Monday, 23 April 2012


As promised, it is time for the second interview in the series, Men at Work. 

We authors tend to be a tad self-indulgent. We are ‘artists’, after all-or at least this is what our oft over-inflated egos tell us. No-one else could possibly understand the strength and tenacity that is needed in our quest for that ‘perfect’ novel or poem. With this blog series, I want to show we are not unique. Dedication, hard work and passion are the three cornerstones of success, no matter what line of work one may be in. Each week, I will show case a man, who, I believe, possesses all three attribute, who, through sheer determination, hard work and { yes, that word obsession} with his craft has risen to the top of his game. The first in the blog was a man known to many of my author friends.  Jimmy Thomas, cover model extraordinaire and friend to all romance authors, but this week, my guest will take us along a very different road {if you will excuse the pun}. I will stop rambling now and hand the floor over. Ladies and gentleman, without further ado, I would like to welcome Martin Short to my humble little blog. 


First off, Martin, welcome and thank you for stopping by. So on to the interrogation.  I know you have always loved cars but how old where you when decided you wanted to be a racing driver?

 When did I start breathing? No, seriously. After my divorce from the lovely owner of this blog, {amicable, I might add} I found I had a few more pennies in my pocket. I have always loved cars, but, now, I was able to indulge my new found 'wealth' by acquiring silly cars. All cheapies, around £2k, I was, nevertheless, attracted by them. My early stable housed a 1932 Hot rod / custom car, a dog of a Corvette, and an armoured car I used for the occasional trip to the supermarket when I decided it was necessary to eat. My pièce de résistance was the Lincoln Continental driven by Kevin Kline in the film, A Fish called Wanda. 
     My ambition, however, was to own a Lotus 7, a model well out of my price range. I am, as our dear blog owner can attest to, stubborn and so, undeterred in my dream, I came across a similar looking 'kit car' while browsing through Exchange and Mart. At the time, I was working in a London garage so it was easy for me to pop around to the dingy lock up where it sat – waiting for me. It was perfect; a tiny little car with a powerful engine. It cost a mere £1750. There was no doubt. The car had to be mine. From that day on, my fate was sealed. 

   Proudly, I drove it home to Cambridgeshire that night, running out of fuel on the way. But I didn’t care, just so amazed at how fast it accelerated, handled on corners, braked… was like a motorbike on the road, but faster. Because of my job, I had spent the last few years driving to London and back, using a particular back road to join up with to the A1. I’d always driven this road pretty much flat out, always striving to better my time. Well, in my little kit car, I smashed all my previous records. This small East Anglian B route became my training track and I got to thinking…. well maybe I can race? I was twenty-six years old.
 Six months later, I had built my first roll cage (later to become a business that would fund the racing). In 1987, I had rebuilt the car with help from friends, and drove it to my first race. I came 2nd in that race, and went on to win the Championship.

Who do you consider to be the biggest influence on your life, either professionally or personally?

 Without a doubt, my now wife, Michelle. I met her just after my first ever race. She and her brother came to my second race, and she took a great interest. She’s a very sport appreciative person, and helping out just came naturally to her. She became my pit crew (and girlfriend), and together we won that Kit Car Championship. We then searched for sponsorship together. She loaned me money when I needed it, and she completely supported this maniac in what became a total obsession. That obsession, 20 years on, took us to Le Mans 24 hours, where we finished 4th overall (a decade breaking achievement for a private team), gained us a multi million pound sponsorship, and a racing car business employing 30 people.

Is the world of racing as glamorous as it is often portrayed in the movie? Do you ever get scared?

It’s not glamorous at all in my eyes. It’s a practical business. But maybe I have forgotten what a normal world is like so it’s hard to say. I definitely started off thinking that it would be a good sport to get involved in to 'pull a bird' (lol) but girls generally are not interested,{ as I later found out - motorbike racing is the one for the girls.} However it is, I guess, pretty exciting, and it has taken us, my family, friends and loyal employees over the world: USA, Australia, Malaysia, and Japan plus most of Europe. It’s been quite a ride.
I admit to getting very scared in my earlier racing. Racing is dangerous and ferocious stuff. It can feel as if you were going into a physical fight. I used to be on beta blockers, then I took to swigging whisky to calm my nerves, but once the race started, the adrenaline took over. Now I am older and more experienced. I don't get scared like that anymore. I am generally very confident. However, I do not drive to the edge like I used to. Having my two sons definitely had an effect on me. I am more aware of my mortality.
At Le Mans, my first time in the Prototype car, I was doing 206 mph, 4 times a lap. Now, there is one point on the circuit where, a few years previously, cars had taken off – literally – and ended up in the trees. But these cars were closed cockpit. I was driving open cockpit. Was I nervous? Definitely – every lap. At one point, when I could feel the car go light at the front, I thought…. am I going to see my sons again? Thankfully, after that year, the cars became safer. These days I try to drive cars that are very safe. I make safety equipment, so I am more aware than most as to what can injures or, worse, kill a driver.

Would you like your boys to follow in your footsteps?

I don't have a great desire for that, to be honest. I know how hard it is. I succeeded because I was incredibly obsessed. My dad once said, if I put as much effort into his business as I put into my racing, that he would be a millionaire. He was right. I worked all hours and spent every penny I had to be the fastest. I am not sure if my lads will have that same drive. It’s an incredibly expensive sport. My dad wisely did not fund me at all for my racing. I had to earn it all myself, which is why I started my own business. That’s the kind of drive you need internally. At the moment they love football. They are both goalies and they love it. Morgan {the eldest and named after a British car}, like his brother Marcus (Marcos)) is starting to show an interest in Karting. He's not pushing me very hard on it, and I am not going to throw myself at it like a doting wannabe-like-me Dad. Let’s just let time take its course and see what happens.

Where do you see yourself in ten years time and is there anything you feel you still have to achieve?

Well, time is sadly taking its toll on me, though I am still pretty fit for a 53 year old. I really love racing, and winning still. I am still very driven. The funding for a lot of my racing dried up with the banking crisis so now I have to be a lot wiser and more careful about what I do. Back in 1988 I did 22 races for £6000 for the whole year, including depreciation on the car. Now that’s the cost for a weekend in one of my cars! So that needs careful thought! However, I am using my business to make it all happen and be viable. My business IS racing cars and racing, so that helps. In terms of achievements, I would love to be on the podium at Le Mans. That’s about all I would love to happen on a big scale. On a small scale, I just want to carry on racing as long as I can afford it and be competitive. The day I am no longer competitive, is the day I stop.

Thank you, Martin for that very insightful and candid insight into your life. Despite your success, you seem so grounded and it is so obvious your family is important to you. I wish you continued success. And now for the silly, fun part. Take it away, Mr. Short

Racing drivers - Hamilton or Schumacher?

Good question. I adore them both. I modelled myself on Schumacher a lot, though not necessarily with anywhere near his talent, but in terms of aggression and attitude.  I admit he could play dirty at times, but I could understand what happened with him when the madness/competitive spirit took over. Hamilton? I love his fight, but since he dumped his Dad, he has gone downhill. He doesn't see it, and having worked with my Dad for so long, I know what it’s like. You only have to at the relationship Jenson Button has with his to see why he is so grounded and on it. I will abstain / say both.

Kick-ass heroines - Lara Croft or the Kill Bill bride?

Kill Bill bride without doubt, which strangely, is one of my wives favourite films!

Crap food - Big Mac or Double Whopper?

Yum. Double Whopper. But they don't like me. Indigestion!

Spielberg movies - ET or Close Encounters?

You bugger. You know me too well. E.T. Seen it around 30 times now and I always get teary.

MJ - Thriller or Billie Jean?

Thriller. I stayed up late to watch the first screening of it. Amazing.

Monsters with big teeth - Godzilla or King Kong?

Don't go much on Monsters, but loved the last King Kong film.

Friends ladies - Monica, Rachel or Pheobe?

Rachel. Blade Runner.

Friends dudes - Joey, Chandler, or Ross?


Well-Hard Heroes-Maximus Decimus Meridius or Leonidis {300}


Cocoa or ovaltine?

Neither. Yuck.

Once again, thanks again, to Martin for stopping by. For more information on Martin and his racing team, you can find him at these links.