At just 25, Declan Jones has done it all in motorsports – driving cars, building cars, owning a race team.
He’s even worked as a chauffeur for Rolls Royce transporting tennis stars!
Jones was born into a motorsport family as his father has been working restoring classic race cars for over 30 years.
The Liverpool native began his racing career at 7 years old when he began karting.
The driver admitted that the early years they had little success, as a result of being from a working-class family competing in one of the most expensive sports there is.
“To go to professional karting isn’t cheap my family sacrificed a lot for me to go karting, even to the point where we weren’t going on holiday because all the money was spent on me going karting. There are not many opportunities for motorsport within this city. I’m sure my dad would have hoped I’d picked football, it would have been a lot cheaper in the beginning. But motorsport grabbed my attention, but it was difficult because we couldn’t throw money at it like other people could”
Despite the lack of funding compared to some of his competition Jones was able to find some success as a teenager and eventually won championships karting in both the UK and Europe before moving into cars.
Not letting the success get to his head Jones admitted he always felt that F1 was an impossible target for him coming from Liverpool but was always confident he could make a career out of motorsports whether he was behind the wheel or not.
“When everyone said I want to be in F1 I always said, F1 is an unrealistic dream for a lot of drivers, you know there’s 20 odd cars on the grid and to be at the back of the grid it’s going to cost you 30 million pounds just to be at the back so, given where I come from just a working family it was never a dream of mine. At the end of the day the city isn’t a motorsport city, the City is football, that’s what Liverpool is about”
Whilst in the early years of karting, Jones was diagnosed with dyslexia causing him to “struggle” at school, but the Liverpool Driver looks back at the diagnosis as a blessing of sorts.
“I struggled in school everyone else had a reading age of 11 -12 I had one of 5 or 6 I really struggled, until I was diagnosed, and motor sports helped me too, it was something I could really concentrate on. I don’t look at dyslexia as a hinderance, I see it as a sort of gift because we think sideways, it made me think outside the box and that helps me in a lot of situations in my career but anything to do with reading a book or writing something was a struggle, so I’d be terrible at your job”
Jones made the transition to racing cars for the first time at just 15 years old when he joined the Ginetta Junior’s championship in 2011.
The driver achieved multiple top ten finishes in his debut season, finishing the championship in 13th place.
Following that season Jones has competed in a number of racing series including Britcar, the Ginetta GT4 Super Cup and the British GT Championship.
The Liverpudlian has also dipped his toe in to management recently running his own team Declan Jones Racing, something he credits for giving him a better understanding of the industry as a whole.
The driver ultimately gave up control of the team to focus on a return to racing in the ill-fated 2020 season.
Jones secured a sponsor for the season and a race seat but was unable to complete the season following the withdrawal of his sponsor in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I lost a drive which affects my career going forward you know I’m not on the back foot for next year, so it impacted me massively”
However, the driver was more concerned about the impact on the industry as a whole as he was able to fall back on his other business.
“People have lost jobs, gone redundant, me not racing was the least of my worries, its nothing compared to other people losing jobs and not being able to put food on the table, my racing got pulled away from me, but I was lucky to have my other business to fall back on, building and restoring old race cars.”
Jones described racing as the most unforgiving sport.
“You either had the best weekend of your life or you’ve had a s*** weekend even if you come second.”
But couldn’t imagine himself ever doing anything else despite the expense and the danger.
“I don’t really think about the dangers, because at the end of the day there has always been people like me that, if I was about during the world war I would have probably been in the plan that’s just the person I am.”
Jones hopes to find a racing seat in the near future as the industry recovers from the pandemic.
(Image Credit: @DeclanJones14 Twitter)