An Interview with Alistair Rushforth
Alastair has been racing from an early age, first starting Karts working his way up through saloon cars. He currently competes in the MGCC MG Trophy driving a MG ZR 160, alongside team mate Jay Mooney also driving an MG ZR. Alastair is not only a driver but team principle running Alastair Rushforth Motorsports running cars in the MG Manor Drayton Metro Cup, driven by his brother Matt Rushforth and Simon Wilson.
The MG trophy is one of the most cost effective and considered one of the most entertaining championships in the UK. It’s designed to keep costs down with sealed engines and gearboxes, and only allowing a particular number of new tyres in a season. Which makes the championship suitable for both novice and experienced drivers? It has a point system which allows any driver in any of the classes to win the overall title. Alastair is currently laying 8th overall and 3rd in class; in 2007 he was 2nd overall and class champion. Having missed the first two rounds at Donington this season his overall position in the championship is very good.
We caught up Alastair and asked him a few questions.
1: How Long have you been racing
I've been racing since the age of 9.
2: How did it all begin?
My dad used to rally, hill climb & sprint so I grew up surrounded by race & rally cars. I was given a motocross bike when I was 6 before going to watching a kart race. I think my parents decided four wheels were safer than two, so my dad did a deal to buy a kart at the end of that season and it went from there.
3: Who’s been your biggest influence as a driver and why?
My dad has been a huge influence. Obviously in the early years his wallet helped, but throughout he's given me guidance, not so much driving wise but regarding my conduct on & off the track, with the team and also helping in keeping my feet firmly on the ground when big BTCC team express an interest.
Driver-wise I'd choose Nigel Mansell. His grit & determination to succeed in the sport has been a massive influence. I only wish the days of walking into a team & getting them to take a chance on driving ability over wallet content were still with us.
4: What’s the most important aspect of racing for you?
There are so many areas of motor racing, a lot of which the general public don't see that it's hard to pick one. However, the thrill of competing is immense; it's hard to put into words the feelings & emotions you go through. The social side is great fun with the team and I also get a sense of pride when I see cars I've built being raced.
5: Why did you choose to compete in the MG Trophy?
My dad & I went to one of the early MG trophy races when the ZR first came out in competition form. Back then the championship was arrive & drive and was supported by MG Sport & Racing. Dad turned to me that day saying "this is where we want to be son" And now here we are.
We have looked into running our own car in the Clio Cup, but the cars are so expensive to buy so we've returned to the MG Trophy this year.
6: Which is your favourite circuit and why?
I enjoy Oulton Park, even though the circuit doesn't seem to like me.
(I wrote my old MG ZR off there in 2010)
The circuit is in a very picturesque setting, has every type of corner a driver could ask for. It's also a very undulating circuit which adds to the challenge of mastering of track.
7: Which conditions do you prefer to race in wet or dry?
Both, in the dry the racing is obviously faster. However I've always been good in the wet. I think this stems from not being able to afford decent wet tyres when we raced karts, I made do with 7 year old tyres which weren't very good and I used to test on slicks in the wet to help with my car/kart control.
That said I don't have any wet tyres this season as my budget doesn't stretch that far so if it's possible to order dry races for the rest of this year that'd be nice.
8: How has using Evans Waterless Coolants improved the car/s?
One of the main improvements with using Evans is I no longer need to worry about overheating. The product allows the engines to perform much better as there's no boiling in the cylinder heads. We've even had to use the cars when there's been a slight split in one of the water hoses. Had we used water/antifreeze pressure build up in the system would've meant the split enlarges meaning a loss of coolant & probably a damaged engine. With Evans, there's no build up of pressure, and the split pipe got no worse meaning we could race and solve the issue straight after.
9: What are your long term plans for Alastair Rushforth Motorsports?
It's no secret that as a driver I am aiming for the BTCC. It would be fantastic if I can get Alastair Rushforth Motorsport there, as an independent team in the future.
10: Where would you as an individual and as a team like to be in 5 years?
In 5 years time, it's realistic to think that both I & the team will be in the BTCC.
11: What have you got planned for next year?
Just like every year, what I race is budget dependent.
However, at this point in time it's likely that I'll come back to the MG Trophy for a full season (I'm missing 4 races/2 meetings this year) and do it properly with testing etc.
12: Have you ever considered giving Rally driving a go?
As a youngster I grew up around rallying and I do enjoy that discipline of the sport. When I was at school, I managed to do my work experience at Silverstone Rally School and actually built one of their Mk2 Escorts. They invited me for a rally day (school wouldn't allow it as I was 15) which I did and really enjoyed it. The director was my instructor (he knew my dad) and he was impressed with my driving even though he referred to me as a "roundy roundy driver" and seemed surprised that even with my racing technique that I could drive a rally car quick.
I have a saying when asked about driving a certain car or in a championship which is;
"If it has wheels, I'll drive it as fast as it'll go"
13: What advice would give someone just starting out in motorsport?
Firstly, do your homework properly. That's includes cars, championships & series just as much as learning the info required to pass your ARDs test.
If you're limited to a budget, work out how much you can afford to spend and stick to it.
Lastly, enjoy it! For some motor racing is a hobby, and way of releasing frustrations after a working week. Therefore it's vital that you enjoy your racing, regardless where you finish. You'll also find that results will come your way when you enjoy it.