Saturday, February 2, 2013
ASH Miller is a long way from home – but the St Ives-based racing driver is hoping to become a modern-day Alan Jones and make his country proud.
The 25-year-old Australian is talking to sponsors and teams and hopes to secure a drive for the coming season.
There is no doubting his confidence, that’s for sure. After a year chasing his dream, Miller is determined to follow in the footsteps of Jones, Australia’s 1980 Formula One world champion – and indeed the current Antipodean on the circuit, Mark Webber, who came over to the UK in 1995 when he was 17.
Miller said: “The United Kingdom is the hotspot globally for motorsport. It has been proved time and time again that if you want to make it anywhere, you have got to come to the UK.
“As Alan Jones said, 50 per cent of the battle is actually getting over to the UK to continue your career in the first place.
“It was a bit of a snap decision but one I knew had to happen if I wanted to continue racing as a career after years of racing in Australia.”
Miller began racing Down Under in 2000, starting in karts and later driving production sports cars.
“But it got to a certain point where I was doing some endurance racing and I wanted more out of it,” he said. “It got to a watershed moment where I thought I need to make a big change if I want to continue progressing.”
Miller ended up in St Ives by accident.
“I came over for a round of the Renault Clio Cup at Brands Hatch. While I was here I did a couple of job trials and some instructing at Bedford Autodrome – and I met a guy at Grafham Water who said I could stay for a couple of weeks.
“That was the only plan I had when I came back and landed on his doorstep. I made it up as I went along.
A move to a farm in St Ives, where Miller takes care of the horses for reduced rent, followed – and he picked up further work, including at Caxton Kartsport. The last year has been spent meeting people within the industry and making contacts.
“I have been at pretty much every round of the British Touring Cars keeping in people’s faces.
“The options this year are looking really good. There are a lot of drives available which is excellent and I am in with a shout. We’re still talking to people but we are always after more support.
“The Renault Clio Cup is the main goal – that’s a support class for the British Touring Cars. That is the most prominent on television for the least amount of budget so it’s a really good category for promotion and advertising, which is where the money comes from.
“The Ginettta GT Supercup is another option.”
‘We’ is Miller and his 20-year-old manager Paul Grainger, who has also moved over from Australia. This week, Miller’s father and sister Jade, were also in the UK visiting from Brisbane.
Dad Graham is 60 and was born in Hertfordshire, but left the country at three weeks old because his father was a British Colonial Administrator who worked in the South Pacific.
He said: “If he hadn’t gone on his own I would have kicked him out. The only way Ash could go forward with his motorsport was to come over here. We had got as far as we could in Australia and we were stagnating as far as any forward movements were concerned.
“The opportunities here are far wider and you can get much more experience here than you can back home.”
He added: “It’s always great coming back.”
Hopefully, next time, it will be to see his son racing on the national circuit.