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Tony Hughes: living the British Touring Car dream

Wednesday, May 11 2011

Cheshire-based Toyota Avensis driver Tony Hughes is gearing up for the realisation of a lifelong dream, when he makes his debut in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) at Oulton Park next month (4/5 June).

Tony will be competing in a Next Generation Touring Car, built to a new set of rules aimed at making the series more accessible, which is run by Northwich-based team Speedworks Motorsport.

The 53-year old has enjoyed a fairytale journey to the pinnacle of national motorsport after just four seasons of competitive racing and the BTCC is a series that he has always followed but never realised he would one day be a part of.

"I'm the car enthusiast that ended up in the BTCC," said Tony. "My story started when I bought a Ford GT, but that was in a different league to anything else I'd ever driven before. In fact it still scares me today."

Electing to undergo performance driving instruction, Tony soon realised that enjoying his supercar wasn't enough he soon developed the racing bug, making his competitive debut in Ginetta sportscars. Hughes first raced a Ginetta G20 before graduating to a Ginetta G50 after just one season: "To be honest, I didn't have an aim when I started out racing the smaller Ginetta G20s. I thought I'd just see how it went. People said to me that stepping up into the much faster G50 was a big leap, but when I saw one I thought, 'I have to have one of those!'

"Then, when TOCA (the organisers of the BTCC) announced the introduction of the new Next Generation Touring Car (NGTC) regulations, it opened up the door for me to enter the championship and become one of the first to run an NGTC-spec car", continued Tony.

Tony is happy to represent the dreams of the BTCC's many legions of supporters as the 'fan who made good' and hopes that his story can be an inspiration to others: "I'm a life-long car enthusiast and I'm racing in the BTCC just because I can. I've always watched the championship I grew up with it and our paths simply crossed. It's not only been about the cars, but about the people, so why shouldn't I race in it and why should you have to start out in go-karting and rise up through the ranks from there?

"People say to me all the time that I'm living the dream and I guess I am - not only my dream, but the dream of many BTCC supporters."

Tony is not the only local driver on this year's grid to have graduated from Ginetta racing. Preston's Frank Wrathall shares a similar background and also races a NGTC Toyota Avensis in the BTCC and whilst Hughes is out to inspire the fans, Wrathall is bringing along a few from Preston North End Football team. A long-term fan of the club, Frank paraded his car at their ground last Saturday.

"It was mega and the noise was incredible," enthused Frank. It was a really good experience to finally get on to the pitch. I've spent enough time in the stands watching games, so I think I deserve to be on the pitch now. It was a weird feeling being on the playing field in my Dynojet Toyota Avensis, but I think the crowd loved it."

Tickets for the British Touring Car Championship, with support races featuring the Ginetta Junior Championship and Ginetta GT Supercup, at Oulton Park on 4-5 June are now on sale from £25 for adults, with free entry for children aged 12 and under. For more information call 0843 453 9000 or click the link below