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Kent racer Birley could scoop record at Brands next month

Tuesday, October 03 2017

Kent's Rod Birley could steal cult hero Gerry Marshall's title for the most wins in British motor racing when he contests four races at Brands Hatch next month (4/5 November).
Birley, who lives on the circuit's doorstep in West Kingsdown, is competing in support races at the British Truck Racing Championship event. Four wins will see him pass the late Marshall's 625 race total, gained in a career spanning more than 40 years from the mid-1960s to 2004. Birley started racing in 1973 and much of his success has come at Brands Hatch, with 227 of his 622 wins at his local - and favourite - circuit.
Birley chalked up his 600th victory earlier this year and has enjoyed something of a vintage season, adding 23 wins to his tally. Indeed on reaching 600, Rod speculated it would take "a year or two" to overtake Marshall, whose photo currently hangs in Brands Hatch's Kentagon restaurant.
Birley has two races on both the Saturday and Sunday of the November event to look forward to, shared evenly between his Honda Integra and Ford Escort. Both cars are of sentimental value to the local racer, as the Honda is prepared by Peter Bevan - the son of the man who first ran him in a racing car - whilst the Ford is his most famous car, and a machine in which he has racked up 320 wins so far.

It would be appropriate for Birley claim the record in his 'back yard' at Brands Hatch, as it's been the site of many of his key racing memories. He cites watching Jim Clark in a Lotus Cortina on the Grand Prix circuit as the moment he realised motor racing was for him, and he was fortunate enough to compete on the support bill at the final Brands Hatch British Grand Prix in 1986. Aside from racing, the venue is one of Birley's preferred Sunday lunch destinations and he also took part in filming at Brands Hatch for Ron Howard's blockbuster racing movie 'Rush'.
Birley said: "This year has been really good as I have managed 23 wins so far (16 outright and 7 class), as I try to close in on Gerry Marshall's record of 625. Obviously the other drivers are not making it easy, but that is the challenge of motor racing."
Birley's big opportunity will come at the final major event of the Brands Hatch season, supporting the British Truck Racing Championship ahead of one of the county's biggest fireworks displays.
Birley is adamant that this major milestone "needs to be at Brands" and will consider entering additional races before the end of the season if required.

Tickets for the Truck Racing and Fireworks event at Brands Hatch on 4-5 November are available online in advance from £19 with free entry for under-13s. For more information call 0843 453 9000 or click here.