1. How did you get into racing?
Blood, sweat, tears and a lot of brave pills! I’ve loved cars and racing for longer than I can remember, and at many points have considered how to get out there and do it for real, but it wasn’t until October 2016 that I realised I could maybe make it happen and I ordered a rollcage for my car. No turning back then. I had endless fears and doubts that the car wouldn’t stand up to it, it wouldn’t be competitive, I wasn’t going to be quick enough, the shoestring budget wasn’t going to get me through scrutineering never mind qualifying.. and so on. The tricks your mind plays on you sometimes. To that point, absolutely everything on the car had been done by me with occasional help from friends, and in fact still the only work done away from my driveway was installing the cage, fire extinguisher and killswitches (Neil McDonald of Automac). So I had a lot of worries about whether my homegrown car with a lot of hopes and prayers would actually stand a chance, but as it turned out, I won my class in my first race – 750MC Roadsports at Donington in the wet, 18th March 2017 – and I’ve never looked back! To anyone reading this wondering whether they should take the plunge: you absolutely should.
2. Which is your favourite circuit?
Easy, Cadwell. There aren’t many places you get to drive your racing car on a rollercoaster, and then try to overtake people at the same time – and that’s what this beautiful little stretch of tarmac in Lincolnshire does for you! I love Oulton, I found Silverstone’s Grand Prix circuit surprisingly excellent – I thought it’d be too big for my car but it isn’t, it flows really nicely even at sensible speeds – and Donington will always hold a special place in my heart. But none of them stand up to our own little Nürburgring!
3. Do you ever worry that you may damage the car and how you would get home?
When I’m out there, honestly, no. It never crosses my mind. A lot of people tell me I’d be a second a lap faster if I had a trailer – that could be fun to see! – but the reality is it makes no difference for me, the limiting factors are (in ascending order) that a) I won’t win if I’m in the wall; b) I can’t afford to be repairing the car after every time it goes out; c) I have a hell of a lot to lose if I suffer a really bad accident! Getting home afterwards is the least of my worries. I felt very well-prepared when I started bringing “just in case” old brake pads and discs with me.
4. How did you decide what car to race and was it always the plan to keep it road legal?
It’s the car I had! I was already thoroughly attached to my E36 before deciding to go racing, having done three seasons of track days and sprints in her already. I did consider selling and buying something ready-to-race, an E30 for Production BMW being the frontrunning idea there, but in honesty I knew I’d never sell her. I’ve ended up with quite a versatile car, as there are several one-make championships I could run in, and a lot of clubs now have power-to-weight classes so a relatively lazy big engine is not the handicap it used to be. Most importantly, a four- door saloon car can carry everything I need for a race weekend – at most events, the car is completely self-supporting, and it’s bloody difficult to do that with a Caterham or an MX-5! Road legality was never optional for me, I don’t have a trailer, a tow car, a B+E licence, space to keep them, money to invest in them.. If I wasn’t driving the car to circuits, I couldn’t race.