In the next of our interview series we get chatting with Kieren McDonald of Big Mac Racing, a popular face in the paddock who took his maiden win at Snetterton this season.
Kieren started out in 2011, supported by Hunter Racetech, and has been gradually building his way to the front of the Mini Se7en championship.
How does it feel to have taken your first win?
Crazy - at first a bit emotional and unbelievable, now I’m very chuffed to have achieved what is very difficult with such close competition. It makes all the effort worthwhile.
What’s your racing background?
I wasn't fortunate to grow up around anything mechanical and didn't really have a clue about racing. The only thing close to racing was having a few blasts around a couple of indoor karting tracks as an arrive and drive. I went to a BTCC race and saw a stand for a Clio Cup scholarship competition, parted with some cash and signed up. The scholarship had lots of entries with some rather experienced competitors - over a couple of rounds we had to drive with an instructor, do a fitness test and a theory test. I got through to the semi final and had some good feedback.
I decided I needed to get some time on track in a competitive, fairly priced club-level championship. I endlessly researched and found the Mini 7 Club to tick the majority of the boxes. I went along to Racecar Live, had a passenger ride with Nath Burge in his former S Class Se7en around Brands and came away thinking I had to get involved. So I went along to Brands Hatch for the final rounds of the 2010 championship, got chatting with the Hunters and pretty much decided there and then to buy Dick's car. 2011 was my first season.
So you'd never driven a Mini before then?
What's your most memorable moment so far?
Obviously my first win! Other than that, it has to be the whole experience at Zandvoort each year. I love everything - the road trip, the people, the beach, the beer, and of course the fantastic circuit and racing we put on. Apparently in 2015 the spectators were on their feet and everyone shouting and cheering, saying our Se7en battle was the best racing they had ever seen. To top it off, I came out leading our pack in both races for a P3 and P2.
Are you staying with the Se7ens for next season?
Yes - I wouldn't mind a go in a Miglia, but I will stick with Se7ens for now.
What’s more important, good power or handling?
A mixture of both - without a full racing package you just cannot get up there. On top of that reliability is an absolute must. I have been lucky to have always adopted the Selby setup and engine. However, before I had help from likes of Dave Yardy and Hunter Racetech to apply the setup, the car would be in all shapes and it's only when it's set up right you realise it is the only way to get around the bends quickly.
What's your favourite thing about the Mini 7 Racing Club?
Everyone is so friendly and always willing to help out - whether that's lending you a tool, spare part or fix your car! Aside from this, the history of the club is like no other and Mini Se7ens are incredibly fun and rewarding.
Finally, what's the most expensive mistake you've made?
Not paying for the right expertise to prepare my car when I started out racing. It led to huge costs, lots of unreliability and lack of consistency in the car. Although it’s all about the fun, racing cars is still a serious game and knowing what you are doing is vital.