Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - by Tom Her­bert tom.her­bert@trin­i­tymir­ror.com Twit­ter: @TRHer­bert

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

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