BRSCC CHATS WITH… GRAHAM RUMSEY
Welcome to the first in a new series of interviews here on the BRSCC website called “BRSCC Chats With…”, where we sit down with some of the personalities from the paddock and gain a little insight into who they are, what makes them tick and what they love most about racing with us and motorsport in general. While we wait for track action to begin again, this is a great chance to keep us all occupied and entertained until that time!
First up is Graham Rumsey, one of our competitors in the BRSCC Mazda MX-5 Championship. Having raced in the series since 2018, Graham also boasts karting and rallycross experience and he gives us a little peek into some of the elements of his motorsport life and career. Enjoy!
What was your earliest memory of motorsport?
My earliest memories of motorsport were being taken to the Spedeworth Ovals as a young lad where my favourite formulae were GP Midgets, Superstox and Hot Rods. I remember being allowed to take a day off school to go to the tyre testing at Brands Hatch circa 1976 and knocking on the doors of transporters for the autographs of Jody Scheckter and Graham Hill.
Who or what inspired you to get interested?
My dad was keen on motorsport and we would make the short journey to Brands Hatch most weekends to watch anything from the smallest of club meetings to F1. My school had a “kart club” where I built my own kart and competed in the Junior 100 class at Tilbury circuit run by London Kart Club. Racing was great, but unfortunately even in those days budget was king! We used to turn up with the kart on the roof of a MK1 Cortina and a handful of spanners. Any engine issues usually meant a sabbatical of several months. By contrast, Johnny Herbert was a regular competitor at these meetings and would have 3/4 spare engines in the back of a very nicely fitted out van!
Who is your motorsport hero?
My ultimate hero is Ayrton Senna, I would have loved to see him racing against some of the young talent there is out there today and truly believe that if it hadn’t been for that awful crash in 1994, Michael Schumacher would never have made 7 world championships. There are some great drivers around now too and apart from our own Lewis, I really believe that there is huge talent in the likes of Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc and it’s great watching the new young guns progress through the formulas.
How would you describe your first experience of taking part in motorsport?
I was 14 and reasonably quick (in practice), but in my first race at Tilbury, I was lapped by the first 5 in what I recall as a 15 lap race. According to my team manager, pit crew, physio and chief mechanic (all roles played by my dad), I spent more time looking behind me than where I was going! He taped my visor up so that I had a little letterbox opening and could only look straight ahead, which improved my times better than a new set of tyres!
What is one race that you will always remember?
As a 35-year-old, I was a “veteran” competing in the Rotax Max ‘O Plate’ at Clay Pigeon and had qualified on pole for the final. Going into “Billy’s Blind”, the first corner, I am sure my eyes were shut but I was surprised to come out with a nice lead. 2nd & 3rd had tangled going in and I just had to get my head down and get on with it! I pulled a lead and kept going, but I have to say it was the longest race of my life! We all know that first place is the hardest place to win a race from, and I remember just willing the laps to go.
What do you love most about what you do in motorsport?
I enjoy racing at a club level and have to say that the Mazda MX-5 Championship is the most competitive class I have ever raced, but still remains fair although sometimes a little tough. Having competed as a B race regular the last 2 seasons, I have always enjoyed a race wherever I have been in the field.
How can someone get involved as a driver within the BRSCC?
It’s easy! Go and watch the races and find a formula that you think you will suit. Then talk to people in the paddock. Club racing is extremely friendly and people love to tell you about their experiences, their team and their equipment. If they don’t, they will know somebody who will rent a car for a track day for you to try and then take it from there.
Which driver would you love to be a teammate to and why?
Gerry Marshall, because we could do all of our de-briefing in the bar afterwards!
If you could drive any race car and circuit combo in the world, what would it be and why?
I haven’t driven Spa-Francorchamps, but would love to experience Eau Rouge in something with slicks and wings!
What would you class as your proudest achievement in motorsport?
In 2016, my inaugural year in British Rallycross, I finished 2nd in the 1600 Production Class and at the awards ceremony, I was surprised, honoured and very proud to be awarded the MSA Newcomer of the year trophy!
What do you love most about racing in your BRSCC championship?
Highly competitive, hard and fair racing. And BIG entries!
Describe your driving style in three words
Same as my schooling – Could do better!
What are your plans for the 2020 season and beyond?
I would like to bring my grandson into motorsport, but I need to grow up and hang up my helmet first!
What is your ultimate motorsport ambition/ goal?
To win a circuit championship!
Who has been the one person that has influenced your motorsport career the most and why?
Roger White of TRT karts, he gave me my first works drive and showed me how to win!
Who is your best friend in motorsport?
On one of my many comebacks, I hooked up with a local guy for advice and we became best friends, he has now moved to France and no longer competes in anything, but I miss my karting days with Grant Muddiman, although we may not have always been the best of friends on the track we certainly were off it.
How did you feel when you won your first race?
I wanted to do it again! I recall it felt like a long time coming, but it’s true what they say – once you have your first win, they do start to get easier! Can’t wait for my first win in the Mazda!
What has been your favourite race car that you’ve driven so far and why?
I loved my Citroen Saxo VTS production class rallycross car in which I had a win the first time out and in my second year of competition won the BTRDA Production class outright.
Many thanks to Graham for being our first interviewee and providing us with some great insight in the process! If you fancy tackling these questions, whether you’re a driver, marshal, volunteer, coordinator, team owner or official, then e-mail Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org and you could be featured in our next interview!