My name is David Binks, and I’m a not-so-tame Racing driver! This is the first of what will be a regular series of blogs I’ll be doing here at Codies. I’m a Rallycross driver by day but I’m also a huge fan of Codemasters racing games and have recently been able to lend my experience behind the wheel to the guys and help them in the development process. It’s been amazing to see what they do and being able to play my part has been great, but we’ll leave that story for another time.
Instead, what I’d like to do over the coming months I give you a bit of insight into what I do and the sport I love – Rallycross. We’ll start with a bit more about myself, and how I got into driving cars really fast.
There is something about the hot smell that only the inside of a race car has… I knew there and then that I wanted to become a racing driver.
I started racing at the age of 16 after spending many of my childhood weekends watching all sorts of motorsport events across the UK and beyond with my dad John. It actually started when I was about 12 he took me to Donnington for a BTCC race and Frank Biela’s old Audi was on show. I was quite shy at the time and I remember him trying to get me to sit in the car, eventually I climbed through the roll cage and into the seat as they closed the door. There is something about the hot smell that only the inside of a race car has… I knew there and then that I wanted to become a racing driver.
In addition to hauling me around the country watching races, he used to race himself and I followed in my father’s footsteps in the very popular Mini Rallycross championship which formed part of the British Rallycross Championship. This manufacturer series is where many young stars start out their racing careers – for instance Andrew Jordan, the current BTCC Champion, started in Mini Cross.
The great thing about the Mini Rallycross Championship is that all the Minis are identical in specification, so it really comes down to pure driving talent. I loved it and in just my second season I was crowned Champion in 2001.
Having conquered the Minis, I was thirsty for a new challenge and craved faster cars. I worked hard and started to progress though the different ranks in the British Championship until, in 2008, I stepped up to the top class of Supercars.
At this level I was running an under-powered and out of date Mitsubishi Evo 9, yet somehow managed to take results that seemed impossible in a car of that class. However, I wanted to challenge for the overall championship and it was clear that we’d need to step up our game so my team and I hired a MK6 Ford Fiesta from Pat Doran, father of the British Bomb, Liam Doran. This was the same car they took to 3rd in the Championship two years in a row. Our hard work was paying off and I ended the 2011 season in the newer MK7 Fiesta ran by OlsbergsMSE.
Backed by our sponsors Best Buy, I made some great connections in the newly formed Global Rallycross Championship. I was given the chance to race in the GRC, competing with the likes of Marcus Gronholm, Ken Block, Tanner Foust and Travis Pastrana.
The first time I turned up at Charlotte, I will be honest I was a bit nervous! Not the kind of nervous I usually get just before a race, I just didn’t know how these big names would all react to this guy from Newcastle.
This was my WOW moment, this was big league.
Tanner was great and introduced me to people and the team. OMSE and Best Buy Racing were awesome and I got to meet with Best Buy Nascar Driver Matt Kenseth before the race which was cool. Then, when it was time we went into the oval for the race and it was mind blowing! Lining up for the driver’s parade and standing in front of the crowd as the national anthem was played really brought it home. This was my WOW moment, this was big league.
As soon as the parade finished I strapped in and took a deep breath of that hot car smell before heading out to track for the first heat, we finished second and I was firmly in the zone. I will admit the pressure was on; in the past if I messed up I went home unhappy from an event but as a team driver at this level you are expected to perform and that was quite tough to deal with.
I had some great results during the 2012 season and was consistently making it into the A-Final. Unfortunately, I started to get plagued with car troubles and I’d fallen victim to a really high-profile roll in a practice at SEMA in Las Vegas. You can check that out here. Ouch. I finished 7th at the end of the season, having not been able to race and score points at the final event at SEMA.
Last year I went to work for the DirtFish Rally School in Seattle. I had a great time working with those guys and I was teaching some amazing pupils. Then, unfortunately my dad took ill, I had to come back home to the UK and head up operations at our family business.
It was hard to watch from the sidelines but I continued to follow both the Global Rallycross and World Rallycross while all the time thinking about which way I would like to go when the time was right to get back out on track.
This year, it’s my goal to establish myself back in Rallycross and that begins this weekend where I’ll be at Lydden Hill for the World Rallycross Championship – feel free to stop me and say hi if you’re passing!