Rice is roaring to racetrack glory under his own power now...

Rob Rice at Arlington
Rob Rice at Arlington

For the past 22 years, Minsted’s Rob Rice has been in the pits working on his friend’s bangers, and more recently a two-litre stock car and MkII Triumph historic stock car - but now he is stepping out of the shadows.

The friend in question is national banger legend and Midhurst resident Jack France. As France travelled the country winning virtually every prize going, his success was built on excellent pit work by Rice.

Having seen the enjoyment and success of France in the historics, Rice decided last year he fancied a go himself. Securing his own MkII Triumph, in his debut season in 2012, he eased himself into his new position as driver, with a fair degree of success and more importantly, fun.

Hours spent in the workshop over the winter working on the car and its engine saw him start this year with a renewed confidence.

In a very competitive formula, with regular grids full of former banger drivers reliving their former glories in classic Fords such as Cortinas, Anglias and Populars, starting as a novice, it has been incredibly difficult for Rice to break the stranglehold.

Early meetings this year had him chasing his tail as he struggled to stay on the pace.

At the Southern Rumble in April he achieved eighth place in a heat and has received rave reviews for other top-ten finishes. Through this period, he lacked a little consistency.

The prestigious Eddie James Trophy race at Aldershot saw Rice finish an incredible ninth in the final.

If he could obtain a supportive sponsor, Rice could do very well in this arena, maybe even emulating his good friend Gentleman Jack.

The raw potential, talent and dedication are certainly there, but as with all motorsports, success is often dictated by finances.

Historic stock cars racing continues at Arlington on Wednesday nights.

Michael Burnage