MEET THE TEAM
More to a race team than just the cars, there are the organic components that build, maintain and drive them. Here's the user's guide.
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With no race experience whatsoever until the day Angelina nosed her way out of the Snetterton pitlane in 2007, any pretence of car control stemmed from the abuse of a usually-broken MGB on the public roads. A hurried ARDS test at Silverstone, no attention to the freshly-bought car, Andrew and Angelina’s first pairing ended with a blown engine within ten minutes of their first quali. The rest of 2007 fared little better, until suddenly at the end of the season it all started to come together.
With time came a degree of sanity, and the influence of Power4peanuts on the car’s preparation allowed some reliability to practice with, and 2008 saw not only the first class wins, but an outright race win, and the class title.
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Andrew’s primary contribution is sarcasm and the ability to get dirty just by looking at something. We also make him run the website, so when it’s all broken, he did it.
ALEX “THE BEAR”
Andrew’s younger brother, and with an even steeper learning curve, he went from total rookie to class pole in a single season.
An engineer by academic calling, lorry driver and repairer by occasional profession, it was inevitable that he would be sucked into the racing world, having accompanied Andrew to meetings throughout 2007.
With no real experience of rear wheel drive cars until he started with Megan in 2008, and that being a real handful of a car, fresh out of the workshop, it was little surprise that his first race ended so far off the track that he was no longer on the premises. A rapid transition to class E saw his first race in the class end with a class podium, and by the end of that first year he had set class pole at Snetterton.
2009 saw the first race win, outright victory at Brands Hatch his first visit there, a feat he repeated in 2010, breaking the seal on the season and the wins flowing from there, Mallory, Silverstone and Cadwell falling to him in fast succession. Currently piloting "Christine" and doing rather well at it, Bear is even better with a beer.
Driver of the team’s transporter due to his class 1 license, Bear is one of those rare breed who transition from potent race car to 60-foot rig in the space of a few minutes, and on a good day can manage to crash neither.
More mechanically minded than his brother and capable of lifting four tons with his head, he is where our fibreglass components are made, though he is now playing with carbon fibre. There is no truth in the rumour that the Bear shaves off his own fur to use as matting, nor that he is most at home at tracks set in woodland.
Why is he called “Bear” I hear you ask? Just come and meet him.
STEWERT “LEZZER” LYDDALL
Kutuka team owner, but in fairness the least active member of the team. We mean that in the nicest possible way, because he appears to have the metabolism of a cat, long periods of sleep followed by brief fits of nervous energy. On race weekends he awakens only in time to get in the car.
This does cause its share of issues when it comes to the little things, like remembering to bring any petrol, or his transponder, or tyres. In fact, in reality, the best way to treat Lezzer is to put him behind glass, safely asleep in stasis, and break him out in case of an emergency situation in which someone is needed to drive a V12 XJS.
A racing CV that extends back into the mists of time, and includes rallying, circuit racing, and falling off motorbikes, Eleanor is the latest and most successful part of his career to date. A knee full of metal is why he walks like a constipated duck, see the “falling off motorbikes” bit for detail, and head made out of hair gel might explain the premature dementia.
Budget issues mean that track time is now less available to him, but he compensates as one of his two careers involves race instruction work. When you go on one of these “red letter” days, it’s someone like Lezzer who is strapping in alongside you. A monumental accident recently suggests that race instruction can be a hazardous occupation when you’re at the mercy of the general public. The other career explains his haircut and his choice of car, an MR2. He’s a hairdresser. Oh yes.
Stewert’s style of driving is best described as “enthusiastic” as it appears that you can take the rally driver out of the rally car, but you cannot beat the rally driver out of him even with a stick.
Why “Lezzer?” It’s his own fault, he encouraged Andrew to drive faster in 2008, and before you knew it the game of “chase the Lezzer” was born. Possibly the best ever example of this was Castle Combe in 2008, a test day chase so intense that drivers and mechanics from other series downed tools to come and watch them try to kill each other. Never underestimate the appeal of chasing a Lezzer.
Kutuka are gifted with superb backup on the technical side. Association with Power4Peanuts revolutionised the way that we go about preparing not only the car, but the drivers, support vehicles, tools, spares, tyres, everything.
Since 2008, the first full season as the current team, Kutuka have had a remarkable run of mechanical reliability. Many V12s are prone to overheating or blowing their bottom end, head gaskets, oil coolers, but Lyddall’s has had no mechanical faults for three years now, and in general a mechanical failure on any of the cars these days is either due to an old part being put under enormous strain, or more likely a driver not obeying pre-planned maintenance instructions.
Team manager, owner of Power4Peanuts ,driver counsellor, mechanical guru, his roles are many. Having sat in racing cars for so many years that his blood turned into the stuff they run dragsters on, there is little he hasn’t seen, done, or broken.
What this means in practice is that if you span off, fell off, broke it, and rammed something with it, the chances are there are some wise words available to set you straight, probably with a story that begins “I did that once at…(insert circuit of choice)…driving a…(something small and fragile)….only it was on fire at the time.”
Walking a fine line between genius and talking to himself in a funny voice, the paddock can often find the silence broken at around 10pm by someone barking like a sealion, and the chances are he’s at fault.
Half the brains of the outfit, advice regarding setup, how to approach a troublesome corner, and a detailed analysis of your driving style, competence and commitment are available in real-time, it’s basically like having a human data logger to hand. He is also known to slap the legs of a driver behaving like a big girl, or having more fun than speed allows. His magic bounce on the corner of your car is worth one second per lap.
Fuelled by red wine and small pieces of old cylinder head, there is a curious phenomenon when you ask a question about car setup or preparation, it's as if you flicked a switch from "relaxed" to "professional." It's worth trying even if you haven't got a car. Credited with a substantial chunk of Kutuka's success, and for the dramatic improvement in the cars' reliability and handling, he is an indispensable component in the team.
Capable of winding an ancient diesel van up to the sort of speeds that would make Emerson Fitipaldi shit himself, never, ever, get in the back of his van for a lift anywhere.
We are not allowed to photograph David, not for legal reasons, but because he might get cranky and stop helping us, and we need him. The other half of the brains, he’s also into setup and driver critique, but it’s a subtly different approach.
Leaning more towards the electronic side of the car in practice, David’s mysterious skill is the ecu and his laptop, one of these people who can plug in a computer to your car and find missing horsepower, or, if he dislikes you, blow your engine to tiny bits. David, that’s Mister David to you, is the setup specialist, who knows how to weigh things and alter bits to make the driver believe he’s having an attack of genius out there on the black stuff, when really he’s the same useless nutcase he was an hour ago but someone clever had been at the car. His policy is not to tell Stewert what exactly he’s done, merely what he can expect to now happen, because he doesn’t want to overtax his driver’s brain when he’s in “fast good, slow bad” mode
David will also, when necessary, kick drivers square in the nuts if he feels they have misbehaved, and ensure the whole thing was captured on video.
He takes particular delight in cross-breeding Jaguars with other cars, such that Christine now bears the DNA traces of Porsche, BWM and even Nissan. If it doesn’t exist, he will make it, usually from something shiny and aluminium, probably milled, drilled and welded into a new and exciting shape.
Possibly the strangest thing is that whether changing an engine or wiring an entire car, he never, ever, gets dirty. We suspect that he is in fact positively-ionised to repel muck.
Capable of assembling a new turbocharger out of string and a tube of Pringles, his bread and butter work is strapping insane levels of power into whatever you leave him, or, in more recent times, making them run on LPG properly when someone else has screwed it up. If left alone in your kitchen, your toaster would gain the ability to give you a suntan at 200 yards. David does not have a brain, but a diagnostic computer installed in his head, and automatically powers down at midnight to be defragged.
Proprietor of www.ottotuning.co.uk and on the verge of world domination, we expect his F1 team shortly.
Wearing a world-weary frown and an eye-roll borrowed from Grommit, David is currently being hunted by an American model and wears a variety of disguises to avoid capture.
Yet another of the industrious McGiverns, indeed you may start to ask where we'd be without them. Well, half of us would have starved to death, and those who didn't wouldn't have had a trailer to deliver the car with, because Jennifer is www.trail-o-way.co.uk
Jennifer is the organised one, the person who remembers who is meant to pay for what and when, and where everyone is hiding. Chief Executive of the tea urn, head chef in that she is the only one who can cook anything other than burgers without the use of explosives, and somehow capable of producing a never-ending stream of cuppas without ay normal resources, conveying them to the right people at the right time, whilst asking for nothing.
In another life, Mrs Dermott would be in charge of military logistics, but would never turn up to the medal presentation. Photos of her are even more scarce than those of David. It's as if they're somehow related.
Hire trailers from her.
Ted is the team's newest member. Demonstrating a keen nose for car maintenance, he is best described as Bear's apprentice.
Found helping on a variety of tasks, Ted is our dedicated maintenance go-to guy with the stuffing to get the job done.
When deadlines are tight and the fur starts to fly, there's only one question. Have you met Ted?