Updated: Sep 5, 2020
The fourth part of my series looking looking at each driver at the 2002 Brands Hatch curtain raiser.
For my next feature I am going to look at every driver who started my first ever British Touring Car Championship race and what they have achieved in their careers, both before and after.
As some of you may know, my first BTCC race was on the 30th March 2002 when my Dad and I went to the “Super Sunday” event at Brands Hatch, in which the touring cars were joined by the British GT championship as well as Formula 3.
I was only seven when I attended and immediately fell in love with touring cars, a passion which has failed to die down yet nearly eighteen years later!
The order I will be looking at the drivers will be the finishing positions of that race.
Having looked at the top three it is now time to look at those who finished off the podium, the first being Anthony Reid. Reid started my first race third, however he found himself right at the back of the pack after he slid out wide into the Paddock Hill Gravel on the opening lap. He recovered superbly though to finished the race fourth.
Anthony Reid is British Touring Car Championship legend, making his series debut in 1997 for Nissan and also drove for Ford and MG in a career which spanned seven seasons.
I first met Anthony during a pit lane walkabout in 2003 and he was very friendly towards me. During the 2003 season and into 2004, my dad and I were lucky to have some very interesting conversations with him about his racing career as a whole while also talking about my racing aspirations at the time. He was, and still is, a very intelligent man and an equally intelligent racer who loved the hard racing of the BTCC. He was known as a driver never to be taken lightly and an expert defender of his position.
Having now stopped full time driving duties, Reid is now a team captain at the Goodwood Members Meeting and is often seen at the annual Goodwood Festival of Speed driving a beautiful car up the hill. As some of you know, the Festival of Speed weekend is my favourite of the year, so for Anthony to have such a presence at the event is fantastic.
Prior to his BTCC career, Reid first raced single seater cars, his open wheel career peaking in 1992 when he won the Japanese Formula Three Championship. He continued racing in Japan for five seasons between 1992 and 1996, driving in the Japanese Touring Car Championship, beating the likes of Tom Kristensen and Steve Soper.
These performances caught the eye of RML, who had just been granted the contract to run the factory Nissan operation in the BTCC. Reid was signed alongside David Leslie and despite a slow start while Reid got used to the car, as well as developing it, he ended the season with two second place finishes in the last three races.
Reid ended the season 11th in the standings with 53 points and remained with Nissan for the 1998 season, where he and the car were much improved. Reid was immediately on the pace. During the year, Reid took seven victories, more than any other driver as well as finishing on the podium a further eight times.
Sadly, when he was not on the podium Reid struggled to break into the top five missing out on the title to Rickard Rydell competing in a Volvo S40, eventually finishing fifteen points behind the Swede with 239 points.
For 1999 Reid moved away from Nissan to help develop the Prodrive run Ford Mondeo, partnering 1997 Champion Alain Menu. In an underdeveloped car in comparison to their rivals the duo struggled, as they finished 11th and 12threspectively.
After a year of development, 2000 saw Reid and indeed the whole Ford team dominate the final SuperTouring season, with Prodrive producing three Ford Mondeo’s for 1999 drivers Reid and Menu, with 1998 BTCC Champion Rickard Rydell joining from Volvo.
It was arguably Reid’s best chance to take the title, he would have won it had he not been handicapped by the drop score system which was put in place that season. The drop score regulation meant he had to drop eight points which ensured he finished four points behind teammate Menu who won his second crown in four seasons, from the outside it appeared harder to take as Menu did not have to drop any points due to his less consistent results throughout the season.
2000 would prove to be the final season of the SuperTouring era, which saw the likes of Ford withdraw from the series, while Honda took a year sabbatical to focus on car development. Due to the new regulations and withdrawals, Reid found himself without a drive however halfway through the season he returned with the new factory MG team, driving an MG ZS alongside Warren Hughes.
Although the duo were not able to score championship points due to their late start, Reid showed his and the cars potential, winning at the final weekend at Brands Hatch in the pouring rain.
The signs were there that Reid’s 2002 season would see him up at the front once more however despite consistent top five finishes, it took until the penultimate round of the season at Brands Hatch for Reid to take his first win of the season.
Reid finished the season fourth as the highest placed non-Vauxhall driver with 136 points, as the three Vauxhall’s of James Thompson, Yvan Muller and Matt Neal controlled the season at the top of the standings. Reid took five podiums in addition to his sole victory.
Reid remained with MG for 2003, once again being partnered with Warren Hughes with the duo being joined by youngster Colin Turkington, who impressed in his debut season in the sister Team Atomic Kitten branded team.
Although now part of a three-car team, Reid could only manage sixth in his second full season with MG, winning once. Unfortunately, MG were just not able to match the pace of Vauxhall and the ever-improving Hondas.
It was a season where I always looked out for Reid, especially since he and Turkington were so closely matched. It was always interesting to see who would come out on top during the course of the three races. I was always a fan of Reid, looking back I maybe because he and Hughes had dominated my second ever race weekend at Brands Hatch in 2002.
2003 would prove to be MG’s final season as a manufacturer during the BTC regulations, however Reid and Turkington remained in a pair of MG ZS’ for 2004, now as an independent outfit. The team was still run by West Surrey Racing, however new engines were fitted to the cars.
Despite being an independent for the first time in his BTCC career, it was one of Reid’s strongest seasons, only finishing outside the top ten four times all season, also in the first season the BTCC calendar consisted of 30 races, making the feat even more impressive. Reid took three victories in 2004, eventually finishing fourth in the standings once more.
2004 also saw Reid claim his first Independent’s Championship crown, beating teammate Turkington by twelve points.
This wasn’t Reid’s only accolade in 2004 as at the conclusion of the season, the BTCC hosted a legends race, with sixteen identical Seat Cupra Leon’s taking part filled with champions of the BTCC such as Gabriele Tarquini, Frank Biela, Alain Menu and Rickard Rydell. Amongst those champions were those who always fought at the top without taking overall victory such as Reid, Matt Neal and Paul Radisich.
As expected, the race was closely fought, with pretty much every driver having a go at the front however as the race drew to a close it was Reid who took the win, beating ex-teammate Menu and Tarquini, a fantastic achievement and one he loved at the time.
2004 would sadly prove to be Reid’s last full season in the BTCC as WSR were unable to fund him for 2005, despite their best efforts.
He did return to the series briefly at the end of 2009 to support Turkington in his quest for his first BTCC crown. Although his return to the series was largely unsuccessful, a best result of seventh in the final race of the season at Brands Hatch being the highlight, Turkington did indeed win his first title with WSR.
Away from the BTCC Reid has also contested at Le Mans, first taking part in 1990, with his last appearance being in 2005. Although he failed to finish on his last three outings with MG at the great 24-hour race, his first appearance in 1990 did result in a podium, driving alongside Tiff Needell and David Sears.
A fun fact from the race was that it was the debut year of the chicanes down the back of the Mulsanne Straight.
Reid has also contested rounds in the Argentinian Touring Car Championship since he left the BTCC.
Now 62, Reid contests in classic races around the UK and is still quick each time he appears at Goodwood. A man of class and a racer from a bygone era of unassuming pace in anything he drives.
Away from the driver’s seat, Reid is a quiet composed character who is always a pleasure to talk to. Only a couple of years ago we bumped into Reid at Goodwood Festival of Speed at the end of the weekend’s awards ceremony and we had a catch up about his weekend exploits. As always, he was fantastic to talk to and rather modest about his achievements considering he had just set one of the fastest runs of the weekend!
It is great to see him around the circuits and I hope he continues to make appearances around the country as time goes by.