Features

My Life & Cars – Mike and Andrew Jordan, Directors, Jordan Racing Team

The only father-and-son team in BTCC history, Mike and Andrew Jordan now build, test and race historics

Rain drummed on the roof of the Pirtek Racing truck at Brands Hatch. Inside sat Mike and Andrew Jordan, 24-year-old Andrew’s mood as dark as the weather. That morning, the prospects of them winning the British Touring Car Championship looked bright. Arriving at the Kent circuit for the final three races of the 2013 season, Andrew headed the drivers’ standings by a useful margin. Any of the next four drivers – all previous BTCC champions – could win, but a trio of steady results would give Andrew the title, his first. 

Race one had gone to plan but race two had not. Jinking to avoid a sideways car, Andrew’s Honda Civic had been tagged, breaking a rear suspension arm that pitched him off at the next corner. It was his first non-finish of the year and it drastically cut his points lead. He was now within reach of Gordon Shedden and Jason Plato. 

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‘The two weeks between Silverstone and Brands weren’t that enjoyable,’ recalls Andrew. ‘We’d increased our lead, which meant that the title was now ours to lose. It was the last thing I thought of before sleep and the first thing I thought of when I woke up. At Brands I had a solid first race and only had to finish the second race to win the championship…’ 

‘He was steaming when he came out of the car,’ recalls Mike. ‘We sat in the truck for 30 minutes, and when we came out I said: “You will be British Touring Car champion at the end of today,” and he just went and did it.’ 

‘In a weird way, I was relaxed,’ says Andrew, now 32. ‘Until then I’d been worrying what other people might do. Now I knew exactly what I had to do. Shedden was on pole and would probably win, so I had to get from the back of the grid to eighth. I was calm, quite confident we’d do it. And we did, which was cool.’ 

The Jordans winning the BTCC as a small, family-run team working out of a tiny workshop near Tamworth in the Midlands – and beating two BTCC champions in works Honda Civics – was remarkable. But no less remarkable was the fact that, five seasons earlier, when Mike was 50 and Andrew was 19, they became the first father-and-son team in the BTCC’s then 50-year history. Also, for a time, Mike was the oldest BTCC race winner and Andrew was the youngest pole-sitter. Racing in the blood? 

‘The first car I remember my dad having,’ says Mike, ‘was a black A40. He was into cars and I pestered him to take me to Mallory Park when I was about 13. Two things stood out: Dave Brodie in his “Run Baby Run” Escort and the Mini Sevens, which smelled of Castrol R and had the best racing. After that he took me regularly. A Hillman Avenger replaced the A40 and he’d slide it a little bit around wet roundabouts. I just used to sit there in awe… the feeling of going into oversteer was amazing.’ 

Mike, now 63, was training to be a civil engineer when he found his first race car. A colleague had built a racing Morris Minor but didn’t like the racing and was selling it for £750. Mike didn’t have even £250… until he’d been to three different banks and secured three £250 loans ‘to restore and sell on a Morris Minor’.

‘My first race was at Aintree. I was completely clueless but everyone was so helpful. I didn’t win but It was the ultimate thrill. I did that for two years, then I borrowed a shedload more money and bought Andy Wallace’s championship-winning Formula Ford.

‘I thought I’d just win like Andy. I had a couple of podiums and then blew the engine. My engine builder asked if I set the car up. I said I sort of knew how to do the toe setting. He set it all up and did the corner weights. Next day at Silverstone I put it on pole and won my heat. It was a Eureka! moment. It doesn’t matter how much of a hero you are, if you haven’t got the right car, you’re doing nothing.’  

Another racing hiatus followed when Mike got married and had a daughter. He was now working for a TVR dealer. Visiting a supplier he spotted their race-prepared 911 and asked if they were doing the last round of the Porsche Club series. ‘They said “No… Do you want to?’’ 

‘So I did. Drove to Brands, put the car on pole… and next lap put it on its side in the gravel! It was fine. I won the race and on Monday took it back. They asked if I wanted to buy it. It was £8k. My dad had died and left me £8500. I was thinking “You can’t afford to run it.” So I bought it!’ 

He found some budget from a customer who ran a mobile phone company and next season won nine races out of 12. ‘At the end of the season a couple of people said “would you look after my car?” and that’s what started the Team Eurotech business.’ The following year Mike won the series outright in a Carrera RS, though the highlight was winning the Birmingham Superprix round, ‘the local lap,’ as he calls it. ‘That was the coolest thing,’ he grins. ‘We did go practising a lot…’  

Sensing a bigger opportunity, Mike had invited some people from Peugeot to Birmingham. ‘There was only the Golf GTI in class C in the BTCC and I persuaded Des O’Dell to give me a 309 GTi, knowing that the 16-valve version was coming.’ But it never came, and the 309 was no match for John Cleland’s Astra 16V. 

Mike stopped racing again and concentrated on running customer Porsches. ‘I started to resent it,’ he recalls. ‘I was 36, I still burned to race.’ Then, in ’95, Eurocar came long, the European NASCAR series. ‘It was £5.5K for a rolling chassis with a Mondeo V6, and I went and did that, away from the customers. It was very hard, a lot of the guys were ex-hot rod, but the racing was phenomenal!’ 

He was runner-up to Barry Lee and the next year moved up to V8 Eurocars and won that. And that would lead back to the BTCC. ‘The guy doing my engines looked after a fleet of road cars for John Guest, the world’s largest supplier of push-together pipe fittings. He said the sales managers would like to do a bit of motorsports; would you present to get a bit of sponsorship for yourself? 

‘So I met Mr Guest, a proper gent, and he liked the sound of it. Eurocars wasn’t quite the image but I said do a year and if you like it we’ll do TVR Tuscans. And they did. Two years in Tuscans was followed by British GTs, winning the championship in a Lister Storm in 2001. We did three more years in GTs but it was getting a bit samey. I said, well, we could do the BTCC but I don’t think you’d want to spend the money. They said: “Oh, we might.”’

So in 2006 Mike was back in the BTCC in the ex-Matt Neal Honda Integra. ‘It wasn’t as much fun but it was what the sponsors wanted and I had a plan,’ he says. ‘I wanted to keep John Guest on board until Andrew was old enough so they’d sponsor him in his first years in Touring Cars.’ And that’s what happened. 

From about six, Andrew was in the workshop, wheeling tyres around, washing cars. Mike bought him a kart when he was nine and the pair were always at the local track after school, on slicks, rain or shine. ‘I really enjoyed the driving, and the preparation at home with dad,’ he says. But for Andrew’s first meeting, Mike was racing Eurocars so a friend stood in. Having been fired into the barriers twice, Andrew didn’t want to do the third race. ‘I just had a bad day. If dad had been there I’d probably have carried on.’ Instead, they sold the kart. 

The bug was rekindled a few years later by rallying. Andrew went through the Ford Rally Academy and then did Junior Rallycross. ‘You do eight races in a day so you learn fast. For 2004 we built a Mini and did the British Junior Championship. No expectations, but I was top rookie. Next year I won it but it went down to the final race. I’d never been so nervous. Dad said I looked grey. 

‘That year it became about results,’ reflects Andrew. ‘It’s been the same since, which I don’t like; I can be too competitive.’

Mike got a dispensation for the then 16-year-old Andrew to step up to the senior class, not revealing that he’d be driving Will Gollop’s 550bhp Focus Supercar! ‘First day I drove it I thought “What am I doing?’’ says Andrew. ‘It was so fast!’. But he had a couple of wins in his first year and in the second won the championship. If there’d have been a career in Rallycross, and an audience for the sponsors, he’d have stayed. ‘I loved it,’ he says.   

‘I figured if he could handle that, he could handle anything,’ says Mike. At the same time he’d got Andrew competing in the Clio Cup for circuit experience. ‘Then I put a deal to John Guest to sponsor the first father-and-son team in the BTCC on its 50th anniversary, and they said yes.’ 

So, at just 19, Andrew was in the BTCC. ‘I didn’t feel the pressure. I probably didn’t take it as seriously as I should have. I was still hands-on in the team which is how I’d have wanted it, but Dad didn’t have a fair crack of the whip.’

‘What should have been a highlight year for me was a bit of a let-down,’ says Mike, reflecting on 2008. ‘We were a very small team and I was running the team, driving the truck, organising hospitality and trying to coach Andrew. It was a bit of a nightmare.’ 

The following year, Andrew was in a works Vauxhall Vectra. They’d literally just signed the deal with Triple Eight Racing when they got a call from John Guest to say that due to the recession they wouldn’t be able to sponsor Andrew. It had always been on a handshake. 

‘We had Pirtek on in a small way and, good thinking from Dad, he offered them title sponsor,’ says Andrew. ‘We still had to put in some family funding, tricky because 2008 had fried us. Since then it’s all been commercially funded. We’ve worked our bollocks off for it.’

Andrew’s teammates were Matt Neal and Fabrizio Giovanardi, the Italian having driven the Vectra to the title the previous two seasons. ‘It was a good learning year,’ says Andrew. ‘My brother-in-law, Adam Hardy, came as my race engineer, so he learned too.’ 

In 2012 they switched to the Civic, bagging one win but never feeling they were a match for Shedden and Neal in the works cars. But 2013 was different. ‘Everything just clicked,’ says Andrew. ‘I put it on pole for the first round and, although it sounds cocky, we expected to. Adam was probably as obsessed with winning as I was. We were the ones to beat. It was really good fun. To win it and do it as a small team was quite emotional; it was like winning the British Touring Car Championship with a group of mates!’ 

Explaining why they sold the Eurotech team at the end of 2014, Mike says: ‘We’d achieved what we’d set out to do. Winning the BTCC out of an even smaller workshop than this was amazing, but every time we didn’t win it after that would have been a bit of a disappointment. And it didn’t really stack up as a business.’ 

Andrew carried on with Pirtek backing and, after a couple of forgettable seasons, landed a drive with West Surrey Racing (WSR) and BMW in 2017. His team-mate was Colin Turkington. ‘He was Mr Rear-Wheel Drive, world class,’ says Andrew. ‘It was another learning year. 2018 was better, then came 2019 and the all-new car. It was late arriving and I jumped in and was very quick immediately. Colin’s very analytical and took a while. 

‘I was determined to be the first to win with it because I knew it would be a big thing within the team. And I did; came from 15th to win at Brands by 10sec. I thought I had him beat on pace. He got better and next meeting I had a shunt in race one, missed the next two races and he won two. It was a year-long battle. I enjoyed it, but it was a job. It was only fun when you won. I put pressure on myself to perform. You don’t win it every year, though. Look at Plato, who’s won it twice in how many years? But I should have won it in 2019. I definitely feel that one got away.’ 

Secretly, he’d decided that if he won in 2019 he’d ‘do a Rosberg’ and retire live on ITV4. He still wishes he’d called it a day anyhow because things unravelled after that. ‘That’s my only regret. I knew it was looking rocky for 2020.’ Then Covid added to the uncertainty and sponsorship budgets shrank. WSR and BMW were keen to keep Andrew but it would have meant him taking some financial risk. 

‘I thought “I’m good enough to earn a living from this” so I wasn’t going to do it for free,’ he says. ‘Is the number one mechanic doing it for free? There’s this perception that you’re the one having fun but it’s not always fun. It was my call. I said I’m not taking the risk. I had to ring WSR and BMW, which wasn’t nice, but an accident could be £30k. The car burns to a crisp, that’s £250k. It probably won’t happen but I could be the one trying to find £250k. It all went quite sour, unfortunately.’ 

Life is good now, though. The family business is proving as succesful as the pair were on track. The 11th Cortina is in the paint shop, they’ve done six 2-litre 911s and – as ever – the standard of preparation is quite superb. No wonder there is a constant stream of customers.

As well as historics, they’ve just bought an ex-Olsbergs Fiesta WRX Supercar, and Andrew is in the Mini Miglia series this year, winning. Mike is at the same meetings but in a Mini Seven that Andrew bought him as a thank you. That suits Mike: ‘I see all the data, I know who’s fastest!’ And there’s Goodwood, of course. ‘Initially, Goodwood was a release,’ says Andrew, ‘but now I’m probably just as competitive. The Revival is my favourite. The racing is a big part but the attention to detail is awesome.’ 

‘Goodwood is great but the whole historic scene is fantastic,’ says Mike. ‘It’s a good business too; the people that want to do it go and do it, nobody is relying on sponsorship. The best fun is probably the A40 [a Revival crowd favourite], you can really chuck it around. Far more fun than Touring Cars.’

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