In BTCC team: Honda Civic, Lotus Elans and the world's fastest lawn mower

Autocar visits Team Dynamics HQ in Droitwich

The dynamics team has 15 full-time employees, growing to 30 with contractors for racing.

There's more dynamics than Honda at BTCC in UK civics. Driver Matt Neal shows us around his family business

Triple British Touring Champion Matt Neill has spent most of his racing career in cars built and run by his family's dynamic job team – but there's one he's glad he's not able to drive: the mean B2 lawn mower.

A Honda lawnmower is equipped with a 190bhp superbike engine, it can top 150mph and is recognized by Guinness World Records as the world's fastest lawnmower. It was built to be a 5-foot-high driver, so a 6-foot-6-inch Neil doesn't fit - to help him.

Still, Neil was very proud to exist, demonstrating technical prowess as well as being able to work with a manufacturer. This is just one example of how Team Dynamics – founded by Neil's father, Steve, in 1993 – is applying the experience gained over decades of BTCC in competing in a range of different areas.

That reflected the team's internal dynamics at the 26,000-square-foot Droitwich plant that moved in in September 2017 (replacing an old post-war unit that Neil admits "we did our best" to keep people away from). In the workshop are the central elements of the dynamics of the work: two black and orange Halford Yuasa racing on a Honda Civic RS type. Honda's run team at BTCC since 2004, becoming factory outfit Honda UK in 2010.

The machines are completely manufactured in-house using FK8 projectiles taken from the Swindon production line. They are acid-dipped in ungalvanized metal and removed adhesive from fastening joints, then taken to craftsmen to be reinforced and fitted with a new back and frame. About 1000 hours of work goes into every car before the shell is painted. The on-site machine shop makes parts and parts based on CAD data directly from Honda, and the team is increasingly 3D printing parts to save time and costs.

Two full-time mechanics are assigned to each BTCC in the car, with cars stripped down, checked, cleaned and rebuilt after every race. The process takes about two weeks to get around 20 weeks - and that, according to team manager James Rogers, leaves 32 weeks of time for other projects.

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Honda in the UK has huge expectations and Neil insists that “the main focus is always on practice” but while he doesn't suffer, he says the car's maker is “cool” with the dynamics of undertaking other projects.

Those are held on a limited scale, mostly by word of mouth. Dynamics previously operated cars in a mini challenge for Neil's two sons, William and Henry. He is now running an old-BTCC spec in the Civic Type R for Henry in the new British Touring Cup and the Audi S3 TKR for William and other endurance-selected teen-top drivers. The C3 TCS gives the dynamics of experience to a growing pan-European formula. “In practice, I don’t go into TCR rules, but I know well about cars,” says Rogers.

It's far from all modern car models, although Dynamics is especially proud of its expansion into historic races in recent years, building and launching Lotus Cortin - and now Lotus Elan - for similar touring car protagonist Steve Soper.

“People told me that the Historics site was a huge market, but I don't get it,” admits Neil. “Then I was invited to the Goodwood revival, walked through the gate and went: 'I got it'. It was different. BTCC in the paddock is a competitive place. You will get a lot of crocodile smiles. You go to Goodwood and people smile at you, say hello and help you. It made me remember why I fell in love with the sport.”

The team has acquired a Lotus Cortina and, as Neal says, “like everyone else, we take it, analyze it and make it better.” The team is now assembling machines from shells and is particularly proud of the "new" Elan he built for Soper to use in events such as The Awakening. “It's a mixture of design and labor of love,” says Rogers, who notes that they scanned old parts to create CAD data to make new ones.

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“Elan was a bit of a nightmare,” Rogers admits. “The roof doesn't fit properly, which is a common problem – so you either accept it will leak if it rains, or take the time to fix it.”

The team dynamic doesn't just expand to run different cars. She is working with partners to develop a range of parts for the FK8 Civic type P, investing in driver training with a computer, and even opened a conference center on the second floor of her plant. Other projects include sports car racing and tuning performance cars.

Neil says the goal is to ensure the team's momentum isn't “one-trick ponies” associated with the notoriously fickle world of motorsport for its survival. “I looked at what David Richards did with promoters on a larger scale, and McLaren on an even larger scale again,” he says.

Of course, none of these firms have ever built a record-breaking mower – and Neal is already brewing ideas for the mean B3 lawn mower. I just didn't expect him to ride it ...

Favorite Team Dynamics Nile Drives

Honda Civic type R: “Modern BTCC in cars is the matching part of the kit. Engineering is amazing. Their grip is like an F3 car.”

Nissan Primera GT: “super racing cars are special for the job. The first generation of Nissan in particular was just a mega drive.”

BMW M3 (E30): “At the start of the Super Touring era, the M3s were mega. They were great, but they don't have suspension at all. It was just tires and springs.”

Lawn mower mean U2: “We built mean mowers for Honda UK. The Norwegian team beat our world record and Honda wants it back – so we built the V2 to go even faster.”

Lotus Cortina: “[Tuner] Neil Brown's power coming out of the engine now is awesome. When Jim Clark raced the Lotus Cortina, he was 130bhp. Now we are getting north of 190bhp”.


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