Motor Sports Association

Autotest

 

Paul Swift 

Lives: Darlington

DOB: 1979

Occupation: Professional display / stunt driver

Currently competing in: MN Circuit Rally Championship

Career highlights: Multiple winner of MSA British Autotest Championship, with back-to-back victories in 2004 and 2005, also winning the Championship in 2007.

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

My dad, Russ, was national autotest champion in 1981 and 1982, 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 is currently 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 motor sport disciplines there is. You can probably do a full season for less than £1000.

Does autotesting lead to other things?

I’m very proud to have represented England at the annual Ken Wharton International where all the best Autotest drivers from the ‘home nations’ compete against each other.
I’ve competed in both Tarmac & Gravel Rallies as well as racing in the Northern Sports and Saloon Car Championship. I would say the skills I've learnt through Autotesting have given me much greater car control and confidence behind the wheel.

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

Join your local motor club, start marshalling at events and you’ll soon get itchy feet and want to start competing. You can buy a cheap lightweight car for a few hundred pounds, a second set of wheels from a scrap yard for travelling to the events and have loads of fun sharing the car with a friend.

Why would you recommend taking up motor sport?

It's great fun and the lessons you learn through competing make you a far safer driver on the road.