As far as Club racing goes, Matt Palmer has been one of the most successful drivers in the country over the last two years, winning 21 of 31 races in the Millers Oils MR2 Championship run by the 750 Motor Club.
Matt started out in MR2 racing after graduating from Karts, and has a special someone to thank for his baptism in cars.
“My Grandad, Jack Palmer, has been involved in my racing since I was 8,” said Palmer.
“When we were go karting, he’s the one who did all the research into the MR2 championship and sprang it on me that we were going to a test day in the MR2.
“I think he obviously saw some promise and wanted to take it further so we bought the car.”
Matt impressively took the rookie of the year award in the series after a difficult learning curve in his first full season of car racing, with very limited testing time.
“All season we turned up and the first time I’d driven on the track was the qualifying session. We qualified lower and then as the race got on I got more comfortable in the car and I started to make up some positions.
“Towards the end of the season we were getting toward the top 10 and we won the rookie of the year award which was a nice way to finish the season.”
2012 was a transitionary year for Palmer, as he began to regularly challenge for top 3 finishes, becoming more and more competitive at each round, building on his experience of the tracks from experience.
A breakthrough towards the end of the 2012 season really helped Palmer though, as a new mental technique employed help to push him up the order.
“Race visualisation is something my girlfriend’s Dad introduced me to. Before I race I watch a YouTube video of my self or someone else lapping the circuit.
“I have a look at the lap record of the MR2s, sit on a chair and picture myself going around the track braking, turning, changing gear, and I try and get as close to the lap record as I could.
“I think that was a really big step towards helping me t o win, definitely at the end of the second season and into the third and fourth.”
Another change – this time in the off-season – at the end of 2012 was the decision to take on more help, as Matt and Jack had raced and prepared the car alone up until that point.
“The first two seasons we didn’t have anyone it was just me and my Grandad. It was getting a bit much for my Grandad to do everything, even through the off season, it was as much his decision as mine to get someone in to help.”
Matt and Jack enlisted the help of Lincolnshire based company AW Tracksport to help prepare their MR2.
“Andy from AW Tracksport for worked really hard to get the car handling exactly as I wanted it,” said Palmer.
“It gave me the confidence to really attack and push the car to the limit around the lap as I knew exactly what the car would do.”
All the changes for 2012 culminated in a storming 2013 season, taking 320 points and eight out of 15 wins on his way to his first MR2 championship.
If those stats sound good, try Matt’s 2014 season on for size. 13 out of a possible 16 wins, 16 out of 16 class wins and another MR2 championship, as well as second in AUTOSPORT’s coveted Golden Helmet award, pipped only by Legends ace Dean Brace.
“I Finished second [in the Golden Helmet], I don’t think I could have done much more, three seconds and the rest firsts was as good as I could have hoped for in 2014.
“It was really good, I’m glad we pushed to the end of the season and got all the wins we did.”
And with such a dominant season, its no surprise that Palmer will be moving up in 2015, after putting his beloved blue and day glow green MR2 up for sale.
“We are in the process of selling the MR2.
“I know what I’d like to race in, but it’s whether or not we can sell the car and get the budget together to race in it.
“If we can’t get the budget together I’m not sure what we will be racing in next year. But we won’t be back in the MR2 championship, I don’t think I can get any more out of it.”
Wherever Matt races in 2015, he’ll have his very own lucky mascot watching over him come next season.
“We have a little papa Smurf strapped to the roll cage behind my seat, its like my Grandad is sitting behind me and looking over my shoulder and making sure I’m not doing anything stupid or making any mistakes.”
Images courtesy of Gary Walton
Special thanks to 750 Motor Club commentator Ian Sowman.