From the moment the British Touring Car Championship began in 1958, it has proudly held a place as one of the UK’s top motorsport series.
Every year, countless youngsters take their first steps into car racing, aspiring to follow in the footsteps of BTCC greats like Colin Turkington, Ash Sutton and Gordon Shedden.
However, for every youngster embarking on a racing career, there’s also an older amateur who dreams of taking a place on the grid to challenge the famous names.
Like his Status Quo guitarist father, Rick Parfitt Jr is well known for his work in the music industry (not to mention that he once held a role selling advertising in Autocar). A latecomer to racing, the 47-year-old won a title in both classes of the British GT Championship before a year out of racing to undergo major surgery for Crohn’s disease in 2020.
Plotting a return to action last year, Parfitt elected to take on the ultimate challenge: switching to touring cars.
“I think a lot of amateurs wouldn’t consider the BTCC, because there really is nowhere to hide,” he says. “The praise and criticism comes in equal measure, and it can be quite tough mentally.
“The front guys live and breathe motorsport, whereas I am busy entertaining people during the week with my band and then jump in a race car on a weekend.
“People on the outside may look and say ‘you’re only 27th on the grid’, but it’s so close that you might only be half a second away from someone like Colin Turkington – and that’s pretty incredible for an amateur.
“A BTCC car is very tricky to drive and you have to really push beyond your comfort zone. That’s what makes it so rewarding when you can get so close to some incredible drivers.”
Although he was unable to break into the points last year, Parfitt was able to learn a huge amount that he hopes to benefit from in 2022, returning to rear-wheel drive in an Infiniti Q50 – the title-winning car from the past two seasons. He remains realistic, however, when it comes to what’s achievable.