A MANSFIELD businessman has finally fulfilled his dream of entering the flamboyant world of motorsport . . . but not on the starting grid behind the wheel of a super-fast car.
Instead, former Brunts School pupil Ben Snowdon has become manager of rising British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) driver James Nash, who currently lies third in the early season standings.
In the short term Ben hopes to raise the profile of Milton Keynes-based Nash, but his long-term goal is to establish a stable of drivers and ultimately manage in Formula One.
“It’s something I’ve always had an active interest in and a passion for,” said Ben. “I’ve always wanted to set up my own agency and my own business.
“The opportunity came up to work with James’ dad to actually manage James in October last year and we finalised it in December.”
Ben (32) believes his background in marketing helping to build brands at well-known, national companies like airline BMI and Auto Windscreens will help to unlock more opportunites for James.
Added Ben, managing director of Drive, specialists in driver management and corporate marketing solutions: “A sports personality isn’t that much different to building a product.
“At the end of the day, the principles are the same. So I am approaching this from a brands specialist point of view and looking at it in terms of how we actually make James a product that people want to buy.
“It sounds very cold and clinical but it’s what needs to work because he can drive a car exceptionally well but so can six other people to his standard.
“On the grid there are 28 of them driving and how do we make him stand out? Driving is a part of it, but I’m working to get him media coverage with papers like the Sun.
“He’s great at driving, but he’s a shy young man whereas I’m not afraid to walk up to a journalist and say ‘we can do anything you want with James’.”
Ben - who has also worked with other BTCC drivers such as Jason Plato and Mat Jackson - devotes two days a week working on raising James’s profile, mainly working on attracting sponsorship for the 25-year-old driver.
But he also has contracts with firms to help develop their brands - including his wife Emma’s Mansfield Woodhouse firm Expecting Baby store - while his ultimate ambition is to branch into other industries such as music management.
“For me I’ll only have one driver in the touring car for the short term because I want to be fair to James - he is my chief priority - but there are other support races, Renault Clios, Ginettas, Formula Renault - and I’ll look at picking drivers up from there as well.
“There are also other parts of the business. I provide grid girls as well for James and James’ team.
“I’m looking at rolling that out to the other teams as well. That’s another part of motorpsort that has never really been attacked professionally.
“I would like to go into music as well. Ideally for me, to manage an F1 driver would be fantastic. It’s a huge step up from where I am now, so I’m not going to claim that next year or the year after I’ll be doing it - but for me that would be the ultimate aim.”
“So for me, it’s managing a driver for now to managing a team potentially to managing an F1 driver is where I want to be.”