Racing driver Alex Brundle on racing his father Martin Brundle at Le Mans and why he now feels more in the driving seat following his recent move to Greenwich Peninsula
Whenever I meet people with a famous parent, invariably they react in two ways when I broach the subject: they are either delighted to talk about the family success, or prefer not to, in the fear it will detract from what they are striving to achieve on their own.
For racing driver Alex Brundle, fortunately, it’s the former: ‘It was pretty special to race alongside my father at Le Mans,’ he smiles. ‘Both on an emotional and professional level, to share the car with a driver of my father’s calibre was a massive privilege. It wasn’t just because it’s my dad that made it so special, but mechanically, in terms of his feedback and his driving, it was a real lesson to me in what a quality racing driver looks like.’
It was pretty special to race alongside my father at Le Mans
Martin Brundle was a successful racer throughout the 1980s and 90s, winning the 1990 24-hour Le Mans race, and today is well-known to a new generation as a commentator on Sky Sports’ coverage of Formula One.
‘I followed my father around the world as he tackled some of the most famous race circuits and, for me, it was the pure emotion that his successes induced that drew me in,’ Brundle Jr explains.
‘Seeing how much they meant to my whole family was really special, and it’s spurred me on to try and make my own mark in strengthening the Brundle racing name.’
Claiming that he was as ‘young as two or three’ when he knew he wanted to be a racing driver, Brundle got his very first taste of racing by karting at the age of just six. ‘From there I raced in Junior Max and Minimax,’ he continues, ‘before moving into Formula Palmer Audi when I was 16-years-old.’
Ten years later and he now races for endurance motor racing team JOTA Sport in the FIA World Endurance Championship. ‘If you’ve never heard of the Le Mans 24-hour race, I’d say it’s like Formula One, but for a very long time and the cars have windscreens,’ he laughs.
It’s been a memorable year, with a hat-trick of wins
‘My career feels like it is going from strength to strength. It was an honour to get on the podium at Le Mans back in 2013 [where his team finished second], and now it’s great to be racing for JOTA Sport, as part of their G-Drive Racing team, in the World Endurance Championship this season. The team won Le Mans in 2014, so as you can imagine they have a pretty special team dynamic and driver line-up.’
It’s been a memorable year, with a hat-trick of wins in very different scenarios in the final three races of the season. It’s also seen Brundle up sticks from Norfolk to settle in Greenwich, which is all part of the grand plan to further his career.
Greenwich is a very different world to what Brundle is used to. ‘King’s Lynn [where he’s originally from] is a very lively, but smaller community,’ he explains, ‘so things are a little less hectic there. Given I’d pretty much named all the sheep next door, it’s been a welcome change of scenery!
‘There’s never a dull moment in London. I like the quirkiness of the place; its diversity and culture are very new and interesting to me.’
Does he already have some favourite local haunts? ‘The Reach Climbing Gym in North Greenwich is one of my favourite places to visit in my spare time. Besides training and racing, rock climbing is my number one hobby. Pizza is my guilty pleasure, and so I often like to make the short trip across to Wapping to Il Bordello. Their pizzas really are to die for!’
The Reach Climbing Gym in North Greenwich is one of my favourite places to visit in my spare time
He best get in quick to indulge as pretty soon the demands of being a racing driver – both physically and mentally – will take over, particularly given how ambitious Brundle is.
‘I’ve already shown pace and aptitude in endurance racing, so I hope to continue to carve out a reputation for myself in the sport,’ he states. ‘Driving for a factory backed team – that is one sponsored by a vehicle manufacturer, whether that’s in Europe or the US – is the name of the game in terms of endurance drivers.
‘I currently drive for JOTA Sport in the LMP2 Series, but the ultimate would be to win Le Mans as a LMP1 driver. Hopefully I can do that with JOTA Sport.’ And, in the process, add another glittering achievement to the Brundle family name.
Alex Brundle is part of the JOTA Sport (G-Drive Racing) team that races in the World Endurance Championship. For team news, follow @JotaSport on Twitter