June 14, 2023

Member Feature: Living the Racing Dream

From track days to rookie racer, here's how Supercar Driver member Ed Acres lives his racing dream thanks to Ginetta.

We sit down with SCD member and racing driver Ed Acres to discuss his racing journey so far, the highs, the lows and how one particular brand got him into the world of motorsport.

Yorkshire based race car manufacturer Ginetta Cars, are renowned for producing some of the finest race cars and championships in the UK and worldwide. With a well-established racing ladder over the past 60 years, Ginetta has a wealth of talent in its history including some of the world’s finest drivers like McLaren’s Lando Norris. Understanding the importance of attracting new drivers to keep the industry thriving, Ginetta launched their G56 GT Academy car and supporting championship in the summer of 2020, replacing their successful GRDC series. Deriving from the GT4 car, the G56 GT Academy car boasts a 3.7 litre V6 engine with paddle shift and auto blip and weighs only 1100 kg. On a road tyre, this model provides the perfect transition from track days to racing with uncompromised performance and capabilities.

At this years Secret Meet, Ginetta Cars will be offering Test Drives or Passenger Hot Laps in the GT Academy car. To pre book your slot please click here or contact lauren@supercar-driver.com.

Please note, you must have a valid admission ticket to attend Secret Meet. Those without a ticket will not be able to test drive or participate in the hot lap’s session. VIP Tickets can be purchased here.

Ed aged 13 in this wooden hand built replica of the Jordan F1 car.

Where did your love of cars and race begin? 

Thinking back, it’s very difficult to define the exact moment in my childhood when my passion for cars began.  I did everything I could at a young age just to drive.  I had a Go Pedal go Kart which I would spend hours driving up and down the drive at home even in the soaking wet practicing my wet lines. So much so that my dad saw this as an opportunity to relieve himself of mowing the lawn and allow me at the age of just 8 years old to mow the lawn on our little single cylinder yellow ride on mower. To me it was a rocket ship it was my favourite Saturday activity.

From track days to rookie racing.

It wasn’t until 2017 that I finally went on a track day by chance with a friend who had two experiences booked at Silverstone. As his girlfriend was no longer his girlfriend, he needed a fellow petrol head to step in and make good use of the experience. And so, the addiction began. I was absolutely hooked and over the following months I was researching the most cost effective ways to get into motorsport. Like many, I was hesitant to make that leap from track day enthusiast to actual racing driver with time and money restrictions it just didn’t seem feasible. Little did I know that a chance encounter in 2018 when purchasing a new car would embark me on my very own motorsport journey.

The gent and I chatted during the test drive, cars, racing and personal lives. At first it hadn’t clicked who this lovely guy was but into the journey I realised it was none other than Rick Parfitt Jnr. The rockstar and recently crowned British GT GT3 champion racing driver (later to be British Touring Car competitor). Some months later and after a few drinks at the pub, he recommended I contact a Yorkshire based company called ‘Ginetta’.  Who at the time I only knew of from a few classic car shows I had been to, not appreciating what they had been doing since being acquired by Lawrence Tomlinson in 2005.

I initially booked a test day in their GRDC car with Want2race at Donington Park, but in summer 2020 Ginetta launched an even more exciting prospect for novice racers. One test drive at Silverstone and I was hooked, within weeks I had put a deposit down and I was fully committed to racing the following year in the GT Academy Championship. In May 2021, I was sat on the grid at Brands Hatch with 18 others ready to kick start my racing career. You can watch our second race of the weekend here.

CREDIT: Jakob Ebrey Photography

How did you find your first year racing?

My first years of racing was overall thoroughly enjoyable. As a Rookie I was run by Ginetta’s inhouse race team and track day organiser Want2race. The W2R team managed everything from driver coaches, car storage, testing, maintenance, and transport with one main point of contact which at the time was Lauren Robinson, SCD's now Partnership Manager. On a race weekend we had our own private drivers hub where we and our guests could chill out, socialise and look through session data. It actually felt like home from home and the drivers started to arrange social evenings on the Thursday of each race weekend. Drivers took turns to arrange a get together, quite quickly I realised this was far more than racing, it was a community sharing the same passion for cars and racing. Very often some of my best memories are the evening meals or events that Ginetta lays on and provides during a race weekend where all the drivers around you are at the bar reminiscing about the scramble into turn 1!

The 2021 season consisted of 5 rounds, each round had one qualifying session and three races, results were mixed, and most Rookies managed to collect come silverware over the season. In fact, one of my fellow Rookies was giving the overall championship leader a run for his money. I learnt a lot, had a few shunts but still bagged P3 in the Rookie Championship.

CREDIT: Jakob Ebrey Photography

What are your plans for the future?

Since graduating from Rookie to Racer, I signed with Pro Team Century Motorsport.  It was quite daunting stepping away from the comforts and people of Want2race but they offered the perfect stepping stone into pro racing. Century Motorsport were a no brainer of a decision as I could see a ladder to British GT and beyond.  Sadly my second year of racing was brought to a holt after breaking my wrist in a freak accident at Donington Park. This year I’m absolutely loving getting back on the grid, you can watch all the Ginetta GT Academy rounds live on Youtube.

It is normal to start scoping out your options for the next season towards the end of summer, I hope that next year I’ll continue to race in a UK championship. My next steps are understandably budget and sponsorship dependent, but I definitely don’t have any intention of hanging up my racing boots anytime soon. The GT Academy package has so far been good value for money, providing an excellent stepping stone into motorsport with like-minded individuals. The experience is going to be difficult to beat but who knows maybe one day I’ll be back in the LMP3 seat.

What advice would you give to an aspiring racing driver?

Ask questions - I saw many individuals (who I won’t name) on the grid with me in year 1 and year 2 who simply thought they knew everything. Kind of understandable, as a grid we were all successful in our own right. The reality was that this was new territory, we all had a lot to learn and its easy to assume you know better. Trust in the professionals, this is there bread and butter. As a rookie, it takes time to learn the craft and how the industry works.

Enjoy it - Remember that your first year especially in the Ginetta Academy you are competing with other novices and everyone is in the same boat, it can often be as much about luck as it is talent. Everyone is learning to some degree so don’t put the pressure on yourself to be at the front day one. Even if you are stone dead last you should still be enjoying it or what’s the point. Some of my favourite races ever have been spinning out on lap one and having to fight my way back through the grid and still only coming in 12th!

In summary, I want everyone to know that motor racing is not unattainable, whatever your age or experience. Whilst it costs more than a golf club membership, I’m sure it will provide much more of a thrill and opportunity for a new challenge. If you are a car enthusiast like me and you have the means, I would encourage taking the wheel even just for a guest round.

The community in motorsport really is like family. You become so familiar seeing the same faces and very often these people become lifelong friends.  Some even business associates. There is a huge amount of networking and business opportunities that arise from being around the paddock that I had not anticipated before. Taking the leap to join the grid really has changed my life in more ways than I could have anticipated, there really is nothing like it and without Ginetta I don’t believe I would have ever been able to achieve my childhood dream of becoming a racing driver.

You can follow my racing journey on my Youtube channel here.

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