Suffolk Formula Ford driver chases his Le Mans dream
PUBLISHED: 13:07 19 July 2010 | UPDATED: 17:33 20 February 2013
Elmswell-based Formula Ford driver David Ellesley (23) is also managing director of a company specialising in racing car design, set-up and driver training. Competing at the Le Mans 24-hour race is his dream.
Elmswell-based Formula Ford driver David Ellesley (23) is also managing director of a company specialising in racing car design, set-up and driver training. Competing at the Le Mans 24-hour race is his dream. His father runs a mechanics business while his mother works at a health surgery
When did you first get into competitive driving and who or what got you interested?
I first got into competitive Motorsport at around the age of 12, in 1999, when I started racing in the Crown Wheel Auto X Juniors division in a home prepared 1980's Mini. Its the challenge it presents and how unpredictable and exciting it can be. I remember sitting watching British Touring Car Races on the BBC and feeling ecstatic with Murray Walker commentating on the races. The older I get I also see how much drive, passion and direction motorsport has given me as a whole.
If I had to pick one driver who I enjoyed watching the most it would be ex F1 world champion Damon Hill, a gentleman but still one hell of a good driver.
What is Formula Ford?
There are several categories of Formula Ford across the UK and rest of the world. Effectively they are separated by engine type and the rules that apply to each class. The reason it is called Formula Ford is that each and every car uses a specific Ford engine.
This year I am competing in British Formula Ford which is seen as the Formula 1 of all the Formula Ford championships. It has sons of ex F1 drivers and teams and drivers from all across the globe competing. Over the past 60 years Formula Ford has been seen as the training ground for many great drivers. People like Jenson Button and Kimi Raikkonen were racing Formula Fords just 10 years ago.
How dangerous is it?
Sadly it can be very dangerous. You need to have a lot of faith in the other drivers around you to be able to go side by side at over 150mph.
Fortunately deaths are very few and far between as are serious injuries. John Surtees, Henry Surtees, was killed last year in a Formula 2 race at Brands Hatch. That was caused by a wheel and wishbone assembly hitting him in the head from an accident that happened in front.
What successes have you had?
My two largest successes are becoming the 2009 British Ford Fiesta ST champion and the 2002 Auto X juniors title, although there have been many race wins in other formula's too.
From an off track point of view I consider my largest success is to have achieved all I have on track as a small family run team. Often we were competing against teams with thousands of pounds to spend each meeting paying for the best of everything, but we showed that as a close team we could compete and beat others.
I am continually looking for sponsors and strategic partners.
Last years championship winning car was built solely by myself to save on build costs, but it also allowed me to maximise every aspect of the car and become totally familiar with it.
Where can people see you race?
We travel as far as Holland and Scotland for two meetings with the remaining races being held all over the UK. The tracks we are visiting this year are Oulton Park (Cheshire) Knock Hill (Scotland) Zandvoort- (Holland) Castle Combe (Wiltshire) Rockingham (Northants) Silverstone (Northants) Snetterton (Norfolk) Brands Hatch (Kent) and Donington Park (Derbyshire).
All of this years races are also being broadcast on Channel 4 and Sky so there's no need to even leave your home to see me race. You can also look on my website www.davidellesley.co.uk
Presumably it's preparation for Formula One at some stage?
Strangely no. Generally Formula 1 is seen as the pinnacle of single seater racing across most of Europe but its never been my dream. My aim as a driver is to race at events like the Le-Mans 24hrs in France and work as an integral member of the team developing new technologies in racing cars.
Apart from Martin Brundle does the region have any famous drivers?
Youre right Martin Brundle originally comes from Kings Lynn so he definitely counts as being in our region. Since Brundle there seems to have been a drought of drivers from East Anglia making it into areas like F1 and Le-Mans. Of course, there is one ex driver and team owner from Suffolk who practically runs F1 nowadays, Bernie Ecclestone. He was born inSt Peter South Elmham, near Bungay.
Who will win this year's British Grand Prix?
Now that's tough. I would like to say Lewis Hamilton, but my gut instinct is telling me Sebastian Vettel. Sorry!
What do you like about Suffolk?
I like the openness and variety it offers, its great to be able to one day go down to the beach at Felixstowe and the next to an art gallery in Lavenham. My girlfriend and I often go for walks around the fields and lanes near my house. Its great to wake up on a warm summers morning and be surrounded by nothing but fields.
Any parts of the county you like to visit?
Felixstowe Beach is great in the summer as is Needham Lake, other than that I generally just stick to footpaths and fields that intersect all around Elmsett.
Favourite book, song and film ?
My favourite book is Lewis Hamilton's official autobiography, in truth I was never a big reader and before that the only book I had ever read from cover to cover was Roald Dahl's Danny Champion of the World' Lewis's biography is great as it's told by him, as he saw things and as he experienced them . My favourite song is currently by a Norwegian singer called Lene Marlin. Its been around for a while now and is called Sitting Down Here . . . very chilled and relaxing. My favourite film is the Matrix, quickly followed by Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions.
Best piece of advice you have been given?
To finish first, you first have to finish'. That certainly helps me focus on the run down to the first turn! In life I would say that it was: Its not about where you end up, its how you get where your going.