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