Lives: Honiton, Devon
Occupation: Engineer for road haulage firm
Currently competing in: MSA British Autocross, Home Counties Autocross and ASWMC Autocross Championships
Career highlights: 2000 and 2006 ASWMC Autocross Champion. Colin is an archetypal ‘clubman’ driver, having competed in regional Autocross championships for nine years.
What got you interested in motor sport in the first place, and what was you first involvement?
I’d always had an interest in cars in general, so when I was in my teens, I started banger racing on quarter-mile oval grass tracks, sharing cars with a mate. That was my first involvement with organised motor sport.
Where and how did you get started in Autocross?
I bought a grass track racing Class 10 ‘Special’ – it’s basically a homebuilt single-seater with a large-capacity engine in the back. It cost the princely sum of £40 and all I had to do to convert it for Autocross was to change the suspension set-up. I left the engine alone – it was a Ford 3-litre V6, which was powerful and reliable. My first-ever Autocross event was in 2000, at the ‘Sandocross’, which runs on the beach at Weston-Super-Mare. By the way, it only runs when the tide’s out, otherwise it would bring a whole new meaning to ‘water in the electrics’! Anyway, I won it, and went on to win that year’s Association of South West Motor Clubs Autocross Championship in my first season.
What car do you use now, and how much does a season cost?
I still use the ‘Special’ but I’ve developed it even further with up-rated suspension, and it’s now got an Alfa Romeo 3-litre V6 engine. It gives around 220 horsepower and its ideal for Autocross, as it develops most of its power low down in the rev range. Because Autocross is a time trial, you need to be quick off the startline. On certain circuits, I can start off in third gear, and it will go all the way up to 90 mph without changing gear. A 10 or 12-event season will cost around £150 per weekend, which includes the entry fee, plus petrol for the racer and tow car. The MSA is running a full-blown British Championship this year, which involves a certain amount of travelling, but even so, Autocross is still one of the cheapest forms of motor sport available.
What do you enjoy about your particular form of motorsport?
Autocross is one of motor sport’s ‘hidden gems’. It’s very competitive, but it’s also great for socialising. A lot of championship rounds are two-day events, so we all go to the local pub on Saturday evening for a drink and a chat. It’s also a sport that creates loyalty; drivers stay with Autocross for years because they enjoy the ‘clubbie’ atmosphere. For instance, one of my rivals, Roger Brunt, has been competing since the 1960s. He started in Minis, but now uses a specially-built, four-wheel drive Vauxhall Corsa – and it’s very quick.
What tips would you pass onto someone who wants to start competing?
Find your nearest event GO FIND EVENTS, go and watch and then ask lots of questions – competitors are always happy to tell you more about Autocross. Another good way in is to volunteer to marshal. You’ll learn an awful lot about the sport.
Why would you recommend taking up motor sport?
Autocross lets me do what I can’t do on the roads, and it’s in a safe, organised and responsible environment. It would be great to see more youngsters competing, because it’s ideal for them to learn car control, and in general, there are so few facilities for them these days