ROB LAD­BROOK

“The Mini 7 Rac­ing Club is like a fam­ily” ”

Motor Sport News - - Racing News - Good­wood pre­view, p28

peak­ing to Bill Sol­lis is al­ways a plea­sure. The man ex­udes en­thu­si­asm and pas­sion for na­tional rac­ing – but above and be­yond all, his first love is the Mini Se7en Rac­ing Club. As you can read on the left, Sol­lis de­scribes the M7RC as his life-long ad­dic­tion. That’s a big state­ment and not some­thing you hear driv­ers say about many clubs – I for one have yet to hear any­thing sim­i­lar about any of the UK’S big­gest race or­gan­is­ers (un­less they work for them of course!).

Sol­lis’s at­ti­tude and de­vo­tion is echoed around the pad­dock too. I re­mem­ber chat­ting with a hugely ex­cited Dave Drew be­fore his first ever Miglia race. Just get­ting on the grid back in 2009 was the achieve­ment of a long-held dream. Now he’s an es­tab­lished reg­u­lar and mul­ti­ple race win­ner.

Speak to any oth­ers – Kane Astin, Peter Bald­win, Ian Cur­ley – and they’ll say the same too, that the club is more like a fam­ily than a rac­ing or­gan­iser.

There’s a sense of al­le­giance and be­long­ing around the M7RC, and that has been key in its pop­u­lar­ity over the last 50 years. But it is also mov­ing with the times and con­stantly try­ing to bring new peo­ple into the sport.

Yes, the cars are get­ting on and are nowhere near as cheap as they used to be to run or build – and the vast ma­jor­ity are self-built as a labour of love – but the en­thu­si­asm the driv­ers have is in­fec­tious.

A help­ing hand is never far away – I also re­call Por­tuguese Nuno Pi­menta rolling his car in prac­tice at Sil­ver­stone GP in 2009 and, in­stead of pack­ing up, half the pad­dock helped him re­pair it overnight.

But per­haps the big­gest help­ing hand for this year comes from top driver Robert Howard and the ev­er­green Endaf Owens, who have teamed up to run a com­pe­ti­tion to put one driver on the grid, all-in­clu­sive, for just the price of a £20 raf­fle ticket.

That’s hugely tempt­ing, and will give a new driver the chance to ex­pe­ri­ence one of the most friendly pad­docks in Bri­tish mo­tor­sport – some­thing that is odds-on to keep them in­volved with the club in some ca­pac­ity for years to come.

Take Sol­lis again for ex­am­ple. He’s won four ti­tles – two in Se7ens and two in Miglias – and has ab­so­lutely noth­ing left to prove. But what he does have is a de­sire to get in­volved again. The am­bi­tion of win­ning a third ti­tle takes a back seat to the sheer en­joy­ment of rac­ing. And that’s how it should be.

For more in­for­ma­tion on the Miglia raf­fle visit mini7.co.uk.

MARCH 16 2016

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