Jonny has been interested in cars since he was 16 when a friend asked him to help take an engine out his classic Mini.
“At this point I had no clue how to do it but I though I may as well have ago at helping a friend out. It taught me a lot I was instantly hooked on the buzz of working on cars!” Laughed Jonny “3 weeks later I brought a Mini shell off the same mate, it was a 1989 round nose. I built it from ground up including the engine that started as a little 998cc, but I had that bored out to increase capacity, fitted a stage 3 head and a fast road cam along with plenty of other goodies, much bigger carburetor etc” The gleam in Jonny eye as he explained all this says it all, any car he has just won’t stay standard for long!
After an unfortunate incident involving some ice during that winter the car was lost and Jonny got another mini this time a 1970's clubman
“It had a standard body and suspension but with a race spec hill climb engine, 1380cc and some bigger brakes. It really did go well!”
In typical Jonny style he soon got bored and started modifying the car with new suspension, ripping the excess weight out, fitted a roll cage and electronic ignition, the little pocket rocket made 135 bhp on the dyno and then retuned to 125 bhp but with a lot more mid range torque!
At this point in life Jonny decided that he wanted to see more of the world so decided to go travelling around Australia, New Zealand and Thailand. After his awesome adventures and on returning to England he decided that he had out grown the little Minis and tried some different cars including what turned out to be a very fast yet even more unreliable Corsa with a C20LET engine (2.0 turbo).
“The first week it was pretty fast!, then the clutch exploded so I upgraded the clutch and gearbox. 3 weeks later the turbo blew due to the oil pump failing. So I replaced everything turbo, pump and everything else that was damaged with the oil starvation problem.” shrugged Jonny. “I needed reliability, I needed something Japanese, so I got a car to suit my hair style.. a Mazda MX5!!” he chuckled.
With the little rear wheel drive MK1 he soon got his first taste of power over steer, rear wheel drive was the future for Jonny, He has discovered what drifting was!
“By now I had so much adrenaline flowing when I was drifting, I could have bottled it and sold it on, which on hindsight maybe I should have tried, it may have helped with the broken bank balance” he laughed! “ I upgraded though and bought a BMW E36 328 and slowly started to modify it for drifting, starting with welding the differential! Next was suspension and steering lock modifications. I quickly realised that the streets were not the place for going sideways and booked on at a drift day at Birmingham Wheels”
“My first event was a “weekender”. On the Saturday I managed to break the radiator which I replaced that same night. I made it back out on track and by the Sunday afternoon I was linking the whole track with consistent drifts! I was thrilled with how I was doing!” beamed Jonny.
It was clear that Jonny well and truly now had the drift ‘bug’ He started becoming a regular drift day attendee at different venues, including Santa Pod. Here he was approached and asked to try out for a job as an instructor, teaching people how to start with the basics of drifting. Jonnys relaxed teaching style and talent for breaking down the key aspects and patiently explaining them to pupils meant that he quickly became a very popular and successful instructor over the next couple of years!
2014 saw Jonny accept the offer of work with the Flatout Factory team, at the very same venue that he did his first drift day at all that time ago! He fitted straight in with the rest of the instructors and quickly showed that he was an asset to the team! Jonnys pupils are often seen at the top of the podium at the end of the competitions on experience days, often when they have arrived having never driven a car before! His laid back approach is very effective with the youngsters coming through the drift academy or anyone that is nervous at the thought of sliding a car sideways for the first time!
“I'm now using a Nissan 200SX S14. Its not the best looking car I've built by far but only due my tight budget. I bought it as a rolling shell and have taken it from there. I think this will be a long project though, there’s always something else I can improve on the car to match as my driving skills increase.”
“The best thing about drifting bar actually being on the track driving is all the other people involved in the sport. I've met some brilliant people over the last few years, people that have turned into friend that I know will be with me for many years to come!”
Jonny is a popular team member and everyone loves his energy, enthusiasm and his fresh approach. We really hope Jonny will start to showcase his skills in the UK competitions with the rest of the competitive team soon but in typical, laid back, Jonny fashion he just gives a cheeky smile and says..
“I just drift for the fun really, I enjoy building cars and driving them, maybe one day I’ll take up that challenge but for now I’m quite like to see people zone out and forget about everything for a minute and just enjoy the sensation of the car being sideways. Its very rewarding to introduce people to the sport I love and get so much enjoyment out of!”
It’s truly great to see someone get so much enjoyment from his sport at Jonny does but we all have a feeling it won’t be long before we start to see him appear on the starting line at events and shortly after battling for podium spots!