In his first season of racing the Mini JCW, 19-year-old Max Bird finished the year on a high with a series of top-six qualifying and race finishes in the highly competitive Mini Challenge JCW championship.
The Mini JCW car looks like a normal road going Mini but there the similarity ends.
It has a highly tuned turbo-charged engine giving 275 horsepower in a lightweight body shell, with full race suspension, uprated brakes and a six-speed sequential racing gearbox which means the car is capable to lapping within two to three seconds of a racing Aston Martin or Mclaren GT4 car.
Being a one-make championship with strict technical regulations the cars are all very similar in performance and with 30-plus cars taking part in the races it makes for very close and exciting racing.
Bird, from Chidham near Chichester, got his season started on a high with fifth in qualifying and a podium place in the first race of the season at Oulton Park.
A series of mechanical and technical issues over the course of the next four rounds meant that despite some determined driving from Bird his best result was sixth place at Silverstone, leaving him well down in the championship standings at the halfway point in the season.
Undeterred the team started to get on top of the mechanical issues in the second half of the season and the results began to come, despite the erratic driving of some of the other competitors which resulted in Bird being taken off the track on four occasions.
What followed in each case was some spirited driving by Bird to come back through the field to score the most points he could for the championship.
The final two rounds of the championship hopefully will provide a pointer to the potential for next season.
Bird qualified third at Donington Park and sixth at Snetterton and going on to take a fifth and sixth at Donington in two extremely close races, and then a fifth place at Snetterton to put him tenth overall in the Mini Challenge JCW championship, a credible result considering he failed to finish four races through mechanical failures.
For 2020, the Mini Challenge JCW Championship becomes part of the popular British Touring Car package, which means races will be televised live on ITV4 on a Sunday and will be watched by some 1.7m viewers per round and will have trackside audiences in excess of 50,000 spectators, providing a huge opportunity for sponsors to promote their organisation and brand.
Bird said: “It has been a challenging first season in the Mini with many ups and downs but I have learned so much this season that I feel much stronger, confident and I am ready to win in 2020.”
Bird has received support in 2019 from the Orbx Simulation Systems, Vines Group Mini in Guildford and local companies including Bluebird Developments, Artec Engineering, BookMyGarage, Core Results, Game Set and Match and the Goodwood Health Club.
Monique Limerick of Vines Group Mini said: “We are delighted to be able to have supported Max this year and are very impressed with the tremendous results he has achieved.”
For 2020 Bird will be raising funds for Race Against Dementia, which has been founded by F1 racing legend Sir Jackie Stewart with the aim of raising money to fund breakthrough and innovative dementia research.
With the move to a race series that is televised and with a large trackside audiences and social media following of in excess of three million people, the Mini JCW Challenge offers fantastic opportunity for companies to promote themselves and their products.
Bird is looking to partner with five organisations for 2020 who can benefit from this exposure and promote their business through media coverage, promotions and trackside hospitality.
Anyone interested can email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss the opportunities available.
You can follow Bird’s progress throughout 2020 at www.maxbirdracing.com or on Instagram at maxbirdofficial, Twitter at @maxbirdracing1 or maxbirdracing on Facebook.