Neil Primrose is one of many deeply passionate amateur racers/owners on the popular historic racing circuit. However, unlike most, his day job is just as cool as his hobby. For Neil is the drummer with one of the UK’s most successful bands of the last 10 years – Travis! Here he talks to Sniffer Media about his enthusiasm for all things motor sport.
Neil, how did you get the ‘racing bug’?
“I was about 5 years old and I distinctly remember playing with my scalextric set at home and thinking how great the cars looked. A little later I started watching Formula One with the likes of Mansell, Piquet and Senna battling hard together and that really caught my imagination.
“When I was older music became important in my life too and I have been lucky enough to make a good career from it and also earn some money. Racing is an infectious bug and has become a real passion although in some respects it always has been. I’m not one of these celebrity music people that are in it just for the social scene. I love competing and understanding the cars. I did some rallying and lots of karting when I could and then the logical step was to get some circuit racing in too.”
“I also have some engineering genes! My granddad was working in heavy industry as an engineer and my Dad was an electrical and computer engineer in the Defence industry. I really enjoy the science of what makes machines tick and evaluating what can make them go faster.
Can you compare the feelings of racing to playing your music in front of 20,000 people with the band?
“They are both a massive buzz and there is a great feeling of contentment for me in living within these moments. Playing the drums is a very disciplined activity and one that needs good rhythm and timing, so in a sense there are similarities between playing on a stage and racing. It is actually quite a cathartic experience on stage as the more you get in to it the more it all comes to you. It’s a strange floaty feeling you get when it all comes together. You are using all four limbs, as you are in a racecar and everything gets slowed down, you go in to a totally different zone. Your co-ordination becomes complete. In this respect there are definite similarities with driving a racing car on the limit.
How did you come across the Lola 2-litre cars?
“I was driving at the Le Mans Classic a few years ago in a Porsche 906. I was driving my nuts off when this Lola T212 just blew straight passed me! I then started to reassess things, including my knowledge of race engineering among other things. This led me to Lola and in particular the early 70’s 2-litre cars.
“I always loved that era of racing and especially the legends such as Brian Redman, Vic Elford and Ronnie Peterson. All of them drove either Chevrons’ or Lolas’ and seemed to excel in them. I really admired the engineering principles of Lola and Eric Broadley. They were really on it and their skills came in to their own during this period of racing. I am a big Porsche aficionado too, but after the Le Mans Classic I didn’t want to just go out and throw cash at things. I wanted to understand and nurture a car so that I could get the most out of it.
“The T212 is without doubt a classic and I am looking forward to events such as the Silverstone Classic this weekend and having a real blast.”
“As I have said the machines are very absorbing for me to work on and I like to learn as much as I can. It’s very rewarding. I also get great satisfaction from seeing my good friends Dario and Marino Franchitti competing and doing well. I like to support them when they are racing and it has been great recently seeing them both doing well. I was at Daytona and Sebring this year watching them in action. I am also good friends with (former F3000 star) Kevin McGarrity who raced in the MG-Lola a few years back. He is a really talented driver and I hope we can share some drives in the near future with the T212.”
What are your future ambitions in racing?
“Well really I am just happy to compete at this level and with these cars that I really, really enjoy. I love karting too and have done that quite a bit. I have also done some Britcar, which was fun too.
“But I suppose my dream would be to do Le Mans with Dario and Marino. It wouldn’t get much better than that!
About Neil Primrose
Neil Primrose was born in Glasgow in 1972. After studying at the College of Commerce he formed Glass Onion, which then morphed in to Travis with bandmates Fran Healy and Dougie Payne.
The bands breakthrough album was 1999’s ‘The Man Who’ which included hit singles ‘Turn’ and ‘Why Does it Always Rain on Me’.
More on Neil and Isla Racing here – http://www.islaracing.co.uk