By Hollie Bone
The UK’s oldest racing driver has no plans to slow down at the age of 84 – after 60 years in motorsport which has seen his car go up in flames TWICE.
Philip Barak, from Silverstone, Northants, claims his proudest achievement in racing is just surviving for the six decades he’s been doing it, despite facing a few near misses along the way.
The grandfather-of two first realised his love for the rush at his first Formula 1 race as a spectator in 1952, and has been putting the pedal to the metal since 1956.
Having once served as an artillery observer, widowed dad-of-two Philip is still working today as motorsport marketing campaigner in order to fund his adrenaline-fuelled passion.
The octogenarian said: “I’ve raced on more tracks in the UK than any other racing driver still driving today.
“I love it, I feel good in myself when I’m racing. It keeps you on the ball and keeps you sharp.
“If I hadn’t got into racing, I might have ended up quite rich!”
With five track records, nine championship wins and countless podiums, Philip said despite the pressure on his pocket his pricey hobby brings, he wouldn’t change a thing.
Philip still enters roughly 20 races a year and has competed over a thousand times in the last 62 years, with his most prized win in 1984 when he won the northern GT car championship.
A surprisingly physical sport, Philip has to complete an annual medical check to stay on the track and regularly cycles or goes to the gym to keep fit.
With no plans to retire soon, Philip believes competition keeps a sharp mind and says ‘if you’re on the edge you appreciate life more’.
Philip isn’t the only retirement-age Brit who is refusing to let age define them and has spoken out after a national survey by SunLife found two thirds of people over 50 say they are enjoying life more after the milestone birthday.
The poll by the insurance company of nearly 20,000 over 50s in Britain found a majority felt they were having more sleep, more sex and more fun in their later years.
For Philip that fun comes in the shape of a Lotus and he prides himself on driving vehicles with no computers involved – just three pedals and a gear lever.
He said: “I’ve got a room for the trophies I’ve won, but I couldn’t tell you how many there are, I’ve never sat down to count them all.
“I’ve set on fire once or twice, but that’s an occupational hazard. I think my fondest memory is winning the northern GT car championship in 1984 with a Lotus Esprit.
“It’s always been such good fun, and it’s always been a family thing for me too.
“At race meetings, my wife June was always there with our two children.
“She could always be seen at the track handing out pit signals, cleaning the cars and looking for the pit crew.
“Now my youngest, Adam, is still very much involved with motor-racing and I always look out for him holding the pit signals at the side of the track.”
Ian Atkinson, marketing director at SunLife, said: “Our research shows that people aged 50 and over feel 10 years younger mentally and almost four years younger physically, so, far from being ‘over the hill’, people in their 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s are feeling fit, healthy and sharp.
“Philip is the perfect example of someone who is refusing to let age get in the way of what he wants to do, and proving that it does not have to stop you from being be at the top of your game
“Age is just a number. People over 50 certainly don’t feel old and are not prepared to stop doing what they want to do just because of their age.”