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Black Bullet Profile: Roger Wills
Historic Racing

 
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Date of Birth: 22 January 1968
Birthplace: Greymouth, NZ
Resides: Moscow, Russia
Nickname: Willsie
Personal: Married to Olga, son George born 2003 and daughter Zoe born 2005
Height: 176 cm
Interests: Skiing, golf, classic cars, historic racing

Roger grew up in Timaru and spent many happy weekends at Levels, Wigram, Ruapuna, etc watching racing in the 70s and 80s where his most vivid memories are of the local Timaru hero Leo Leonard beating everything in the fantastic PDL Mustang.

Roger was born with petrol in his veins and from a young age spent time at the local Shell garage helping (or annoying??) the mechanics. At the age of 13 he was given his first car by his grandmother – a 1963 Renault Dauphine. Not the quickest thing in the world, nevertheless it was driven enthusiastically on the gravel roads around Hadlow where Roger lived well before he had turned 15 and could take his drivers license. Roger received his license a month after his 15th birthday and the Dauphine was later replaced by a Vauxhall Viva with mag wheels and a hot exhaust.

He graduated from Otago University with a Finance Degree and left New Zealand in 1989 for the USA where he worked as a ski instructor and then on to London where he reverted to finance. He moved to Moscow in 1995 where he still lives, now as CEO of a major group of financial businesses.

He started competitive motorsport in 2000 when he had a bet with a friend as to who would finish higher in a classic rally. Having purchased an MG C Roadster at auction, it was sent off to Maidstone Sports Cars where it was prepared for historic rallying. His first event was the challenging LE JOG in 2000 with Richard Olphert on the maps. They surprised everyone winning their class (against the more favoured Big Healey's) and winning the Best Novice award. He also won his bet! LE JOG was followed by the Classic Marathon in 2001 from Ypres, Belgium to Cortina D'Ampezzo, Italy taking in all the great routes of the 60s (Stelvio, etc) which he completed with his wife Olga and they finished a very credible 11th overall and 4th in class with 3 very well driven Big Healey's ahead.

Looking for a new challenge, Roger and a friend purchased a 250hp Vauxhall engined Caterham 7 and did a number of track days. Wanting more competitive track time, Roger took the 5 day race intensive course at Silverstone in 2004 and was a front runner in the Formula Ford graduation races at the end of the course with a second place in his first race and a 4th in the next. Encouraged by this and looking for more track time, he entered a number of races in 2005 in modern Formula Fords, but a young family (and a few hairy moments!) were the impetus to switching to historics and some more gentlemanly competition.

The 2006 season was his first in historics where he ran a 1969 Daren Mk2 sports racer and shared a 1965 Lotus Cortina Mk1. For 2007 a very busy schedule was planned with a 3 car line up – the Lotus Cortina, a 1965 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray and a 1963 Elva Mk7 sports racer.

With the same line up for 2007 and a very full calendar, it was a great season for Roger with some excellent racing and a lot of successes. One of the highlights of the season included being invited to race at the 2007 Goodwood Revival in the hour long feature race - the Royal Automobile Club TT Celebration.

Historic racing doesn't have the huge team support of its modern counterpart and Roger has a small team of mainly part time mechanics lead by Nick Jesty. Nick's son Paul assists at race weekends and drives the truck while Phil Cornish builds his engines and assists with the prep work. Duncan Williams and Richard Doe assist at race weekends when they are not on A1GP and F3 duties.

Roger has a very full and busy calendar for 2008.

2008 Calendar
1 March – Masters Goodwood test day
24 March – Goodwood Road Racing Club – Easter Sprint
29 March – Masters Top Hat Snetterton
30 March – HSCC Donington Park
17 April – Masters Donington Park test day
19/20 April – Masters Grand Passione Donington Park
5 May – Masters Top Hat DoningtonPark
10/11 May – HSCC Silverstone International Trophy
24-25 May – Grand Prix Historique de Pau (France)
31 May/1 June – HSCC Autosport 3 Hours Snetterton
6-8 June – Ronnie Peterson Historic Grand Prix Anderstorp (Sweden)
27-29 June –Grand Prix de l'Age d'Or Dijon (France)
5/6 July – British Grand Prix Support Race Silverstone
11-13 July – Goodwood Festival of Speed
24-26 July – Silverstone Classic
2/3 August – Castle Combe Historic Festival
8-10 August – AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix Nurburgring (Germany)
23-24 August – Gold Cup Oulton Park
30/31 August – Masters Historic Festival Magny Cours (France)
2-4 September – Tour Britannia
19-21 September – Goodwood Revival
26-28 September – Spa 6 Hours Historic Spa Francorchamps (Belgium)
4/5 October – HSCC Donington Park
18-19 October – HSCC Silverstone Finals
26 October – Masters Top Hat Mallory Park
1-2 November – Grand Prix Historique de Provence Paul Ricard (France)





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