Saturday, January 30, 2010


One man I'm keeping track of this weekend is Derek Johnston, driver of the #77 Doran Racing entry along with Memo Gidley, Fabrizio Gollin and Brad Jaeger.

Johnston won the drive by collecting the most points in the Sunoco Driver Challenge, a competition which awarded points to drivers in British GT, British F3, the SPEED series and the Radical UK Cup. Johnston won the Radical UK Cup in an SR8, and found time to win the European series too.

Apparently, the 47-yr old started racing motorbikes in 1993 but stopped after breaking his leg and wrist in his 3rd race. He took it up again but stopped again after a fatality in one race. After another break he switched to car racing in a Ferrari and wondered what those fast little prototypes were that kept passing him. So he bought one. And won.

I can't say I'm expect a lot of pace from him because the level of professionalism is a big step up, but he's an underdog and a Brit, and Brits like supporting underdogs - its as if I'm destined to support him. As an underdog I fully expect him to promise much and then spectacularly fail to deliver.

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The SpeedGeek said...

An interesting story, but the whole Sunoco Driver Challenge thing bothered me all last year. They'd flash the qualifying driver standings up on the screen during every GrandAm race, and my reaction was always "who are these guys? And what series are these?" And that's coming from ME, the guy who watches and tracks everything. I suppose it's entirely paid for by Sunoco ad they can do whatevery they want but, if the reward is a ride in an American series, then why are all of the eligible drivers and series British? Wouldn't they be better served to try to pick up a young American from SCCA or F2000?

Pat W said...

To be fair I think it is more do with promoting the brand in this country. And even then only among the racing community because they picked series nobody knows about. I'm wondering if they are exclusive suppliers to those series..