The 'Chongster', otherwise known as the Creative Director (!?!) of Speedhunters asked me to write an introduction piece for the new site. I will try (!) to keep it short and sweet.
I originally come from Bristol (a City fan btw!), England and have always been interested in cars, motorsport and design. I have photos from when I was 2 or 3 with posters of Datsun 120Y, Marinas and Austin Allegros(!) on my bedroom wall. Thankfully, my taste has improved since then….i think. I spent my childhood years drawing cars constantly and going to many race-days at Thruxton and Castle Coombe, extending further afield as I grew older.
In 1990, I obtained a place at Coventry University on their BA(Hons) Degree course for Transport Design. The four year course was great and included a work placement. My placement was at Yamaha R&D Division, Ypsilon Technology in the UK. I was able to assist with turning the OX99-11 supercar concept into a production car, working with other designers and engineers on various body details. Unfortunately, an impending financial crunch in Japan put pay to the project and it was cancelled as I finished my placement, but it was a fantastic educational experience.
I used all the experince gained to help me on my final year project, a road legal racecar. I suppose, in retrospect, this was a 90's version of todays' Caparo. A GT racecar which would be available as a road or race car with minimal changes and be eligible for the, then BPR rules. This was 18 months before the McLaren F1 GTR surfaced.
When I graduated, I worked for a small company called Grand Prix Design (a division of Arena International who race in BTCC, ALMS etc). Very small set up, I worked on projects for Yamaha, McLaren Cars, MBK and a very rich guy with lots of oil and money! One small project I completed was for the new nose on the McLaren F1 which would appear on the McLaren F1 GT a couple of years later.
My work for McLaren lead to a position there the following year. My interview was with Ron Dennis, so after that, anything would be plain sailing!
I worked for McLaren for five years. I was lucky to work on some great projects, designing the majority of the liveries of the F1 GTR race cars (including the Gulf livery above), some initial concepts of the McLaren Formula 1 2-Seater, various 'future' McLaren Cars projects, Race Transports, Motorhomes and a complete range of pit equipment for the Grand Prix Team. My freelance career also took off during this time, designing BTCC and GT liveries.
Two items are still used at the racetrack, over 8 years after I left McLaren . A pit garage overhead lighting module which supplies the car and mechanics with power, light and air, and Pit Crew Helmets which were designed in a day, back in 1997!
In 1999 I made the decision to leave McLaren and look for a new challenge. It may seem a strange decision, but I was being pushed into an engineering role and the SLR had just been announced, which was a Mercedes design, so no more roadcars for me! Just as I was going for interviews left, right and centre, I was approached by Electronic Arts to work on their F1 games, modelling the cars and this seemed a good opportunity for the short term, ….. almost 9 years on, back to design, and I'm still with EA.
I spent a couple of years building cars for the console version of the F1 gamess, a rally game called Shox, and a few other little projects. I then became involved with the Need for Speed team based in Vancouver. EA Canada offered me a role on Need for Speed, working from home in the UK, allowing me to continue with my freelance work . Lots of trips to Vancouver, followed, which led to me and my (much) better half moving to British Columbia in 2005.
Today, I'm a Vehicle Design Craft Director, designing various vehicles, bodykits and leading the excellent vinyls/liveries team. The car team at EA is great and the best group of people I've worked with, so its a pleasure to come to work everyday and draw cars!
During this time, my freelance work continued, most of my work are for sponsorship proposals which never see the light of day, but I've seen a few liveries and designs on the race-track in ALMS, Le Mans, BTCC and rallying.
I also designed a few bodykits and styling for race cars, so I can't complain.
In my little spare time I have, I create a number of Motorsport Spotters Guides (links below) for F1, BTCC and ALMS fans to download for free in conjunction with Radio Le Mans and Ten-Tenths.com. This year, I also created the car grid graphics for ITV Sport's British Touringh Car coverage.
(Bodykit and livery)
As you may have gathered, I'm a big motorsports fan, if you were in any doubt, let me use a couple of examples to convince you. i)The second date with my, then future wife was at The Goodwood Festival of Speed (and it rained all day). ii) We went to Maranello and went around Ferrari as part of our Italian Honeymoon!
I have a little competition experience too. My brother in law is involved in rallying and we rallied a Mini Copper (the original!!!) in some tarmac events in the UK. I was the co-driver, so just sat there and watched. One of the perks of the job, the Mini made it into the computer game, Shox. I did a few Formula Ford races years ago and I also use to take part in a Charity 'Banger/Beater' Rally across Europe, called Staples to Naples. We will be covering that in September.
Away from work I own a BMW 330i MSport (E46) and a Nissan Murano. Previous rides haven't been exciting except for a SEAT Leon Cupra, Mazda MX5 and an old 1969 Fiat 500, which I regret, not importing when we moved to Canada.
Despite being in Canada, I still follow most of the European championships and since moving, have got into ALMS and the new IRL. The American Le Mans Series is very strong at the moment, with a great variety of cars, excellent commentary on the net from our friends over at Radio Le Mans. Going to race meetings is one of the things I miss most, living in Western Canada.
I'm still not sold on syncronised swimming,Drifting, despite the best efforts of The Chongster. I suppose I'll have to go to an event….
So, thats me. Expect motorsport based topics from me, along with a few design related posts on the hottest and coolest cars making their debut.