Stock car driver a champ just 18 months after major crash

Daniel Pilgrim of Billingborough after winning the British GT Hot Rods championship. Photo: 9670SA-6.
Daniel Pilgrim of Billingborough after winning the British GT Hot Rods championship. Photo: 9670SA-6.
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A STOCK car driver has become British GT Hot Rod champion just 18 months after a crash nearly ended his motoring career.

Twenty-year-old Dan Pilgrim, of Billingborough, drove his Vauxhall Nova to victory in the GT Hot Rod British Championship at Skegness Stadium leading the 25-lap race from start to finish.

Dan has been racing stock cars for seven years, beginning with Junior Rods when he was just 13.

Dan said: “I didn’t believe I would be able to go back to my hobby of motor sport.

“I had a major car accident and was incredibly lucky to be still here and able to move.

“Now a year after my accident, I have been able and fit enough to go back into my fast and furious racing with the GT Hot Rods.”

GT Hot Rods is a non-contact formula in which no deliberate shunting is allowed.

The fastest cars start at the back of the grid, forcing drivers to use their racing skills to make their way through the gaggle of cars, mainly made up of Vauxhall Astras, Corsas and Novas.

Highly tuned engines of up to 1400cc are allowed in a front-wheel-drive configuration and the formula has around 20 race meetings throughout the year.

Since his accident, Dan honed his skills in practice to get himself back in shape for serious racing on the oval, and also took time out to teach his father who has also made excellent progress in the sport and managed to win his first trophy earlier this year.

Dan said: “I have had to practise twice as hard and have a completely different seat to give extra support for my back. I have also been clocking up some race miles to be able to work my skills back.”

Dan qualified for the British Championship final during four hard and fast rounds on tracks including Buxton and Coventry, which has a slippery shale surface, with night races during the week as well as weekends.

He managed to qualify in pole position for the grand final and rode out a perfect race. He raced into the first corner still in front and defended his position until the end when he said he felt honoured to take the chequered flag as British champion.

Dan said: “Many thanks go to my dad and my supporter John Bailey, followed by Clive Bennett, the boss of Pointon Garage, who has been able to sponsor my motor sport over the many years that I have raced.”