Nick Roots: What it means to race
The world of racing often requires intense commitment and dedication to pursue your goals no matter the odds. It can be the decisions made off the track that can contribute to the success encountered on it and for Walero athlete Nick Roots, maximising time off the track has been key to his success.
Nick has made a name for himself in the closely knit short-oval community across the UK and Europe with his championship pedigree, but it is his work behind the scenes that reinforces this status. Therefore, we grabbed an hour of Nick’s time to sit down and discuss what it takes to compete week in week out in one of the most competitive championships around. This is what it means to race!
Nick’s journey to short-oval fame was kickstarted from an early age when he followed his grandfather and father into the world of Superstox, a series not many in the world of racing are too familiar with. A family affair, passed down from generation to generation, it was a dream that Nick had always wanted to pursue.
“It has always been a dream of mine to race in the short-oval community, with many fond memories of my father and grandfather taking me along with them to watch their racing and now to finally be involved is fantastic.”
“It takes a lot of mental strength to compete week in and week out, especially with my day to day job which takes up quite a lot of time in a fairly demanding area so there isn’t much down time and the job rarely far from my mind. I’m a solicitor and partner at a law firm in central London, I commute there and back most days and it is those moments where you are driving back and forth from the office with your own thoughts that you really realise why you love racing so much! Racing is my chance to switch off from my day job so is as much a chance to relax as it is a stressful way to relax.”
“I love my job and who I work with, I wouldn’t change that for the world but it is those moments out on the track each weekend that makes all the hard work worth it in my opinion.”
This year has certainly seen Nick juggling the fairly involved nature of being a solicitor with the rigours of a jam-packed racing schedule. With his move away from the championship glory of the Superstox formula, Nick has now set his sights on a bold, new challenge which is seeing him compete in the National Hot Rod championship.
The National Hot Rod championship is the Uk’s premiere short-oval series, with cars battling it out in intense wheel to wheel action around some of the best oval venues the country has to offer. Reaching speed in excess of 100mph in close quarters with, sometimes, less than millimetres between the cars, 2023 has been a learning experience for Nick and his devoted team, all of whom share the same passion and drive that he does for success. It has been a new car to get to grips with, a new set-up to understand and a form of racing that doesn’t quite involve utilising your car as a subtle method of moving your competitors out of your way!
“It’s been a year of learning and gathering as much experience as possible for myself really, we weren’t expecting to come into the championship and be winning right away, as nice as that would have been,” he jokes. “But to have my friends and family there week after week, cheering me on from the sidelines when the moments have been tough has been the real difference. They are all so involved in my racing and are always on hand to help as part of the team. I wouldn’t have achieved the success I have in the past without the support of the team and my family and I would not have entertained a move into such a demanding and involved formula without the knowledge that they would be there to support me.”
With Nick’s line of work, there is certainly little time during the week to prepare himself for the weekend’s upcoming racing action, but he has definitely managed to figure out how it is best to approach each race weekend and maximise his own preparation in every possible way.
“With my job, I am out of the house by 6am and back at 7pm which does make preparation a challenge. Fitting enough time in the garage to ensure the car is prepared to our high standards does make it difficult to fit much else into our lives but those sacrifices are worth it with the enjoyment we get from the time at the tracks. It is hard work to fit everything around my day to day job, but luckily it was my wife who made the stipulation that, when we buy our first house, it was a necessity to have a workshop at home. With the amount of time I spend out in the garage, it was important to still have my wife close by so we can spend as much time together as much as possible whilst pursuing this passion. I am extremely fortunate to have such a supportive group of people who know how much it means for me to be out on track each week and without them, this would all not be possible.”
A typical evening for Nick will see him arrive home from work and jump straight on into the workshop no matter the time. The world of short-oval racing is extremely prestigious and even the smallest of details are judged down to the presentation of the car when handed over to officials for inspection!
“Most days I’ll be out in the workshop and the time out there can extend until half ten, maybe eleven each evening. There are always tasks to be getting on with from preparing any spare parts we may need to dive into on race day to running down the engine and ensuring it is all in good fettle for the task ahead. It is something I absolutely love and really delving into the finer details of preparation gives me a great feeling of satisfaction when it all comes together. We are fairly renowned on the ovals for our level of car preparation and have prepared show cars in the past pushing the presentation as far as we can. I know a lot of people look down on short oval racing somewhat when it comes to preparation but the level required would stagger a lot of the circuit community and I would hazard a guess that most national hot rods would rival any circuit racer when it comes to the level of preparation.”
Nick’s team is a real family affair, spearheaded by his brother-in-law and father, who take a very hands on approach to ensuring Nick’s car is best prepared for an upcoming race.
“With the amount of jobs between races always piling up between the car, spares and transporter, I do have to rely a lot on my team. My grandfather, for example, in his 80’s still comes round one day a week to work on the car and his set jobs on the braking system and suspension. He raced national hot rod as far back as the 70’s and 80’s so his expertise are invaluable. He is pushing on well past 80 and it amazes me that he still has the same fire in his heart! He loves it, you can’t interrupt him and to have him helping out shows just how much it means to every member of our family.
My dad, brother-in-law and cousin are also fantastic helps. My father doubles up as a hand on the mechanics of the car, he does a lot of the electrical work and wiring, is in the technical department in building and rebuilding our differentials and gearboxes and is the body shop making sure the car is looking its best, as well as the race day support. Similarly, with my brother-in-law and cousin, by the time I am out of the car after the race, they are already working on the car getting it ready for the next race, and repairing the damage the odd time I crash it. Without their support, I would not be able to race with such short turnarounds between races.”
Alongside the intense preparation that goes in each week to prepare the car for each race meet, everything from the running of the car itself to the logistical headache of getting it to the track is run by Nick and his family/close friends.
“So it’s not just the tasks of repairing or preparing the car during the week that takes up the majority of our time,” he explains. “It will get to Friday night and we have to load the transporter with the car and all its spare parts, we have to ensure everyone is packed and ready to hit the road and coordinating all of this is a real challenge. My mum is always in charge of booking the hotels and boats, if required, and my wife ensures the transporter is stocked and we as a team are well fed and watered for each meeting.”
This season has seen make a multitude of trips up and down the country to compete in the series he loves, from the coastal reaches of Skegness down to Aldershot in the south west to Ireland and Scotland, the trips amount to several hours of driving before Nick even gets to hit the track. However, there is one trip in particular that had it all and provides a very vivid memory for Nick and his team.
“One trip definitely stands out to me and it was when I was competing in Superstox to defend our European crown in 2022! We got on the road with the family to take the daunting trip up to Scotland and planned to stop halfway to rest and refuel at my brother-in-law, but that didn’t quite go to plan! About two or so miles from my brother-in-law’s house, the back axle on the transporter carrying my car broke at around eleven at night.”
“We were still over seven hours away from Scotland at this point and had planned to hit the track on Friday to get as much track time in as possible before mounting our European defence. So I had to source a new transporter, get the broken one recovered and I don’t think I’ve ever been so stressed in my life.”
“But we made it to the track on the Friday after a much earlier start than planned and we actually had a fantastic weekend so it all worked out I guess. Most people would have likely turned around and gone home but not me and the team, we had a championship to defend.”
Nick’s early career learning his trade and mechanicing for his father, ventures even saw him complete a marathon weekend trips on a regular basis, a venture he describes as a ‘mad trip’ but a good one nonetheless. This trip would see the team travel from Birmingham on Saturday night to compete in the Dutch open in Holland on the Sunday afternoon, a round trip of over 12 hours.
For Nick, these are the trips that he feels make it all worthwhile and reflect the level of comradery and professionalism observed in the short-oval community.
“There is a level of respect on the short-ovals that is associated with being a champion and it was an honour that I took very seriously when I was the National, European and World Champion for the series up until 2022. I would make trips to visit the likes of Ireland and Scotland for their local, domestic meetings to showcase just what it means for not only me but my family, to be competing in these events. Racing for me is a real privilege and to have people recognise both your talent and achievements is truly special and that is why I race week in, week out.”
“I am so grateful for the support I receive every week from family, friends and family both on and off the track, racing is an integral part of my life and without the continued support of my team and even Walero in aiding my performance, I would not be in the position I am today.”
It is clear to see that Nick’s meteoric rise to the top of Superstox and his continued improvements in National Hot Rods can be attributed to his talent behind the wheel, but also his passion for pursuing a dream and never looking back since.