Published: 00:00, 21 November 2017
Rod Birley has broken the record for the most wins in British motor racing – just two weeks after he was rushed to hospital following a 130mph crash.
The veteran West Kingsdown racer, 62, surpassed saloon car racing legend Gerry Marshall’s 625 triumphs on Sunday by winning his class at Brands Hatch.
Birley, who is unsure whether he will be able to race his venerable Ford Escort again following the accident a fortnight ago, used a Honda Integra to score his record-breaking 626th win.
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“It is great to get it done,” Birley, who lives just a stone’s throw away from the circuit, said.
“I didn’t think I would be fit enough to break the record following the accident, and it wasn’t until I tested the car on Friday that I realised I could still do it.
“There are probably other things in life that are more important, but racing has been a huge chunk of my life and it feels great."
Birley – who started racing in 1973 – won a 30-minute pit-stop race on Saturday with co-driver Jonathan Bevan to equal Marshall’s tally.
He then finished second on the road but took a class victory in a BARC South East Sports and Saloons thrash on Sunday to break the long-standing record.
“If you have a target in life, then it is great to achieve it,” Birley added.
“I wanted to do it at Brands – although my first-ever race was at Silverstone, Brands is the place to do it.
“Brands and Lydden are what I call iconic circuits because they have character.
“Jonathan’s grandad, George, built the engine for my first race car, a Hillman Imp, so it was special to break the record in a Bevan car.”
VIDEO: Birley crashed at 130mph just a fortnight ago. Credit: Digitex Television
Birley suffered bruising to his spleen and ribs following the crash two weeks ago, which saw his famous Escort spin into the pit wall.
“The first week after the crash was really hard,” Birley said.
“It took a little while for the bruising and everything to come out, but I got the all-clear to race again.
“It’s nice to finish the year on a high.”
Meanwhile, Radical RXC GT3 pair Rob Wheldon and Stefano Leaney won the circuit’s season-closing Britcar Endurance Championship race on Sunday evening, which ran into the night.