New Zealanders tend to be mistaken for Australian when overseas, even if they’re famous.
But that didn’t stop Jim Richards from heading to the UK to race the JPS BMW 635 CSi he’s known for steering.
The Silverstone Classic, which runs over the course of a weekend annually, usually features thousands of cars on display, with quite a few (approximately 1000) of those cars taking to the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit in classic races.
Gentleman Jim’s Group C car (actually owned by Peter Sturgeon) proved popular at the event, with the iconic JPS Bimmer being awarded the Stuart Graham ‘Scarf and Goggles’, an award presented to the most admired car competing at the Classic.
Richards says he was thrilled to have to opportunity to jump back in the driver’s seat and show the car off in the UK.
“It’s terrific to be able to take it overseas. Group C was only an Australian class, it wasn’t international like Group A, so to demonstrate it to the fans at Silverstone was a brilliant opportunity,” he says.
“A lot of fans have never seen these cars in action before, especially in England. It was exciting to make this weekend a ‘first’ for a lot of people.
“I was absolutely amazed at how much the British race fans knew about Australian motorsport. Everything that’s happened in Australia, they knew about. They knew everything about what I’ve done in my career, I was really blown away.
“We had more people visit our pit than anyone. The organisers of the event gave us the ‘Best Presented’ and ‘Car of the Meeting’, which was just fantastic. That’s what it’s about.”
The car Richards is so well known for driving has undergone a few changes in its lifetime, with its original Group C-spec being changed to be Group A compatible by former JPS Team BMW head mechanic Pip Barker.
Once it was bought by Sturgeon in the early 2000s, it was restored to Group C specifications and has been raced by Richards across Australia and NZ over the last couple of years.