MARTIN HINES – THE STUFF OF LEGENDS
As is well documented Martin Hines, who sadly passed away last Sunday aged just 64, enjoyed an incredibly successful career in karting, both behind the wheel and in running his Zip Kart business that nurtured the likes of Lewis Hamilton, David Coulthard & Jason Plato who have all gone on to become such household names. However, Martin also had a long association with the BRSCC and made many friends within the Club.
In 2001 Martin approached the then BRSCC Chief Executive Tim Stock and Competitions Manager Bob Armstrong with a concept for a new championship, Zip Formula. Martin conceived Zip Formula as an entry-level racing series, offering an entirely fair and level playing field to all its competitors. It was of paramount importance to him that this should be achieved at a realistic budget with the plan being to allow far more "stars of karting" to make the step into circuit racing, enabling them to develop their skills in something other than a ‘cheque-book formula’.
The Zip Formula Championship started the following year with Michael Spencer and Tim Bridgman taking the titles in 2002 and 2003 respectively. It wasn’t just young karters that Martin was keen to assist – he wanted to bring as many people into motorsport as possible and Zip Formula certainly offered a cost effective way for drivers of all ages to go single-seater racing. This point was highlighted when Steve Skinner, then in his late 30’s and the editor of the BRSCC’s British Racing News magazine, became a regular on the Zip Formula grid, pitting his wits against Martin’s young guns.
Martin was regularly to be seen in the paddock & pits at BRSCC meetings during the 2002 season for in addition to Zip Formula Martin also supported his son Luke who was competing in the BRSCC Southern Formula Ford Zetec Championship. It was a brief but successful sojourn into Formula Ford for Luke – he won the championship with 10 straight wins – before going on to forge a successful career in BTCC.
Indeed 2002 proved to be a busy but successful year for Martin as he also won the prestigious Autocar Motorsport Achievement Award, ahead of Michael Schumacher who had just wrapped up his third consecutive F1 title triumph. There were several reasons why Martin was awarded the prize, not least for introducing Zip Formula but also to acknowledge his contribution over forty years to motorsport and his incredible fifth FIA European Championship after a nine year break from international racing.
In more recent years Martin was the guest of honour at the BRSCC Annual Awards Dinner Dance for the 2008 season and was presented with the ‘BRSCC John Nicol Trophy’ by John’s widow Debs (pictured above). In announcing to all the guests that Martin was the winner Club Chairman Bernard Cottrell declared “Martin is an innovator and his achievements, particularly in the karting world, are the stuff of legends but whatever else he goes on to achieve in motorsport he will probably be always best known as the man who spotted a then 8 year old Lewis Hamilton and set him on his way to being F1 World Champion”.
Martin always understood the importance of bringing new people into competitive motorsport so when in 2009 the Club commissioned the production of a DVD on how to get started in motorsport Martin was keen to lend his support via sponsorship from Grand Prix Racewear, which he had recently taken over. In addition to his financial support Martin also produced a very professional filmed interview for the DVD on what personal safety equipment new drivers would need.
Martin Hines achieved so much in his own career but was also such an important influence on young drivers starting out on theirs. He will certainly be much missed by all who knew him.