Excitement ahead of the new season of bumper-to-bumper and wheel-to-wheel Legends Cars National Championship action is fast building with just over three weeks to go until the eagerly awaited curtain-raiser at Brands Hatch – and the first 12 confirmed drivers have now been named.
Heading the initial influx of entries for the new campaign is the incredibly quick Jack Parker (Wolverhampton) who was a top three championship finisher last year. The 22-year-old, who runs with JWP Racing, will undoubtedly mount a serious challenge for title honours at the wheel of his Ford Coupe.
Reigning Rookie Champion Sean Smith (High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire), who was an impressive eighth overall last year, returns with Matt Roach Racing and will be aiming to build on a superb maiden season racing on full circuits – having originally cut his teeth on the ovals where he was a multiple title winner.
One of the most iconic vehicles in Legends Cars is the First 4 Vans Se-Van raced by series regular Nathan Anthony (Horley, Surrey), which took pride of place on the Legends Cars stand at the Autosport International Show in January. Anthony returns off the back of his best season yet in 2016, finishing ninth overall with a best result of fourth place.
Former Legends Cars National Championship runner-up Ben Power (Guilsfield, Powys) is confirmed for a full campaign, after being limited to a one-off outing last year due to work commitments. The multiple rallycross champion has been a long-standing competitor in Legends Cars since his debut in 2009, and the multiple race winner is another who is likely to be a major threat for the 2017 crown.
Racing brothers Steve Whitelegg (Bury) and Gary Whitelegg (Handforth, Cheshire) will be joined by Bill Read (Shaw, Oldham) in the three car WTBS Motorsport entry. Team principal Steve, who is undertaking his 10th season of Legends this year, is determined to build on the top five series finish he achieved in 2016 in his Ford.
Sibling Gary, meanwhile, will be embarking on his first ever full season of racing at the tender age of just 56! Starting out his motorsport involvement in the 1980s in Formula Ford 1600, limited budget restricted him to sporadic outings but Whitelegg did become a race winner. After stopping racing in 1990 to focus on family commitments, he regained his racing licence in 2014 after a 24-year gap.
In the third WTBS car, Read is also set for his maiden full season of motorsport action in the Legends Cars National Championship after a handful of outings with the squad – which won the Teams title in 2014 – previously.
Entering his third season in the Legends Cars National Championship is Mike Bourner (Bishop Middleham, County Durham). The 56-year-old Dodge Sedan driver was an extremely competitive seventh in the main standings last year, as well as fourth in the Masters Championship.
Back for only his second ever season of racing at any level is Mike Schlup (Cuckfield, West Sussex), the Ford Sedan racer having finished a creditable 13th overall in the main championship last year and third in the Rookie standings. Schlup, a long-time sponsor of reigning and back-to-back champion John Mickel, will compete again for Mickel’s team under the K-Seal Racing banner.
Double Oval Points Champion Miles Rudman (Sutton Coldfield) will make his full circuit debut this year at the wheel of his Pro 24 Race Shop car. After a stellar karting career, Rudman dabbled with the Ginetta Scholarship on two occasions before making the move into oval racing.
New talent arrives in the form of multiple karting champion Marcus Pett (Boston) who has chosen to move into Legends for his car racing debut. The 25-year-old, who is a CAD Technician, will pilot a self-run Chevy Coupe and comes into the category off the back of winning the Kimbolton Senior X30 title last year with a round to spare – despite missing the season-opening event.
Another newcomer to the Legends Cars National Championship is former motorcycle racer Paul Simkiss (Ripponden, West Yorkshire), who will drive a self-run Simkiss Racing Ford in his maiden season on four wheels. The 45-year-old was the Derby Phoenix Steelframe 600 Champion in 2015 having finished Vice-Champion the year prior.
As well as the various titles up for grabs, the main championship, Rookie and Masters crowns, every driver competing in Legends Cars this year will have the opportunity to challenge for the sensational prize of a fully-funded test in Handy Motorsport’s Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship Toyota Avensis. Notably, this season is also the first for Legends Cars using MRF tyres.
“We’re very much looking forward to the new season and absolutely delighted with how our grid is shaping up”, said Legends Cars National Championship owner Phil Cooper, “Our first dozen drivers to confirm give a terrific flavour of what to expect from the championship this year, especially with the added incentive of our incredible, and unprecedented at this level, BTCC prize test”
Brands Hatch Indy Circuit in Kent will host the opening event of the new season over the weekend 25th/26th March, running as part of the season-opening British Truck Racing Association meeting.
2017 Legends Cars National Championship Calendar
Rd1: Brands Hatch Indy Circuit, Kent 25th/26th March *
Rd2: Anglesey, Wales 22nd/23rd April
Rd3: Cadwell Park, Lincolnshire 13th/14th May
Rd4: Croft Circuit, North Yorkshire 1st/2nd July
Rd5: Donington Park, Leicestershire 22nd/23rd July *
Rd6: Snetterton Circuit, Norfolk 9th/10th September *
Rd7: Rockingham, Northamptonshire 30th September/1st October
Rd8: Brands Hatch Indy Circuit, Kent 4th/5th November *
*Supporting the British Truck Racing Association