Graham Rumsey started karting at the age of 14 with London Kart Club at Tilbury circuit in Essex. With an extremely tight budget, this was not his most successful period although he would often be racing alongside some now, well-known names such as Johnny Herbert and in later years David Couthard. Budget depleted and junior career over, but the passion never died and he returned to karting after a few years and at the age of 35! Got his first works drive. Graham won the (Veteran) ‘0’ plate in 2000. Business pressures unfortunately forced another “sabbatical” from the sport, although soon after a brief dip into the word of Oval Autograss, kept the trophy shelf topped up.
This was not really for Graham, so only lasted a short season. Having always been a fan of Rallycross, late in 20I6 he bought a Production Specification Citreon Saxo and entered the British Rallycross Championship with some success. With a few wins and regular podiums, Graham finished 2nd overall in the championship in his inaugural year and was awarded the “Newcomer of the Year” at the end of the season. Unfortunately the British Championship dropped the production class for 2017 so Graham entered the BTRDA Clubmans championship which regularly had over 25 entries and became overall production champion. A new challenge was needed, so after a look around and many conversations in different paddocks, Graham met Paul Austin of NHA Motorsport and decided that the highly competitive Mazda MX5 championship ticked all the boxes. So an ARDS test was taken at Brands Hatch and after a couple of hours track time in one of the NHA cars a deal was agreed on a Arrive and Drive package for the upcoming 2017 season.
Round One – Brands Hatch
Having not raced the car before or any of the circuits, with an average entry of 50+ cars, we soon realised how competitive this class was. We tested at the circuit on the day before race weekend, our target was to get times down below the one minute. Early on he realised how competitive his class was when an untimely dive from fellow competitor culminated in Graham visiting the gravel. After a few minor repairs he progressed and managed a sub one minute lap. Qualifying the next day was very wet and greasy and Graham struggled with the lack of knowledge of the car and the circuit, qualifying badly in the B Group. As the weekend progressed his times got better and positions improved and with some good clean racing, we all left with smiles on our face but alas no trophies!
Round Two – Snetterton
Arriving at Snetterton testing was delayed due to fog but once underway he found a long and tricky but exciting circuit to learn. A steady weekend with a lot learnt, but still along way to go.
Round Three – Cadwell Park
Testing on the Thursday prior to the race meeting, and an hour’s tuition with Mark Hales. Some good racing over the weekend on a circuit known affectionately as the mini Nurburgring. Getting closer to the top 10 finish but still yet to achieve top 10 finish.
Round Four – Oulton Park
A great introduction to Oulton Park experiencing all the weather seasons throughout the weekend, including a red flag due to torrential rain. Good and bad results and continuing to strive forward.
Round Five – Silverstone
A bad crash on Friday’s testing resulting in a lot of damage which meant the team from NHA had to work extremely hard to get the car ready for Saturday. Again torrential rain with tricky conditions making it difficult to learn the circuit and the car.
Round Six – Anglesey
A long drive to North Wales, to the very scenic circuit of Anglesey, where once again we experienced ALL weather conditions, but some good racing on a very tricky circuit, although still struggling to meet our targets.
Round Seven – Rockingham
A first race incident resulted in broken steering and a forced retirement. Starting from the back of the grid in Race 2 and gaining lots of places, put us on Grid 13 for Race 3. Race 3 and a great start, but unfortunately a innocent victim of the mid-field melee where a car was fired into me catapulted us into the concrete wall!
Round Eight – Donington
A great circuit and some great racing until Race 2 when a “overzealous” from a fellow competitor pushed us into the gravel trap at The Old Hairpin. A start from the back at Race 3, but gaining 15 places, soon put the smile back.
Summing it up for 2018…
Overall a great season and a great experience but a very steep learning curve! Graham enjoyed learning the car and the circuits and was ever amazed at the level of competition among the regular 50+ entries. What about 2019? A new car, but staying with the NHA Motorsport team, but with a full season now behind us, maybe a slightly different approach and eyes wide open! Could this be a podium season? Stay tuned…