Motor Sports Association

Autotest

 

Paul Swift 

Lives: Darlington

DOB: 1979

Occupation: Professional display / stunt driver

Currently competing in: Taking a year out of motorsport to get married, but will return to the MSA British Autotest Championship in 2009.

Career highlights: Multiple winner of MSA British Autotest Championship , with back-to-back victories in 2004 and ’05, and again in 2007.

What got you interested in motor sport in the first place?

I started through family connections. My dad, Russ, was national autotest champion in 1981 and ’82, and, like most sons, you want to try and be like your dad.

Where/how did you get started?

We bought back my dad’s old championship winning car, a Mini Cooper, and I started competing in that. I joined Durham Auto Club, and my first event was Hartlepool Motor Club’s autotest, which in those days was a clubman’s event, but it’s now a round of the national championship.

What car do you use now, and how much does a season cost you?

I’ve still got the Mini, but it’s very heavily modified, as we’ve turned it into an autotest ‘Special’. It broke my heart to do it, as it was dad’s car originally, but we removed the roof and cut down the sides to make it lighter, before fitting a bigger engine. Cost-wise, autotesting is one of the most affordable motorsports there is. You can probably do a full season for less than £1000.

Does autotesting lead to other things?

I’m very pleased and proud to have been picked to represent England at the annual Ken Wharton Autotest, which is where all the best drivers from the ‘home nations’ compete against each other. Also, I’ve driven in rallies in the Peugeot 206 Cup, and I’ve done the Northern Sports and Saloon Car Championship in a Honda Civic on circuits. I use my autotesting skills in my job as a professional display and stunt driver.

What tips would you pass onto someone who wants to start competing?

Join your local motor club FIND A CLUB, start marshalling at events and you’ll soon get itchy feet and want to start competing. You can buy a cheap but sound MoT failure and start autotesting in that. Above all, you’ve got to remember it’s fun – it’s a hobby, so don’t take it too seriously.

Why would you recommend taking up motor sport?

I’ve found that competing gets rid of a lot of aggression, and the skills you learn make you a far better driver on the road.