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Waller’s Winning Ways – 209 Tom Waller Interview

Tom Waller is a familiar name known around the raceways. Bryson caught up with Tombo ahead of him defending the Unlimited East Anglian title at Kings Lynn at the end of March. The Kev Waller Memorial ‘Reunion II’ meeting is just around the corner, so we thought it fitting to post in preparation for the event.

Like most, Tom got into racing through his family routes. ‘Early days, we used to go with Dad as he raced. A local team used to work out of Dad’s yard, and he supplied the cars for them, so I grew up around it and went in to Ministox when I was old enough. Most of my early days were spent at Arena Essex, with the odd Mildenhall.’

Tom had a successful Ministox career as he recalls. ‘The Ministox were good. I maintained a superstar grade racing at RDC, Spedeworth and PRI. I got knocked out at my first meeting at Arena and it knocked my confidence. I didn’t really want to race again, but I slowly got back into it and loved it. It was when they used to get loads of cars and it was good – hard, fast racing.’ From there, Tom took the step up into the National Bangers. ‘My first banger meeting was a FWD meeting at Arena Essex. We borrowed a Nissan Sunny from Danny Brown through Matt Fuller. It was a good meeting; I won the DD. The DD was a good laugh – it was me and Josh Fuller, and we smashed Paul Whiteman up.’ 

Not many drivers can say they got the better of Paul Whiteman in their debut meeting, but it nearly wasn’t going to be Bangers as Tom reveals. ‘I always wanted to do Bangers, but just as I was about to take the step up, Dad’s job changed and we didn’t have the facilities to be able to do the bangers so I was looking at a Lightning Rod, although I really didn’t want to do them. Luckily, Matt Fuller let us build some cars at his before we got sorted properly. We built the first few at Matt Fuller’s, and then made it work at home. We then got a shed, but it was always bangers that was the main thing I wanted to do.’

Since then, Tom hasn’t looked back, and it’s been Bangers all the way through. ‘I started out racing on my own, doing Arena and Mildenhall just doing what I could do and what I could get to. Shane (Davies) asked me to join The Condoms, and I was with them for a couple of years. Racing for The Condoms was mega! I did learn a lot, but I wish I knew what I know now about Bangers back then. The amount I have learned in the years since then is unreal. I had a short spell with the Midnight Runners, but that was mainly at Arena. I then wanted to travel, so I went back on my own, and just done my own thing.’

Tom has had an illustrious racing career – being a part of two of the biggest teams in the history of racing doesn’t come lightly. Tom reflects on those times being part of a team. ‘The Condoms came as a shock really as I was so young, but it was cool. With the Runners, I did a few team meetings with them and then merged full time with them. I didn’t do many meetings with them, but racing with a team comes with both its positives and negatives. Naturally you end up warring with people that the team war with – you end up crashing with people you wouldn’t normally because the other members of your team are. I much prefer racing on my own and having my own enemies as such and you have the ability to race where you want, you don’t have to be where the team is and you can enjoy racing a lot more. It also allows you to guest for other teams, especially for meetings like the Emmen Teams in July. That team racing is the best with a serious set of drivers. It’s always one of my highlights of the year going to Emmen with 3 Litre.’

Tom mentions Emmen Teams being among his highlights, but he has won multiple titles over the course of his career so far, but what else stands out for him. ‘I have loads of highlights, that’s a difficult question. My biggest achievement was winning the Spedeworth Points title. The most important one was organising Dad’s memorials, especially the first one. Winning races, and as long as I’m having fun, that’s the main thing, but that first weekender for my Dad will always mean something. I will never forget the atmosphere.’

One of Tom’s accolades is winning the Unlimited East Anglian Championship, and he heads in to Saturday as the defending champion on the back of a strong run of form. Tom took a win at the Christmas cash-in meeting at Yarmouth, before taking a heat win at the Icebreaker on route to his Waller B team securing third place in the standings, and then secured the Wildcard at Ipswich where he also one a heat and will thus be coming in to his defence brimming with confidence. ‘I’ll have the mindset of any Unlimited meeting. I’ll try do the best I can. I know that the car is fast enough, and it will just be about having luck on the night. We had that last year and it all went our way. My recent form has been really good, I can’t complain at all. I’ve managed to be fast recently and have a few wins which is always positive. Kings Lynn is one of my favourite tracks, and that’s why I try to get to every meeting I can there.’

What is it about Kings Lynn that Tom likes? ‘‘The track is almost always good. I love racing there, always have done. It certainly helps that I’m local to there now, but I’ve always tried to get there as much as I can. Matt Black is a good guy too, he gets people there and Paul is always welcoming.’

With the Wildcard win in the bag, the focus for Tom will be on the World Final, but what else is in the plans for Tom. ‘It will literally be doing the same thing as I’ve done the past few years. The handy thing is that I won the Wildcard at Ipswich so I can just chill now. I mean I was chilled anyway, but I can chose the meetings I want to do and race where I want to now and just enjoy it. The focus now is getting ready for the Mildenhall weekender, and then Emmen Teams will soon be here.’

With all that in mind, who would Tom have alongside himself for his dream team? ‘Oh man,’ Tom says as he contemplates the question. ‘Nemesis, Boogie, Roona, Bro and Jack Overy. The first for will fix their car no matter what, and Jack Overy for his experience. Andrew Davies is my favourite driver though!’

Tom would like to conclude the interview with some thank-you’s. ‘Everyone that makes my racing possible and James for the help with the cars and Kerry for always being supportive.’

Tom went on to successfully defend the East Anglian Championship. We are fully feeling the buzz of the build up to next weekend now, and we are sure Tom will play his part on track in putting show on as much as he has in the build up to the meeting.

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