope to be able to see her again at another race weekend soon. We all hear the usual lady driver jokes but this girl can drive. Go girl!
Take a look a look at the my Sports gallery for more images.