Age no barrier when it comes to racing for Norfolk veteran

Stephen Laing behind the wheel of his Caterham R500

Stephen Laing behind the wheel of his Caterham R500 - Credit: Submitted

Stephen Laing is proof that age is no barrier when it comes to the thrill of speed.

Stephen Laing with some of the many trophies he’ has won over his long and successful amateur racing

Stephen Laing with some of the many trophies he’ has won over his long and successful amateur racing career. - Credit: Submitted

The 68-year-old, from Castle Acre, near Swaffham, has enjoyed a long and successful racing career specialising in sprint events and hill climbs, most recently at the wheel of his Caterham R500 and Lotus Exige.

Despite being old enough to collect his pension, his enthusiasm for the sport has not dimmed over the years and he is still competing – and winning – at the highest level of amateur racing both locally and nationally.

Mr Laing's love of racing was sparked by his father, John, a Norfolk farmer, who was an enthusiastic motorsport fan, regularly taking in meetings at the county's Snetterton circuit.

He said: 'My father was a keen spectator but I got my first taste of racing with the local Young Farmers' Club and in the early days got a lot of support from ex-Formula 1 driver Martin Brundle's father, John, who lived locally.

'I started to take part in local events and found that I was surprisingly competitive.

'I had a Mini Pick-up which was replaced in 1967 by a 997cc Mini Cooper.

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'As well as being my daily transport, this proved to be a very successful autocross car.

'However, by the early 1970s, the sport of autocross was evolving into rallycross, which attracted extensive national television coverage as opposed to the regional television coverage enjoyed by autocross.

'This resulted in car manufacturers' teams, together with other well-funded professional teams, investing a lot of money in the sport, but I managed to be competitive on occasions despite the gulf in funding.'

Mr Laing, who spent his working career in the agro-chemical industry as a sales manager and then an executive with Fisons and Dow Chemicals spending time working in the UK, France and the USA, had a break from racing when his family were young but remained interested in the sport and returned to competition with his Lotus and Caterham.

Since then he has won numerous races and championships.

Mr Laing, who is married to Alison, and has two children, Hamish and Rebecca, and five grandchildren, said the cost of racing was not prohibitive.

He said: 'It can be as expensive or as inexpensive as you want to make it. It costs between £100 and £150 to enter the events.

'I carry out most of the basic maintenance work myself so there are not too many additional bills.

'I still get excited about racing and obviously enjoy winning if I can. But nowadays I'm more pleased if I know that I have raced as well as I can and have got the maximum out of the car.

'Competing is still great fun and I enjoy the off-track banter as much as ever and mixing with competitors aged from 18 to 80.'

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