GREASLEY teenager Chris Swanwick is facing a race against time to gain the sponsorship which will allow him to compete in the 2012 British Touring Car Championship.
The 18-year-old became the second youngest driver ever to compete at the top level of UK saloon car racing last year when he took part in two meetings at the tail end of the season.
And having impressed his team Rob Austin Racing enough for them to offer him a 50 per cent sponsored drive for this year, he now has until the BTCC Media Day on March 19 to secure the remaining funding.
It’s only been three years since Swanwick moved from karting in Europe to car racing in the Junior Ginettas with Tollbar Racing, which in the following two years saw him claim 14 podiums finishes and the Ginetta Hard Charger Award.
He then moved into the Clio Cup last year where he was spotted by Rob Austin Racing and offered the chance to compete in Touring Cars.
He competed in the last two meetings at Brands Hatch and Silverstone, finishing five out of the six races - a mechanical problem causing him to retire in the final race - with a best finish of 14th out of 30 cars.
Chris’s dad Dave Swanwick said: “It’s been his rapid promotion through the lower levels of racing that seems to be causing the problems.
“Because it’s happened so quickly his name is not one that springs to most people’s minds when you are talking Touring Cars, after all he is still only 18.
“Last year he became the second youngest driver in the 50-year history of the British Touring Car Championship and he hopes to go on this year and become the youngest driver ever to be on the podium.”
Once again, this season will see ITV4 cover all 30 races live on a Sunday afternoon, with repeats later in the month on ITV1, ITV4 and Men and Motors.
Dave Swanwick added: “It’s not only a great opportunity for Chris but also for any of his sponsors too with that sort of coverage and crowds in excess of 25,000.
“It’s a great chance to put your company name to the front, but with the present economic climate companies have very little spare cash and it’s proving to be a real struggle.
“The general thinking at Rob Austin Racing is that within three or four meetings Chris would be knocking on the top ten door, and if he was to finish the season regularly in the top ten next year he could then get a fully-sponsored drive.
“The trouble with Touring Car Racing is that the budgets are so high. Rob Austin Racing are talking £300,000, so even at 50 per cent sponsorship it still leaves us to find £150,000.
“We have other offers in the Ginetta G50s, GT4 and Clios in Europe but Touring Cars is where we want to be.”
Any businesses or individuals wishing to help out with sponsorship can contact Dave Swanwick on on 07775 858666 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.