Photo copyright: Jon Elsey JonElseyBRSCC2015SuperCupCroft-200
We spoke to Will Picken, one of our Architects, to find out more about his motor racing hobby.
Aside from architecture and design, my other passion in life is motorsport. It all started, as these things do, at an early age. I remember constructing Lego racing cars as a child and drawing old engine parts. I also enjoyed many years spectating at various motor racing events with my Dad…until we discovered our local outdoor go-karting track. My first kart was red, powered by a Honda engine. We didn’t have any expectations at first. However, I won the club championship in my first full season and the following year moved up into a faster category for karts with 2-stroke engines, with a top speed of 80mph. Understanding the mechanics of the kart was essential and you quickly learn how to fine-tune the set-up to suit track conditions. I competed successfully at regional and national level, fitting racing around my academic studies in Architecture.
Following two years gaining professional experience in Reykjavik, Iceland, I attended Silverstone racing school and obtained my competition car licence. This marked the first step to fulfilling a dream! I competed in the F1000 championship, driving a purpose built single-seater racing car with slick tyres, sequential gearbox and aerodynamic wings, capable of 0-60mph in less than 3 seconds. Speed, consistency and race-craft skills I had acquired through Karting proved invaluable. The highlight was two victories in mixed weather conditions at the Silverstone Circuit, in front of the striking new pit lane and paddock building. I then moved into sportscar racing and competed in the Mazda MX-5 Supercup. This remains a fiercely contested one-make series based on the road going production car, however with some performance modifications. Despite a limited budget, my strongest results were actually at my ‘home track’ Croft Circuit, near Darlington.
Recently, I competed in the Scottish Mini Cooper championship at the challenging Knockhill Circuit. This track demands a high level of commitment as the car is launched over kerbs through blind corners. It was also my first experience driving a front wheel drive racing car, which required a slightly different technique, including left-foot braking. I have driven on some fantastic circuits, including the infamous Nürburgring in Germany and recommend to anyone interested in competing to join a local motor club, maximise their track time and choose a category that offers close and exciting racing!!