Inside Revolution: My Top Five Lessons Learned… with Neil Jones
Neil Jones is a two-time BTRDA AutoSOLO champion from North Wales. He runs a small family Haulage business – which celebrates its Centenary next year – and has a passion for all types of motorsport – watching, marshalling, and competing. Growing up near the family’s yard, which was big enough to park 10 trucks, it was no surprise that he and his brother were racing and timing each other doing laps at the age of 10-12, using whatever cars were around and had failed a recent MOT! Neil tried many disciplines including Rally co-driving, PCAs, Car Trials, Autotests and Targa Rallies, before settling on AutoSOLO, having decided it was just as competitive as others and was relatively cheap and low maintenance. He also says, “obviously, none of this would be possible without a very supportive and understanding wife.”
1. Success is about car control, not speed, Bala MC PCA, 2015
When I started out, I didn’t know whether to go front-wheel-drive or rear-wheel-drive, so I bought an old MX5 that had failed its MOT and entered PCAs, as they don’t need an MOT. The Ranges is a mixture of tarmac and gravel, and it taught me a lot about car control. I was a lot younger and a lot wilder back then and I was also very handbrake happy, so there was a lot of sideways, which is of course fun but not fast! I quickly learned that real wheel drive was more fun and the one for me – but I also quickly realised that going flat out all the time isn’t the way to succeed.
2. Analyse your performance to improve, Lymm, May 2017
I record all my runs from in car and analyse them to see what I can do better, even if I win an event by 15 or 20 seconds – which is a lot in AutoSOLO. Sometimes you just don’t realise how aggressive you are on the throttle and the brake and by looking back you can see where you can be smoother – which in turn means faster, where you should be coming off easy and powering through. It all clicked in the early summer of 2017, when I put it all together and got my first National B win and, a month later, my first BTRDA win.
3. Focus on yourself not others, Curborough, November 2018
Going into the last round in 2018, I was level on points with another guy and there was a lot of pressure. Everyone knew it was down to the two of us and everyone was talking about it. It was decided on class points back then and because we both won our class on the day, it went to the tiebreaker, which was who was quickest on the first layout of the day. I am usually someone who likes to know what everyone else is doing, but before that first run, I decided to blank out everyone else and just do my own thing. Watching everyone else’s times just hypes you up and that makes you go too fast into a corner, locking up and losing time rather than being smooth. By doing my own thing I was 0.4s quicker than him in that first run, so focusing on myself actually helped me win my first BTRDA Championship.
4. Don’t be afraid to give up on something, Lymm, 2021
After winning the championship twice, I changed cars in 2020-21, and bought an MX5 Mk2. It cost twice or three times as much money as my old one and it was heavily modified with plenty of power. However, I quickly found out power isn’t everything because I never seemed as quick in that as I was in the old one! It was at first just un-driveable on AutoSOLO because it just wanted to go on a bigger track. It wanted to go, go, go. Maybe due to it being modified, it was also unreliable, to the point where I didn’t get to three events because it started playing up on the way there and I ended up turning around and going back home. So, although I had a lot of fun in it, it was going to take a while to get right. I never got the time to get to grips with it as a new car opportunity came up that I couldn’t turn down. I got an MX5 Mk3. I don’t like giving up on things, but sometimes it makes sense to move on. I won the first four events of 2022 in the new car.
5. Helping people out is a good thing, Kemble Airfield, March 2022
In this sport, everyone is in it together. When others break down, everyone else just swarms around the car to help, even though we are all competing against each other. It’s like family. When one of my main rivals had problems and rather than just carry on with the day, we all stopped to help. We didn’t necessarily do anything because he was fine to look after his own car and is quite mechanically minded, but we all chipped in with ideas, with parts, with suggestions, and he got back on track. When you lend a hand, it’s satisfying to see that person have a good day at the end, even if they are your main opponent.
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