On Friday, our Kirstin and Laura caught up with Aston Martin racing driver Jonny Adam. The interview took place in The Ritz in London. Jonny opted for a healthy, high protein smoothie, whilst Laura and Kirstin had champagne cocktails. Kidding, we actually did the interview on the phone; we just like that bit they usually write in magazines.
The British GT Champion, who first took an interest in motor sports when he was just 10, has raced all over the world for Aston Martin and this year he was lucky to secure sponsorship from the best brand on planet earth, MadeBrave (we know, we know, we’re so bashful!) We caught up with the current British Champion to talk racing, Sir Chris Hoy and beards (standard MadeBrave chat)…
Interested in how he ended up as a racing driver, we asked when he realised he wanted to pursue a career in motorsports, “When I was 10”, he answered, “and back then, even at that age, I knew I wanted to make a living out this sport. My Dad, brother and I would go racing together. It started off as a fun, weekend thing to do, but it quickly became something that grew into a serious career.”
Adam keeps himself in shape for such a career by watching his weight all season, and training hard, monitoring what he eats and doing lots of CV exercise, before the season starts. “Once the season starts, you really don’t get much time.” he comments, “And while these GT cars are suitable to drive, it’s the cockpit temperature that’s challenging. Inside the car, it’s literally like going into a sauna, wrapped up wearing as many clothes as you can fit on. There’s no air conditioning and no luxuries in order to keep the cars as light as possible – so it can be up to 60 degrees in there.”
Rather you than us, Jonny!
This guy isn’t new to racing; he’s enjoyed plenty of success, and helped team Aston Martin get their first ever win at the British GT Championship, something he says is a highlight in his career to date, alongside competing in the World Championships, and overall, landing the contract with super cool brand Aston Martin, something which he felt he worked really hard for.
We think it all sounds pretty darn good, but surely their must be some downsides? “I think really the challenge, like any sport, is to take the lows that come with the highs.” he says. ” When you have a bad race, the whole team all feel what you feel inside the car – because it’s a massive team effort, you’re really just a small cog in a big situation. The low points feel low. But there are highs and lows in every sport.”
Talking of glittering careers; how could we not ask about Sir Chris Hoy, who recently swapped 2 wheels for 4, joining team Nissan to become a British motorsport driver. “Sir Chris says he wants to drive at the Le Mans 24-hour race,” we comment, “What are these races like? Must be pretty tough.”
ABOVE: Sir Chris Hoy sports his new 4 wheel look for team Nissan.
“That’s a historic race”, he answers, “something that really any professional driver wants to do, as it’s so iconic.” When we question how tough it is to do, Adam tells us that the worst part is not being able to get any sleep, as “ your adrenaline is going at every single step, and you could be called to drive at any point, every 3-4 hours.” He tells us that if they do get any sleep, it’s in a truck or somewhere close by and you can be called to take your turn at any point.
So does he think that Sir Chris will bring anything from his cycling career on to the race track that will help him? “Yes”, he responds. “He’ll bring his preparation and determination, which he’ll have already as an athlete; he’ll know preparation is key. Other things, like his concentration ability, will filter down to his motorsport campaign.” We’ll be keeping a close eye on Hoy’s motorsport career.
On the theme of legendary sports personalities, we then move on to Nadal, who is known for pre-match superstition. Does Jonny have any pre-race rituals, we wonder. ” I always put a new pair of gloves on for each race, I’m superstitious that I want on the best pair of gloves that I have for qualifying and then in to the race. A lot of people do weird, weird things like get in the car a certain way, or put on their helmet a certain way – but I’m not as bad as that.” We were a bit disappointed at this, we were hoping he was more crazy and did something a bit more odd, if he’s going to be an honorary MadeBraver, we’ll need to work on that!
He’s on the track 4-5 days a week all over Europe, but surely he must have some time to himself, in his own car. Us being the nosy folk we are, we had to ask what he drives! “A BMW 1 series” he answers. But he isn’t the speed freak you’d expect; “Everyone that comes out with me gets really annoyed, I’m seriously one of the slowest drivers on the road!” he says. ” People don’t get it, but I get all my speed out on the track.” When we praise him for being a sensible driver, he tells us that as long as he continues to race, he’ll get his thrill from driving at those kind of speeds on the track!
Obviously open to passing on his experience, knowledge and passion for the sport, Adam coaches aspiring motorsports racers when he’s not racing himself. So what tips does he have for future champions? ” A lot of people have a goal straight away, but really what I say is, in the beginning, have fun and make sure you enjoy it. If you improve, that’s when you can start to set goals. It’s a great thing to get into. Also, these days, a lot of it is down to sponsorship; it can be a cruel sport in that sense.” He also, quite sensibly, advises people to have fun but be safe, having mentioned that he too often sees people driving at speeds beyond their ability, which does cause accidents. We think Mums must love him for this.
He must be pretty brave if he drives all these tracks at top speed. “I really don’t know about that!” he says, ” I don’t think I’ve done anything brave; I’m absolutely petrified of heights! I was at the top of a huge building in Shanghai, like a twin tower type building for a PR event. There was a balcony that looked over the side, took me a while to get over it!” We forgive him for this though, because he does drive cars at 200mph which we still class as pretty brave, and we should know, we are the authority on braveness (obviously.)
We’re also the (albeit self-proclaimed) authority on all things beard. We reckon Adam is pretty manly, but he doesn’t have a beard (we know, shockerooni.) “I can grow one!” he proclaims when we question this, before telling us that often brands do like their drivers to be clean shaven, a la Lewis Hamilton; “Jenson Button does have some stubble though” he finishes. We really thought it was just because it would slow him down.
Our next question had to be watch related, because we’re really into our time pieces. So what does he wear? “A Jaegar LeCoultre,” he answers, “it was a gift from Aston Martin for winning the championship. Watches are a big thing in Motorsport, Rolex sponsor the Daytona 24-hour race. A lot of people have watch endorsements.”
Finally, we had one, very serious question we were desperate to ask. One which could change history. Is he The Stig? “No!” he exclaims. “Even within motorsports, nobody really knows, we think there are probably 2 or 3 stigs.” Personally, we think he was a bit too quick to answer and it’s all one big cover up! We’re on to you, Jonny!
So there you have it folks. 10 minutes (ok it was a little more) with British Champion Jonny Adam. You can follow Jonny’s racing schedule on his website. We’re off to see if we can get a sneaky wee racing lesson from him. See ya.