Change
category
"

Matt Neal

What inspired you to get involved in motorsport?

My Dad took me along to see the Big Cat Jaguars in the Tourist Trophy at Silverstone, that was in the days when it was still all ploughed fields in the centre of the circuit. We had a wander round the circuit and stood on the banking near Becketts to watch. We managed to drive onto the in-field, my Dad used to sneak us in with us hiding in the boot as we were still small enough to fit in back then! Andy Rouse was racing the Broadspeed Jag and Hans-Joachim Stuck along with Jochen Mass were in the Batmobile BMW’s. Seeing those cars pretty much sold it to me. The Jags were incredibly fast, but also very fragile, they’d get into the lead and then always breakdown. But that day really got me hooked on Touring Car Racing.

Your first experience of driving a Touring Car?

It was at the 1991 British Grand Prix meeting here at Silverstone, the year Nigel Mansell won and stopped to give Ayrton Senna a lift back to the pits. I was in a BMW M3 and my team mate was Frank Sytner. He’d just lost his drive with Prodrive so Godfrey Hall was running him. BTCC was one of the support races for the GP weekend, it was just a phenomenal experience. They used to put the Touring Cars on after the F1 race, so the huge crowds were still there. I’d never driven in front of a crowd that size, there were 120,000+ there, crowd sizes were unlimited back then, it was quite intimidating!

I then came back to Silverstone the following year when it was the big showdown with Will Hoy, Tim Harvey and John Clelland. I got to drive in what I think was the best Touring Car race of all time. To be involved in that was pretty special, Silverstone has been pretty key to my memories of where I started out in Touring Cars and of course was the venue I secured my second BTCC Championship victory driving the Honda Integra in 2006.

When I won my first championship it took a good week for it to start sinking in. I couldn’t allow myself to begin to celebrate properly until the car had been through post race scrutineering and all the results had been confirmed.

Favourite BTCC race victory?

I think for most drivers it has to be your first, it always a special moment in your career. It was 1999, during the Super Touring car era. I was in a Nissan Primera, the race was on live TV and they had put a special prize up for the race at Donington Park. I led from the start but they had pit stops back then. I stalled it during the pit stop and dropped down to fifth place. I thought I’d thrown it all away, but fought my way back through and managed to get the win and a cheque for £250,000. When the cheque came through it felt like winning the lottery. It didn’t last long, it soon got spent!

Silverstone Classic

This year I’m hear with Flash (Gordon Shedden) with Team Dynamics. We’ve got a 1964 Mk1 Lotus Cortina Touring Car, which dates back to the Jim Clark era, which for Flash is great, given the Scottish connections. The whole weekend is great, just to be able to walk along the paddock and see cars I watched as a kid, cars I’ve raced, cars I’ve raced against and quite a few I’d have love to have driven. It’s a very special event.

Matt Neal

We interviewed Matt at the Silverstone Classic 2014.

Follow on twitter @MattNealRacing

What are your favourite memories of watching Matt? Add a memory and help tackle dementia, depression and loneliness.

Watch Matt winning the feature race at Donington in 1999

 

 

Comments

No comments have yet been added to this memory.

Add a comment

Matt Neal pictured with the 1964 Mk1 Lotus Cortina. Click to view full sizeMatt Neal pictured with the 1964 Mk1 Lotus Cortina. Click to view full size