Amersham resident embarks on racing career
A FORMER Amersham Town Council Citizen of the Year is looking to take his career to pole position as he embarks on a life as a competitive racing driver.
Oli O’Neill, of Chesham Road, had his first race in March this year, which he won, but his record since has not been as easy as he lost his second, won his third and lost the fourth because of a penalty decision by the judges.
Mr O’Neill, 24, is a full time instructor at Mercedes Benz where he has worked for the past five years.
He teaches people how to drive super-fast cars which are usually bought through a track day experience.
With racing in his blood – his dad was a rally driver – he decided to go competitive and has funded it himself at a cost of around £12,000.
Two local charities sponsor him – Ehlers Danlos Support UK, based in Watford, and SportsAble in Maidenhead – which were chosen because his girlfriend, who he lives with, has Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and plays wheelchair basketball with Sportsable.
He said: “I love it but it’s ridiculously expensive.
“It’s an addiction when you get out in a car.”
Why was he inspired to do it? He said: “I’ve done a few tracks days and I said, ‘lets do this properly’. I didn’t think I was that quick but I’m doing OK so far, I’m holding my own.”
He added: “The dream is British Touring Car but the budget for that is about £600,000 a year – so that’s why I’m not there.
“I’m trying to get in the Mini – that’s about £70,000 for the year.
“It’s not silly money but it’s still £69,000 more than I would like it to be.”
The idea, he said, was to become a national champion this year so that he can approach sponsors with ‘history and form’ next year.
Of driving he said: “It’s one of those feelings of being alive when you’re behind the wheel.”
Highlighting the physical and emotional strength it takes to drive, he said when ‘everything comes together for that it’s the only thing I get a proper adrenaline buzz out of’.
On track: Oli O’Neil has embarked on a career as a racing driver