At some tiny age that I can't remember, I said my first word, tyre (tire for non-English folk), and that was certainly the starting point of my fascination with cars. When I grew up a bit, I use to draw cars, I read car books for fun, and spent every waking moment talking about cars to anyone who was within ear shot. At that early time, between 4 and 10, I don't think anyone thought it would lead me to where I am today. At school, teachers thought I was a little odd, because when asked to draw something, I would draw a car, when asked to write a poem or a story, it would somehow involve a car. Academic subjects never came easy to me, but everything in the physical 3d was easy, I could build better structures than anyone, knew how to put things together some teachers didn't even know, and in general just worked better with my hands.
This academic shortfall never held me back though, and I've arrived to this stage of my life with a strong ability to write, and a good understanding of the maths needed in day to day life. High School was daunting, I home schooled 5-8th grade, so arriving at a school with 1700 students was a huge deal. I chose my High School on one thing, it had a metal shop. A place where I could go and do physical hand orientated work. And I spent a huge amount of my time there. The teacher, Mr. Muntz, never gave information away, it had to be worked for, so when trying to find the area of a piece of sheet metal to cut, he'd give one or two helpful prods just to get you rolling. Many students didn't like this method of teaching, they had to be handheld through everything, but I loved it! Metal shop was where I learnt a lot of the maths I still use today, mainly because I learnt it with my hands, rather than with my eyes. In Senior year, I took the test to get my GED (High School diploma equivalent), I took the test because I knew the "traditional" schooling I had done, wouldn't get me to graduation, and I'd have to redo classes, and stay longer. After the test though, I stayed enrolled at school, and kept going every day. You, like everyone else back then, are asking why... Metal shop. Metal shop is why I went to school every single day even though I didn't need to. I am now a fairly good welder, know how to make a working driving go-kart with a group (manufacturing style), and know my way around a blacksmiths style forge.
Back to cars...
When it came time to learn how to drive, I was itching to get behind the wheel, I really didn't know why, but I just wanted to driiive! I learnt at the magical age of 15 and a half, in a '93 Volvo 940 Estate. Very soon though, I started acting like a real teenager, driving far to quickly, which is not an easy feat in a Volvo. I managed to figure out I could drive the 4spd auto-matic like a stick shift, that was a lot of fun :-D. Despite this obvious hooliganism, I have a clean driving record, no accidents due to stupidity behind the wheel. Back then, I had just finished my Freshman year in High School, and had a promising start as a rower with the local rowing club. Because I was focusing hard on rowing, cars took the back burner. Sadly, I injured my back (now healed) in my Sophomore year, while dropping 10s of seconds of my split time to make the Varsity 8 boat. This injury left an empty space that I didn't know what to fill with, all that intense focus being wasted. I had nothing to put my energy into. Then, all of a sudden, Auto-crossing came into my life. The power of racing was discovered, and I finally something to put my heart into as much as I did with rowing.
Auto-crossing is advertised as a safe way to learn how to control a car in a damage free environment. It's a cone course set up in car parks and large empty tarmac areas, and the general idea is to get your car round as fast as possible, while learning about car control. I started doing a few of these with my dads RX-7 Turbo II, and was instantly hooked. People also said I showed instant skill behind the wheel. After only two or three events, my dad decided I needed something to drive that wasn't his, I also needed a less thirsty vehicle to get to school in. Enter my first generation BMW 3 series. With this I started going to about 1 auto-cross a month, learning the car, learning what over steer and under steer were, learning how to listen to the tires, to find out where its grip level was, feeling the grip come and go. Also spent time finding out how to change up quickly, and then down smoothly (I've heal-toe shifted since I started driving manual cars). Soon enough though, a toll was taken on that poor old BMW, so I decided to get an even older BMW to use for auto-cross, keeping the 3 series for commuting to school. This older BMW, a '71 2002, didn't last very long, we bought it with a leaking head gasket, something I was confident (remember I'm good with 3d stuff) I could fix.
I did fix it, but the car still died, money for parts dried up a bit, and I was spending more time fixing the car than driving it. The 3 series was sold to someone who is now restoring it. After that, I sort of dropped auto-crossing for a little while, and racing in general, and almost settled into "well, it wont happen, I'm too old". For my 18th birthday, my brother and dad bought me a very clean '83 BMW 5 series to drive to school, and I settled down.
Well, I say settled down... :-D. I couldn't get rid of the fiery drive to race. Racing was clearly in my blood, there was no escaping it. I felt that if I didn't do it, nothing would ever compare, and I'd regret not finding out if I was good enough for the rest of my life. I knew I had to get there somehow. I watched countless hours of racing, learning how they looked through turns, how smooth all their inputs were. At 19, school was out of the way, so I looked into racing schools, academies, any possible avenues I could think of that would allow me to break into racing. Of course there are very few for someone who didn't start at the age of 3, then even fewer in America, and even fewer for someone who isn't already rich. Some school/academy series cost well over $100,000 for a year. Eventually, my Uncle sent me a link to his friend who was in the 2010 Caterham Academy. I excited immediately, it was exactly what I had been looking for for so long. However, because it was in England, and quite expensive, I thought it was out of reach. Never the less, I called Caterham one day to see if the 2011 Academy had any space left, it didn't, but a deposit would secure a place for me in the 2012 season. I took it right then.
And so, a year and a half later...
I'm here, in England, living my dream, making it possible for me to do what I was born to do. I am only here because of my parents. My brother has had a huge part in who I am, we sometimes argue, but rarely does it escalate to a serious sibling rivalry. He designed my logo, and always tries to help me with things I have difficulty with. They've always believed in me when not many others did, their support made me who I am, and have allowed me to make my start in racing.
My future lies in these coming years, everything is in front of me, it's up to me to decide where this year of racing leads. I know I'm late to the show, but something in my heart says that doesn't matter. I believe I have the drive, charisma, ability, and focus to make it into professional motorsport.
I'm staring my future dead in the eyes and saying "I want that", it's time to get it.
I wrote this a little while back in response to someones "internet advice" on a BMW forum I regularly visit. It sums up me, and my passion, in one handy paragraph.
There is a difference between approaching motorsport as a hobby, and by throwing yourself at it (the whole bull by the horns thing). I'm committed 100% to a career in motorsport. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. It's not something I do in my spare time with spare money, all the money I have in the world is invested in this Caterham, and my pursuit of happiness following my dream. I have the greatest passion for racing, I get quite depressed when I'm not on the track for too long, and this I believe is enough to at least make it somewhere in the sport.
Now, in 2013, I'm on the eve of the first race of the year, which is essentially, the first race of my career. With clothing backing from MOMO UK, (www.momo-uk.co.uk), I'll be fighting for the championship with all my heart. Racing has taken over my life, I spend every waking moment trying to better myself, and my situation. Thanks to shear stubborness to learn the perfect sales pitch to attract businesses, partners, and sponsors, I managed to land one of the biggest names in motorsport, MOMO.
Now, on with the show, as the show must go on.
And just to make this less wordy, my previous cars in order of acquisition.