A little bit about me…
I feel like now would be a good time to introduce myself and tell you a little bit about my life so far.
My names is James Wilson, I’m 29 (as of February 2017), currently living and grew up in the Chelmsford, Essex area. I co-own a couple of online businesses with three other guys and I head up the programming / system development side of those businesses.
So what or who got me into motorsport?
Childhood spent spectating at circuits
At the age of 3 or 4, my Dad, Tony Wilson, got the opportunity to race a 1960’s Lotus Elan S4 in the HSCC (Historic Sports Car Championship). He did this for numerous years, so from a very young age, I hung out at many of the race circuits around the UK, watching him race. I honestly count these as some of the best weekends and best memories of my childhood. Despite the vast amount of time hanging around, scrutineering, signing on, car preparation, etc, etc – the enjoyment I got from actually watching my Dad race (and all the other championships on the day), cancelled out all the other stuff that would usually bore a child. A petrol head was born…
Early go-karting experience
By the time I’d hit double digits I got my first taste of go-karting. For a while I use to race on a Sunday at Essex Karting in Rayleigh, in some kind of under 16’s league. I had my own overalls, gloves and helmet and really started to get the taste for competing.
On one of my birthdays I was lucky enough to get a 4-stroke Honda go kart. I was absolutely over the moon with this – my own go kart! I would sit in it on the garage floor during any spare moment after school, dreaming of racing properly some day. We did some track days in it (I blew the engine after a few laps on it’s first run at Rye House, doh!), but I never got to compete in that particular kart. My opportunity would come later…
Rotax Max – money got ploughed in!
By 2008, I’d been in full time employment in IT / Web Development for a few years, so I was earning some proper money and decided to plough that into motorsport of course!
I took a bank loan of £2,800 and purchased a nearly new Rotax Max Tony Kart. This was a serious piece of fast & shiny kit! I then had to purchase a box trailer, tow bar for my under powered 1.2L Renault Clio and all of the endless amount of tools and accessories needed to race in a Rotax Max championship. Money was being spent in abundance!
I did 6 races in my first year which got me my signatures towards a proper license – but I then disappeared off to Australia for 3 months during the winter of 2008/2009 (a whole other story!). My karting “operation” was boxed up and stored ready to race another day…
My first and only full season in karting
In 2010, I dusted off my kart set up and decided to race in 12 rounds of Rotax Max at Camberley Kart Club, at the Blackbushe race circuit. The whole season was done on a financial shoe string and with seriously limited mechanical nous! Good results were hard to come by, usually fighting in the second half of the pack. I had the odd moment up front due to the mixed up grids, but they were few and far between.
Throughout the season, I loved the preparation for events and the actual competing – but getting the kart set up properly on the actual day between practice, heats and the final was honestly quite stressful! Everything was usually so rushed and done at the eleventh hour, I rarely raced in a perfectly set up kart, let alone in fully prepared frame of mind. But that’s the way it was and it was the only way I could go racing at the time.
Bizarrely – I actually won the championship! But more by default as I had entered all 12 rounds whilst some of the other drivers skipped a few to race elsewhere. “You’ve got to be in it to win it.” as they say! But like at the end of 2008, I decided to leave the UK and this time I went travelling for 7 months in the following year. I decided to sell the whole karting “operation” and focus on other things.
I bought a Lotus Exige
With my Dad racing Lotus Elan’s throughout my childhood, I’d had the Lotus brand on the brain from a very young age. Growing up, I targeted buying a Lotus Elise in my early 20’s. By the time I could realistically afford the type I wanted, the Lotus Exige S2 price had actually come down to be within my budget – result! In 2012, I became the proud owner of a 2005, ardent red, Lotus Exige.
The Lotus Exige is the perfect track day car. Fast, nimble and an absolute hoot to drive. The problem I’ve had is that it’s been my one and only car for the last 4 years. This means I’ve been reluctant to take part in as many track days as I’d really want to. To date I’ve done one 30 minute session at Brands Hatch Indy circuit, and about six 30 minute sessions round the Silverstone National circuit. It’s always been about limiting the wear on the brakes, tyres and engine whilst I’ve been 100% reliant on the car as my daily get around.
Video footage from one my Silverstone sessions in 2015:
Second car purchased – a positive step
In 2017 I bought a second car, a VW Golf R. The idea here was get something that is still lots of fun, but practical as well. It ticks both boxes! It means that I now have a track day weapon sitting pretty in the garage in the form of the Lotus, whilst the VW will be my new A to B mobil.
I will talk more about this in a separate blog post, but expect the Exige to be used on some big track days this year. Watch this space!
So there you have it! That brings us up to today. A brief history of James Wilson – motorsport enthusiast, and motorsport dabbler. Now it’s the time to ramp it up and get more involved.