Originally from Thorpe-Le-Soken in Essex, Piers Prior is an emerging British racing talent. Earlier this month Christopher Sharp interviewed him about his career, the impact of Covid-19 and importance of Allies in the LGBTQ+ motorsport community.
Prior is in his final year studying for a bachelor’s degree in Automotive Materials Engineering at Loughborough University. Prior says that his degree has helped keep him busy during the Covid-19 pandemic, that has had profound impact on his racing season but has helped him in other areas:
‘It’s been far from ideal, interrupting what would have been my first full time car racing season, with Lanan Racing in BRDC F3. I’ve been striving for an opportunity like this for years, I just hope it doesn’t have a lasting impact and we can get back to racing properly sometime later this year. In the meantime, I’ve been training as best I can at university both keeping fit and on my makeshift simulator.
In a sense, it’s has made balancing my life between my university studies and racing a bit easier; University for me will likely be finished by the time we get back racing again, so I’ll be able to concentrate 100% on my debut British F3 season.
Other than [working], I’ve been enjoying chilling with my flat mates who have also stayed, along with a bit of sim racing to pass the time and keep myself sharp.’
As well as being passionate about motorsport and engineering, Prior is also keen about being an LGBTQ+ Ally and is excited to support Racing Pride:
It’s a great initiative and organisation that I believe will only improve our sport and help secure its long-term future in what I believe will be a tricky few decades ahead in terms of electrification, sustainability and our rapidly evolving society. I support Racing Pride because I believe it encourages and helps educate people and raises awareness [of key issues].
Piers believes that allies can play a key role in the cause of increasing inclusivity within the motorsport paddock.
I believe allies of the LGBTQ+ community like myself should outwardly show support whenever possible as it can only improve the feeling of belonging for anyone involved in our sport. I feel privileged to be part of our wonderful sport. I believe everyone who wants to be involved should be able to experience that regardless of background, lifestyle, sexual orientation and preference or any other reason. At the end of the day we all just want our sport to be as strong and popular as it can be, and make it as accessible and inviting for as many people as we can.
I think increasing inclusivity of our sport in any regard will help motorsport continue to thrive and be successful and enjoyable for many decades and generations to come. Plus, I truly believe motorsport is a great community to be a part of and I wouldn’t want anyone to miss out on what it has to offer for something as irrelevant in this context as how you define yourself.
But how did Prior get into racing, and latterly, into a Formula 3 car?
‘My family and I would watch the F1 Grand Prix growing up. We often travelled to racetracks at weekends in our caravan to watch British GT, so it’s always been a part of my life. When I was about 7 or 8 I was bought a steering wheel and GTR2 (racing game) which I used to play on my Mum’s laptop; from that moment I was hooked.
In terms of actual racing I started karting when I was 9 at my local indoor track and picked up the basics pretty quickly. From doing indoor karting at my local circuit in Colchester, I moved to racing at Buckmore Park in their junior club races and began to win straight away. My Dad then bought me a Honda Cadet kart which we raced at Buckmore for a couple of years as an ‘owner driver’. It was definitely a big learning curve for both my father and I.
When I was 12, I entered and won the Sodi World series hire kart championship and received a Sodi racing chassis as prize. I raced that kart in Minimax for a season and a half before I had to stop when I was 14 due to the costs.
After stopping owner driver karting, I continued to race hire kart racing and entered quite a few competitions including the Henry Surtees foundation (HSF) challenge where I managed 2 podiums including a win. The HSF challenge was great for my career both in terms of racing against some of the country’s best-established young talent and got me my first single seater test experiences in F4 and Formula Renault with Falcon and MP motorsport.
Two years ago I raced in X30 senior, mostly at Whilton Mill, where I became club champion in 2018.’
You can keep up to date with what Piers is up to by following him on his social media channels. He’s @PiersPrior on Twitter and piersprior on Instagram. To find out more about how his test at Oulton Park with Lanan Racing went click the link below.