Pandamonium Racing’s Hamish Brandon is vying for the POWER MAXED MINI Challenge UK ‘Best of British’ award – a £15,000 prize fund to put towards his 2015 campaign in the ultra-competitive single-make saloon car championship – and he requires your nomination.
Following a ‘Drivers Experience Day’ in 2008, Hamish Brandon was diagnosed with the racing bug and entered the world of motorsport via the Scottish Mini Cooper Cup in 2009, where he stayed for four seasons.
Honing his racecraft while being schooled on how to lose, Brandon soon learnt how to win and established himself among the leading pack and on two occasions led the televised support race for Knockhill’s round of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC).
With sponsorship hard to come by and a belief in the products he used, Brandon established Pandamonium Racing Limited – an acronym for Parts AND Accessories – to complete his racing picture and a core purpose to:
- Market performance and safety products, which Brandon trusts and can recommend, including Bell Helmets, TRS Harnesses, Racelogic and Powerflex;
- Promotion through motorsport, which in-turn has given Brandon first-hand experience and the knowledge to advise and help existing and potential sponsors.
After getting a taste for some of England’s premier race circuits – Oulton Park, Cadwell Park and Croft Circuit – in the Scottish Mini Cooper Cup’s away rounds, the stage was set for Brandon to pack his bags and cross the border to compete in the highly competitive Mini Challenge UK.
Contesting a full-time campaign in the Cooper class with the multiple title-winning Excelr8 Motorsport team, it was a challenging yet exciting season that exceeded all expectations, as a 100 per cent finishing record and 12 podium finishes – eight second places, three third places and four fastest laps – resulted in Brandon ending the year second in class and second overall.
While Brandon races for enjoyment, he equally takes it seriously and, in that respect, the Scot is a strong advocate of track limits and driving standards. Off circuit, he remains professional, presentable, easy-going, approachable and is always willing to help others, if asked.
In late 2013, Brandon obtained his ARDS Instructors License through MSVR and there are currently four drivers expected to enter the 2015 MINI Challenge fray who may benefit from coaching and have been pointed in Brandon’s direction.
With the MINI Challenge UK’s high level of professionalism, Brandon once again stepped up his game both physically and mentally, and took on more powerful, turbocharged machinery in the demanding John Cooper Works (JCW) class.
For the 2014 Autosport International exhibition, Brandon was asked by the MINI Challenge organisers to represent the series and give “a driver’s perspective” to prospective drivers and race fans alike over an extended four-day stint at Birmingham’s NEC.
Making his debut at a wet Donington Park in April, Brandon immediately made an impression on the highly competitive series and highlighted his strong racing pedigree by claiming a podium finish and a brace of top six finishes.
The Scotsman, who travels in excess of nine hours to distant circuits, continued to climb the leaderboard in an impressive opening half of the season, consistently fighting door handle-to-door handle with the POWER MAXED-backed MINI Challenge’s more experienced drivers and coming out on top on several occasions to position himself inside the top five in the Drivers’ standings.
With confidence building behind the wheel of his Excelr8 Motorsport-run, front-wheel-driven, turbo-powered R56 MINI, Brandon’s superb form continued into the latter stages of 2014, as he converted several front-row starts into strong points finishes.
A highlight of his season came at the ‘Home of British Motor Racing’, Silverstone, where he concluded a successful weekend with a hat-trick of top six finishes, despite having never raced on the Grand Prix configuration prior to the weekend.
At the conclusion of a remarkable year that once again exceeded all expectations, Brandon was only one of two drivers on the grid of over 20 competitors to finish each and every round of the season and subsequently secured fifth in the Drivers’ standings.
Qualifying for this year’s Mini Challenge ‘Best of British’ Shootout is a ‘win-win’ situation for Brandon irrespective of the result, as the day will undoubtedly contribute to his learning and understanding, while becoming a career highlight that will shine brightly on his CV.
STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES
Due to the highly competitive nature of the POWER MAXED MINI Challenge UK that has helped establish it as one of Britain’s premier one-make series, contact between drivers has become familiar and led to several retirements. One of Brandon’s strengths is that he has always been able to see further down the road than other drivers, keep his nose clean and negotiate his way around incidents, helping him finish every race in back-to-back seasons.
Brandon has an unquenchable desire to learn and, having earned a Masters degree in Marketing, the Hawick-based racer takes pride in having a strong understanding of the field and his ability to aid a sponsor in its respective PR and promotional campaigns.
For 2015, Brandon has the possibility of competing in two series and, while a logical step might be to contest a third year in the POWER MAXED MINI Challenge UK, his recent result have not gone unnoticed and he recently participated in a test with a team that has plans to compete in international endurance racing.
Looking further ahead, by 2016 Brandon would welcome the prospect of racing GTs, with the ultimate aim of competing in the BTCC in 2017 and beyond.