Charlie Martin: The Season Finale at Turckheim

After an enthralling weekend at Saint Ursanne, Charlie Martin is back on the track at Turckheim, and here she talks us through her preparations for the season finale and what life’s been like on the road for the past week.

What’s the longest you’ve ever gone without checking your phone – a few hours perhaps, maybe an afternoon, a whole day even?

I just got my phone back from repair having tried to fix it myself. I’ve done this before, with mixed results (cured one problem, created another, fixed both in the end) so clearly there’s a lesson I’ve yet to learn, and this time was no different. Only this time there were sparks… and a little puff of smoke.

“Oh…” I thought, “That’s not what I need on my birthday”. The plan was to replace the smashed glass, and it was going well until the chap with the German accent on the video said something like ‘now you need to heat the phone to around 80 degrees so the glue softens’. I looked in the direction of the iron (it only comes out a few times a year) and chickened out. In the process of reassembly I shorted the backlight.

Like living on the moon!

Seven long days, that’s how long I’ve been without a phone. I might as well have been living on the moon, or in 1997. After accepting that I needed to just relax and enjoy the silence there were times when I actually enjoyed it.

I challenge anyone to try it for as long as possible and you’ll find it’s quite liberating. But if you’re a busy person who relies on their smart phone more than is healthy, you reach a point when it becomes quite hard to manage, and with a race weekend looming it’s really the last thing I needed.

Thankfully good fortune intervened and the repair shop managed to fix it the day before I set off. My phone had somehow lost a few days as the date and clock were well behind, but the screen was as good as new – just in the nick of time then.

The end of the season looms

It’s a funny thing how the end of the season creeps up on you, much the same way that summer is suddenly gone in the blink of an eye. You wait all winter for racing to start and then it’s the finale before you know it…  It’s tempting to look back at this point, but I’ll save that for another time, because Turckheim is a race and a half.

When I first started in the CFM last year I drew out all the courses in Photo Shop so I could learn each one as I went. Out of all of them, Turckheim made me think ‘how will I ever get my head round that?’

Turckheim, Charlie Martin
The Turckheim circuit is long, fast and filled with chicanes and hairpins

First of all it is 6km in distance and that makes it the longest hill in the calendar. When I look at it now it’s not so daunting but back then when 3km was a stern test of my memory banks it looked impossible.

The first corner comes after a long straight, it’s a 6th gear right-hander that was probably flat for the quick and the brave, and up until a few years ago it must have been truly bonkers as there’s now a chicane to slow the cars down before the left at the end. On the way up there are five hairpins, flat corners, and chicanes past rock faces; all set in stunning woodlands of Alsace. In short it has everything and is rightly the setting for the season showdown.

What chance of another explosive finale at Turckheim this year?

Turckheim - Bomb Threat in 2015
It was certainly an explosive race at Turckheim last year

Last year was nearly an explosive ending to the season after a spectator noticed he was standing on something unusual and dug a few inches under soil to find he was in fact standing on a cache of TNT left behind by American GI’s.

I can’t remember the exact weight in the article I read, but it would easily have filled a large suitcase. We all thought it was a joke when news spread through the paddock that they’d stopped the race for a bomb alert, but the next morning’s newspaper confirmed it to be true!

I feel a little sad coming into this race though as I know it’s the last time I’ll see my friends until next Spring, I’m sure I’ll shake off my end of term blues once I get there but then that’s the way it goes with racing.

Drivers go into hibernation during winter; we disappear into garages and workshops for the cold dark months, beavering away until we emerge once more into daylight as spring arrives. There’s still the  prize giving in Paris this December which should be fun, hosted aboard a large boat moored on the banks of the Seine (note to self – book Eurostar). I didn’t make it last year so I’m twice as excited this time around!

Turckheim, Charlie Martin
It’s a long, fast circuit at Turckheim

There may even be the chance of a few more drives in the Norma before the autumn leaves start to fall in earnest, so I’m not going to hang up my race suit just yet.

In fact, I’ve got so many ideas and plans for next season already that that last thing I want to do right now is stop.

– Charlie

Come back to the Euro Car Parts blog next week to find out how Charlie got on at Turckheim. We all wish her well and are sure you do too! We’ll also be covering the latest motoring news, consumer advice and car releases to be sure to check back soon.