Whistlin' Jack Smith >> Blog >> Living the dream

Some people dream about being a professional footballer others want to be rich or famous, for this webmaster it was all about being a Hot Rod driver. This is the story of Paul Ballard, my story, the one about being a being a former Hot Rod super-fan.

Step back to 1988 and a young Paul Ballard got his first taste of oval racing and instantly was hooked, from seeing Stock Cars at Eastbourne it wasnít long before Wimbledon was visited and the first glimpse of Hot Rods. To be honest I canít remember that meeting, I canít remember much from the first few years I went racing but I knew I loved it. My matchbox cars were always for touring car-esq racing on the carpets while the bigger ones were my adopted Hot Rods, the yellow Peugeot 205 was always able to beat Lamborghini and Ferrariís.

As I became a teenager I wanted a Ministox but my family were never in a financial position to do so, my dad earned a wage and paid the bills but could never splash out on such a luxury. I clearly remember a conversation with Rob Montagner in the pits and he said to my dad it was easy to get into Hot Rods, itís just the cost of a Mondeo. As we walked off my dad said to me he couldnít even afford a Scalextrix Mondeo. Perhaps at that point of my life my brain had thought Iíll never be in the position to race, so I would read every piece of literature on the sport I could get my hands on and continually watch the few videos I had. As sucked up more and more information I morphed into the self-confessed super-fan.

Iíve probably wrote previously on the site why I created the site and although Iím proud of how itís turned out recently I think it may have been hindrance. For the elements that I needed to learn to improve for the site it Iím not sure it has ever really challenged me, that comfort zone was too cosy and probably held me back from what I really wanted to do. In my own little personal World Iíve achieved several things yet seemed to put something sensible in front of carrying out my dream, perhaps I was scared and making excuses.

Now itís difficult to explain the psychology behind why some people can and canít do something new or why fear takes over Ė for me I just needed to grow a pair and wifey is definitely a good influence for me and she has definitely pushed me forward. This super-fan needed to stop watching and get himself on the other side, I made the conscious decision that once Open University finished in early October I would get a racing car no matter what else was going on in my life.

In the following month Iíve listened to a lot of people whose views range from: put your money into the houseÖ..youíll be shit at racing you stalled the other weekÖ..start with go-kartingÖ..youíre buying the wrong carÖ..toÖ..you will have the time of your life. When the majority of people have negative views I was still wary of moving forward but after 26 years after wanting to race Iíve finally made the plunge and Iím living the dream. I aim to race at Arena Essex in 2015, but who knows how things will turn out. I still need to purchase a few more things before hitting the track, a bump-cap is a good idea hopefully Santa will realise Iíve been a good boy this year. Until thenÖ..He who dares Rodney, he who dares!

Racing CV in chronological order

  • 20p bikes that max out at 1.5mph
  • Dodgems at any fairground
  • Scalextrix racing on a permanent 120ft track in the loft
  • Running race at a mid-90s Spedeweekend on the Sunday morning for one lap
  • Southend go-karts (beat my dad, thatís all that matters)
  • Better go-karts in Spain and Rye House
  • The crustiest ever Formula Ford at Goodwood
  • Ice go-karts in Lapland (first place and my first trophy)
  • Ford Focus from Steve Tandy Competition Car Hire at Arena Essex (another first place)
  • Off-roading karts on my stag (my strength sheered the steering column whilst driving)

    The first time I sat in a Stock Car

    My oval debut in a Ford Focus supplied by Steve Tandy - the day I got engaged

    Ice go-karting in Lapland

    Stag events

    My pick-up to possibly race at Arena

    Production team Text: Paul Ballard (13.07.14)

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