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422 Ben Riley

Interview with F1 Stock Car Driver 422 Ben Riley which appeared in the 23 May Programme



Who will be BriSCA Formula One novice of the year, 2015? There is a good chance it will be 422 Ben Riley. The Salford man, son of former racer Dave, has made a great start to his maiden campaign after stepping up from BriSCA Formula Two, including taking the chequered flag for the first time in the white & yellow grade race at our last meeting here a month ago. He won’t forget that success in a hurry.

“I really enjoyed it,” said Riley. “I had my first win in Formula One so I was well chuffed with myself. I got a bit lucky – there was a bit of a crash involved but I managed to get through and get the win so I was well happy.

“To be honest, I was sitting third, I think, when the yellow flag came out, and when we set off again, the first two seemed to go in this big pile-up. I just managed to be a bit further back as they went in. I’d seen a tyre and had to move it out the way to get through, and then as I came through, the five lap board came out. There was no one behind me, so I knew then pretty much that it was my win so I was well chuffed.”

The rest of the meeting wasn’t too bad either, with 10th in heat two and 12th in the grand national.

“I got caught up in the final but that’s just racing, isn’t it. You’ve got to crack on but we had a good couple of places.”

Come May, the 23-year-old found himself with a yellow roof but that didn’t hold him back, as straight away he took 7th in his heat at Coventry, before the first national points-scoring win came at his local Belle Vue track on the May Day bank holiday – the highlight of his season to date.

“From yellow as well,” Riley enthused. “I couldn’t believe it, I was just so happy. I’ve got no words to describe how happy I felt. Hopefully I did my dad proud and my family proud at the same time.

“I had two lower grade in front of me but I just seemed to get through them. It was my second meeting at yellow so to get a win from yellow, I never expected that in my entire life. I never expected a win in Formula One, never mind get one from yellow, so I was really happy. A few of the rugby lads from my old club came and watched me, so to get a win in front of them meant a lot to me.”

All that came after a very impressive showing in the Incarace tarmac world qualifying weekend last month which shot Riley into contention for a semi-final place in what is a car designed for shale racing.

“I wasn’t going to do it but it’s a good car and we thought we’d have a go,” explained Riley. “I was a bit unlucky [at Birmingham]. Really, without yellow flags, I should have won a heat and made the final but it’s one of them things. But then we went to Hednesford and had another good day. I never got a win but I was still happy with the results I got. I think I got 55 points over the weekend and I got two grade awards, Saturday and Sunday as well, so I was well chuffed with myself. Just gutted I didn’t get the win.”

The car Riley is piloting is his dad’s from a few years ago, rebuilt after it was extensively damaged in the 2011 Word Final.

“My dad raced Formula Ones and we had a bit of a chat before this season and we decided to have a go. So we built this car and, to be fair, it’s a good car, so we’re well chuffed with how it’s going. Basically, it was my dad’s car that we [lent] to Peter Rees [for the] World Final at Northampton. It was the same car – he got knocked out so they chopped the roof off – it’s that car. Basically, it’s just chassis rails really but everything else is new – it’s had a new roll cage.”

The Riley family has a strong heritage in the sport, with Dave’s brother John, father Keith and niece Charlotte all having taken to the track. Ben has now added himself to the list, having served his apprenticeship in BriSCA Formula Two, and is already making a name for himself with his impressive displays.

“I did two or three years in Formula Twos,” Ben said, “but I only raced when my dad could race, with his Formula Ones. It was only tarmac as well – I’d never raced shale before. So that’s why I was umming and ahhing about coming into these because we only had a shale car. But we did it and I’ve done well.

“There’s my grandad, there’s my uncle and there’s my dad. I really want to do well to show them what I can do. So hopefully I’m doing them all proud at the same time. It’s going very well – I’m really happy. I’m surprising myself how well I’ve done, to be honest with you, but I’m starting from the front, aren’t I , so it’s a bit easier from the front!

“To be honest with you, I thought it was going to be a lot harder than what it were,” Riley admitted. “The drivers respect you, if you know what I mean – they don’t want to destroy you. They want to just move you out the way and crack on with their racing. Hopefully I’ll get quick enough to be in there with them but at the same time, I’m really enjoying myself so it is what it is. I can’t believe how well it’s gone – I’m really, really chuffed. I’ve had a really good time in the Formula Ones, honest to God. So hopefully I’ll have a few more good times.

“I’d like to thank my dad and all my sponsors, as well as Tommy Kay – he’s done a lot for me and he’s done a lot for the car – and J Davidson Scrap Metal. But my dad, if it wasn’t for my dad, I wouldn’t be where I am today, racing Formula One – he’s done a lot for me. Dan, Jack and Royton – they are the lads who help fix the car,” he added.

But despite having had such a good start, Riley is keeping his feet on the ground, maintaining realistic hopes and expectations, without dampening his terrific enthusiasm.

“Just to finish races,” he said of his targets. “I’ve got a lot to learn but I am really up for it. I can’t wait to get out and I’m really enjoying the Formula Ones. It’s different but I’m loving it. I’m having a really good time.

“We are sticking to shale for now but we will be out on tarmac, definitely. Maybe not this year but next year we will be out on tarmac.

“I can’t wait [to race tonight]. I’ve got a bit of work to do on the car but it’ll be all ready for King’s Lynn so we’re ready to go.”

So watch out for the 422-machine tonight. It’s driver is going places.


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