Racing is a Mitchell family bug – and Ben caught it young
There was a sense of inevitability that Ben Mitchell would become immersed in cars. “My great-grandfather owned an Alfa Romeo RL in the 1930s,” he says, “but apparently kept it hidden from his wife. My grandfather drove 500cc F3 cars and my dad raced Frazer Nashes and GNs – until about 15 years ago, when he bought a Merlyn Mk20.”
After karting on a budget – “I did all the preparation work myself, which was a great education” – Mitchell made his car racing debut in the Merlyn at Castle Combe in 2009, since when he has carved a niche as a quick, reliable performer in historic machinery. “I considered racing contemporary single-seaters in the States,” he says, “and tested a Formula 1000 car at Sebring. Although that went well, the sums required weren’t realistic for me.”
He subsequently spent three years with Simon Hadfield Motorsport – “a fantastic experience for which I’ll always be grateful: it taught me a great deal” – and between racing commitments now works full time with collectible car specialist William I’Anson. “I’ll be out in various things this year,” the 24-year-old says. “BRM P25, Lotus Cortina, Lotus XI, AC Cobra and whatever else I might be offered.”
The prime target, though, is the Historic FF1600 title, in which he’ll be racing a Merlyn owned by journalist Marcus Pye. Father Westie and younger brother Sam have both won it in the family Merlyn, while Ben has scored many wins – but as yet the championship has proved elusive. “It’s probably time I tried to put that right,” he says.