Lives: Honiton, Devon
Occupation: Engineer for road haulage firm
Currently competing in: ASWMC Autocross Championship.
Career highlights: 2000, 2006, 2010 and 2012 ASWMC Autocross Champion. Colin is an archetypal ‘clubman’ driver, having competed in regional Autocross championships for many years.
What got you interested in motor sport in the first place, and what was your 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!' 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 chose to take a step back from regularly competing in 2013 as my son was old enough to start to driving in the Junior class at the age of 14. Together we stripped and built up a SEAT Arosa Sport with rollcage, competition seat and harness. The car proved very competitive and reliable during 2013/14 at which point we decided to sell the car and progress to a ‘Modified’ class. I built a fully spaceframed chassis underneath a Smart Roadster Coupe with the engine and transmission from a VW Lupo Sport.This car was very successful and won the ASWMC Championship in 2015 and 2016. A change of engine was undertaken during the winter of 2016 and the car now runs a Toyota 1800vvtl-i unit with approximately 200hp. An event (which normally takes place over two days) will cost around £200 per weekend, which includes the entry fee, plus petrol for the competition and tow car.
What do you enjoy about your particular form of motor sport?
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 over the years, Roger Brunt, has been competing since the 1960s. He started in Minis, but now uses a specially-built, front wheel drive Vauxhall Corsa with 250+hp – and it’s very quick.
What tips would you pass onto someone who wants to start competing?
Find your nearest event, 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.