When Neil swaps coach driving for car racing
Coach driver Neil Parker is looking forward to keeping a date in January when he will proudly collect his trophies – for car racing.
For the Chalkwell commuter coach driver came runner-up in this year’s Kent Hot Rods Championship and also won the Masters Championship.
He’s among the awards in his first season back in Hot Rods non-contact racing at Coombe Valley, Dover, where he competed in his Ford Focus ST 170.
Neil, 42, of the Isle of Sheppey, is delighted to have finished second in the overall points as well as winning the Masters Championship – something he hopes to repeat when the 2016 season starts on Easter Monday.
He first started racing when he was 21 in the days when it was Bangerstox 1300 Formula racing. He then took up Hot Rods and gave that up when he had a family.
Neil, who has worked for Chalkwell for 10 years, returned to the sport in the Bangerstox last year thinking it would be the same Formula. But it was very different and although he won races he gave that Formula up at the end of last year.
He returned to Hot Rods this year and got off to a winning start – despite the car having fuel pump problems.
Last month he also competed at Stansted Raceway in the Super Rods on an oval dirt track and got three firsts and a second in his Ford Focus.
“My car cost me £1,500 to build from scratch and at Stansted I was competing against £20,000 cars,” said Neil. “I was very pleased with my performance.”
His father in law raced and that was how he met his wife Kelly. Their eldest daughter, Sophie, 19, who first competed in Ministox at the Essex Arena at the age of 11, has also driven in Bangerstox; son Travis, 17, has had two meetings in Bangerstox and looking forward to taking part next year is younger daughter Armani, 11.
After a day of driving a Chalkwell 780 commuter coach from Kings Hill to London and back he finds getting behind the wheel of his Ford Focus ‘very relaxing.’
He doesn’t find driving a coach any different to a car – except for its length. “You get used to what you are driving,” said Neil who has been on the commuter service for 18 months.