Friday, 2 September 2011


MECHANIC Ryan Bennett has been working on cars since he was a child, joining the Bridport Autograss Racing Club, the Bridport Bandits, at the age of 12. After leaving school, Ryan went onto complete a three-year apprenticeship at Bridport’s Lanehouse Vauxhall garage, where he stayed for eight years. Ryan then joined Greig and Allen’s garage on Dreadnought Trading Estate, learning how an independent business works. At the beginning of this month Ryan set up his own garage in Salway Ash, Bennett’s Mechanical Services. Ryan is also now the chairman of the Bridport Autograss Racing Club and regularly competes, with members of the club, at events around the country.

HOW are you finding running your own business?
Rewarding and enjoyable, in the sense that everything I do I know is solely for me and there is no room for error, you have to be 100 per cent confident about what you’re doing. It’s hard work but good fun.

WHAT can you offer that people won’t get at a main dealership?
Perhaps a bit more of the personal touch because at the moment its solely myself in the business. people deal with one person, the person they talk to will also repair the car. I’d like to think as well that, because I have had a lot of dealership experience, people will get the same service from me and because I have less overheads they will benefit cost wise as well.

DID being in the Bandits help you in your career?
I think it would have been harder without it. Obviously the four years that I did in the Bandits gave me a great insight into how a motor vehicle works. It was all experience that I wouldn’t have had prior to joining the trade.

WHAT benefits are there for young people who join the Bandits?
There is a lot to do in Bridport but there are a lot of kids out there, like myself at that age, who really want to drive a car. I wanted to drive a car, I wanted to work on a car, I wanted to fiddle with anything mechanical. It’s a good way for kids to bide their time, find interesting things within the sport, possibly go on to make their own race cars and also they’ve got a lot more opportunity within the workplace because they’ve got experience of working with vehicles.

HAS the club had any major successes on the track?
We try to be competitive but there are a lot of people out there spending a lot of money and we are probably trying to do it on a fifth of their budget. Really we look more at taking part but we do aim to win as well. We have had some good results in the past, and this year even. We’ve won trophies, we’ve had seconds and thirds within the club championships. Considering what we’ve got to work with I think we compete quite well.

WHY have you made the transition from racing Minis to racing Peugeot 106s?
Unfortunately Minis were costing us an absolute arm and a leg to put together and we found the reliability of them was poor. The other reason was that the lads who go into the workplace need to be working on modern vehicles. We thought it was best within the club to be using more modern vehicles rather than having historic dinosaurs that were designed in the 1950s. Although they are a good basis, when the lads go into the workplace they would go to work on a 2011 car and it would be totally different. What we are trying to show are the technological advances basically.

DO you think the Bandits are sometimes given a bad reputation?
I think unfortunately, because the club was initially setup in attempt to get joy riders off the street, it still carries the stigma that it’s just a bunch of dropouts botching up cars and racing them. People who come down will realise that isn’t the truth, everyone is really quite sensible and we try and maintain quite a high standard in workshop practices and racing practices to make sure it's safe and enjoyable.

WHO would be your three dream guests at a dinner party?
Ann Widdicombe because she is very forthright when it comes to politics and I would love to hear her opinion about things across a dinner table. She’s got a very high political opinion, she does rub people up the wrong way but a lot of the time she says what people are thinking. Jeremy Clarkson would be quite funny, his column in The Sun is incredible. Some of his comments are spot on and to the point. The Queen of England would be quite funny as well, just to see what she eats and how she eats it.

What was the last book you read, film you watched and CD you listened to?
The last book was probably some technical manual about a mini engine, the last film I watched was Good Will Hunting and the last CD was Oasis' (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?

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