Interview: With John Lund (#53)

F1Stockcars recently caught a few minutes of John Lund’s (53) time.

John Lund, I’m 55 years of age. I’m a dairy farmer and my home town is Clitheroe.

John how did you first become interested in BriSCA Formula 1 Stockcars?

In the early 1970’s I used to go and watch with a friend, mainly at Nelson but we travelled to a few other tracks. That’s really when my interest first started.

When did you first fancy having a go, driving one?

I was more interested in the construction and mechanics of the cars in the early days. I was interested in welding and metal work. And the friend I used to go spectating with, wanted to have a go racing so we set about building a car for him. That would have been early 1975. As what often happens, my friend got involved with a girlfriend, and the building of the car and racing took a back seat. So I decided to carry on, and built it for myself. That was the start.

Early John Lund Car from the 1970's. Photo Colin Casserley.

Early John Lund Car from the 1970's. Photo Colin Casserley.

And do you recall your first meeting?

1976, Rochdale. Always muddy at Rochdale. I managed a 6th in the Consolation, and was pretty much hooked from then on.

John Lund takes a win in the 1970's. Photo Colin Casserley.

John Lund takes a win in the 1970's. Photo Colin Casserley.

From the cars you’ve built, do you have a favourite?

Probably the one we painted gold, I had a lot of luck with that car. And it always felt good to drive. We sold that to Lisa Harter and she raced it for about a year. And we reacquired that car back via a trade in. Didn’t do much with it for a while, loaned it out to a NZ driver before altering it a little bit for me to drive again. Managed to win a few more World Finals in it. So that I would say has been my own personal favourite car.

The Gold Car. Photo Paul Tully.

The Gold Car. Photo Paul Tully.

You’ve been in some pretty big races over the years, and won quite a few of them as well (8 times World Champion) do any stick out?

Lot’s! I really enjoy every race, if you’re competitive, set up well, going well, nothing beats that. I guess that’s why I’ve been going so long. It’s not just the big races that matter but, out of the big races; the 1987 World Final at (old) Belle Vue was a good one, 1997 World Final at Bradford involved a good battle with Frankie Wainman Jnr, and the 1988 World Final at Hendnesford personally stick out.
Along with most races at (old) Belle Vue, the atmosphere there was second to none. Aycliffe, used to enjoy racing there, not to far from home. Good racing.

Out of the current tracks any Favourites?

Any track is a good one, they all have there good points, and bad points. Although I do enjoy Hendnesford, the only UK track where you can really open it up. Get some good speed up.

How or what has changed in Stockcar racing over the years?

The fence has probably had the biggest impact (no pun!) in Stockcar racing over the years along with the NZ influence in car design. Before, cars used to be more open wheeled and it was a job not to get hooked up, not just with the fence but with other cars as well. The fences were (mostly) rope and rail unlike the plated armco of today. So you had to give so much respect to the fence, to avoid getting hooked up or axles ripped off, along with giving your opponents more space to avoid getting hooked up. So overtaking was a lot more difficult. Whereas today, with the modern car design and armco fence you can bounce your way though the other cars, bounce off or ride the fence and keep going. So those two aspects I’d say have changed racing from then to now; also playing a part in increasing the overall speeds of today’s Stockcar racing.

John racing today. Photo Colin Casserley.

John racing today. Photo Colin Casserley.

There is quite a healthy debate about the speeds of the cars / racing today, how do you see it?

I don’t think slowing the cars and racing down any would actually improve the racing in any way. It’s not the nature of stockcar racing. As a driver you’re always striving to be faster, quicker more competitive. On our short tracks there’s a limit to how fast you can actually get anyway.
Tyres are of more consideration, it’s not so much the cost of them but how long they last at their best. Currently the situation is where a brand new tyre is sometimes the most competitive. So that makes it harder to compete; if other drivers are putting on a new tyre for the final you’re instantly at a disadvantage unless you put one on as well.
Whereas years ago when we ran the old Dunlops and Crossfires; a new tyre was never the best. You needed to spend time wearing it in; running it in the heats, getting it worn down so it was just right for a particular track under particular conditions. Then putting it away until the time was right. Of course that meant you were transporting loads of tyres around with you. (laugh)
But the correct tyre choice was one of the biggest advantages; choosing the right tyre for the right track in the right conditions. A lot of skill was involved in that, and getting it right was often the difference.
That is something I miss in modern racing. That finer point has pretty much gone out of racing altogether. I don’t think you could ever really bring those days back, for a start we just don’t have the tyre choices available to us any more for the modern car.

Are there any favourite drivers you enjoy racing against?

No, not really. I’ve raced against lots of very good drivers; and I’ve also been lucky enough to beat a few of them(!). Really you have to admire each and every driver out there, regardless of reputation or honours. Racing Stockcars ain’t easy, and to get out on track more than once really takes something.

Are there any formulas other than Stockcar’s you fancy giving ago?

No, I’ve raced in NZ which I really enjoyed. It’s hard going over there to race. They (NZ) have been team racing for years, not just in the team races. You race as a track, representing your track, so if they see one of their track team mates in trouble, they’ll help him out and vice versa. Whereas we don’t just race for another track, but a different country so you’ve got your work cut out. And as you don’t race there week in week out you don’t know the cars. You know the who’s who but when you’re racing week in week out, I’ll see a flash of a bumper, or colour of say a front shocker, and without thinking I’ll know who it is, and what to expect. But when you’re not used to the cars, you have to think and that delay can be costly.
As for Non Stockcar formulas; no. Stockcar Racing has it all. You’re hands on with the car set-up and the development of the car. You’re involved with all aspects of the car and racing, you’re not just the driver. And racing without contact! I don’t think I could race a non-contact formula. Coming up behind a slower car in front and not being able to push them out the way? Stockcar racing really has it all.

The 1993 car in action. Photo Paul Tully.

The 1993 car in action. Photo Paul Tully.

What do you think the appeal is?

We run small tracks, so spectators can see everything. Whereas with other motorsport you might only get to see a very small segment of the race, and rely on video screens or even watching TV footage at a later date to see the whole thing. With us, it’s there in front of you; you can follow the whole race from flag to flag.
The contact plays a big part of the enjoyment, but it’s controlled meaningful contact, sometimes the expectation is better than the actual contact made. And it’s very addictive! For the spectators as well as the drivers.

How do you see the future of the sport?

We just need to get though this current economic phase. There are so many talented, young talented drivers out there at present. If they can keep there interest in the sport then we should be good. The standard is so high at present, lots of very good drivers have come though the Ministox formula into F1’s so that shows the merit of the Ministox formula.

And what about the future of John Lund? Gold Roof?

I’m going to keep racing for a few more years yet, as long as I can remain competitive and get in and out the car. My family still all enjoy Stockcars, along with the lads that keep me on track so there’s no need to stop just yet.
As for the gold roof, there’s only one roof and someone’s got to win it. I’d like to win it again.

John still enjoys winning - not the gold roof this time, but this win got John on the 2009 World Final Grid. Photo Paul Tully.

John still enjoys winning - not the gold roof this time, but this win got John on the 2009 World Final Grid. Photo Paul Tully.

So any plans to build a new car for yourself?

No, not at present there really is only so much you can do to develop the basic car design. We’ve got a few ideas, but they can be done with modifying our current cars.

What kind of hours do you still put into preparing your cars?

Every Tuesday and Thursday evening, always have done. Not unusual to work right though night trying to get everything done. But we don’t race as often as we used to; and we don’t seem to get the damage that we used to in the early days, that’s probably down to car design as well. So those two nights normally are enough. Not always, sometimes you just get it so you can race.

Any advice you can give?

Forget the last one and concentrate on the next one. You can have so many highs and lows in Stockcars. Forget what’s gone, put your heart and soul into the next one, and it’ll come right eventually.

Many moons ago John Lund finds the fence!. Photo Colin Casserley.

Many moons ago John Lund finds the fence!. Photo Colin Casserley.

Away from Stockcars do you have any interests?

My Family. It might be easier to answer ‘outside of farming do you have any interests?’. Stockcars. Farming takes up most of my time we currently have around 220 cows milking, and around 450 animals in total with the young. So fitting in Stockcars is the hardest part at present, but we keep on.

Thank you for your time John it’s been great talking to you.

John Lund #53. Photo Paul Tully.

John Lund #53. Photo Paul Tully.

Stephen Cording

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