Rio race car driver Bobby Thompson shares his journey so far ...
Since the age of 7 he's wanted to drive in the BTCC, this season is a dream come true for Bobby Thompson. Follow his journey with us...
It’s a world of cars that some kids only dream about, Bobby how did you get into racing?
My grandad always did the speedway on bikes and I grew up watching him and my dad and uncle on the track. I had my first ride in a go kart when I was seven and absolutely loved it. Honestly, from the moment I started that day I just loved it, I started racing in them a year later.
Racing at that point is organised by weight so the kids in my category were generally aged between 8 and 13. The next level up is 13-18 and it’s there that it gets really competitive. All of the younger kids get bullied on the track by the older ones who are more experienced. It makes you sharp though, trying to stay out of their way and still overtake, and when I beat them it was the best feeling ever!
Was the feeling addictive?
Yes, it was all I ever really wanted to do and for 49 weekends of every year it was all I did do. I competed in the British and European Championships on behalf of a team (team name?) which was amazing because they paid for a lot of it. There was no way that I could have done it otherwise.
So you carted until 15…
Yes then I got my racing license and moved across into car racing. Everything about it, driving and behind the scenes was so fast paced and thrilling, and I really wanted to do well. I remember thinking when I was thirteen that this was what I wanted to do when I older so I just committed and worked even harder from that point on.
Were your family supportive?
Oh yes, 100% and that was the brilliant thing about it, my dad was involved behind the scenes in every way possible so we’re super close now, I owe him so much - we’ve had no large operation spurring us on, we’ve worked hard together over the years and I’m proud of what we’ve achieved together.
What are you doing when you’re not racing?
I’m actually a professional race coach driver - you honestly can’t keep me off the track!
So the past twelve months have been insane for you…
Winning the VW Championships was incredible. It was a win for everyone on my team because we’d all worked and focused so hard on getting there. The fans have been amazing over the years in giving me their support so it felt great to get on that podium.
Do the fans really boost race day for you?
Massively. Any cheering, smiles, pats on the back, whether I’ve won or not, every social media thumbs up all goes to boosting my performance.
Do you feel pressure to win?
Yes, definitely. I always have done - even when the wins haven’t technically meant prizes. I always want to do my best and give 100%
How do you feel about this season?
Gosh every emotion under the sun I think! I feel excited, nervous, I want to do well for my fans for myself, my family, my sponsors, everyone. But above all of it, even saying to people that I’m in the BTCC is an absolute dream come true - some people dream about F1, which I knew was never going to be for me - I’m too big and too tall for a single seater. For me it was always the BTCC and to be honest with you, I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet.
It’ll sink in when you’re on the grid!
Yes, and by then I’m going to be so hungry for it.
What’s your goal for the first race?
To finish and finish well. I’ve got some amazing sponsors and a great team with Team Hard and I want to do my utmost level best for them. I take it race by race so the most I really want to say now is that with the first race I want to finish it - BTCC is renowned for crashes, nudges and the like, so I’ll be pleased with a good completed race.
Do you ever feel fear when racing?
The dangers of racing never really cross my mind and I don't mean that in an arrogant way, it's just that I go out wanting to win, and from the moment the race starts I'm concentrating so much there's no time to think about anything else.
How do you take failure?
That is honestly one of the best life lessons that racing has given me - from the age of seven when I made a silly decision in a go-kart, to today where I might win or lose, I’ve had it instilled in me to just keep going. So whether I win or lose I take the positives from the race and learn from the negatives. It’s crucial to think this way, it’s just you in the car so your mindset has got to be positive and constructive. With 20-25 laps and three races each day, the BTCC is going to push me but I’m so excited for the challenge and to be part of it.
Well we're very proud to be sponsoring you, you have the whole of the Rio team cheering you on!
Thank you - it’s great to have Rio on board as an official sponsor - I can’t stop drinking it now. I know we’ve got some good competitions planned for fans throughout the season and I’ll be giving you my take on each race day so stay tuned to follow my journey and come on down to the circuits. It’s a great day out, kids go free and I’ll wave if I can!