Many thanks to Masters Historic Racing for their help in bringing you this interview with FIA Masters Historic Formula One & FIA Masters Historic Sports Car driver Jason Wright.
Q. How does an American end up racing in Europe?
I’ve lived here most of my life, I’m really a European. And I was practically brought up with racing. When I was a kid, my father always had motoring magazines such as Road & Track etc. and he used to tell me about the Mille Miglia - I remember him reading Denis Jenkinson’s report of the Mille Miglia to me as a bedtime story!
I only started racing at 40, with a Lotus Eleven, in the European Championship that took me to the Nürburgring, Zandvoort, Monza and all over Europe. Everyone drove around towing their cars on a trailer then and we got start money – well actually, you got paid when you finished the race! I did all the work myself. Then I got a Lotus Elite, did the Coppa d’Italia, Tour de France, rallies in a Porsche 2.7 RS and then started racing the Nordschleife with the Elite. I got a real kick out of the really historic tracks – the banking at Monza and Montlhéry. That was really romantic…
I remember my father reading Denis Jenkinson's report of the Mille Miglia to me as a bedtime story...
Q. You’ve been with Masters for a long time. Can you remember your first-ever Masters event?
Everything kind of progressed from the early days. I’d seen a sportscar race at Silverstone that went into dusk, and thought this is what I want to do. So, I went looking for a Chevron B8 to race but then the Lola T70 that I still race today showed up and I bought that instead! My first Masters race was Mugello in 2007. I feel like I’m linked to Masters in some kind of strange way; together with Carol Spagg and Peter Hannen we created the Gentlemen Drivers series and also the Sports-Racing Challenge. Ron took over both series from Carol in 2006, and they morphed into what they are today – Masters Gentlemen Drivers and the FIA Masters Historic Sports Car Championship.
Q. Best car you ever drove?
My Shadow DN8! Once you’ve tasted that you never go back, it’s just the greatest car in the world. I never thought about another F1 car, I’m really attached to this thing.
Q. And the worst?
I’m very fussy about what I drive, so in truth I haven’t had any nasty stuff to deal with.
Q. Your favourite circuit?
The Nordschleife! It’s a road in the country. Most circuits today, people are not thinking about the consequences of going off. Apart from that, Zandvoort is magic too, that’s one of my favourite tracks.
Q. Why doesn't Masters go to...?
I’d like to go back to Monza. Imola or Mugello would be great too. Dijon, Jarama, Estoril – I liked all of those.
Q. Are you in it to win it – or do you race just for fun?
I love driving and the racing but I love the history even more. Sure, I like to win but what I really want is a shiny car on Sunday. That’s my prize.
Q. The rival you respect and fear the most?
The couple that I would like to beat are Leo and Simon. But, they are a tough team to beat. Simon always seems to pull out that little bit extra when he needs it. He’s an exceptional driver and knows his stuff too.
Q. Your best mate in the paddock?
Michael Gans, of course. We share a lot of passions, and a sense of humour.
Q. Your best day in motor racing?
It must have been the early nineties at Monza, in my Lotus Eleven. Patrick Peter’s BPR Series was racing there, and I put together a race with Tojeiros, D-types etc. I was totally in the zone in that car, I never had that experience again. Then I broke a driveshaft and didn’t finish, but it was supercool.
Q. And your worst day in racing?
That came at Silverstone, towards the end of the nineties. First I crashed a friend’s TZ. I got on the wet grass and was completely a passenger. Then I blew up my T51. The day after was my birthday. I crashed into a post with my Mercedes, and the wine in the trunk got smashed from the impact… The car was reeking with alcohol!
Q. You like your cars and will even go as far as creating them if they don’t exist anymore – like the Ferrari Sharknoses. Which car would you still like to own or (re)create?
I would like to build another Sharknose! The Giancarlo Baghetti car, the car in which he won at Reims. It’s substantially different, the driver sits lower, it has different suspension. And I still have lots of bits…
Interviewer: Mattijs Diepraam
Copyright and Production: Masters Historic Racing