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Not a dream - being a racing driver

by Rob Oldland

Hi International 7 Network. I’m truly honoured to be able to write a series of updates over the next few months to share my experience of the first year of Caterham Motorsport with you all. So where do I start? Well, this time last year I had only just considered participating in a season of motorsport, and as I write this article I am one week away from my first race. How did that happen?! I have owned several Caterhams over the years. After 25 years of dreaming of owning a Seven I was so proud to collect a brand new 1.4 K-series Roadsport from Caterham South in Crawley. Sadly at just 4 months old this car was written off in France while on my way back from my first European road trip to Jerez on the southern Spanish coast. A misty morning was all it took for my Vintage Green Seven not to be seen in time. Gutted.

My next car was a fabulous 420R, black with orange triple stripes it really looked the part and got down the road as well as it looked. Lesson learnt, I immediately fitted Just Add Lightness LED rear lights! It was during a trip to Caterham South for the car’s first ‘free’ MOT when I got chatting about a 620. That was on the Friday, the order was placed on the Monday. While the 620 was a great car, I kept asking myself “am I having £35k extra worth of fun than when I owned my Roadsport?” The answer I kept getting back in my head was “No!” While the 620 was awesome, the fact was I wasn’t loving it more than my Roadsport. That got me thinking about downgrading and this is where the idea of Caterham Academy started. I was able to buy a Sigma based car with a similar spec to my old Roadsport and have a season of motorsport - that must be a great idea, right?!

The Caterham Academy package really is superb. In addition to the road legal Academy car you receive entry into a 7 race series including trackside support, your ARDS race licence, handling day, test day and all of the support and guidance required to get you started in motorsport. To find out more I went along to the Snetterton race weekend where I was able to talk to the drivers and the Caterham Motorsport team. I had a list of questions and by the end of the day they had all been answered. The deciding factor for me was when I realised that all of the drivers were having fun. There’s a group at the front racing for the podium places, a group in the middle and a group at the back. The thing is they are all racing and having fun. For me, having fun and the social aspect is more important than what position I finish (..if I finish!)

While the Academy package does include much of what’s required to get racing, of course there are other costs to consider such as race wear, track time, accommodation and travel costs, repairs etc. This is where I needed to be creative to make ends meet and went about finding a sponsor, SOAR Electric Karting. In addition, I wanted to give something back and I’m proud to be promoting and supporting the Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance charity.

To share my story I have started a YouTube channel. This has grown arms and legs and I have found myself making videos about some of the other adventures we get up to in our Sevens such as great days out blatting. Also, I have started to produce some ‘how to’ videos which I’m filming as I encounter routine maintenance on my car and may well be of use to you, please subscribe.

In addition to the real racing, you can also watch me and many other Caterham Motorsport drivers racing in the virtual world in the series. The races are broadcast live complete with professional commentary during the week before the real race and follows the Caterham Motorsport calendar. Have a look you will be impressed with the standard of the driving and the production of the broadcast.

Next month I will be able to up date on my first two races, Oulton Park on the 18th July and Cadwell Park on the 1st August. It has been confirmed that Oulton Park will be streamed live, hopefully this will be the case for the other races this year and will be great for everyone internationally! By the way, this year we have two international drivers, Domenique Mannsperger from Germany and Todd Corder from Florida USA!

So for now, thank you for reading and please do get in touch if you have any questions or thoughts.



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