Spotlight: Ralph Saunders, a parents perspective...
All photos courtesy of Chris Kings.
I’ve been asked quite a lot what prompted me to keep Lewis in the JSCC. As a driver starting a fledgling career, some assume I’ve made a mistake. I’d like to think not! Here are a few lines to explain our reasons for staying with the JSCC in 2019, rather than moving on to perceived bigger, (more expensive) and better things.
For us the options were limited, Lewis is still only just 15, so he has to be a junior. Having won the JSCC championship in 2018 any move needed to tick all the right boxes, or potentially waste the opportunities winning the championship may bring.
We didn’t consider Fiesta Juniors, 5 cars didn’t seem like our kind of challenge - we do this to race, not to ride around on our own. So what of Ginetta Juniors? I love the series, it’s fabulous to watch, there is (some) live TV and publicity. But at what cost? Lewis won the JSCC last year, having bought two fantastic cars, (he destroyed one) maintained them regardless of cost, bought all but 4 of our tyre allowance and spent something in the region of £30k. Clearly a drop in the ocean of Ginetta budgets, (you can’t buy a championship winning car for that, let alone two) So what of the publicity?? Surely the plus outweighs the cost, not in our case, the Brands Hatch meeting was fantastic, the video of the last lap is still totting up views and comment. Three drivers, three cars and one lap to sort it out... you won’t get a better story anywhere...
Lewis was awarded the Peter Collins award for 'Most promising junior competing in BARC events or championships' at the BARC awards evening, he drives in the JSCC, so there is nothing wrong with the publicity, nor the standing of the series within the racing community.
This year, Ciceley Motorsport have signed Lewis into a junior driver program made especially for him, they’ve done this based on his results and hard work, not because he spent more money...this is a massive opportunity, with a fabulous team, and one which we would undoubtedly missed had we been racing elsewhere. That you take a personal interest in each driver, makes a difference! That we have a knowledgable Clerk, and Scrutineer who draw a line and who don’t move from it, makes a difference. That the paddock is such a friendly place... these are reasons to stay. We were impressed by the fast, quiet no drama approach to cars failing technical checks, drivers know this is a series where mistakes or blatant rule bending won’t be tolerated, we know the cars are straight. This makes the racing fair and competitive.
As far as we are concerned the JSCC remains, a competitive well run, cheapish junior race series, one where success is noticed and from which drivers can progress... So, we may leave next year,? But the experience and fun (isn’t that actually why we are here?) in the JSCC paddock will have shaped Lewis in the way that Standlake Arena did before.., cream rises to the top, and which ever series you are in, winners tend to win.
So my advice to the people who ask me remains the same, enjoy it and don’t let it bankrupt you. Chasing dreams is one thing, but keep you feet on the floor. The JSCC is at least as good as everything else, and better than quite a lot. Cheers Ralph