Meet Dan

Born on January 4th 1980, to parents Anita and Paul, growing up I was never far from the track following my father in motor racing. It was here where the seed was set to be part of the racing world. 

F1 was something we’d watch every time it was on and the music of Fleetwood Mac and the chain along with listening to Murray Walker would make my hair stand up every time. 

Growing up I would always support Ayrton Senna especially in the Marlboro sponsored Mclaren’s. He was simply a special driver who I was very lucky to meet at Silverstone one year. My Dad knew him before becoming famous but that’s another story. 

At 8 years old a friend of the family, Ez Crossman, took me along with his girls Nicola and Gaynor to where he worked one evening. This was where he had a fun kart that his girls drove around in the yard and the first time I drove a kart of sorts. I remember him saying on the way home that I had melted the tyres I was going that fast! From that moment on I knew that there was no other job in the world that I wanted to do, I had to be a racing driver. 

So back in 1989 at 9 years old I starting Karting. The following year I won my first championship in Teesside (now known as Teesside Karting) and also at Felton circuit in Cadets. The following year I repeated this.

IMG_0903

Dan

3

British Championships

200

Podium Finishes

22

Lap Records

In 1992 I moved up from Cadets to Junior Britton. In my first race I became the youngest driver ever to qualify for the British championships, in Junior Briton aged 12 and 22 days.

1992

Between 1989 and 1993 I won 65 races and achieved 84 podiums including 5 champion wins. 

However all good things must come to an end. At the end of 93 I stopped karting due to being too tall and heavy, at this point I was more heavy weight boxer than racing driver and it showed. 

However I returned to racing in 1995 in a Grass track Mini wining 11 out of 12 races including YD championship. Unfortunately I didn’t go to the finals meeting at ‘fastest man on grass’ as I had started preparing for my full racing license.

The following year of 1996 I started testing the Nemesis National Supersports prototype car with GPC Motorsport. It was worlds apart from anything I’d ever done before but was amazing to drive to say the least. 

In 1997 I made my debut in the torrential rain at Croft in the British Championship, surprising everyone by finishing 5th. During that year I finished 9th in the championship with 3 podiums. 

However in 1998 I suffered an almost career ending injury in a road car accident ending my season before it began. After recovering and training as best as I could, I entered into the winter series GT Championship finishing second overall in the championship with 4 podiums but seriously damaging my shoulder again. It was a bitter sweet moment, with the horror in my mind that my career was over before it had really begun. 

At this point I walked away from racing and refused to watch my Dad compete because of the hurt inside that I could never drive again. 

So in 2001 I took a place at University in Northampton on a Sports and teaching degree. It was there that an old friend of my Dad’s, Mike Swinnerton, persuaded me to give coaching a go. But to be fair it didn’t take much and later that year I became a Silverstone instructor. 

After instructing and doing some hot laps that year I was starting to enjoy being around it all again. But by now I was playing football and thoughts of actually racing again had gone until a chance call with Dad brought about me trying again. But this time and for the first time I would be out in Classic Clubmans in a 1980 Mallock Mk20b sport car. So I retook my race license exam and at Mallory Park with only a half day test, I made my return. 

With a novice sticker on the back of the car, very few recognised me and one chap came over as I sat waiting to go out in qualifying to give me some words of encouragement. 

“Hi nice to see a new face on the grid, how’d you think you’ll get on?” 

My response drew a couple of laughs as he walked away. 

I’d responded In ‘typical me’ fashion. 

“If I’m not pole I’ll be fuming” 

Well I wasn’t pole but I was second and only 0.15 of a second off pole. 

When I got out I saw him scurrying over to speak to me. 

“I’m sorry, it’s Dan Gibson isn’t it? Paul’s son?”

“Yeah” I responded quickly. 

His response has always stuck with me since. 

Turning to his son, saying “Watch him! There ain’t nothing he can’t do in a car!” 

I’d missed the start of the season but I would still go on to take the first ever outright win of a B Sport car at Lyden hill and finish second in the championship by 2 points. 

In the penultimate race with the championship on the line I was taken out on lap 5 dislocating my shoulder and bursting the right front tyre! 

In James Hunt style I refused to be beaten. 

Driving on for a further 7 laps flat out only to finish 5 seconds off the leader when a win would have crowned me champion. 

I moved on for the next season in 2003 and took on a works drive for Nemesis on the power tour British Championship, taking my first ever win in sports cars at Thruxton before injury struck once more leaving me to finish 5th overall after being sidelined for four races.

The injuries to my now very damaged shoulder were taking their toll and in 2004 I had surgery to repair the damage, competing only twice and finishing second in both at Donnington and Silverstone in the Nemesis RME04.

This resulted in another injury and I took 2 years to recover.  

In 2006 at Croft I returned to Clubman’s for the second time. This time in a Mallock Mk27 cup car qualifying on pole and wining both races.  

The Cup cars all run the same 130bhp engines and the same Avon tyres, meaning it was all about car design, setup and driver ability unlike some formulas where the power of an engine makes a huge difference etc.

I’m 2007 I won the Championship for the first time with 5 wins and a further 4 podiums including pole, fastest lap and winning the final 3 races. This is where Adrian and I met for the first time , at Pembrey in South Wales, driving the Mallock Mk27 for the final time and hitting the wall in spectacular fashion in qualifying. Quite what it looked like from the other side I don’t know but I was adamant it was going through the last corner (Honda) Flat out!!!

The following race at Croft, I was behind the wheel of the latest Mallock Mk35 Synergy. I hadn’t had any time to test and in the first run the floor broke free.

Also it was the first time Adi and I went wheel to wheel and for a new driver he acquitted himself very well and finished just behind me in second for what I believe was his first podium.

In 2008 I retained the title, now driving for Gem with 5 wins and a further 5 podiums including 11 poles in a row! The longest run in a season. This is where Adi and I got to know each other better, me driving a difficult car and him chasing hard. We certainly had some laughs along the way including the Pink BBQ! But that’s a story for him to tell! Also ask him about the bet he lost at Croft!!! 

It was in this year that I made my debut in European racing as a works driver for Ascari in European GT3 with 2 podiums at Monza.

Later that year I drove for Bicknell Motorsport in the European speed series final round, finishing 4th after 3 hours. 

In 2009 I took a year out to develop a new car. I only competed twice, destroying the field at Croft and Oulton Park, shattering the lap record at Oulton by 3 seconds.

In the final race of the season I returned to Bicknell Motorsport in the European speed series final round and finished 3rd after 3 hours. 

In 2010 I missed the first 2 rounds and at Croft launched the first Proto car for the formula. The Proto car would become the new more powerful class with 220bhp. After Croft I drove to 3rd in the championship with 6 wins back in the 130bhp cup class.

I would drive for Nemesis in the new K11 car in 2011 winning 9 races and setting 6 new lap records along the way, including 2 very funny races! Adrian’s tyre throwing tricks at Rockingham and the Croft race where for the first half of the race he was literally all over the back of me until lap 6 where I finally broke free! The Rockingham Race always springs to mind, Adrian had been extremely unwell and turned up looking half dead! But I don’t know what had gone on in his head because he was driving like a man possessed!! I broke the diff in qualifying and was nursing a sick car in the race. Adrian was a man on a mission giving Russel Munn, the current champion, a hard time. With me sat behind the pair of them watching on, until in the heat of the battle, Adrian clipped the tyre wall on the inside throwing a stack of tyres at me!! Luckily I managed to nip out of the way and on the last lap, I nipped passed Russ to win, but it was at this point I knew Adrian had more in his locker than he knew! 

At the end of 2011 I became the first driver to win the championship for 3 separate manufacturers and this is yet to be repeated by anyone else.

In 2012 I left Clubman’s and launched the GH-19 at Brands Hatch in the European speed series, winning both races and lapping the field in 60 minutes. Unfortunately the series collapsed at the end of the year. 

In 2013 I returned to Brands Hatch with the GH19 to repeat the result including winning at Assen TT in both races.

In 2014 we would develop the GH-20 in preparation for 2015 in VDeV but the series later banned CN cars.

Later that year I got to drive the McLaren MP4 12c in Brit Car at Silverstone. It was another difficult car to drive and unfortunately it caught my Dad out on the final day of testing, resulting in us taking a trip to McLaren themselves to help put the car back together for the race weekend. We battled hard to get the car setup during the first two sprint races as she was handling like a greasy weasel. So I was given the chance to do the final endurance race on my own against the mighty Ferrari’s who had won the previous race!

The race itself would be nip and tuck all the way to the pitstop with me leading by the smallest of margins! As we left the pits the Ferrari’s jumped out into the fast lane in front of me and stopped to try and get back ahead. I managed to swing the car over and passed in the pit lane itself to avoid crashing into the Ferrari!

Now fully fired up at their attempt to cheat us out of the win, I drove all guns blazing to the flag leaving everyone in the dust behind.

In 2015 I competed in Master’s in a Lola T70MK3b winning at Dijon for the first time. The start of the season was a difficult one. The T70 was a difficult machine to get my head round and left me feeling very frustrated. It seemed like I had found ‘a unicorn’. In racing terms a unicorn is a fabled creature that is simply untameable. But everything changed at Dijon. After starting 7th on the grid I fought my way to the front and on the last lap slipped past the current European champion Leo Voyazides to win for the very first time.

In 2016 I competed in several races in the T70 with a few podiums but I was still not at my best in the car. 

The following year of 2017 was crazy and the year my driving took a huge leap forwards. With so many ups and downs, I made my debut in Historic F2 at Donnington Park and in both races while running second the engine would give up on me. The next time out however I picked up 2 great wins in the International FIA Grand Prix de France Historique at Magny Cours under the Jean Alesi patronage! Both times I had to battle harder than ever to stay with the mighty March 782’s of Dean Forward and in the second race French ace Gislain Genecand.

The same day I jumped out of the F2 race and straight into the 1965 Cobra Daytona for the very first time. Starting from forth I spent the next hour driving wheel to wheel against Andrew Haddon in a little Elan! The weather was torrential meaning the power advantage I had was taken away and it was all about who wanted it most! In the end the race was stopped due to deteriorating weather conditions but not before we had both put 2 laps on third place!  

No sooner had the dust settled on a great weekend we travelled down to The Silverstone Classic to race in the T70 mk3b.

The race ended in heart break after fighting for the lead with Martin O’Connell. I was leading until being taken out by a back marker with 2 laps to go! To say I was devastated is an understatement. 

Next we moved on to Zandvoort and something I’d never done before!!! Driving a 1965 Cobra Daytona through the streets, sometimes flat out too! With people lining the streets in the thousands it was an experience I’ll never forget! Tom was sat in the footwell of the passenger side of the car, with no seat and belt but just a bit of foam to sit on! When we pulled over to let the car cool down, a Police officer dragged us into the nearest bar and bought us a beer!!! We thought we were going to be in trouble but everyone treat us like Royalty, it was truely amazing!

At Estoril I raced the Cobra Daytona finishing 3rd after 3 hours and at Portimao I finished 2nd (twice) in the Algarve Classic. 

2018 was a bit different, racing a McLaren 650s GT3 in GT cup finishing 3rd in the championship, wining 5 races. My first win coming at Donnington Park. Qualifying was turning into a nightmare, every time I tried to put a lap together I had to abort due to back markers getting in the way. Chris radioed me to say I would have one chance left, beating the lights to start one final lap at the death. As I pulled in the pits Chris radioed again saying the timing screen had frozen but with the Mosler team cheering I assumed it wasn’t enough! That all changed when the commentator started shouting pole position had changed hands on the last lap!! McLaren now pole!!! The whole team was now bouncing and the race was amazing leading from the start and pulling away to win by over 30 seconds. It was a proud moment for Dad and I for sure! 

I also drove the Cobra for the final time at the Silverstone Classic somehow finishing 5th after confusion in rules cost me the win!

Unfortunately 2019 was a quiet year racing wise, finishing second at Donington park in the McLaren before picking up an injury. After a fair bit of goading from a few in the Clubmans formula, I dragged the Nemesis Clubmans car out of retirement for a one off meeting at Croft! It was great to see everyone again and for my little girl Candice to watch from the stands with my future wife Jayne. 

The races itself were great fun and I picked up 2 wins and a second! In the final race I finished second after melting the tyres after 6 laps and having to drive to my best to get to the finish.

In my final race and debut in CER I was at Paul Ricard in the Lola T70 once more. I’d never been to the circuit before and was under strict orders! No rubbing wheels or trading paint! The rules are very very different! The driver causing the damage pays all the damages!! Some of the cars are silly money too!! 

In Qualifying I managed to get a good run and lined up for the race 4th on the Grid. 

As we waited in the holding area I could feel the temperature change and a feeling I’ve relied on a lot in my career, I could feel the rain in the air! It wasn’t here yet but I knew it was coming, so I grabbed my phone and checked the radar app I had, it was about 20 minutes away! It was just starting to spit when I grabbed Chris and told him to get the car ready for wets! At this point I started to wind up a few of the drivers around me including pole sitter Martin O’Connell. Everyone started to change to wets, but after driving to the formation grid Martin had the wets taken off and dry tyres put back on! Mistake mate!! We stayed with wets!! As we started the warm up lap, the heavens opened and by the time we got to turn 6 I was leading! From there on it was just about keeping the car settled and not taking any risks! 

I finished 1st and lapped everyone up to 6th, it was my most complete performance and my last to date.

Since then I took Jayne to Milan to look at a historic F3 car, what she didn’t know was that it was a ruse for me to propose! 

In 2020 Covid shut everything down, however just as the lockdown was being lifted I unfortunately snapped my Achilles in 3 places and needed major surgery to repair the damage. 

Adrian and his wife Christina would meet myself and my now fiancé Jayne in Portugal a couple of months later to get some sun and give Jayne a rest from looking after me. 

This is where Racing Rum was Born, sat by the pool with a rum in hand thinking of the Caribbean…..