James Alford has been racing for just over a year. Ever since he was a young child James has always loved riding or driving anything. In his past he has driven motorbikes, cars, forklifts and trucks, he really did enjoy driving. His love for anything with an engine began to grow and he became part of the car scene. He started out by getting faster road cars then modified them to make them even faster but then he began realising that the place to drive fast is on the race track. That was the time James decided to build a car to do track-days in. He passed his ARDS (race) license and then got himself on to the grid.
One thing everybody always wants to know is what preparation drivers do prior to a race weekend. James’ pre-race weekend routine is to do a complete check over the car making sure all the bolts are sufficiently tightened, checks all of the fluid levels to make sure he doesn’t have a leak anywhere and he does a visual inspection of the tyres, brakes and every safety item in the car such as; fire extinguisher, safety harness and roll cage to make sure everything is in order as if there were any issues with those he would not be safe to go racing.
James and Blair awaiting to go out on track to do some testing. Credit: Tilley Photography.
A lot of fans/spectators want to know what drivers do in their spare time when they aren’t racing. James spends a lot of his time working on race cars when he isn’t working his day job, which funds his racing career. James does all of the maintenance and upgrade work on the Renault Clio that he races alone and shares the workload with his best friend and team mate Blair Roebuck for their co-owned Civic. Aside of working on his race cars James also enjoys watching race events, go karting, playing Volleyball to keep fit and learning about computer systems.
A lot of drivers are often asked what the fans/spectators really do mean to them. James thinks that any fan of his and fans of the sport in general are simply fantastic. He feels that fans bring a lot to a race day as it shows how strong support for the sport when he sees the amount of fans that turn up trackside to support not just him as a driver but for the whole grid. He says they are one of the many parts that make motorsport fun.
James’ ultimate career goal is to do something that he enjoys where he can earn enough to fund his race career as a hobby. He would love to be able to combine a career with his racing but if he isn’t able to make that work, he just wants to make sure his career pays enough to ensure he can continue racing as a hobby. James feels that budget has not been a major concern at any point of his racing career so far. However, he knows that it restricts what he can race and in which championship he can be competitive in. He enjoys racing against other drivers who have similar budgets as it makes racing more interesting due to the similarity of car specs.
When asked about his favourite cars he told us that his favourite older style cars are the Japanese import cars as they are great out of the factory and superb fun to drive. Although, his favourite new car is the Honda Civic Type R as it looks fantastic and finally has a turbo but he is also really interested to see the new Ford Focus RS in action when it is released. James prefers front wheel drive cars for driving quickly as he prefers the way they handle compared to rear wheel drive. However, James does like to drive rear wheel drive cars too as they are great fun to slide around. Previously he has also owned a Mistubushi Lancer Evolution VIII which made him love four-wheel drive.
James getting stuck in to racing with fellow BARC Tin Tops competitors. Credit: Tilley Photography.
When asked about his dream race car he said “I don’t think it matters too much about which car you drive, what does matter is that the competition is similar and that racing is fair and happening throughout the race. I would one day love to be able to compete in the UK Clio Cup and hopefully the BTCC eventually as they look to be the races that are really intense but fun and enjoyable at the same time. I guess the ultimate dream would be to race a Mclaren 650S GT3 as he believes it would make a lovely race car.” His dream road car would be either the Ferrari 458 Italia or the Audi R8. He chose the Ferrari because it has a nice style about it whereas the Audi is a lovely car but James would have to go out and do a few test drives of each before he could decide which would be better.
James began racing in the CSCC Tin Tops championship in a Civic EK with his best friend Blair Roebuck just over a year ago. They chose the Civic because it was seen by the duo as a decent car for a fair price. They believed it would be a decent entry to the sport for their rookie year. James began racing in the BARC Tin Tops in a Renault Clio 172 Cup Car. The BARC events form a championship which is good fun to be a part of and James has had many good weekends of racing in the championship last year whilst spending time having fun with friends.
In the beginning, James and Blair chose to buy the Honda Civic EK as it was a decent price to buy the car and they both knew a lot of people within the Honda scene so they would be able to get parts for the car with ease at low prices. The car was a good base as it is a light hatchback and can be set up to handle really well on track. When choosing a car for the second series James wanted to enter he looked around at options but decided that a French hatchback car would make a decent base so he brought a Clio 172 to use as a road car. Once he had decided that he liked the way it drove he brought another Clio but this time chose the Clio 172 Cup edition car to use on track.
For 2016 James will be returning to the CSCC Tin Tops race with Blair as his teammate in their Honda Civic EK but will also contest a second season partaking in the BARC Tin Tops in his Renault Clio 172 Cup car. We will be working alongside James to keep everyone up to date on how his race weekends go throughout the year. If you would like to go and watch James compete in either championship here are his race weekend dates;
Date: Venue: Car:
27th/28th March Brands Hatch Indy (Easter Truck Racing) Clio
10th April Snetterton 300 Civic
30th April/1st May Brands Hatch Indy (MG Car Club meeting) Clio
30th April Silverstone Civic
30th May Brands Hatch Indy (Masters Meeting) Clio
4th June Brands Hatch Civic
25th/26th June Brands Hatch Indy (BARC HQ Meeting) Clio
24th July Anglesey Civic
30th/31st July Brands Hatch Indy Clio
13thAugust Thruxton (TELIVISED) Civic
4th September Donington Park Civic
17th/18th September To Be Confirmed Clio
18th September Cadwell Park Civic
1st/2nd October Snetterton 200 (MG Car Club Meeting) Clio
15th October Oulton Park Civic
5th/6th November Brands Hatch Indy (Truck Racing Final) Clio
© Fay Tilley 16th February 2016