Motorsport: Speedster Tordoff’s all geared up for life in fast lane INTERVIEW

Sam Tordoff.
Sam Tordoff.
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SAM TORDOFF is arguably the most promising young motor racing driver in Leeds with cash, prizes and fame sure to come his way in abundance in the years to come.

Not that he’s banking on it and indeed most of the 21-year-old’s week is spent doing just that – banking.

Horsforth-based Tordoff has already made a splash just one week into his debut season in the GB Porsche Carrera Cup with fourth and fifth-placed finishes in round one at Brands Hatch last weekend.

The series is seen as a natural gateway into the big time but the youngster’s initial success is hardly surprising given his exploits during his karting days – in which he was crowned British Champion – or more to the point his impressive showings during the last two years in the Clio Cup.

The Bradford-born, Rawdon-raised star finished third in the championship overall last year – and impressed during a one-off showing in the prestigious British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) at Brands Hatch – and at just 21 years of age, the motor racing world would appear his oyster.

Maybe, but level-headed Tordoff insists motor-sport will stay a passion and not a career – hence his enthusiasm for his recently acquired full-time job as a trainee accountant.

Tordoff knows he got lucky in landing that role – for his family’s hugely successful JCT600 car firm – and he admits not many bosses would be comfortable with him mixing his work-load with motor racing jaunts around the UK.

However, every effort put in on track is very much matched in the office – the role and occupation that Tordoff admits is the one that matters most long term.

Asked about the prospects of becoming the next Lewis Hamilton or Jenson Button – or even a Jason Plato – Tordoff insisted: “There’s always hope and they’ll be some money I might be able to make out of motor racing.

“But one thing my parents have always brought me up to believe in is that I have to go to school, I have to get some qualifications and I have to get a proper job because that’s what is more important and that’s what’s going to get you through life.

“To be honest I don’t want to be a Formula One driver because realistically it’s not going to happen.

“You need millions and millions of pounds to get to Formula One, and that’s just to get there and the harsh reality is that if by 21 you’re not knocking on the door of Formula One, then you’re never going to be a Formula One driver.

“A lot of the kids that follow a single-seater racing path and try to be a Formula One driver will never even get close to sitting in a Formula One car.

“And me doing that one-off race in the Touring Cars last year, I’ve pretty much fulfilled my ambitions as a racing driver already.

“I was just always told that if I got a good job then I would be able to pay for myself going racing.”

So that’s just what he’s done, Loughborough University graduate Tordoff admitting he is somewhat blessed with his family connections at JCT600 but now he’s certainly making the most of them.

The Yorkshire ace’s grandad Jack, is chairman of the company and also used to be Bradford City chairman with dad John the chief executive – but Tordoff is most definitely not relying on hand-outs.

“The only option I had was to and work in the family business when I left university last summer,” said Tordoff, who graduated with a degree in engineering.

“The amount of time I need to have off to go racing, there’s only my dad that’s going to let happen – unless you find some boss that’s mad into motor sport!”

Explaining his average week he added: “Monday until Thursday I’ll be at work at the dealership doing the normal nine to five shift and then Thursday night I’ll get in from work and I’ll go straight to the track.

“From then on, from Thursday night until Sunday night it’s a race weekend and then back to work on Monday morning.

“Every day that I’m not at the race track I have to be at work and I have to be seen to be putting in the hours as well.

“I rely heavily on the sponsorship from the family business and I have to put something back.”

The hours in the office are the proof of the pudding but the motor racing star also offers his employers success back on the track.

Carrying the JCT600 logo, more success looks almost guaranteed during 2011 following a stellar first Porsche Carrera Cup outing at Brands Hatch, with the former West End Primary pupil narrowly missing the podium on two occasions.

“I couldn’t really have asked for much more – to be that strong,” said Tordoff.

“I expected the first year to be a learning year and to probably not get to the front until the second half of the year but to be there already is fantastic really.

“It obviously means that we might be able to achieve a lot more this year than we anticipated.

“To be honest, to finish in the top three of the championship is now possible whereas over the winter I would have said ‘yeah it would be nice but it was probably never going to happen’.

“Now we can honestly say that it might be a possibility.”

And while Tordoff readily admits that motor-sport is unlikely to make him millions, that’s not to say that ambitions have not been set.

Formula One might be a no-go zone but the Leeds ace still has eyes on either the BTCC or Le Mans race series – or more likely the world series of the Porsche Cup which is an F1 support race.

It is through the latter that Tordoff might yet one day experience his idea of “paradise” – winning the Porsche Supercup race at Monaco, followed by watching the F1 Grand Prix from a yacht in the harbour with a drink or two to celebrate.

And why not.

“I’d love to race in Monaco and that’s definitely a dream,” mulled Tordoff. “The Porsche Super Cup is in the World Porsche Championships that follows Formula One around and if I was able to progress into that after this year – that’s definitely an option.

“I’m only 21 and one way or the other I would like to be involved in the sport for a long time.

“Touring Cars is something I’d like to do in the future.

“But Plato, who won it last year, is in 40s so there’s no rush to be in the Touring Cars any time soon!

“And who knows where the Porsche route may end up in terms of going around the world sports car racing.”

All good and despite his hectic lifestyle, Tordoff still finds time to fit in the odd football match in – Tordoff a Bantams fan of course – and there is just about room for long-term girlfriend Hannah!

“I’ve still got time for her and I’ve been with her forever now,” said Tordoff.

“I get a lot of support from her and all my family came to Brands Hatch for the first weekend which is a long trek really.”

“I do get time to see my friends and spend time with my family but I have, through my choice, missed out on parties and all that because I would much rather be a racing driver.”

But is it worth it? You bet it is, Tordoff already blessed with many personal motor racing highlights and at whatever level a serious amount more almost certain to follow.

Reflecting on his career so far he pondered: “I suppose winning the British Championship in karts was the highlight as to be British champion was special.

“And who knows, after the start I’ve had this year, hopefully there will be some more good memories to come.”

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