Tom Callaghan: ‘Every day is a school day for me’

Tom Callaghan has impressed everyone in the National Banger community since he made the step up from the Junior Bangers in 2016, and he aims to impress much more in the years to come.

In the space of four years, he has cemented himself as one of the most consistent drivers in the sport, guesting for some of the sport’s biggest teams – taking a few wins and also enjoying the crashing side of things as well.

Like many National Banger drivers, Callaghan started his career in the Junior Bangers where he would often find himself somewhere mixed within the carnage that often unfolded.

The young South Yorkshire based driver still looks back fondly at his time in the category.

“I had a good career in the Junior Bangers,” admitted Callaghan. “I had some great results in them, and they taught me a lot in terms of driving styles – it’s a great way for any driver to get their Banger Racing career started.”

Callaghan would eventually make his National Banger debut at a Micro Madness meeting at the now defunct Brandon Stadium, Coventry. That night saw him take home a wrecked Nissan Micra and I think it’s fair to say, he hasn’t looked back since.

Callaghan admits the step up was a big one to make and took a lot of getting used too.

“What a big difference it is,” he chuckled. “Everything changes. You go from being able to compete with the very best in the Junior Bangers to not even being a contender in the National Bangers. It was very daunting for me, to say the least – but, the buzz was enough to make me come back for more.”

The South Yorkshire based driver enjoyed a great deal of success at the Adrian Flux Arena, Kings Lynn in 2019 with the Trackstar promotion, crowning it off with him being crowned the Unlimited National Bangers Nutcracker Champion in December. He also finished a very respectable 13th in their National Points series.

Callaghan spoke of his admiration for the popular Stock Car promotion and how they keep attracting the drivers back.

“Trackstar just know how to look after the drivers,” explained Callaghan. “Every year, when you register with them, they send you a free calendar with edited photos of you, and when there’s a meeting coming up either Paul or Matt message us drivers to ask if we want booking in. It’s just the small things like that that really count, and the track surface is always second to none as well.”

The former Junior Banger star admitted it was ‘a shock’ to win the Nutcracker Championship last December. It was a very lively race with a track blockage on turn’s one and two claiming many victims.

Callaghan led home Taylor Sowter, who won the Trackstar Entertainer’s League with Gladiator star Simon Smith coming home in third.

“I was quite shocked to win the Nutcracker title,” admitted Callaghan. “The race was just carnage, but it felt good to finally get that first place. I’ve come so close in other Championship races through the years, so it was nice to finally get one.”

Callaghan came ever so close to winning the Unlimited National Bangers World of Shale Championship last year when he was taken out of the running whilst leading. Silver Boys driver Kyle Shires would eventually take the title in another lively race.

However, given his win in the Nutcracker, Callaghan will make another appearance on this year’s grid and is eager to right the wrongs of 2019.

“I’m definitely looking forward to the World of Shale again this year,” told Callaghan. “I was close to winning it last year – I was leading but got caught up in the carnage on turn four, it’s just bad luck. I’m going to try and go that step further this year.”

Callaghan has also represented the Trackstar Mafia in the head-to-head with the Mildenhall Fen Tigers in 2018, securing a race win as the men from Norfolk took the glory. Callaghan rejoices about the meeting.

“They were great meetings,” he beamed. “They were savage, from the first green flag everyone had the right attitude which helped make the meeting what it was. We were just smashing each other to bits, but everyone got out smiling and shook hands with each other – just how Bangers should be.”

Tom Callaghan vs Mildenhall
Callaghan in action against the Mildenhall Fen Tigers in 2018. (Photo credit: Matt Howes)

Sadly, the event didn’t take place in 2019 due to poor weather raining off the original date, with the rescheduled one being cancelled because Mildenhall couldn’t field a full team.

“It was a real shame the meeting got cancelled last year,” said Callaghan. “I think because the majority of the Mildenhall drivers are now also with Spedeworth, they probably needed to save their cars for the World Final qualifying rounds.”

The Trackstar and Mildenhall head-to-heads were labelled as ‘Summer shale Civil War’s – which is another meeting Callaghan has experience in racing at. He’s got two Civil War appearances to his name, both with the Northern Army and both in the Infantry division. It’s another meeting he enjoys too.

“I always enjoy racing at Civil War,” he confirmed. “The buzz in the build up is always unreal and the banter between the two teams is cracking as well. The whole atmosphere of the meeting on the day is immense – I love it!”

Civil War’s spiritual home is at the Hednesford Hills Raceway, in fact 20 of the 21 wars have taken place at the Midlands venue. It’s a track that has come under scrutiny in recent times for being too quick for modern day National Banger racing. Despite this, Callaghan still ‘loves’ the track.

“It’s certainly a lot bigger when you’re on it than when you’re stood watching on the side,” he chuckled. “The speed we get up to is stupidly quick, it’s just a shame we don’t have more meetings there like we used too – I love the track!”

It’s not just in head-to-head team meetings where he has made his mark either though. The Trackstar registered driver has also raced for some of the biggest and best teams the sport has seen, including the likes of the Wild Boys, Team Stinkbridge and Team Extreme.

“It’s always great to wear the colours of these teams,” said Callaghan. “Both Stinkbridge and Team Extreme shared the same tactics when I raced for them – try to hit and stop everyone who isn’t in your colour and keep repairing the car until it’s dead. When I raced for both teams, we only really cared about the Entertainer’s points and let’s face it, no one can resist a crash can they?”

Tom Callaghan Stinkbridge
Tom guests for the Stinkbridge at Kings Lynn’s Unlimited Icebreaker in January. (Photo credit: Jimbo’s Race Photos)

It’s that attitude that has helped him impress the National Banger faithful, but despite that. He still has one goal he’d like to fulfil in the not to distant future.

“I’ve never qualified for the National Banger World Final,” explained Callaghan. “It’s something everyone wants to do in their career. All the time and effort them boys put into their cars is unreal – it must be some buzz to pull out onto the track with that crowd and the atmosphere.”

Like many other Motor Racing disciplines and in fact, like many other things, the racing season has come to a halt due to the Coronavirus pandemic the World is currently facing. Callaghan is already to go when the season does finally resume though and is eager to keep learning his trade.

“Obviously at the minute, we can’t race due to the Coronavirus,” he said. “I’m just hoping it doesn’t last much longer as I think I speak for all Banger drivers when I say we all need to go racing to get our fix.

“I want to carry on from where I finished last season and try to get some more decent results. Every day is a school day for me, so all I can do is keep learning and carry on enjoying it. My Uncle Phil has helped me a lot, none of it would be possible without him – he is the man!”

IMG_5557
Tom piloted this smart Mercedes at last year’s World Final – the same car that would lead him to Nutcracker glory.

Despite his young age, Callaghan already possesses an old head and is eager to learn more about the sport in order to improve and one day, qualify for the World Final. He is one of the sport’s rising stars and a driver to watch out for in the future.

Header image courtesy of Matt Bull and Race Pixels (https://www.racepixels.co.uk/)

By Jordan Hollands

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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