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He may look a bit grizzly, but he’s Ace – 521 Ashley Riley Interview

August saw the Nutty Nige Testimonial take place at the Adrian Flux Arena, Kings Lynn. As much as the weekend was about Nigel, we caught up with some of his family to talk about the impact he has had on their racing. Bryson caught up with Ashley for a chat.

(Jimbo’s Race Photos)

How does Ash some up his dad’s racing? ‘My dad’s racing career, although we never call it that! We believe for it to be a career, you should be paid and it’s never been about that, but for want of a better word – Dad’s racing started off as an avenue to vent anger. It soon became much more than that; he has always been in it to enjoy himself at no expense or regard for any thoughts from his fellow competitors. He used to just turn it around on the first lap and meet the pack head-on on most, if not all of his early years racing. His racing has impacted so many lives, most of all mine. My love and passion for the sport was all due to him. From the earliest memories all I can think about is racing and what cars to do it with and that being so deeply routed.’

(DT photos)

It’s clear how much Ash idolises and respects his Dad and so many others do which shows from this weekend of racing being put on. Ash recalls some of his favourite moments going racing with Dad as a kid. ‘Growing up around racing watching dad race was awesome! There are so many fond memories, but travelling the tracks in the early days with the Blitz Mag boys was awesome, especially in Belgium and Blackpool (Warton).’

(Matt Howes Photos)

As soon as Ash could, he jumped at the chance to emulate his Dad and get in a banger. ‘It was never a doubt in my mind; I always wanted to race bangers and without him it would have never have happened in many ways, not just the introduction to the sport. My first banger was a 1.6 cross flow Ford Capri in the 1600 bangers at Smallfield. It was a day I’d been dreaming of forever. It really couldn’t have gone any better! I had 2 head-ons and caged 5 cortina’s that day, the last shot in the final the biggest. I had a sore neck and strap burns to be proud of!’

There was never any doubt, Ash was straight out in the ‘Brighton Bears’ colours made famous by his Dad. ‘I was in colours from day one and always will be. Dad and Mick Francis made the team and then friends and family joined them afterwards. To be part of the team is the same as racing alongside Dad; it’s an honour and pride to do both!’

Ash has had a significant journey in bangers himself which has seen him travel all across the UK, Ireland and Europe. It’s those road trips that stand out among his racing highlights. ‘The Ireland and Belgium trips stand out the most for me. The travel and hotels were so much fun – it took an age to get there but it added to the build up to the meeting.’ There are so many huge meetings and moments for me but two races really stand out in my mind at this moment. One would be Ireland at Nutts Corner when Matty 474 put it on us with his useless Ltd and a Buxton King of the Peak where it was just me, Justin and Dad taking on 12 Stinkbridge on our own – both meetings were and still will be some of the hardest meets raced anywhere!’

It’s great to hear that one of Ash’s special moments on track come racing alongside brother Justin and his Dad, which brings us on nicely onto the topic of his son Leo. ‘It’s a great feeling to be building cars and racing together on a regular basis. Leo couldn’t be any more driven towards racing and I can’t wait for what the future bring for our racing with the family and team mates, The Bears family.’

It’s been a busy time for sure for the team behind the scene, as they prepare a top fleet of vehicles ready for both days of action. ‘The prep has been hard going. There are so many cars and kit to find but we are nearly ready now. The extra organisation to get the meeting sorted has been a huge amount of work between me and Paul Butler. Our cars, however, are a secret that will be kept until the day – old school! I hope that everyone has loads of fun and puts on a show just like dad has every meeting.’

So what can we expect to see from Ash for the rest of the year? ‘The plan is to finish my truck off and do my truck licence and once that’s done we will prepare for the start of next year is where my thoughts are right now, but we are banger drivers, we always change our plans.’

Ash would like to conclude with a few tokens of thanks. ‘I’d like to thank Paul and the Trackstar team for all the help and my family at home for putting up with the amount of time and effort this has taken up.’

We’d like to wish Ash all the best in what will no doubt be a busy weekend full of emotions as he joins everyone in celebrating his Dad’s racing career.

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