From a young boy I had a fascination with anything with an engine in it especially the four wheel type! Growing up I never had the chance of starting a racing career/passion because of my parent’s whereabouts and capacity. This meant I would have to wait until the opportunity came later in my life; this was at the age of 23/24 when travelling back from watching the Le Mans 24hr weekend where I gained a dream, this was to one day to race at the legendary Le Sarthe circuit. I was a passenger in a road traffic accident (as they were named back then, RTI now)! Luckily we were not injured as badly as we might have been, but never the less it was enough to be given compensation money.
This money enabled me to purchase my first race car project (colt lancer turbo); after a few months of building it into a racing car, I would enter into the “Toyo Tyre Super Road Saloon Championship” and there is where it all got of the starting grid!
After the first year of racing and being self-taught, finishing averagely in the top 15 out of 25>30; most of the year learning the tracks around the UK and some in Europe, setting up of the car, tuning the engine and more the following year I started to push into the top 10, then the third year in the top 5 with some podiums.
“…after a few months of building it into a racing car, I would enter into the “Toyo Tyre Super Road Saloon Championship” and there is where it all got of the starting grid!”
After further developing the car and the series merging into the “Falcon Tyre Fast Saloons” competition increased somewhat with a higher level or machinery and racing drivers populating the black stuff!
Whilst testing the car I thought of an opportunity to take out the public and/or potential sponsors for a fast ride as a passenger, this worked out for me and I gained a sponsor for the following racing year. This sponsor helped pay for 1/3rd of the budget needed for that year. With various successes over the following year, the sponsorship continued into the year after that.
In parallel to my racing career/passion I was a key member of the “Colt/Mitsubishi Lancer Turbo Register” this was a monthly magazine for keen like-minded petrol heads. This register/group had a small number of members at the start and grew over the following fun years to quite a size. This register/group was one of the first of its kind to offer closed track days for those members at a discounted rate and a slightly higher rate for non-members. We started with 1-2 track days per year increasing to 7-8 always with a full track. Whilst at these track days I would provide non-profit coaching to anybody wishing to learn the track skill. This group still exists to this day; http://www.lancerregister.com although there has been many changes over the years and many different members and management it is still going strong with the same original founder.
AN INTRODUCTION TO ENDURANCE RACING
In the early 00’s I was put in contact with Martin Donnelly (ex F1 driver of the early 90’s), he offered me a drive in the “Britsports” endurance race at Silverstone in a “Radical SR3”. I jumped at the chance; he had good sponsors so this made it even more obtainable. This was a steep learning curve for me as this was my first time driving a race car with aero of this type. Martin is a very good coach and today coaching a varied driver base in lotus road cars. He taught me an excellent technique of using drawings from ones one mind to learn faster lines and later braking, which I use to this day.
After this first baptism of fire in the radical we finished the race in the top 5 of our class. I remember fondly racing down the back straight into the sun setting, and thinking I was at Le Mans and my dream getting closer to fruition.
The next season I entered into the “Radical Enduro Championship” with Martin Donnelly racing. The level of competition was very high and Martins coaching and several test days would prove invaluable.
With varying success throughout the year, racing in the UK and European race tracks my experience and thirst for racing was gathering momentum.
From racing the radicals I was offered another opportunity racing for RLR in the Ligier JS49 in the “Speed Championship” which was the official support series for the what is now “World Endurance Championship”. This was a short stint due to having brake failure at one of the series races at “Spa-Francorchamps” at Le Source crashing into the wall at very high speed! The brake failure was caused by an update on the chassis that was not carried out by the team RLR. I therefore lost all confidence with this team and moved on.
“I then spent the next 3 to 4 years racing in the VLN, and the Nurburgring 24hr championship and races in various classes, from Renaults, BMW’s, Aston Martins, Jaguars, and finally into Porsches.”
VLN” RACE SERIES
I then was contacted by a German racing team “Road Runner Racing” through a racing driver friend of mine, with regards to racing at the infamous “Green Hell” Nurburgring! Again I jumped at this massive challenge, the biggest yet! Normally budding racers start in the “RCN” series around the ring, which is a time attack series usually in lower powered machinery to gain the necessary track knowledge needed to move up to the “VLN” race series which is contested by anything up to and over 180 cars by armatures, pro-ams and pros alike in road converted race cars to GT3 pure bread racing metal. I started my racing in a Renault Clio Cup race car in the “VLN” series by-passing the “RCN”. My only track experience on the ring at that point was around 20 tourist laps; the team did have a lot of confidence in me, fortunately.
I started my first “VLN” race as the starting driver! This was very daunting as you could imagine, starting towards the head of the third starting group we were off. After a two hour stint and handing over to my team mate in 9th in class out of 19 we finished the race in a class 11th position. The team was very happy and impressed with us to say the least. In the next VLN race, we finished 5th in class, with my lap times decreasing on every turn.
I entered into the Nurburgring 24hr that year in the Clio; we qualified 6th out of 17 in class and moved up to 3rd in class before having mechanical failure in the middle of the night at the infamous “Fuchsrohre” roller coaster drop, ending our podium and race finish bid.
I then spent the next 3 to 4 years racing in the VLN, and the Nurburgring 24hr championship and races in various classes, from Renaults, BMW’s, Aston Martins, Jaguars, and finally into Porsches. Having various successes including two class podiums in Porsche, which one of was the top step, winning the N24!
I now provide coaching at the “Nurburgring” for racing drivers and non-racing drivers, being a native English speaker helps massively given the diverse nationalities that drive the ring.
In 2013 I was offered a seat in the “Le Mans Ferrari World Cup Support Race” in a Ferrari 458 race car. I was unable to find the funds/sponsorship required to secure the seat so this one slipped out of my racing gloves.
PORSCHE AT LE MANS
In 2014 I was again offered a seat in the “Porsche Carrera Cup Support Race” at the Le Mans week, Being very passionate about Porsche road and racing cars this opportunity was not going to slip my grasp this time! After finding the funds/sponsorship I confirmed my place two weeks before the race would take place. I had never driven the 991 cup racing car, never driven at Le Sarthe and for the team! We all got on like a house on fire and I had one of the best weeks of my life in France. I gained some now life-long friends and groupies from that experience. I did not qualify so well due to being blocked which put me towards the back of a 65 strong grid of cup cars. After the first lap I managed to pass three of the opposition, one in the Porsche curves! And then by the end of the 45min race I managed to push myself into the top half of the field overtaking 16cars during the race and stepping onto the 2nd spot of the class podium. This for me was my racing dream achieved. Finishing and a podium given the circumstances should have been beyond my wildest dreams, but alas it was not.
“After the first lap I managed to pass three of the opposition, one in the Porsche curves! And then by the end of the 45min race I managed to push myself into the top half of the field overtaking 16cars during the race and stepping onto the 2nd spot of the class podium.”
PORSCHE BRITISH CARRERA CUP CHAMPIONSHIP
I then gained the opportunity in racing in the “Porsche British Carrera Cup Championship” with GT Marques who serviced me very well at Le Mans the year before. Paul the team owner being as straight as a die and coaching me with a very firm hand which worked a treat for me. I only competed in 6 races because of funding issues, but I managed several podiums in my class and had the most amazing experience with some of the fasted up and coming GT racers in the business.
Throughout my racing I have been fortunate to of made friends through a closed invitation only forum/club named “PureGT” , the late great Sean Edwards being one of them and having him passed on some of his coaching passion to me. Another racing unsung hero of mine “Nick Tandy” who became a friend through the racing family and being fortunate enough to have him coach me over some of this time. The first time at “Brands Hatch” gaining me nearly 2secs during a mornings work.
Alongside my racing I have attended many track days in the UK and Europe providing coaching to racing drivers, friends, friends of friends and the public with good success.
I now mostly through word of mouth share my passion and experience with other like mined people to provide race/track coaching/instructing experiences where and whenever I can.